The Fix: special election

Why Cory Booker’s expected Senate debut could hardly come at a more turbulent time

Why Cory Booker’s expected Senate debut could hardly come at a more turbulent time

Barring a major surprise, Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) will be Sen.-elect Cory Booker by day’s end.

It’s hard to imagine a more turbulent and pivotal moment for Booker -- who, if he wins, could be sworn in as early as this week -- to enter the Senate. His first vote might be on a bill to reopen the government and pull the country back from the brink of a debt ceiling disaster.

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What we know about the New Jersey Senate race (and what we don't)

What we know about the New Jersey Senate race (and what we don't)

It's been a busy week in New Jersey politics. Sen. Frank Lautenberg's death set into motion a series of events culminating in an August primary and October special election to fill his seat.

So, who has the upper hand? And what are the most important variables to keep an eye on as the race moves forward? Below we run down the biggest knowns and unknowns. Agree/disagree? The comments section awaits your input!

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How Mark Sanford is trying to turn lemons into lemonade

How Mark Sanford is trying to turn lemons into lemonade

In his bid to return to Congress, Mark Sanford seems to have taken to heart an old proverb: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

The onetime rising Republican star came crashing down in 2009 after disappearing for nearly a week as governor before admitting to an extramarital affair. How to explain such a black mark in a bid for a return trip to Congress?

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S.C. race pits Mark Sanford vs. Ted Turner's son vs. Stephen Colbert's sister

S.C. race pits Mark Sanford vs. Ted Turner's son vs. Stephen Colbert's sister

A couple of weeks back, we named South Carolina the most interesting state in politics.

And now the state is proving us right. That's because the field for the special election to fill appointed Sen. Tim Scott's (R-S.C.) House seat is nothing short of fascinating.

It includes:

1. Mark Sanford, a Republican former governor who got caught having an affair with a woman from Argentina. The media began asking questions when his office said his absence was due to "hiking the Appalachian Trail" -- and one of the greatest euphemisms in modern politics was born.

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Massachusetts special election: Who will run?

Massachusetts special election: Who will run?

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's expected appointment to become the next Secretary of State is close to becoming official, which means we're almost assured of a second special Senate election in three year in the Bay State.

We've already examined the race ahead in some detail, including Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) chances of returning to the Senate after his 2012 loss. And a new poll from WBUR-TV today shows Brown would start the race with a significant lead on all comers, including popular Gov. Deval Patrick (D).

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Why Republicans love John Kerry

Why Republicans love John Kerry

The Republican campaign to prevent U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice from becoming the next Secretary of State is in full bloom, with top GOP foreign policy voices and centrist Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) all joining the chorus of criticism over her comments made after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

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The super PAC election? Not quite

To read the news coverage of late, you could be forgiven for thinking that we’re headed into a campaign in which super PACs will determine the winner. Ten million dollars from Sheldon Adelson here, $1 million from Bill Maher there, and it’s easy to conclude that these new organizations will have the biggest say in the identity of the next president and control of Congress.

But it’s not quite so simple.

In fact, the realities of campaign advertising today still put a premium on candidates themselves — and specifically, on their fundraising.


Comedian Stephen Colbert was given the go-ahead from the FEC last year to launch a super PAC to raise unlimited amounts of campaign cash for the upcoming 2012 political season. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Ron Barber goes up with first ad in Giffords special election

Arizona Democratic special election candidate Ron Barber is up with his first ad of the race , a bio spot in which he talks about working with the disabled and running a business.

“I’m Ron Barber and I’ve seen a lot it my life,” Barber says while driving in a car in the ad, which was produced by Ralston Lapp Media. “I’ve seen what we need to do: Rebuild our middle class.”

Barber, who was unopposed for his party’s nomination on Tuesday, makes no mention of his ties to former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the ad, besides flashing some text on the screen pointing out that he served as her district director.

Barber was injured in the January 2011 shooting spree that left six people dead and Giffords wounded by a gun shot to the head.

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Jesse Kelly wins GOP nod for Giffords special election

Iraq veteran Jesse Kelly won the Republican nomination in the special election for former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) seat on Tuesday and will face former Giffords aide Ron Barber (D) in the June 12 race.

Kelly, who fell to Giffords by about 4,000 votes in 2010, turned aside a field of opponents that included state Sen. Frank Antenori, broadcaster Dave Sitton and former Air Force pilot Martha McSally.

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Democrats face uphill climb in 2012 governors races

Democrats face uphill climb in 2012 governors races

Democrats’ victory in the West Virginia governor’s race on Tuesday effectively brings to an end the 2011 gubernatorial season — or at least the competitive races.

But, never fear because the big governors races of 2012 are beginning to take shape. And it’s already clear that Democrats have their work cut out for them.

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Democrats hold on in West Virginia governor’s race

Democrats hold on in West Virginia governor’s race

Acting West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) won the state’s special election for governor Tuesday, avoiding what could have been an embarrassing loss for President Obama and his party.

The Associated Press affirmed Tomblin’s victory over Republican businessman Bill Maloney shortly after 9 p.m. eastern time.

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Fix prediction contest: West Virginia governor’s race!

Voters are voting in West Virginia!

And that, of course, means a Fix prediction contest. The rules are pretty easy. Tell us the percentage of the vote (no decimals, math nerds) that Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) and Republican challenger Bill Maloney will get when all the results are tabulated.

Need a primer? Check out our posts on the race.

(HINT: There are three third-party candidates who are likely to take some of the vote, so the total of Tomblin and Maloney may not — and likely won’t — equal 100.)

Polls close in West Virginia at 7:30 p.m. — blessedly early! — so any predictions made after that time will be disqualified. And you must make your prediction in the comments section to be eligible for the much-coveted official Fix t-shirt.

Obama drags down Democrat in West Virginia governor’s race

Obama drags down Democrat in West Virginia governor’s race

President Obama’s unpopularity is threatening Democrats’ hold on the governor’s mansion in West Virginia.

Sources close to Tuesday’s special election for the remaining year on now-Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) term as governor say the race continues to move in favor of Republican nominee Bill Maloney, who appears to be winning over the many undecided voters in the state. The race is now looking more and more like a toss-up, though Democrats remain confident they will pull it out in the end.

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The New York special election: Will Democrats panic?

In the wake of Rep.-elect Bob Turner’s (R) upset victory in the special election in New York’s 9th district on Tuesday night, the prevailing question among Democrats will almost certainly be: Is it time to push the panic button?


(Rep.-elect Bob Turner (R) celebrates his win in New York’s 9th district special election Tuesday night.)
There’s little debate that the seat that will now occupied by Turner was one Democrats could have and should have won. It had been in Democratic hands for more than eight decades and was carried by President Obama by 11 points in 2008. And Democrats had a three-to-one registration advantage in the district.

Why they didn’t win is a matter of debate, but expect the after-action analysis to focus on the fact that Republicans (and former Democratic New York City mayor Ed Koch, who endorsed Turner) cast the race as a referendum on Obama.

That perception, which national Democratic leaders will do everything they can to beat back today, is a dangerous one for already-skittish Democrats concerned about how the still-staggering economy and the president’s unpopularity will impact them next fall.

It’s compounded by the fact that Democrats came nowhere close to winning another House special election in Nevada on Tuesday. At one point party strategists had seen a path to victory there too.

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What’s at stake in the New York special election?

The special election to replace disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) in a Brooklyn-Queens House seat wasn’t supposed to be close.


The resignation of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner has caused a competitive special election to replace him in New York’s 9th district. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
After all, this is a seat long held by Democrats — including the likes of now Sen. Chuck Schumer and former Rep. Liz Holtzman — and one that President Obama carried by 11 points just three years ago.

But, all sides now agree that today’s contest between state Assemblyman David Weprin (D) and businessman Bob Turner (R) is a nip-and-tuck affair with Democrats privately pessimistic about their chances. (Make sure to offer your own guess on the outcome in our Fix prediction contest.)

So what does the tightness of the race — and the possibility of a Turner upset — tell us about the political landscape?

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Special elections reveal a fickle electorate

Republicans are citing their momentum in two special elections being held Tuesday as evidence that the national political environment has shifted against Democrats and President Obama.


Assemblyman David Weprin is in a surprisingly close race for a House seat in New York. (Ken Goldfield - AP Photo)
Four months ago, Democrats made the same argument about the GOP’s liabilities during their own win in an upstate New York special election.

And they are both right. Kind of.

The two competing storylines coming out of very different special elections just 130 days apart shows just how fickle American voters are right now.

They also demonstrate that any Republican momentum should be seen as momentary, and that the electorate four months hence could just as well revert back to punishing Republicans.

Meanwhile, all eyes Tuesday will be on whether the GOP can truly steal the seat of former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and keep that of now-Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

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