Three months into the new year and there are already three special elections for the U.S. House of Representatives slated to take place over the next several months. First, in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, there’s the race to replace Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), who announced he was resigning in January. There’s also a special election in North Carolina’s 3rd District, which was due to the unfortunate passing of Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). Finally, after suspected vote tampering in North Carolina’s 9th District during the 2018 midterms, the state board of elections has ordered a new election to fill the seat previously held by Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC).
Last Friday, the filing deadline passed for NC-09, and the slate of candidates for all the special elections were solidified. To help keep track of how the special elections are shaping up, AR Intel pulled together the top things to know about each race.
Electoral History: PA-12 is rated as “Solid Republican” by the Cook Political Report, and it has an R+17 partisan voter index. Former Rep. Tom Marino carried the district by 32 points in 2018 and President Trump carried the district by 36 points in 2016.
Important Dates: The general election will take place on May 21, 2019. There is no primary election, as special election laws in Pennsylvania allow local parties to select their candidates.
Candidates: Republicans selected state Representative Fred Keller as their nominee. Keller is a retired manufacturing plant operations manager who spent 25 years working at Conestoga Wood Specialties, a local a wood cabinet supplier. He was first elected to the state House in 2010 and currently serves on the House Committees on Appropriations, Finance, Labor & Industry, and Tourism.
Democrats selected Marc Friedenberg, an assistant teaching professor at Penn State University and attorney. Friedenberg ran for an unsuccessful challenge to Rep. Tom Marino in 2018. Friedenberg has signaled support for single-payer health care, the Green New Deal, and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Notable Race Developments: Having run last year, Friedenberg ended the 2018 election cycle with about $66K on hand. Despite starting with a modest cash advantage, the political make up of PA-12 will likely prove difficult for Friedenberg to overcome. An article published by The Associated Press called Keller the “favorite” to win in the Republican-leaning district.
Electoral History: NC-03 is rated as “Solid Republican” by the Cook Political Report and it has an R+12 partisan voter index. Former Rep. Walter Jones carried the district by 35 points in 2016 (he was unopposed in 2018) and President Trump carried the district by nearly 24 points.
Important Dates: The primary election will be held on April 30, 2019. The general election is scheduled for July 9. But if a primary runoff is needed (winning candidates must receive more than 30% of the vote to clinch the nomination in the primary), the primary runoff will be on July 9, and the general election will be on September 10.
Candidates: There are 17 Republicans who have filed to run for the open seat. Among the candidates are Greg Murphy, a state representative and physician, Jeff Moore, a risk consultant and adviser to former Gov. Pat McCrory, and Michele Nix, the vice chair of the NCGOP and a financial adviser.
There are 6 Democrats running, including two former mayors: Allen Thomas, the former mayor of Greenville, NC, and Dana Outlaw, the former mayor of New Bern, NC. Democrat Richard Bew is also gaining attention. Bew is a veteran of the USMC where he was a pilot and served for 29 years. He also served as a legislative assistant to General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bew has been positioning himself similarly to Reps. Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Joe Cunningham (D-SC), who both won elections in traditionally Republican districts last cycle.
Notable Race Developments: Republican Eric Rouse, a Lenoir County commissioner since 2009 and VP of a company that specializes in permanent and relocatable buildings, was the first Republican to begin airing TV ads in the district. The ad features Rouse skeet shooting and hitting clays with Democratic priorities like the Green New Deal written on them. It closes with Rouse cocking a gun and vowing to have President Donald Trump’s back if elected.
Electoral History: NC-09 is rated as a “Toss Up” by the Cook Political Report, and it has an R+8 partisan voter index. Former Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) carried the district by 16 points in 2016, and President Trump carried the district by about 4 points. The 2018 midterm election results were never certified, but the unofficial results had Republican Mark Harris winning by less than half of a point.
Important Dates: The primary election will be held on May 14, 2019. The general election is scheduled for September 10. If a primary runoff is needed (like in NC-03, a winning candidate must receive more than 30% of the vote to clinch the nomination), the primary runoff will be on September 10, and the general election will be on November 5.
Candidates: Ten Republicans have filed to run in the NC-09 special election. There’s Dan Bishop, a state representative who is known for authoring North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill,’ which sought to limit student bathroom use to their born gender. Also running is Leigh Thomas Brown, a motivational speaker and the CEO of Leigh Brown & Associates, a real estate company. The election will also include Chris Anglin, an attorney who made waves last year by switching his party affiliation and running unsuccessfully as a Republican for the state Supreme Court.
Dan McCready, the Marine veteran who ran for the NC-09 House seat last year, is the only Democrat running. McCready attended Duke University for his undergraduate degree and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2011. In 2013, he founded Double Time Capital, an investment firm aimed at building “clean American energy.” McCready significantly outraised Republican Mark Harris in the 2018 midterm, bringing in $1.2M to Harris’ $307K. McCready begins 2019 with only $9,000 on hand, however.
Notable Race Developments: With such a large field of candidates running in a district that has been trending left, state GOP officials are warning candidates against a divisive primary. Despite these calls, early developments following the district’s filing deadline have been less than cordial. Former Rep. Robert Pittenger endorsed former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour in a letter to supporters, whom he called a “good match” against McCready because they are both former Marines. Pittenger’s letter had sharp criticism for another candidate, state Sen. Dan Bishop. He accused Bishop of being a top adviser to Mark Harris and claimed Bishop “clearly had knowledge” of the election fraud scandal surrounding Harris’ campaign. In response, Bishop threatened to sue Pittenger for libel, causing Pittenger to walk back his comments.
It’s also worth noting that Mark Harris, who declined to run again for the seat, endorsed Stony Rushing, a local gun range owner who defended Harris during the state board of elections’ investigation of the NC-09 midterm.