Many voters are upset over the selections by the new Republican President to fill out his administration, and rightly so. The candidate who promised that he would drain the Washington swamp did the opposite, filing it with a cast of alligators seeking to feed off of the destruction of the agencies they were tapped to lead, and personally profiting from the business opportunities their new positions would provide. We should be thankful the administration picked sitting Republicans to swim in his swamp, as this has opened up four seats in the House of Representatives, giving Democrats a chance to close the Republican advantage in the House of Representatives, through the special elections to fill these seats. Democrats can drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. starting in the House.
There are five current vacancies in the House of Representatives, with upcoming special elections to fill the seats. Only one vacancy involves a seat that was held by a Democrat.
In California, Congressman Xavier Becerra from the 34th District, was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to replace now Senator Kamala Harris, as Attorney General. There is a crowded field competing in the primary election scheduled for April 4, 2017 with the general election to follow on June 6, 2017. Becerra won the district last November, defeating a Democratic challenger with 78.2% of the vote, as California allows the two top vote getters to advance from a primary election to the general election.
Former Republican Congressman, Tom Price, from the very red 6th Congressional District in Georgia, is now the Secretary of Health and Human Services. A special primary election will be held on April 18, 2017, to replace Price, and Jon Ossoff is a Democratic candidate scaring Republicans in the crowded field. The top two vote getters will face each other in a run off election on June 20, 2017.
The very red State of Kansas will hold a special election on April 11, 2017, in the 4th Congressional District to replace Mike Pompeo, the new CIA Director. James Thompson is a highly respected civil rights attorney and a pro-choice Democrat, who will be opposing anti-choice Republican candidate, State Treasurer, Ron Estes. A moderate revolt against far right Governor Sam Brownback scaled back the Conservative stranglehold on Kansas, as 14 Conservative allies of the Governor lost to moderate primary state challengers in August 2016. Democrats gained one seat in the Kansas Senate and 12 House seats in the 2016 state general election. If the people of Kansas see the threat that that others have seen in the heartland, coming from the loss of the ACA and from the Republican budgetary proposal, perhaps a massive effort by Democrats to bring in moderate Kansas voters could steal the open Congressional seat for Attorney Thompson.
Montana has a Democratic Governor, Mark Bullock, one Democratic Senator, Jon Tester, who is up for reelection in 2018, and one Congressional District. Rob Quist is the Democratic candidate running in the May 25, 2017, special election to replace the new Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. Given that Democrats have won 55% of the statewide elections in Montana over the last 25 years, Quist appears to have a better than even chance to win the Montana at large Congressional seat.
There will be a special primary election on May 2, 2017 in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District. This will be followed by a June 20, 2017 special election to replace Mick Mulvaney, the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The prospects for a Democratic pick-up in this district appear slim.
The idea that the Democratic Party did not turnout voters in the 2016 general election is patently false. Secretary Clinton won the national popular vote by almost 3 million. Democrats picked up six seats in the House of Representatives in the 2016 general election. Democrats also narrowed the Republican lead in the United States Senate, picking up seats in two states.
If Democrats can win three of these special elections, holding the traditionally Democratic 34th district in California, while adding the formerly Republican seats in Georgia and Montana, the gap in the House which currently gives the Republicans a 237 to 193 advantage, would narrow to 239 to 196. These five upcoming special elections give voters from all sides of the ideological spectrum the ability to express their building anger, showing that they are ready, willing, and able to correct the egregious errors made in the 2016 elections. It would send a powerful message to the new administration and its Republican enablers that Democrats can drain the swamp in 2018 and beyond.