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Idaho Soon to Be Only State Never to Hold a U.S. House Special Election after NV-02

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All other 48 states have held special elections for U.S. House seats since the turn of the 20th Century

Of the hundreds and hundreds of times they have occurred since the birth of the nation, only two states have yet to experience the thrill that is a U.S. House special election.

Special elections frequently hold the nation's attention for a brief moment in time (e.g PA-12 in May 2010; NY-23 in November 2009), and are sometimes viewed as a referendum on the President's party or the party controlling the nation's lower legislative chamber depending on the competitiveness of the vacant seat.

In the coming months, one of those two states will join the other 48 leaving just one which has yet to hold a House special election contest.

A Smart Politics review of historical election data finds that only two states, Idaho and Nevada, have never held a special election to the U.S. House.

However, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval's appointment on Wednesday of Republican Congressman Dean Heller (NV-02) to John Ensign's U.S. Senate seat triggers the first such special election in the Silver State, to be conducted later this year.

Special elections are actually quite common in the U.S. House, with the least populated states generally going the longest since their last such contest (i.e. smaller delegations = fewer retirements, deaths, resignations):

· Over the last decade, 22 different states have held at least one such special election: Arkansas (2001, 3rd CD), California (2009, 10th CD), Florida (2010, 19th CD), Georgia (2010, 9th CD), Hawaii (2010, 1st CD), Illinois (2009, 5th CD), Indiana (2010, 3rd CD), Kentucky (2004, 6th CD), Louisiana (2008, 1st and 6th CDs), Maryland (2008 4th CD), Massachusetts (2007, 5th CD), Mississippi (2008, 1st CD), New Jersey (2006, 13th CD), New York (2010, 26th CD), North Carolina (2004, 1st CD), Ohio (2008, 11th CD), Oklahoma (2002, 1st CD), Pennsylvania (2010, 12th CD), South Carolina (2001, 2nd CD), South Dakota (2004, AL), Texas (2006, 22nd CD), and Virginia (2007, 1st CD).

· Six states last held a U.S. House special election in the 1990s: Arizona (1991, 2nd CD), Michigan (1993, 3rd CD), Missouri (1996, 8th CD), New Mexico (1998, 1st CD), Oregon (1996, 3rd CD), and Wisconsin (1993, 1st CD).

· With another six in the 1980s: Alabama (1989, 3rd CD), Colorado (1983, 6th CD), Connecticut (1987, 4th CD), Tennessee (1988, 2nd CD), West Virginia (1980, 3rd CD), and Wyoming (1989, AL).

· And four in the 1970s: Alaska (1973, AL), Minnesota (1977, 7th CD), Vermont (1972, AL), and Washington (1977, 7th CD).

· Three in the 1960s: Montana (1969, 2nd CD), North Dakota (1963, AL), and Rhode Island (1967, 2nd CD).

· And four more in the 1950s: Iowa (1959, 4th CD), Kansas (1950, 3rd CD), Maine (1951, 3rd CD), and Nebraska (1951, 3rd CD).

That leaves just three states plus Nevada and Idaho.

New Hampshire last held a special election to the House 79 years ago on January 5, 1932, when Democrat William Rogers was elected to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Republican Fletcher Hale in the 1st CD.

Rogers had previously served one term eight years prior during the 68th Congress, but had been defeated in his 1926 reelection attempt.

Rogers represented the 1st CD through 1936, when he lost his bid for the U.S. Senate.

It has been 81 years since Utah last held a special election to the U.S. House - good for the fourth longest spell in the country.

On November 4, 1930 Republican Frederick Loofbourow won the race to serve out the remainder of deceased GOPer Elmer Leatherwood's term in the 2nd CD, as well as for the full term to the subsequent 72nd Congress.

Loofbourow lost his subsequent campaigns for the U.S. House in both 1932 and 1934.

The state with the third longest special election drought is Delaware which last held a special U.S. House election 111 years ago on November 6, 1900.

In that race, Republican Walter O. Hoffecker was elected to serve out the last few months of the seat held by his father, John Henry Hoffecker, who had served just one term.

The younger Hoffecker was not a candidate for reelection for the full term for the 57th Congress beginning in March 1901.

That leaves Nevada and Idaho, who achieved statehood 147 and 121 years ago respectively (1864 and 1890).

Technically, both Idaho and Nevada held elections for less than a full term in Congress, but they were not special elections in the traditional sense of filling a vacancy.

When Nevada became a state in 1864 and Idaho in 1890 each held elections in the fall of that year to send a representative to the U.S. House for the remaining few months before the new Congress convened in March of the next year (Republicans Henry Worthington in Nevada and Willis Sweet in Idaho respectively).

Idaho has had a few vacancies over the years in their 2nd Congressional District, but never called for a special election to fill the seats, such as in June 1934 after the death of 1st term Democratic Representative Thomas Coffin and November 1946 when Republican Henry Dworshak resigned after being elected that month to the U.S. Senate.

Nevada also briefly lost its representation in the House back in December 1942 when Democrat James Scrugham resigned after being elected to the Senate.

The seat was vacant for less than a month when newly-elected Democratic Representative Maurice Sullivan took office.

Date of Most Recent Special U.S. House Election by State

State
Most Recent
District
Years
Indiana
November 2, 2010
3
1
New York
November 2, 2010
26
1
Georgia
June 8, 2010
9
1
Hawaii
May 22, 2010
1
1
Pennsylvania
May 18, 2010
12
1
Florida
April 13, 2010
19
1
California
November 3, 2009
10
2
Illinois
April 7, 2009
5
2
Ohio
November 18, 2008
11
3
Maryland
June 17, 2008
4
3
Mississippi
May 13, 2008
1
3
Louisiana
May 3, 2008
1 & 6
3
Virginia
December 11, 2007
1
4
Massachusetts
October 16, 2007
5
4
New Jersey
November 7, 2006
13
5
Texas
November 7, 2006
22
5
North Carolina
July 20, 2004
1
7
South Dakota
June 1, 2004
AL
7
Kentucky
February 17, 2004
6
7
Oklahoma
January 8, 2002
1
9
South Carolina
December 18, 2001
2
10
Arkansas
January 20, 2001
3
10
New Mexico
June 23, 1998
1
13
Missouri
November 5, 1996
8
15
Oregon
May 21, 1996
3
15
Michigan
December 7, 1993
3
18
Wisconsin
May 4, 1993
1
18
Arizona
September 24, 1991
2
20
Wyoming
April 26, 1989
AL
22
Alabama
April 4, 1989
3
22
Tennessee
November 8, 1988
2
23
Connecticut
August 18, 1987
4
24
Colorado
March 29, 1983
6
28
West Virginia
June 3, 1980
3
31
Washington
May 17, 1977
7
34
Minnesota
February 22, 1977
7
34
Alaska
March 6, 1973
AL
38
Vermont
January 7, 1972
AL
39
Montana
June 24, 1969
2
42
Rhode Island
March 28, 1967
2
44
North Dakota
October 22, 1963
AL
48
Iowa
December 15, 1959
4
52
Nebraska
December 4, 1951
3
60
Maine
October 22, 1951
3
60
Kansas
November 7, 1950
3
61
New Hampshire
January 5, 1932
1
79
Utah
November 4, 1930
2
81
Delaware
November 6, 1900
AL
111
Idaho
NONE
 
121
Nevada
NONE
 
147
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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