Brad Finstad (R) wins special election in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District

Brad Finstad (R) defeated Jeff Ettinger (D) in a special election to fill the seat representing Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House on Aug. 9, 2022. The special election filled the vacancy left by Jim Hagedorn (R), who died while in office on Feb. 17, 2022.

This was the 11th special election to take place during the 117th Congress. Five more are scheduled for future dates. This session, one special election has caused a seat to change party control. In Texas’ 34th Congressional District, Mayra Flores (R) won the seat previously held by Filemon Vela (D).

Since the 113th Congress, an average of 11 special elections have been held each session. The most elections held was 17 during the 115th Congress. Special elections during this time have resulted in a net change of four seats gained for Democrats and four seats lost for Republicans.

Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski killed in car accident

Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) was killed in a wrong-way vehicle crash on Aug. 3, 2022. Walorski was driving on an Indiana highway with two members of her staff, who were also killed in the crash.

Walorski represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District. She was first elected in 2012. Prior to serving in the U.S. Congress, Walorski worked as a television reporter and nonprofit director. She served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 2004 to 2010.

A special election will be called to fill the vacancy created by Walorski’s death. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) stated that his office had not begun the process to set the election. Walorski’s seat is also up for election in the general election on Nov. 8.

Since 2019, eight members of Congress have passed away while serving their terms. Three of those members were Democratic, while the other five were Republican.

The Constitution requires that vacancies in the House be filled through an election. In the first session of any Congress, all states, territories, and districts mandate a special election in case of a vacancy in any House seat. If the vacancy occurs during the second session, requirements differ based on the length of time between when the vacancy occurs and the next general election.

The process for filling House vacancies is distinct from that of filling vacancies in the U.S. Senate, where 37 states fill vacancies through gubernatorial appointment and the remaining 13 require a special election.

Additional reading:

Special elections to the 117th United States Congress (2021-2022)

Utah sees the most contested primaries since 2014

The filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in Utah this year was March 4, 2022. Thirteen candidates are running for Utah’s four U.S. House districts, including four Democrats and nine Republicans. That’s 3.25 candidates per district, less than the 3.75 candidates per district in 2020 and more than the 2.5 in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census. Utah was apportioned four districts, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census.
  • All four incumbents filed to run for re-election, meaning there are no open seats this year. That’s one fewer than in 2020, when there was one open seat.
  • All four incumbents are facing primary challengers, the highest number since at least 2014.
  • Utah’s four incumbent congressmen are Republicans, meaning there are four contested Republican primaries this year. There are no contested Democratic primaries.
  • The four contested primaries this year are the most since 2014, when six primaries were contested. 

[Insert Datawrapper chart here: https://app.datawrapper.de/chart/ZILcz/publish]  

  1. Four candidates, including incumbent Rep. Blake Moore (R), are running in the 1st district, the most candidates running for a seat this year.
  2. Republican and Democratic candidates filed to run in all four districts, so no seats are guaranteed to either party this year. 

Utah and four other states — Colorado, Illinois, New York, and Oklahoma — are holding primary elections on June 28. Winners in Utah primary elections are determined via plurality vote, meaning that the candidate with the highest number of votes wins even if he or she did not win an outright majority of votes cast.

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Madison Cawthorn loses re-election bid in NC-11 to state Sen. Chuck Edwards

State Sen. Chuck Edwards won the May 17 Republican primary for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. Eight candidates were on the ballot. Based on unofficial returns, Edwards received 33.4% of the vote while incumbent Madison Cawthorn received 31.9% of the vote.

Cawthorn is the third U.S. Representative to lose a primary this year. Rep. David McKinley (R-W.V.) lost a Republican primary to Rep. Alexander Mooney after the two ran in the same district following redistricting, while Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) remained on the ballot after he unofficially withdrew from his re-election race.

Cawthorn was first elected to Congress in 2020. Cawthorn’s campaign website identified him as an America First candidate, a term often associated with the platform of former President Donald Trump (R) and candidates who say they support Trump’s agenda. Cawthorn said that groups from across the political spectrum want to defeat him: “the radical left, the establishment, and the media want to take me down . . . I won’t stop fighting. I won’t bow to the mob. They want to silence the America First movement. I’m not going anywhere.”

Edwards was first elected to the North Carolina State Senate in 2016. Edwards told Jewish Insider that although he supported Cawthorn and wanted him to succeed, Edwards “feel[s] that Western North Carolina can do better.” Edwards accused Cawthorn of increasing political tensions and criticized Cawthorn for suggesting supporters threaten House members to overturn the 2020 election results. Edwards contrasted his legislative experience to Cawthorn’s, highlighting in particular sponsorship of a bill that banned sanctuary cities in North Carolina and working on the state’s balanced budget.

Trump endorsed Cawthorn for re-election on March 31, 2021. Following Cawthorn’s claims in late March 2022 that lawmakers in Washington use cocaine and hold orgies, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) endorsed Edwards. Tillis said Cawthorn “has fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives.” Cawthorn, who said his claims were exaggerated, also drew criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the remarks.

Edwards is expected to win the Nov. 8 general election. At the time of the primary election, three independent race forecasters rated the general election either Safe Republican or Solid Republican. At the time of the primary, the 11th Congressional District contained all or parts of 15 counties in western North Carolina, including the city of Asheville.

Also running in the primary were Matthew Burril, Rod Honeycutt, Wendy Nevarez, Bruce O’Connell, Kristie Sluder, and Michele Woodhouse.

South Carolina sees the highest number of contested Republican primaries since at least 2012

The filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in South Carolina this year was March 30, 2022. Twenty-eight candidates are running for South Carolina’s seven U.S. House districts, including nine Democrats and 19 Republicans. That’s four candidates per district, more than the 2.86 candidates per district in 2020 and less than the 6.14 in 2018. 

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census. South Carolina was apportioned seven districts, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census.
  • All incumbents are running for re-election, meaning there are no open seats this year. The only years to feature open seats between 2012 and 2022 were 2018, when the 4th district was open, and 2012, when the newly-drawn 7th district was open. 
  • There are two contested Democratic primaries this year, the lowest number since 2016, and four contested Republican primaries, the highest number since at least 2012.
  • Eight candidates — one Democrat and seven Republicans, including incumbent Rep. Tom Rice (R) — filed to run in the 7th district, more than in any other. That’s three less than the highest number of candidates who ran for a seat in 2020, when five candidates ran in the 1st district. 
  • There are three districts — the 2nd, the 3rd, and the 5th — where incumbents do not face primary challengers. 
  • One district — the 3rd — is guaranteed to Republicans because no Democrats filed. No districts are guaranteed to Democrats because no Republicans filed.

South Carolina and three other states — Maine, Nevada, and North Dakota — are holding primary elections on June 14. A primary candidate must win a majority of the vote in order to be declared the winner in South Carolina. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a June 28 runoff.

Additional reading:

Congressional Democratic retirements at highest percentage since 2014

Fifty-six members of Congress are not running for re-election in 2022, including 33 Democrats and 23 Republicans. For Democrats, this is a larger percentage of the party’s House and Senate caucus to retire in one cycle—12.22%— than in any cycle dating back to 2014. For Republicans, this represents 8.75% of the party’s caucus.

The number of retirements in each party as a percentage of the party’s total number of Congressional members illustrates the amount of turnover happening within a party in a given election cycle. 

The highest recent percentage of Republicans retired in the 2018 election cycle when 12.63% of the party’s caucus—37 members—did not run for re-election. In that cycle, Republicans gained two Senate seats but lost 35 House seats.

The lowest recent percentage of Democrats retired in the 2020 cycle when 10 members——3.57% of the caucus—did not run. In the 2020 general election, Democrats gained three seats in the Senate and lost 10 seats in the House. 

The lowest recent percentage of Republican Congressional retirements was in the 2016 election cycle. Twenty-six Republicans announced their retirement, accounting for 8.64% of the caucus. In the 2016 election, Republicans lost two Senate seats and five House seats.

Six Republicans running in primary for Alabama’s open U.S. Senate seat

Six candidates are running in the Republican primary election for U.S. Senator from Alabama on May 24, 2022. Senator Richard Shelby (R), first elected in 1986, is not running for re-election. The candidates to perform best in recent polling and receive the most endorsements are Katie Britt, Mo Brooks, and Michael Durant.

Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Brooks on April 7, 2021, and withdrew the endorsement on March 23, 2022. In a statement, Trump said, “Mo Brooks of Alabama made a horrible mistake recently when he went ‘woke’ and stated, referring to the 2020 Presidential Election Scam, ‘Put that behind you, put that behind you.'” In response to the withdrawn endorsement, Brooks said, “I am the only proven America First candidate in this Senate race . . . I am the only candidate who fought voter fraud and election theft when it counted, between November 3 and January 6.” Trump said he would make a new endorsement in the race before the primary election.

Brooks was elected to represent Alabama’s 5th Congressional District in 2010 and served as Madison County Commissioner from 1996-to 2010. Brooks’ campaign ads have highlighted his speech at Trump’s rally on January 6, 2021, which preceded the U.S. Capitol breach. He has campaigned as an America First candidate, a term often associated with the platform of Trump and candidates who say they support his agenda. Brooks’ endorsements include Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.).

Britt worked as chief of staff to Sen. Shelby and as the president and CEO of the Alabama Business Council. Her campaign website described her as an “advocate for smaller government, modern job growth, constitutional liberties and greater opportunity.” Sen. Shelby, Maggie’s List, the Value In Electing Women PAC, and Winning for Women, Inc. PAC endorsed Britt.

Durant served in the U.S. Army for 22 years before founding an engineering firm. Durant was the pilot of a helicopter shot down in Somalia in 1993, depicted in the book and movie Black Hawk Down. Durant’s website says he “is 100% Pro-Trump. He voted for President Trump twice, and he supports the America First agenda.” Former candidate Jessica Taylor, who dropped out of the primary in January 2022, and Gen. Michael Flynn endorsed Durant.

The winner of the Republican primary is also expected to win the general election. Three independent race forecasters rate the race either Solid Republican or Safe Republican. Before Doug Jones’ (D) tenure from 2018-2021, the last Democrat to represent the state in the U.S. Senate was Howell T. Heflin, who left office in 1997. Trump won the state with 62% of the vote in the 2020 presidential election.

Also running in the primary are Lillie Boddie, Karla DuPriest, and Jake Schafer.

Twenty candidates file for Montana’s two U.S. House districts

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Montana was March 14. This year, 20 candidates are running in Montana’s two U.S. House districts, including nine Republicans, six Democrats, four Libertarians, and one independent. That’s an average of 10 candidates per district.

The state gained a congressional district following the 2020 census. In 2020, nine candidates ran for Montana’s lone House district. In 2018, eight candidates ran.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Incumbent Matt Rosendale (R) is seeking re-election in the 2nd Congressional District. He faces three Republican primary challengers.
  • The 1st District race is open.
  • The state’s only congressional district in 2020 was open. Incumbent Greg Gianforte (R) ran for re-election in 2018 and won.
  • This year, more than one candidate filed for both major party primaries in both districts.
  • The 2nd District has the largest candidate field at 11—four Republicans, three Democrats, three Libertarians, and one independent.

Montana’s U.S. House primaries are on June 7, alongside primaries in six other states. Thirteen states hold their primaries before that date.

Additional reading:

Candidates announce new endorsements in Texas’ 15 Congressional District Democratic primary runoff

Ruben Ramirez and Michelle Vallejo received new endorsements in Texas’ 15th Congressional District Democratic Party primary runoff. Ramirez and Vallejo were the top two finishers in the Democratic Party primary election on March 1, with Ramirez receiving 28.3% of the vote and Vallejo receiving 20.1%.

Texas State Reps. Armando Martinez (D) and Terry Canales (D) endorsed Vallejo on March 20. Vallejo’s “energy and experience makes her the right choice for Congress,” Martinez said. Canales said, “I am supporting Michelle Vallejo because she has the grit and vision to fight for the hardworking people in Congressional District 15.” U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D), who represents California’s 40th Congressional District, also endorsed Vallejo. “I know that Michelle Vallejo will become a titan for change in Congress to protect vital programs like healthcare, better funding for public educators, and social security,” Roybal-Allard said. 

Vallejo’s other endorsements include U.S. Reps. Sylvia Garcia (D) of Texas’ 29th Congressional District and Veronica Escobar (D) of Texas’ 16th Congressional District, former 15th Congressional District candidate Eliza Alvarado (D), former Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D), and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts. The United Farm Workers Union, LUPE Votes, Hidalgo County Texan Democrats, and the Working Families Party also endorsed Vallejo.

Texas 15th Congressional District incumbent Vicente Gonzalez (D) endorsed Ramirez in February, and Ramirez also announced an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D), who represents California’s 38th Congressional District. “Ruben has always shown up when his community called him — in the classroom, on the battlefield, or in the courtroom. I know that he will show up and fight for everyone in his district. I look forward to working with Ruben in Congress,” Sanchez said.

Other elected officials endorsing Ramirez include U.S. Reps. Ruben Gallego (D) of Arizona’s 7th Congressional District and Lou Correa (D), who represents California’s 46th Congressional District. Ramirez also received endorsements from New Politics, Democrats Serve, VoteVets, and the McAllen American Federation of Teachers.

The runoff election is scheduled to take place on May 24. Early voting will take place from May 16 to May 20.

Nine candidates running in the May 17 Democratic primary for Oregon’s 6th Congressional District

Teresa Alonso Leon, Andrea Salinas, Loretta Smith, Cody Reynolds, and Matt West have led in fundraising, media attention, and endorsements.

Alonso Leon is a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, representing District 22. She was first elected in 2016. She has campaigned on education, universal healthcare, and strengthening Oregon’s economy. On her campaign website, Alonso Leon said: “As one of your congressional leaders, I’ll put small business and working families first, prioritize education and make sure that all our families have access to affordable and accessible healthcare. I will work to ensure that we are investing in public education, making college more affordable and building strong job training programs so that everyone succeeds after high school or earning a high school equivalency certificate such as a GED.”

Salinas is a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, representing District 38. She was first appointed to the chamber in 2017. Salinas has campaigned on what she calls strengthening reproductive rights, fighting against climate change, and affordable healthcare. On her campaign website, Salinas said, “I think Washington could learn a thing or two from what we’ve done in Oregon about the power of finding common ground, working hard, and actually delivering on the issues that matter most to families: affordable health care, a fair economy, and an environment that is protected and cherished for generations to come.”

Smith served on the Multnomah County Commission from 2011 to 2018. Smith has campaigned on creating better paying jobs, expanding access to affordable housing, affordable healthcare, and protecting the environment. Smith said she is running “for Congress in Oregon’s new 6th Congressional District to stand up for equal opportunities for all so that every Oregon family, small business, and community can not just survive, but thrive.”

Reynolds is a businessman and West Point graduate who served in the U.S. Army. He has run on universal healthcare, affordable housing, job training and the economy, and implementing policies to combat climate change. Reynolds said: “I find that too many career politicians are too busy and interested in self-dealing, and posturing for their next re-election to enact meaningful legislation. For these reasons, and with the love and support of my family and friends, I announce my candidacy for the 6th Congressional district.”

West works as an engineer with Intel. He has campaigned on his experience as a scientist, saying, “science is the key to solving some of our biggest challenges – from tackling climate change, providing energy, addressing current and future pandemics, ending food scarcity, and helping to raise people out of poverty — scientific-based solutions will save lives and protect families.” He has also campaigned on affordable healthcare, racial justice, and using decentralized finance tools like cryptocurrency to create an equitable financial system.

Ricky Barajas, Carrick Flynn, Greg Goodwin, and Kathleen Harder are also running in the primary.