12/19/17 Special Election Previews
Competitive D vs. R Elections
Florida House District 58 (Republican Defense)
Candidates: Lawrence McClure (R), Jose Vazquez Figueroa (D), Bryan Zemina (L), Ahmad Hussan Saadaldin (I)
This district, which sits just to east of Tampa, opened up when incumbent Republican Dan Raulerson resigned in August. This set up a potentially rather interesting race in a district that was Romney +5 and Trump +10. The Republicans had an intense primary in October, which was eventually won by Lawrence McClure by a narrow margin 55–45 margin. McClure is a rather establishment conservative candidate and touts the endorsement of Senator Marco Rubio. Meanwhile, only one Democrat filed to run; Jose Vazquez Figueroa, who is the perennial Democratic challenger for this seat, having lost in 2012, 2014, and 2016. He has previously lost by about 58–42 in those races. However, it is worth noting that Florida Democrats aren’t exactly enthused by Vazquez Figueroa. He is a very poor fundraiser and McClure is outspending him by a wide margin. The general sense among the party is that Vazquez Figueroa winning would be a surprise and an upcoming special election in House District 72 is a much better shot at flipping a seat. However, one decent sign for Democrats is that early voting numbers do close to a rather close race, with roughly even numbers of Democrats and Republicans voting early in a state where Republicans have won early voting in special elections this year. Additionally, there are 2 additional candidates who could have an effect on this race by grabbing a few points in Libertarian Bryan Zemina and Independent Ahmad Hussam Saadaldin.
Rating and Prediction: We rate this race as Lean R. I’ll say McClure wins by about 7 points.
Tennessee Senate District 17 (Republican Defense)
Candidates: Mark Pody (R), Mary Alice Carfi (D)
Overview: This district to the east of Nashville opened up when Republican incumbent Mae Beavers resigned in September to focus on running for Governor. Only one candidate decided to run in each party, which makes sense especially from a Democratic Party perspective, given the conservative lean of this district, which gave Donald Trump 74% of the vote in 2016. It was a bit surprising to only have one Republican in this district, but one reason for that is probably that their selection, District 46 State Representative Mark Pody, already has name recognition and party backing and therefore would be tough to beat in a primary. Pody is favored to win this election, given that Democrats haven’t even contested this seat since 2010. However, Carfi has ran a very good campaign, successfully mobilizing Democrats in the area who have been almost completely shut out of office in the state. While a win for Carfi is unlikely, a positive margin shift towards her party seems likely.
Rating and Prediction: We rate this race as Likely R. I’ll go with a 15 point Pody win.
Mississippi State Senate District 49
Candidates: Joel Carter, Dan Carr, Ron Meyers
Overview: This district on the Southern coastline of Mississippi was most recently represented by Republican Sean Tindell, who resigned a few months ago. As a result, a special election was triggered in this district. Mississippi special elections are officially nonpartisan, but all of the three candidates have made it clear that they are Republicans. As a result, this race has many of the qualities of a Republican primary. The three candidates are fairly similar and in a low turnout race anything could happen. Joel Carter has the most establishment backing while Dan Carr has run the best ground game. Additionally, Ron Meyers probably will receive the most backing from moderates.
Rating and Prediction: This is a tossup, but if I had to guess I would go for a runoff between Carter and Carr.
Wisconsin Senate District 10 Both Parties (Republican Defense)
Candidates: Adam Jarchow (R), Shannon Zimmerman (R). Reuben Herfindahl (D), John Calabrese (D), Patty Schachtner (D).
Overview: This district opened up in November after incumbent Republican Sheila Horsdorf resigned for a job in Scott Walker’s administration. Both parties will have competitive primaries tomorrow, with the Republican primary for this seat looking especially interesting. In that race state representatives Adam Jarchow and Shannon Zimmerman have faced off in a heated primary, with the winner likely to win the seat over the Democratic nominee. The more establishment-leaning Jarchow is slightly favored to come out on top. On the Democratic side, the race is also interesting. Patty Schachtner is the slight favorite to win this race but will face a tough challenge from tech business owner Reuben Herfindahl and progressive left anti-money in politics activist John Calabrese. Calabrese will get Bernie Sanders voters, while Herfindahl has money on hand to spend. More on this race in January.
Wisconsin Assembly District 58 Republican Primary (Republican Defense)
Candidates: Tiffany Koehler, Shannon Zimmerman, Rick Gundrum, Steve Stanek
Overview: This seat became open after incumbent Republican Bob Gannon’s death in October. It leans heavily Republican, and as a result four Republicans jumped into the race and will compete in the primary. Regardless, it should be an interesting race. African American Republican Tiffany Koehler, a former staff member of Gannon is a slight favorite with establishment backing. If elected, she would be the first black Republican to ever hold a seat in the Wisconsin legislature. If she doesn’t win, veteran and “Trump conservative” Shannon Zimmerman would be the most likely winner due to party base support, but Rick Gundrum or Steve Stanek could pull off victories as well. The winner will face unopposed Democrat Dennis Degenhardt in January
Wisconsin Assembly District 66 Democratic Primary (Democratic Defense)
Candidates: John Tate II, Greta Neubauer
Overview: This seat became open after incumbent Cory Mason resigned to become the mayor of Racine. No Republicans filed for this district, so the Democratic primary winner effectively wins the election. This primary is a virtual tossup and represents the racial divide of Racine. Greta Neubauer, a former aide to Cory Mason is white, and council member John Tate II is black, and Tate has made much of his campaign about making Racine a place that is represented by someone who looks like the large African American portion of the city. Neubauer is the favorite given her combination of progressive record and establishment backing, but Tate II has a very good chance if he can turn out black voters.