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Death Triggers Nearly Half of U.S. House Special Elections

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In less than two weeks, Nevada will hold its first special election to the U.S. House in state history, with 2nd Congressional District residents voting to fill the seat vacated by Republican Dean Heller who was appointed to the U.S. Senate after the resignation of scandal-plagued GOPer John Ensign. Over the last 50 years, there have been 220 special elections for the House of Representatives heading into the September 13th contests in Nevada and New York's 9th CD (to fill Democrat Anthony Weiner's seat). Nearly one out of two such elections during this span were caused by the death of the U.S. House member - with 102 such cases dating back to 1961 (46.3 percent). However, with the inclusion of NV-02 and NY-09, there have now been eight consecutive special elections conducted for seats vacated due to reasons other than death - the longest such streak during this five-decade long stretch. Well-known members of Congress to die in office during this span include Democrat Claude Pepper (FL-18), Republican Sonny Bono of California (CA-44), and Democrat John Murtha (PA-12).

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Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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