The Fix: special elections

Republicans won the Florida special election. Here’s what it means.

Republicans won the Florida special election. Here’s what it means.

Republican David Jolly's victory in a special election to fill Florida's vacant 13th district Tuesday night is the win that will launch a thousand storylines.

Republicans will argue that the win in a district carried by President Obama against a well-known and well-funded Democratic candidate -- Alex Sink was the party's 2010 gubernatorial nominee -- in which Jolly's messaging revolved around attacking Obamacare is a signal of things to come at the ballot box in November.

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Pick the winner in the Florida special election!

Voters are voting in Florida's 13th district!


Let's get ready to gamble! Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

And, when voters vote, that means a Fix prediction contest.

So, in the comments section below, offer your best guess on the percentage of the vote Democrat Alex Sink, Republican David Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby will win. (Feel free to go to the tenth -- as in 47.4 -- but don't go to the hundredth. I mean, come on people.) The person who comes closest to the actual percentages for the three candidates combined wins an autographed copy of "The Gospel According to the Fix." All guesses must be submitted by 7 pm eastern time, which is when polls close in the race.

Before you make your guess, you should read a few things. Here's everything you need to know about the race. Here's why the candidates don't matter all that much. And here's a report on how things look from the ground.

Medicaid expansion, Duck Dynasty and a Louisiana House special election

Medicaid expansion, Duck Dynasty and a Louisiana House special election

Republican Vance McAllister will soon be headed to Congress.

Who?

In an upset, McAllister, 39, won Saturday’s special election runoff in Louisiana’s 5th district, defeating a candidate backed by the GOP establishment. He heads to Washington with an atypical r sum and unlikely political profile. Here are the five biggest things to know about McAllister:

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The tea party’s next test: Alabama’s special election

The tea party’s next test: Alabama’s special election

In the far southwestern corner of Alabama lies the 1st congressional district, a heavily conservative area where voters will head to the polls Tuesday in what’s shaping up as the latest test of the tea party’s electoral heft.

Nine Republicans are vying for the nomination in the special election to replace Jo Bonner (R), who gave up his congressional seat this year to accept a high-ranking position in the University of Alabama system.

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Everything you need to know about the San Diego mayoral special election

Everything you need to know about the San Diego mayoral special election

Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) will reportedly resign as part of a settlement of a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment. Eighteen women have accused the mayor of sexual harassment.

So, what's next? The process of replacing Filner would move quickly:

— Once Filner leaves office, City Council President Todd Gloria (D) would become acting mayor.

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The not-very-special elections of 2013

The not-very-special elections of 2013

The year of the upset this is not. So far, at least.

Democratic Rep. Ed Markey's Senate special election victory in Massachusetts on Tuesday was widely expected. It was the political equivalent of Occam's Razor -- the simplest explanation tends to be the right one. The same can be said of the rest of the 2013 special election landscape thus far.

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Rush Holt is no Cory Booker. And he's just fine with that.

Rush Holt is no Cory Booker. And he's just fine with that.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), in his own words, is no Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D).

"I'll be the first to admit, I'm no Cory Booker," Holt says in an introductory campaign video released Wednesday. "I don't have a million Twitter followers, I've never run into a burning building, and I'm not friends with Mark Zuckerberg, though I did like him on Facebook."

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Chris Christie 2009 vs Chris Christie 2013

Chris Christie 2009 vs Chris Christie 2013

"I don't think you can put a price tag on what it's worth to have an elected person in the United States Senate," Gov. Chris Christie (R) declared on Tuesday.

The governor was responding to a question about the cost of holding an October special election to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, which according to one estimate, could be in the ballpark of $24 million.

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Chris Christie's Catch-22 -- and why he made the right (political) decision

Chris Christie's Catch-22 -- and why he made the right (political) decision

To hear the political media tell it, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) made a stinker of a decision Tuesday by setting the state's special Senate election for Oct. 16 rather than on the same day as the general election either this year or in 2014.

But the decision was probably the best of three bad options for Christie.

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5 things to watch in the Sanford-Colbert Busch special election

5 things to watch in the Sanford-Colbert Busch special election

Election Day in South Carolina is here!

One of the most memorable campaigns in recent years comes to an end today, with voters headed to the polls for the 1st district special election between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Polls close at 7 p.m. ET. We'll have news for you over on Post Politics and analysis right here on The Fix once a winner is called. And for on the ground coverage throughout the day, follow our Post colleague Karen Tumulty. In the meantime, below are five of the keys to the race. What did we miss? The comments section awaits!

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Predict the outcome of the South Carolina special election!

Voters are voting!


Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is seeking a House seat in a special election Tuesday. Getty Images.

The special election between Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch ends today in what has been an expensive and remarkably high profile race.

Public and private polling suggests the race is statistically tied going into election day and strategists in both parties believe it could be very close.

So, what do you think? In the comments section below, we want your prediction on who wins the South Carolina special election. Make your predictions in percentages to the tenth decimal point (as in 50.4 percent) and no further, and make sure you get them in by 7 pm eastern time, which is when polls close in the Palmetto State.

Whoever comes the closest to predicting the actual result gets a signed copy of "The Gospel According to the Fix". Second place? Two signed copies.

Get predicting!

Elizabeth Colbert Busch's big-time financial advantage, in two charts

Elizabeth Colbert Busch's big-time financial advantage, in two charts

The race between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch is pretty even with voters heading to the polls today. What hasn't been even -- not by a long shot -- is the money battle, which has heavily favored Colbert Busch.

House Majority PAC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have spent big to boost Colbert Busch, while national Republicans have left Sanford out to dry. The result has been an incredibly one-sided outside-group spending war, as the chart below shows. The data come from a Sunlight Foundation tally of independent expenditures.

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A Gomez upset of Markey? Don't count on it.

A Gomez upset of Markey? Don't count on it.

Here we go again in Massachusetts.

A little more than three years after Scott Brown's stunning special election upset win, Republicans are pinning hopes of a repeat on Gabriel Gomez, a first-time candidate who easily won the Republican Senate nomination on Tuesday.

There's a reason why Brown's win was so remarkable. That stuff simply doesn't happen very often. And the early read in the Bay State this time around is that it's unlikely to happen again.

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Watt seat sure to remain in Democratic hands and could attract crowded field

Watt seat sure to remain in Democratic hands and could attract crowded field

If Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) is confirmed as the next head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, a special election to replace him would be triggered. And given the heavy Democratic tilt of his district, it's overwhelmingly unlikely to switch party control.

Watt has represented North Carolina's 12th district since 1993. The oddly shaped and heavily gerrymandered district spans from Charlotte north to Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Both Watt and President Obama won nearly 80 percent of the vote there in 2012.

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Mark Sanford needed a big debate win but came up short

Mark Sanford needed a big debate win but came up short

Mark Sanford needed a decisive win Monday night. He didn't get one.

At best, Sanford fought to a draw against Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the only debate of the campaign. That spells trouble for the Republican, who is running out of chances to turn the tide with just a week left until Election Day.

"I don't think it was a game changer," South Carolina Republican strategist Richard Quinn said of Monday's debate, adding, "You have to give him the edge on points. But she made no huge mistakes, so she probably met or exceeded low expectations."

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The Sanford-Colbert Busch debate: Five things to watch

The Sanford-Colbert Busch debate: Five things to watch

The first and only debate between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch in South Carolina's 1st district special election campaign is happening tonight. Given how wildly unpredictable the race has been so far, it's not to be missed.

We'll have complete coverage over on Post Politics this evening of the set-to sponsored by the Patch news service, the South Carolina Radio Network, and Charleston 's WCBD-TV. In the meantime, here are the five things to watch for tonight beginning at 7 p.m. ET:

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Homeland security clashes define final week of Mass. Senate race

Homeland security clashes define final week of Mass. Senate race

It started last Monday.

A week after the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon, Democratic Reps. Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch resumed their Massachusetts Senate campaigns in earnest. There was a debate that night, and the first question was about the attack.

And since that time, the stretch run of the Democratic race has been consumed by a back-and-forth over homeland security that has persisted for a week.

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Mark Sanford is down. But he's not out.

Mark Sanford is down. But he's not out.

It's not all that much fun being Mark Sanford these days. Yet, winning isn't out of the question for him.

Such is life in South Carolina's one-of-a-kind 1st district special election. The race has gotten away from Sanford in the last two weeks. He's begun to resemble a fighter on the ropes for whom simply surviving the bout against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch looks like a challenge.

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The Sanford vs. Colbert Busch race ends in 13 days. Here's what you need to watch in the stretch run.

The Sanford vs. Colbert Busch race ends in 13 days. Here's what you need to watch in the stretch run.

Voters head to the polls in 13 days to choose between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch in South Carolina's 1st district. The wildly unpredictable campaign has led to a scenario in which Colbert Busch has put herself in a good position to upset Sanford.

But Sanford is not finished just yet, given the conservative tilt of the district (Mitt Romney won it by 18 points in 2012.) Here are the four biggest things to watch during the stretch run for clues about who will have the upper hand on May 7:

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Elizabeth Colbert Busch to appear on South Carolina ballot twice

Elizabeth Colbert Busch to appear on South Carolina ballot twice

One thing many people haven't noted about the upcoming South Carolina special election race between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch? The Democrat will appear on the ballot twice.

In March, Colbert Busch obtained the Working Families Party's endorsement and ballot line -- in addition to her status as the Democratic nominee. Her vote total will be a combination of votes for those two party lines. (To the right, you can see what the official ballot looks like -- with her name listed twice.)

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House Republicans had to bail on Mark Sanford. But they may get the last laugh.

House Republicans had to bail on Mark Sanford. But they may get the last laugh.

House Republicans' campaign arm had to bail on Mark Sanford, but may well get the last laugh in South Carolina's 1st congressional district.

The National Republican Congressional Committee made a necessary if uncomfortable announcement Wednesday that it would spend no money to help Sanford win a May 7 special election. Sanford still stands a decent chance of victory without the help. And if he doesn't win? Well, it's still not the end of the world for the NRCC.

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Why Sanford vs. Colbert Busch tells us nothing

Why Sanford vs. Colbert Busch tells us nothing

Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch will spend the next five weeks fighting tooth and nail for the right to represent South Carolina's 1st District in Congress. But, while the campaign promises to be memorable, searching for national significance would be a fool's errand.

Here's why.

The celebrity factor: This is not your standard R versus D race. It's a contest between a Republican with personal baggage and a nationally known scandal and a Democrat with a famous last name. The campaign will be very much about Sanford and his past. It will boil down to a question of whether voters in a Republican district (more on that in a moment) have forgiven him for bolting from the state in 2009 to meet the woman with whom he has having an affair. (She is now his fiancee.) The contest will also be impacted by what people think of Colbert Busch, and what her famous brother means to them. Like Colbert, and you'd be more likely to vote for his sister. Hate him, and you'd be less likely to support her.

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Can Elizabeth Colbert Busch win? Maybe.

Can Elizabeth Colbert Busch win?  Maybe.

You couldn't write a better plot.

The older sister of a Comedy Central star trying to defy the odds in a conservative district against a scandal-tarred former governor in search of political redemption. That's the situation we find in South Carolina's 1st district special election where Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D) is taking on Mark Sanford (R).

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5 things to watch in the Sanford-Bostic South Carolina runoff

5 things to watch in the Sanford-Bostic South Carolina runoff

It's Election Day in South Carolina!

Republican voters in the Palmetto State's 1st district on Tuesday will choose a nominee in a runoff between former governor Mark Sanford and former Charleston county council member Curtis Bostic. We'll have results for you over on Post Politics tonight. Meantime, here are the five things worth watching as the returns come in. (Did we miss anything? The comments section awaits!)

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Mark Sanford well positioned to win South Carolina GOP runoff

Mark Sanford well positioned to win South Carolina GOP runoff

It's been nearly two weeks since Mark Sanford placed first in South Carolina's 1st district Republican primary and kicked off a runoff campaign as the heavy favorite to win his party's nomination.

Little has changed since that time.

With Election Day coming up again on Tuesday, the former governor is the clear front-runner to defeat former Charleston County councilor Curtis Bostic.

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Mark Sanford's most important week

Mark Sanford's most important week

If Mark Sanford is going to pull off a political comeback culminating in a return to elected office, he'll need the next seven days to go smoothly.

Make no mistake, Sanford is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in South Carolina's 1st district special election. But the unpredictability of a special election runoff means he's not a lock.

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5 things to watch in the South Carolina special primary election

5 things to watch in the South Carolina special primary election

Voters head to the polls on Tuesday to select nominees in South Carolina's 1st District special election. A memorable field -- Mark Sanford, Stephen Colbert's sister, and Ted Turner's son are all candidates -- will be whittled down, and we'll get some fresh clarity about the race.

There's a lot to watch in the Palmetto State. Here are five things you shouldn't miss:

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4 questions for Election Day in Illinois' 2nd District

4 questions for Election Day in Illinois' 2nd District

It's Election Day in Illinois! Polls are open in a Chicago-area district where voters will select their nominees in the special election to replace former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned last year and admitted last week to misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds.

What really matters today is the Democratic primary. Given the district's heavy Democratic tilt, the party's nominee may as well be considered the next member of Congress. Below are four questions to bear in mind as you watch the returns come in this evening. And stay tuned to Post Politics tonight for results, some time after the polls close at 8 p.m. ET.

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Stephen Colbert on sister's House race: I hope what I do 'doesn't sully her good character' (VIDEO)

Stephen Colbert on sister's House race: I hope what I do 'doesn't sully her good character' (VIDEO)

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert praised his older sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch on Thursday, touting her credentials for a South Carolina House seat as he expressed hope that his own professional activities won't tarnish her character.

"It's natural for her to run because she has skills and something to offer society," Colbert said on NBC's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." "I am professionally ridiculous. So I just hope that what I do for a living doesn't sully her good character."

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How the GOP primary could impact the Lynch/Markey race in Massachusetts

How the GOP primary could impact the Lynch/Markey race in Massachusetts

Looking to gauge the chances Rep. Stephen Lynch will upset front-running Rep. Ed Markey in the Massachusetts Senate Democratic primary? Take a peek at the GOP primary.

Yes, the Republican primary. A new WBUR poll out Friday showed Markey leading Lynch by just seven points among those likeliest to vote in the special Democratic primary, 38 percent to 31 percent. Lynch's success in the poll is due in large part to strong support among unaffiliated voters, who can participate in either primary. And where they decide to cast their ballots could make the Democratic race much more or much less competitive.

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Debate over guns takes center stage in Illinois special election

Debate over guns takes center stage in Illinois special election

Against the backdrop of a city plagued by violence, the nation's renewed debate over guns has taken center stage in a Chicago-area congressional race. The campaign is a test of whether gun-control advocates led by one of the nation's leading activists can defeat former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, arguably the front-runner for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s old seat.

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Stephen Colbert touts sister's congressional campaign (VIDEO)

Stephen Colbert touts sister's congressional campaign (VIDEO)

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert is not the only one in his family with an eye on politics. His sister, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, is running in the upcoming South Carolina 1st District special election. On Wednesday, Colbert took some time on his show to shine some national spotlight on his big sister's campaign.

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Massachusetts Senate special election: A lost cause for the GOP?

Massachusetts Senate special election: A lost cause for the GOP?

It wasn't too long ago that the race for Secretary of State John Kerry's old Senate seat looked promising for Republicans. But in the last five days, one well-known Republican after another has publicly declined to run, putting the GOP in an unenviable spot as it faces a fast approaching deadline to field a candidate for a contest that looks to be very difficult for the party.

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Field for Jackson's House seat features one-of-a-kind cast

Field for Jackson's House seat features one-of-a-kind cast

What do two former members of Congress (one of whom served time in prison), a former NFL linebacker, and potentially, an embattled former congressman's wife and brother all have in common?

They are all candidates or potential candidates for the seat Illinois Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned last week, amid a federal probe and health issues. The contest in Illinois's 2nd District is quickly shaping up to be a crowded competition featuring candidates with starkly different resumes.

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Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has resigned from Congress

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has resigned from Congress

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) has resigned from Congress amid mental health issues and a federal investigation into his political dealings.

Jackson submitted a letter of resignation to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in just the last few minutes, according to an aide in Boehner's office.

Jackson's office could not be reached for comment.

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Another Massachusetts special election?

Another Massachusetts special election?

Election 2012 has been in the books for just a week, but it's already looking like we might have a special election in early-to-mid 2013.

Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) name has popped up as a potential pick for the next Secretary of Defense -- a selection which, if it happened, would create the second Senate special election in Massachusetts in three years.

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Former Giffords aide Ron Barber wins special election for her seat

Democrat Ron Barber, a former aide to Gabrielle Giffords who was injured in the shooting that nearly took the ex-Arizona congresswoman’s life, won the special election to replace her on Tuesday.

With 66 percent of precincts reporting, Barber led Republican Jesse Kelly 53 percent to 45 percent. The AP has called the race for Barber.

The contest was the last congressional special election before November’s general election, leaving both sides to mine the results for clues about what might work in November and who might have momentum on their side.
From left, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Ron Barber and Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband, enter the polling place at St. Cyril's Catholic Church in Tucson, Ariz. Tuesday morning. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Tingle) (Tom Tingle - AP)

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Special election and primary day: 5 things to watch

It’s primary day — again!

Voters in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and Virginia are heading to the primary polls as we speak, while Arizona voters will pick a replacement for former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D) and Arkansas voters will vote in a runoff.

With so many races on the ballot, here are five things to keep an eye on...

1. Arizona special election: What’s the margin?

Republicans are quietly expressing pessimism about the Giffords race, where GOP nominee Jesse Kelly has had some troubles trying to win a Republican-leaning district. But even if he loses, the margin matters.

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Democrats up big in Giffords special election, automated poll shows

Democrats hold a double-digit lead in Tuesday’s special election to replace former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), according
Ron Barber (center) is favored in a new poll of the Arizona special election. (Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images)
to a new poll from Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling.

The poll, the first of the race to be released publicly, shows former Giffords aide Ron Barber (D) leading Iraq veteran Jesse Kelly (R) 53 percent to 41 percent.

The survey appears to indicate a significantly different picture than either of the two parties involved have seen in their recent polling.

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The Gabby Giffords special election, and the limits of the sympathy vote

Voters will head to the polls Tuesday in southeastern Arizona to fill former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) seat just more than 17 months after she survived an assassination attempt.


Gabrielle Giffords, right, hasn’t been much of an issue in the special election for her old seat. Her former district director, Ron Barber, left, is the Democratic nominee in that race. (Matt York/Reuters)
But while the outpouring of sympathy from that event dominated the news, it’s not expected to play a major role in Tuesday’s results.

Giffords’s Republican-leaning district looks to be neck and neck down the stretch, with neither side ready to predict victory. And both Democrats and Republicans agree that the shooting – in which Democratic nominee and former Giffords aide Ron Barber was also injured – has little to do with the ballots voters are casting.

“There is a group of people extremely dedicated to Gabby who will do anything for her,” said one Arizona Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “But I haven’t seen much evidence that the persuadable universe of folks Barber needs to win are going to be swayed by the shooting.”

Another Democratic strategist put it more bluntly: “Sympathy doesn’t win elections.”

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How the GOP could steal Gabby Giffords’s seat

Is Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) former aide the odds-on favorite to claim her seat in the upcoming special election? Probably.

Is it a slam dunk? Hardly.

Voting begins in the special election today, with Republicans picking a nominee to face former Giffords aide Ron Barber (D) in the June 12 special election. And for a while now, the assumption has been that Barber would probably win the race — thanks in no small part to his close ties to Giffords. (For more on Barber, see former Fixer Felicia Sonmez’s profile from last week.)


Ron Barber, left, a former top aide to former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, right, is favored to win a special election for her seat. But he’s running in a Republican-leaning district. (AP)

But if the past several years have shown us anything, it’s that special elections are rarely predictable, often surprising and usually a big deal.

Arizona’s 8th district could be the latest to fit that mold.

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Democrat Suzanne Bonamici wins Oregon special election

Democrat Suzanne Bonamici wins Oregon special election

Former Oregon state senator Suzanne Bonamici (D) won the special election to succeed former congressman David Wu (D-Ore.) on Tuesday, scoring a sizeable victory in the Portland-area 1st district.

Results late Tuesday in the vote-by-mail contest showed Bonamici leading Republican businessman Rob Cornilles 54 percent to 39 percent with 68 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has called the race for Bonamici.

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DCCC buys $1 million in ad time in Oregon special election for ex-Rep. David Wu’s seat

Democrats have bought $1 million worth of ad time in the upcoming special congressional election in Oregon – a significant sign that the heavily Democratic seat of former congressman David Wu (D-Ore.) could be at risk.

But just how at risk?

Neither side is insisting this race will be close. But the big early buy suggests Democrats are scared — and not necessarily because of anything that’s happening in Oregon.

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The West Virginia governor’s race and the enthusiasm gap

The West Virginia governor’s race and the enthusiasm gap

For the second time in less than one month, voters in an unusual but heavily Democratic area are heading to the polls with the possibility of electing a Republican.

Operatives on both sides say Tuesday’s special election for governor of West Virginia will be close, and Republicans are ready to pounce on the results as proof that President Obama is dragging down Democrats across the country — just as he did three weeks ago in the special congressional election Democrats lost in New York’s 9th district.

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