While it is far too early to make predictions about the 2010 elections there are several early developments worthy of attention.
Click through to the full article for an analysis of upcoming special elections and a list of declared open seats.
Appointments in the new administration have triggered several special elections earlier in the election cycle than is typical.
California 32: Hilda Solis was appointed Secretary of Labor. This seat is reliably Democratic – the winner of that primary, which will not be scheduled until Solis is approved by the Senate, will likely win the general. The Democratic candidates are state Senator Gil Cedillo, county Water Director Ed Chavez, Board of Equalization Chair Judy Chu, and Obama Transition Team member Emanuel Pleitez. No Republicans have registered to run.
Illinois 05: This very crowded race to replace Rahm Emanuel is also likely to be won by the victor of the Democratic primary, to be held on March 3rd. The front-runners appear to be state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Cook Co. Commis. Mike Quigley and state Rep. John Fritchey. Feigenholtz has received an EMILY’s List endorsement. Fritchey and Quigley have accused Feigenholtz of conducting polling that included slanderous questions about them. Low voter turnout and public disgust with the Chicago political machine in the wake of the Blagojevich scandal could combine to create a surprise winner in this race.
New York 20: This race to replace Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, is the one current special election that will be competitive in the general election. Gillibrand won in this traditionally Republican district in 2006 by defeating a scandal-plagued incumbent. She held the seat by 57% in 2008 in part due to her prodigious fundraising. With her 2006 victory, the district has been trending ever-so-slightly blue. Obama won 51% in 2008 (Bush won 54% in 2004 and 51% in 2000). The general election candidates have already been decided, because under New York laws, local party leaders select the candidates rather than holding a primary. The Democratic candidate is Scott Murphy, a venture capitalist, fundraiser and former Missouri gubernatorial aide. The Republican candidate is State Assembly Minority Leader John Tedisco. Tedisco does not live in the district and is currently shopping for a house in-district. This election has been scheduled for March 31st.
A number of retirements have been definitively announced:
AL-07 Davis, Artur D
FL-12 Putnam, Adam R
IL-18 LaHood, Ray R
KS-01 Moran, Jerry R
KS-04 Tiahrt, Todd R
MI-02 Hoekstra, Pete R
TN-03 Wamp, Zack R