Special Elections
February 27, 2018

Voters in Arizona's 8th congressional district will pick their candidates Tuesday for an April 27 special election to replace Rep. Trent Franks (R), who resigned in December after it emerged that he asked two staffers to have a child for him and his wife, through nebulous methods, for $5 million. The suburban Phoenix district is solidly Republican — President Trump won it by 21 points in 2016 — but both of the GOP frontrunners have their own scandals, and some Republicans are worried. Former state Sen. Debbie Lesko (R) is accused of illegally donating $50,000 from her state Senate account to a PAC supporting her congressional campaign, but most of the attention is on the sexting scandal involving former state Sen. Steve Montenegro (R).

Montenegro, a married father and a Christian minister, acknowledged last week that a former Senate aide had sent him a topless photo as part of a months-long exchange of salacious text messages. An attorney for the aide, Stephanie Holford, said Holford had sent several nude photos to Montenegro. The candidate initially denied the claims, but after several newspapers printed excerpts from the text exchange, he told the Washington Examiner that he had not solicited the topless photo and "did not have any inappropriate relationships with this woman."

Despite the sexting scandal, Montenegro may well win, as an estimated 75 percent of voters in the district had already mailed in their ballots by the time the scandal broke last week. And if he does win the GOP primary, "it could be Alabama all over again," Shiree Verdone, who ran Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2010 Senate race, tells Politico. "Deep down, I'm worried because I don't want this to be another Roy Moore situation." Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, an emergency room physician backed by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D), is expected to beat fellow political newcomer Brianna Westbrook for the Democratic nomination, but even with the scandal, whichever Democrat wins faces an uphill battle. Peter Weber

February 7, 2018

The preliminary results from Missouri's special election are in, and a red seat in a Trump stronghold has flipped to blue.

In one of four elections in the state on Tuesday, Democrat Mike Revis, a 27-year-old procurement manager at Anheuser-Busch Inbev, defeated Republican David Linton, 59, by 3 percentage points. In 2016, President Trump won Jefferson County, home to Revis' 97th District, by 28 points.

This is the 35th state legislative seat that has gone from Republican to Democrat since Trump became president, HuffPost reports, while the GOP has flipped four seats from blue to red. All four of the seats up for grabs on Tuesday in Missouri had been held by Republicans, with the GOP keeping control of two; the fourth race is still too close to call. Catherine Garcia

May 11, 2017

Democrats and Republicans are closely watching any and all special elections that might prophesize how things could go in 2018. Democrats are hoping that President Trump's historically low job approval rating could carry their party to victory in close counties, while Republicans have celebrated victories in Kansas and sapped the momentum of a Democratic challenger in Georgia by forcing a runoff. Montana's special election is just around the corner, on May 25.

But Republicans still have every reason to be nervous, especially judging by the results of a special election in a deep-red county east of Oklahoma City. On Tuesday, Republican Zack Taylor managed to win 50-48 over his Democratic opponent, Steve Barnes, to seize the vacant 28th State House District seat — but the race should have been a landslide for the GOP. Mitt Romney carried the district 69-31 four years ago, and Trump won the region in November a whopping 73-23.

In other words, while a win is still a win, Taylor's victory marked a 48-point fall for the party in a Republican-friendly district in Oklahoma. The win was confirmed by just 56 votes.

While the left-leaning Daily Kos points out in its analysis of the election that other factors were at play, including "a savage and unresolved budget crisis presided over by the GOP," it also notes that "we've almost never seen anything this dramatic, but the outcome fits into a pattern we've witnessed ever since Trump's win last year. Nationwide, there have now been a dozen races pitting a Republican versus a Democrat in legislative and congressional special elections, and in nine of them, Democratic candidates have performed better than the 2016 presidential results." Jeva Lange

May 6, 2015

The voters of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn have elected District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. (R) to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by Michael Grimm (R), who resigned after pleading guilty to federal tax-fraud changes. Donovan is best known nationally for not convincing a grand jury to indict the officers caught on video choking Eric Garner, who subsequently died.

Donovan easily beat Councilman Vincent Gentile (D), 60 percent to 39 percent, according to unofficial results, in the rare Republican-leaning district of New York City. The victorious DA still touted his win as a "message to President Obama, to Nancy Pelosi and, yes, even to Bill de Blasio, that their policies are wrong for our nation." National Democrats, after sinking millions into an unsuccessful 2014 attempt to unseat Grimm (R) — then under federal indictment but before he pleaded guilty — declined to support Gentile in this special election. Peter Weber

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