Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Assessing Congressional Decisions Facing S.C., Ill.

In Election Analysis, House on June 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm

SC-7: A Horry County court judge finally ordered the South Carolina Election Commission to conduct a Democratic run-off election in the state’s new 7th Congressional District, just days before the secondary election is to be held. The ruling came down Friday and the run-off election will be held as originally scheduled, tomorrow. Controversy arose on primary election night over whether to count the votes cast for withdrawn candidate Ted Vick, whose name appeared on the ballot because he officially left the race after the ballots were printed.

Relying on past Election Commission procedure, votes, for the purposes of determining whether a candidate obtained majority support from the participating electorate, were not typically counted for withdrawn contestants. Eliminating Vick’s votes in this instance allowed former Georgia state representative Gloria Tinubu to exceed the 50-percent mark and clinch the Democratic congressional nomination. Democratic officials objected to the commission ruling and asked a judge to overturn their decision not to conduct a run-off.

Since the court agreed with the plaintiffs, and Vick’s 2,341 votes now have officially been added to the aggregate total, Tinubu’s final tally drops from 52.5 percent to 48.8 percent. Second-place finisher Preston Brittain’s now scores 36.7 percent.

With a run-off campaign that will last just four official days, it remains to be seen if the Democratic vote will change much in such a short pre-election campaign period. Republicans Andre Bauer, the state’s former lieutenant governor, and Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice continue to compete for the GOP nomination.

IL-12: Democrats now have a new nominee in Illinois’ 12th District. Local party county chairmen interviewed prospective Democratic candidates on Saturday and chose Illinois National Guard adjutant general and attorney William Enyart as the party standard bearer. He replaces Brad Harriman, the man who won the March 20 primary, but was forced to withdraw from the campaign due to health reasons.

IL-12 is a sleeper campaign on the national scene in that Republicans have an improving chance to win this election. The 12th, in open-seat status because veteran Rep. Jerry Costello (D) is retiring, is the only Democratically held district that did not precipitously improve it’s Obama-McCain 2008 score (new IL-12: 55 percent; current IL-12: 54 percent) under the Illinois congressional redistricting map. The Illinois plan is clearly the one in which Democrats can make their most significant national gains. The district ranks 13th of 18 Illinois seats on the Obama scale and is the weakest of the new Democratic seats. To put the Obama home-state performance in perspective, in only two Land of Lincoln congressional districts did the president fail to secure a majority in his 2008 race.

The new 12th CD begins in East St. Louis, encompassing St. Clair County. It then covers southwestern Illinois, including the area between the St. Louis metropolitan area and the Missouri and Kentucky borders at the southern tip of the state.

Gen. Enyart was the unanimous choice of the fourteen Democratic county chairmen who had authority to choose the replacement candidate. Seven prospective nominees were interviewed, including former representative David Phelps (D-IL-19), who served for two terms before losing a paired incumbent contest to Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL-19) in 2002, and state Rep. John Bradley. Obviously, having to launch a congressional campaign from ground zero three months after your general election opponent officially begins is a major disadvantage and one Enyart must quickly overcome in order to reach parity and ultimate victory.

The GOP features, as its 12th District congressional candidate, 2010 lieutenant governor nominee, Jason Plummer, who together with gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady came within one point of defeating Gov. Pat Quinn (D). The Brady-Plummer ticket carried the new 12th District two years ago. Since the Republicans are clearly on defense in the rest of the state, CD 12 represents one Illinois GOP conversion opportunity that the party can use to blunt what is otherwise a strong Democratic offensive.

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