DemDaily: Pending In The House

February 17, 2021

The partisan breakdown of the 117th Congress of the US House House of Representatives stands at 222 Democrats to 213 Republicans, with one possible turnover still lingering from the 2020 cycle, and five special elections slated for 2021.

In New York's 22nd Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi lost to former Congresswoman Claudia Tenney in a rematch of their 2018 election, when Brindisi unseated Tenney. After an extensive court battle, Tenney was declared the winner by 109 votes on February 5, 2021.

Democrat Rita Hart has appealed to the US House (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

In Iowa's Second Congressional District, held by retiring incumbent Congressman Dave Loebsack (D) since 2007, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks was certified the winner November 30th over Democrat Rita Hart by a six-vote margin following a recount.

Miller-Meeks was provisionally sworn in January 3rd, but the election is still undergoing a challenge by Hart, a former state senator, who claims that 22 legally-cast ballots had been incorrectly excluded from the count.

On December 22, 2020, Hart contested the election results to the US House Administration Committee, who met for the first time February 10th. If the committee recommends the matter to the full House, the chamber will conduct its own full review and hand recount before deciding the outcome by a majority vote.

A Special Election is one called to fill a vacancy that occurs when an elected official leaves office before completion of his or her full elected term, usually due to a death, early retirement, a decision to run for another office, or an early resignation due to an appointment.
Over the last five election cycles, there have been an average of 13 special elections.

There are two scheduled House special elections for 2021, with three more pending election dates.

State Senator Troy Carter has been endorsed by Richmond (thenewsstar)

Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District
Incumbent: Cedric Richmond (D)
Filing Deadline: January 22, 2021
Special Election: March 20, 2021
The special election will fill the vacancy left by Cedric Richmond, who was named on November 17, 2020 as Senior Adviser to President Biden and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Richmond was elected to the New Orleans-based district in 2010 with 65% of the vote, and subsequently won reelection each cycle by an average of 67%.

Top Democrats include State Senator Troy Carter, who has been endorsed by Richmond, as well as social justice advocate and media entrepreneur Gary Chambers. State Senator and former State Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson, who has been endorsed by EMILY's List and Stacey Abrams, is also among the leading contenders.

Other Dems include Mobilizing Millenials founder J. Christopher Johnson, Helping Ourselves Make Economic Strides Director Lloyd Kelly, small business owners Desiree Ontiveros and Jenette Porter, and Harold John.

Republicans include Entergy Human Resources manager Chelsea Ardoin, author Claston Bernard, cybersecurity expert Greg Lirette, and Hercules Construction CEO Sheldon Vincent Sr., along with Libertarian Mindy McConnell, and Independents Belden Batiste and Brandon Jolicoeur.

Candy Christophe, Dem candidate in LA 5

Louisiana's 5th Congressional District
Incumbent: Luke Letlow (R)
Filing Deadline: January 22, 2021
Special Election: March 20, 2021

Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, who filled the seat vacated by retiring Congressman Ralph Abraham, died of COVID-19 on December 29, 2020, just five days shy of being sworn into Congress. He was 41 years old.

In the historically Republican district, 12 candidates have declared their intention to run, led by Luke Letlow's widow, Julia Letlow, an administrative executive assistant at the University of Louisiana Monroe.

Letlow has been endorsed by Abraham, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Congressman Steve Scalise (LA), and the Republican Party of Louisiana.

Small business owner and social worker Candy Christophe, who secured 16.4% in the 2020 open primary against Luke Letlow, is the only Democrat running in special election.

Louisiana uses a majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation. If necessary, a general election will be held on April 24, 2021.

Two additional Biden nominations leave open two Democratic seats in New Mexico and Ohio.

New Mexico's First Congressional District
Incumbent: Debra Haaland (D)
Special Election: TBD. Likely May, 2021

Congresswoman Debra Haaland has been nominated as Secretary of the Interior in the Biden administration. A former Chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party, in 2018 she became one of the two first Native American women to be elected to Congress. She was reelected in 2020 with 58.2% of the vote.

State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is among the candidates (Austin Prisbrey/AirForce)

If confirmed by the US Senate in her February 23rd hearing, Congresswoman Haaland will resign, leaving the Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) ten days to set a date for the special election -- to be held no less than 77 days or more than 91 days after the vacancy date.

In lieu of a primary election, the state's major political parties' central committees will select their nominees from a list of currently eight Democrats and four Republicans contenders.

The large field of contenders include Democrats include Victor Reyes, Legislative Director for Governor Grisham, and State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, who lost the 2018 primary to Haaland. Other Democratic candidates include filmmaker Francisco Fernández, community organizer Selinda Guerrero, State Representative Georgene Louis, Attorney Randi McGinn, State Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero and State Representative Melanie Stansbury.

Republicans include conservative radio host and owner of KIVA-AM Eddy Aragon, bookkeeper Michaela Chavez, finance manager Ronnie Lucero, Albuquerque Public School Board member Peggy Muller-Aragón, and attorney Jared Vander Dussen.

Although a Democratic-leaning district, Republicans controlled the seat for 40 years, until now-US Senator Martin Heinrich won the district in 2008. Of the four special elections, New Mexico's First CD is expected to be the most competitive.

Ohio's 11th Congressional District
Incumbent: Marcia Fudge
Special Election: TBD. Primary Likely May 4, 2021

Shontel Brown, one of the leading candidates in Ohio's 11th (twitter)

On February 4th, the Senate Banking Committee advanced the nomination of Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, which now awaits a confirmation hearing before the full Senate.

Fudge has represented Ohio's Cleveland-based 11th District since August of 2008, following the death of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones. She was subsequently reelected in the heavily Democratic district by at least 79% of the vote each cycle.

Once Fudge is confirmed, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) will call a special election, likely be held on the regularly-schedule May 4, 2021 primary, with the special general election to be held August 3, 2021.


Five Democrats have announced for the seat, including perceived frontrunners Nina Turner and Shontel Brown. Turner, a former State Senator and President of the progressive organization Our Revolution, has far outraised any competitors, with $650,000 as of the end of December. However, Brown, a Cuyahoga County Councillor and Chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party is expected to receive the endorsement of Marcia Fudge once the Congresswoman steps down.

Also running are former State Representative John Barnes, Jr., former State Senator and Cleveland City Councillor Jeff Johnson, and former State Senator Shirley Smith.

No Republicans have filed for the seat to-date.

Texas 6th Congressional District
Incumbent: Ronald Wright
Special Election: TBD
On February 7, 2021, Republican Congressman Ronald Wright passed away, leaving the heavily Republican Sixth District, anchored in Arlington, Texas, vacant. Wright, elected in 2018, had been diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2019, and died from complications due to COVID-19. A special election date has not been determined.


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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Ballotpedia, KRQE, Roll Call, Washington Post, US Senate

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