Earlier this year, we published an article going over each 2021 House special election. Since our first update, much has changed across the board. Stay tuned for continuing monthly updates to our special election coverage coinciding with the remainder of our updates for the 2021 and 2022 cycles.
Coverage of the race for Ohio’s 11th district will be discussed in the May update.
For an overview of the first-round of voting from Louisiana, as well as the upcoming 2nd district runoff, read my second article here.
TX-06 (Round 1 – May 1st, Round 2 – May 24th)
(Find my original write-up, in addition to the excerpt below, click here.)
The 6th district was unexpectedly vacated Ron Wright, who died from COVID-19 and ongoing complications with lung cancer. Wright had first been elected in 2018 and was just days into his second term when he passed away at the age of 67.
The current district is traditionally conservative and Republican. Democrats have made inroads here at the federal level, particularly in the now-Democratic Tarrant County portion, but Wright managed to maintain his advantage in the seat by outrunning former President Trump in Tarrant while also winning rural Ellis and Navarro counties by large margins.
Democrats have fared better at the Presidential level, with former President Trump winning the 6th by a close 51-48% margin. Regardless of the statistic you look at, Republicans still have an advantage here; its strength varies based on turnout, candidate quality, and enthusiasm.
Since the first update, the Texas-6 blanket primary field has grown significantly. With over a dozen candidates running for the sixth district across party lines, it appears almost certain that the race will move forward to a runoff round on May 24th. Descriptions of the top candidates to succeed Ron Wright are given below. Keep in mind that all candidates, regardless of their partisan affiliation, appear on the same first round ballot under a blanket primary system.
Republican – Names to watch
Susan Wright – The widow of the late Representative Ron Wright, he jumped into the crowded race for the 6th district earlier this year. But unlike Julia Letlow, another Republican widow who successfully sought election to Congress in a special election last month, Wright has credible opposition from both parties.
Nonetheless, she remains a strong favorite among her fellow Republicans. Polling is also on her side, with two Democratic internals from last month showing her leading the field. Wright has also received the endorsements of five members of Texas’s House delegation, along with Betsy Price, the mayor of the all-important city of Fort Worth. Given all of these accolades and benefits, we have no reason not to consider Wright a favorite to make the runoff.
Jake Ellzey – Mentioned briefly in our last article, he ultimately did decide to seek election to the 6th district, filing with the FEC back in February. So far, though, he has seen only limited success. Seemingly obscured from the spotlight by Wright, Ellzey has only procured the endorsement of Rick Perry, the former Governor of the Lone Star State. Polling has also not been particularly kind to Ellzey, who came in third in both internals.
For Ellzey, the path to victory is slim but not impossible. If he manages to overcome Wright, his fellow Republican foes, and minor Democratic challengers, he could be a formidable runoff nominee come the end of May.
Brian Harrison – Despite being a former member of the Trump administration, he has received little traction in the race. A dearth of endorsements from prominent members of his own party has hindered him thus far; it is currently unlikely that he will have any true impact on the race besides detracting from the percentage of the Republican electorate unified behind Wright.
Michael Wood – A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Wood is one of many lesser-known Republican candidates running this May. Though he has not managed to garner much traction during the campaign, Wood’s bid remains notable thanks to his brand of Republicanism.
A firm opponent of former President Trump, Wood has also received the endorsement of Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a key member of the moderate movement to “restore” the GOP to the pre-Trump era. Wood is not expected to pick up the pace going into next month, but even a half-decent performance could be the first electoral indication of agenda dissatisfaction from Republican voters themselves.
Dan Rodimer – One of the more conservative candidates in the race, Rodimer is a former WWE professional wrestler and Nevada Congressional candidate. Rodimer has tied himself to the anti-establishment wing of the party; his only current endorsement comes from a group associated with Representatives like Paul Gosar. Rodimer has garnered little support in either Democratic internal poll conducted in the seat. Given the fact that Rodimer has switched states, it will be interesting to see the extent to which, if at all, the voters will punish him for carpetbagging.
Sery Kim – The Korean-American candidate Kim initially hoped to successfully follow in the footsteps of Korean-American Republican Representatives Young Kim and Michelle Park Steele, both of whom initially endorsed her. However, her path to victory has been greatly decreased in recent weeks following backlash over her insensitive comments about Chinese immigrants that caused both Congresswomen to pull their support from her campaign.
Democrats – A one-woman show
Jana Sanchez – The most prominent Democratic candidate, and the Democratic nominee for the 6th back in 2018. Sanchez is running again, and polling has shown her to be the second most likely candidate to make it to the runoff after Wright. Compared to Wright, she faces fewer challengers from within her own party, giving her an easier path to consolidating the Democratic electorate. The second most formidable Democrat after Sanchez is small business owner Lydia Bean, who was endorsed by the Tarrant County AFL-CIO earlier this year.
We consider it highly likely that this race will be decided in a runoff round. In our view, the field of candidates across both sides is simply too large for any single candidate to procure 50% of the vote in the first round of the jungle primary. While nothing in politics is certain, we also believe that a Wright v. Sanchez runoff is the most common potential outcome of the first round. The round is currently rated Likely Republican.
NM-01 (June 1st, 2021)
New Mexico’s 1st district was vacated by Democrat Deb Haaland earlier this year after she resigned her seat to become the US Secretary of the Interior. The predominantly Democratic 1st is primarily based around the city of Albuquerque. Despite being a reliably blue district by most metrics, the region was represented by Republican Heather Wilson as recently as 2009 and is not without a viable GOP base; Haaland was only re-elected by 16 points in a safe race without any dedicated opposition from the Republicans. Theoretically, the special election could be at least somewhat competitive. Currently we rate the race as Likely Democratic.
Both special election nominees were chosen by the central committees for the state parties, a deviation from traditional method of nomination in the Land of Enchantment. The respective nominees are State Senator Mark Moores and State Representative Melanie Stansbury.
Moores has served in the State Senate since 2013, representing the 21st district. A mainstream conservative, Moores was almost certainly the best candidate that the GOP could’ve nominated going into the special election. Still, given the Democratic lean of the district, a Moores win is an uphill battle.
Stansbury currently represents the 28th district in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Stansbury came out of the central committee runoff vote with a narrow majority – taking 51.2% against State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.
Once again, we consider the special election in the 1st district to be Likely Democratic. Since we expect Stansbury to underperform Haaland’s 2020 benchmark, a close race is not out of question. We simply want to reiterate that it is unlikely that any Republican, let alone a credible candidate like Mark Moores, will be able to turn a close race into an upset victory.
FL-20 and OH-15
We will have more information on the upcoming special election in Florida’s 20th district in our next update. The heavily-Democratic, majority-black seat was vacated earlier this month when long-time Representative Alcee Hastings died following a drawn-out battle with pancreatic cancer. Election dates have yet to be determined as of this writing.
15th district Republican Steve Stivers will be resigning in May to become President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. We will have additional coverage of the proceedings related to this contest as soon as election dates are set by Governor DeWine.