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).
Barack Obama has delivered an address before a joint session of Congress eight times since taking office five years ago. During his first three speeches (February 2009's inaugural address to Congress, September 2009's address on health care reform, and the 2010 State of the Union), the president's tie color of choice was red. After the GOP tsunami in November 2010, Obama has opted for a blue tie in four of his five speeches held in the Republican-controlled lower legislative chamber (for the 2011, 2013, and 2014 SOTUs and his September 2011 address on job growth). The president reverted back to his red tie only once, for the 2012 SOTU.
Tom Latham's surprise announcement last month that he would retire from the U.S. House at this end of this term was also an unusual exit in modern Hawkeye State history. Over the last 50+ years since the 1962 cycle, only six of 32 Iowa U.S. Representatives - including Latham - left the chamber via retirement, or 18 percent: Democrats Merwin Coad in 1962 and Berkley Bedell in 1986 and Republicans Charles Hoeven in 1964, Harold Gross in 1974, Cooper Evans in 1986, and Latham in 2014. Seventeen others were defeated in reelection bids, while nine ran for higher office. Five of these were defeated (Republicans Tom Tauke in 1990, Fred Grandy in 1994, Jim Lightfoot in 1996, Greg Ganske in 2002, Jim Nussle in 2006), three were victorious (John Culver in 1974, Chuck Grassley in 1980, Tom Harkin in 1984), with one yet to be determined (1st CD Democrat Bruce Braley, running for U.S. Senate this cycle).
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