July 25 Special Elections Preview

New Hampshire State Senate District 16

This race in the Manchester, NH area has become the closest state legislative election of the year. This seat was held by Republican David Boutin until 2016 when he decided not to run. The seat was then won by Democrat Scott McGilgravay, who subsequently passed away due to an illness in March. Boutin decided to run in this election in an attempt to regain his seat and was unopposed in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, Kevin Cavanaugh defeated Jim Normand in the primary to advance to the general election. Libertarian Jason Dubrow is also participating and will throw another wrinkle into this race. It’s almost impossible to predict what will happen in this race. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump 48%-47% in this district in November, but Boutin was very popular during his time as a state senator, winning by an average margin of 11.35%. Cavanaugh will be helped out well by a huge national Democratic movement to aid his campaign, with several endorsements coming his way from left-leaning grassroots organizations. With all that being said, in a normal race like this, we’d give Boutin a 60% chance of winning. However, the expected high Democratic turnout has pushed this to a pure 50–50 toss up.

Kevin Cavanaugh, Democratic candidate in New Hampshire Senate District 16

Mississippi State House District 108

This Mississippi vacancy was triggered after Republican Mark Formby resigned to take a different job. Mississippi is a complicated state in special elections, since the candidates run without official party labels. However, after at least a half-hour of reasearch, I was able to determine the partisan leanings of all three. The candidates in tonight’s election are Stacey Hobgood Wilkes, a self-identified Republican, Tavish Cordero Kelly, a Republican with a Libertarian streak who once ran for congress, and Jerry Frazier, a candidate who appears to be a centrist Democrat. This district is 75%-25% Republican, so Wilkes will be the favorite here, as she is the most conservative. If no candidate gets to 50% the top 2 will face off in a runoff on August 15.

Massachusetts State Senate Fourth Middlesex District

Next, we head back up north to Massachusetts, where the Democrats are heavy favorites to win this district, which lies on the outskirts of the Boston suburbs. This district was previously held by Democrat Kenneth Donnelly, who died of cancer in April. Democrat Cindy Friedman, Donnelly’s former chief of staff, won the Democratic primary and with no Republican in the race, looks set to head to the State Senate, barring a shocking win by the Green Party’s Ian Jackson. Not much else to say, but I promise we will write a full article if Jackson were to somehow win.

Florida State Senate District 40 Primary (Both Parties)

(NOTE: Most of this is article is from our piece earlier in July about the most important special elections this year). On the whole, this is going to be a very important race towards showing the Democrats’ ability to win in GOP held Southern Florida districts. This Miami-Dade County District is very similar to a congressional district the Democrats have a strong chance of flipping in 2018, Florida’s 27th district, where popular incumbent Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinan is retiring. In State Senate District 40, Republican Frank Artiles won in 2016 by about 10 points before resigning earlier this year after it was revealed that he used a racial slur in a meeting with black colleagues. Despite Artiles’s victory, the rest of the ballot had mixed results for the GOP in District 40. Hillary Clinton crushed Donald Trump by 17 points in the District, but GOP Senator Marco Rubio narrowly won the District by 4 points. One reason for this discrepancy might be that this district is heavily Hispanic, which means that the voters are likely to vote for candidates that represent the community the best. Both Republicans that won were Latinos who were facing non-Hispanic opponents. Hillary Clinton did win, but that was against Donald Trump, who has been a divisive figure in Hispanic communities. The three favorites to win the primaries are all Hispanics with significant experience. Democratic favorite Annette Taddeo is a former Lt. Governor candidate, running with Charlie Crist in 2014, while Republican favorites Jose Felix Diaz and Alex Diaz de la Portilla have both served as state representatives. My money would be on strongly on a Taddeo win in the Democratic race and narrowly on a Felix Diaz win on the GOP side.

Florida State House District 116 Republican Primary

This vacancy, also in the Miami area, was caused by the aforementioned Senate District 40 election, as Jose Felix Diaz resigned his seat in order to run in the District 40 election. This district is less close than Senate District 40, but still somewhat close and therefore one to watch going forward. While there is no Democratic primary, as Gabriela Mayadoun was unopposed, the Republican primary has been intense. Jose Mallea and Daniel Anthony Perez have been in an intense battle that has included a claim by Perez that Mallea doesn’t live in the district and Mallea filing lawsuit against Perez. It should be a very close race, with high levels of turnout for a special election primary. However, Mallea is definitely the favorite, having received more high-profile endorsements, most notably from the Miami Herald.

South Carolina State House District 31 Primary (both parties)

Finally, we close in South Carolina, where both parties will be holding primaries in this Democratic-leaning district. This seat became open when Democrat Harold Mitchell resigned from the state house due to health issues. There are four candidates on the Democratic side; Mo Abusaft, Angela Geter, Rosalyn Henderson Myers, and Jerome Rice Jr. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, there are just two candidates; Michael Fowler and Richard Gosnell. Primaries are often tough to predict, so I don’t have a prediction for this election. However, check back September 26 for a full piece on this district’s general election.