Newly-elected President Donald J. Trump has come stumbling out of the blocks in his first two months in the Oval Office. It hasn’t taken long for the whispers of what to expect in 2018’s Midterm Elections to begin.
There are five special elections in the next few months that may offer an early idea of how each party will fare. The national political mood and the young administration will be major factors in the political fortune game.
While there isn’t likely to be a sea change the next two years, Democrats will test the anti-Trump backlash. Republican candidates will be deciding how close they wish to tie themselves to Trump and his policies.
Five early races to watch include California’s 34th District election. That will begin April 4th in an all-candidate primary to replace Xavier Becerra, a huge Hillary supporter, who is now California’s attorney general. The entire state is basically one-party at this point. It will be no surprise to anyone if a Democrat easily wins the election outright.
Kansas’ 4th District general election is to fill now-CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s seat on April 11th. Kansas state Treasurer Ron Estes (R) defeated former Trump adviser Alan Cobb and former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) for the GOP nomination earlier this year.
Democratic nominee James Thompson, a civil rights lawyer, is an underdog in a heavily Republican state. The two candidates will both attend a candidate forum on Thursday.
Georgia’s 6th District sees Democrats looking to the Atlanta suburbs for anti-Trump voters. There are 18 candidates competing for the seat vacated by now-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Candidates will face off in an all-party primary on April 18. If no one reaches a majority, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff on June 20.
National Democrats and progressive groups stand behind Jon Ossoff, an investigative filmmaker and former congressional aide. Republicans see former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel as an early front-runner.
A primary poll released Monday showed Ossoff close to the 50 percent threshold required to make the runoff, with 41 percent of the vote. The two leading Republicans in the race polled 16.1 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively.
South Carolina’s 5th District says goodbye to fiscal hawk Mick Mulvaney to become Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). That opens up his South Carolina House seat.
Republicans and Democrats are holding their primaries on May 2. If there is no clear winner, a runoff is tentatively scheduled for May 16 and the general election will be on June 20. The top Republican is state Rep. Tommy Pope. The Republican candidates are anxious to use Trump’s coat tails in a district he carried by more than 18 points.
The Democratic candidates are all first-time office seekers. They include former Goldman Sachs senior adviser Archie Parnell, Army veteran and student Alexis Frank and Marine veteran Les Murphy. Republicans are likely to hold the seat that Mulvaney has represented since 2011. Until Mulvaney won the seat, Democrats had held it for 128 years.
Montana’s At-large District will vote May 25 in a special election to decide who will replace now-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in the state’s only House seat. Republicans chose Greg Gianforte, a wealthy businessman who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2016. He lost by 4 points in the gubernatorial race.
The Democrats are behind Rob Quist. He faces an uphill battle, even with endorsements from Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) who spoke on his behalf at the state Democratic Party’s dinner.
Republicans aren’t taking any chances in South Carolina. They are spending heavily in a state that is seeing many more Democratic Party additions to the voter registry. Look for Pope to win for Republicans, though.
Five elections that could be significant early in the new political season are coming. But it may be a few months to properly focus on the nation’s mood as Trump attempts to learn the ropes in political Washington.