Background of Special Elections

Summary of Special Elections

Special elections are elections held to replace vacant congressional seats. The dates and formats of elections vary from state to state and district to district. In 2017, there will be five special elections. Four are for congressional seats previously held by Republicans who were appointed to serve in the Trump administration. One is a seat previously held by a Democrat who resigned to become Attorney General of California. Historically, because they are not on regularly scheduled dates in November, special elections tend to have low turnout. That means a very motivated party can theoretically “flip” an otherwise uncompetitive district.

California 34
Date: April 4
Cook Political Report Rating: Safe Democrat
Democratic Candidate(s): Many
Notes: Incumbent resigned to become AG

Kansas 4
Date: April 11
Cook Political Report: Safe Republican
Democratic Candidate: James Thompson
Libertarian Candidate: Chris Rockhold
Republican Candidate: Ron Estes
To volunteer/donate Democrat:
To volunteer/donate Libertarian: ??
Notes: Democratic candidate feuding with state party over refusal to pay for mailers. Not a good sign.

Georgia 6
First Round Date: April 18
Second Round Date: June 20
Cook Political Report: Lean Republican
Democratic Candidate: Likely Jon Ossoff
Republican Candidate: Many
Libertarian Candidate: Chase Oliver
To volunteer/donate Democrat:
Notes: Clinton lost this district by 1 percentage point, so this is Dems’ top target. All candidates enter “jungle primary” regardless of party, top two face each other in runoff. Ossoff has raised millions, and has raked in high profile endorsements, but is still an underdog in a district that was once Newt Gingrich’s and Dems have not won since 1980.

Montana At-Large
Date: May 25
Cook Political Report: Likely Republican
Democratic Candidate: Rob Quist
Libertarian Candidate: Mark Wicks
Republican Candidate: Greg Gianforte
To volunteer/donate Democrat:
To volunteer/donate Libertarian
Notes: This is a whacky one. Montana has only one member of the House, because they have such a low population. Rob Quist is a famous local folk singer. He has no political experience beyond endorsing Bernie Sanders for President, but his music is great. Basically, the theme of his campaign is that he is a true Montana guy who grew up on a ranch. His opponent is a business person who is extremely conservative. He has already run for Governor once, and lost to a Democrat. For all Montana is a very red state, Dems actually control the Governor’s office and have a senator there. So Dems have an outside shot.

South Carolina 5
Date: June 20
Cook Political Report: Safe Republican
Democratic Candidate: Undecided
Republican Candidate: Undecided
Notes: Primary won’t be held until May 2. Dems controlled this district as recently as 2010, but it’s moved to the right a lot since then.


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