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Elections Briefing, March 17, 2021: TX-06 Special, NL Election, Varadkar

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Elections Briefing 3-17-21 TX-06 NL Election Ireland

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Briefing. May not be the happiest one for a Kansas politician, but those running in Texas-06 will be hoping for the wind at their backs.

US Election News

Kansas Senate Majority Leader Arrested, Released

Gene Suellentrop (R-Wichita), a Kansas state senator and the Senate Majority Leader, was detained yesterday on suspicion of driving under the influence, among other allegations. However, a judge released him later in the morning after determining a lack of probable cause to hold him on charges. The case will remain under review.1

Suellentrop has been in the majority leader position for just two months. He was first elected to the State Senate in 2016 after having served eight years in the Kansas House.

There is no indication as of yet regarding any change coming in the Kansas Senate leadership on the Republican side.

TX-06 Special Election Shaping Up

We have talked at length about the upcoming Louisiana US House special elections coming up this weekend. This is not to say we are ignoring the 6th District special election in Texas, which takes place in May. A crowded field will try to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright (R) who passed away from COVID-19 complications earlier this year.2

The 6th is becoming more swingy than it used to be. Republicans still generally win this district at the federal level, but whereas it was 15-20 years ago a solid red seat, it’s more of a red-purple seat now. Donald Trump won it by a few points in 2020 while Wright had a race in the single digits. Democrats will ride into the race with some optimism that they can flip this Texas seat blue, but their gains in Texas have been very incremental. After picking up two seats in 2018, they failed to add any more in 2020 and remain at a 23-13 disadvantage. In fact, the GOP increased their vote share in 2020, showing that Democrats might be taking two steps forward and one step back in the Lone Star State.

Virginia Republicans Tapping into Trumpism

In one of the two (scheduled) gubernatorial races of 2021, Virginia Democrats and Republicans are lining up to nominate their candidates. The Republicans, who have lost back-to-back governor’s races in the Commonwealth, have decided to hold a nominating convention in lieu of a primary. One may recall how the GOP had a drive-thru convention in 2020, which favored conservatives and helped oust Rep. Denver Riggleman. The GOP will hold over three-dozen local conventions simultaneously to pick their nominee.3

As for where conservative and specifically Trump supporters go, there are plenty of options. In fact, all of the major Republican candidates are staunchly pro-Trump. Like we said in our initial review of the Virginia governor’s race, they would happen to be in line with the voting members of the Virginia GOP. However, that does not mean they are in line with the voters as a whole. The Virginia GOP is reeling, having lost all power at the state level over the past decade, but they have to ask themselves what their winning message is.


International Election News

Newfoundland and Labrador Election Gets Nasty

We knew it would come to this. After an election twice delayed and a growingly-perturbed voting public, the opposition Progressive Conservatives seized their moment to demand the Liberal government explain why the election was called early. Premier Andrew Furey would not share the behind-the-scenes data, and hit back at the opposition for a “desperate” attempt to smear the government.4 All of this comes with a little over a week to go before the new deadline to mail in the ballots for the Newfoundland and Labrador Election. It should have happened a month ago, but a COVID outbreak days before the election got it postponed. We are still waiting for new election polling to tell us if the Liberal government is going to ride out this rough patch.

Former Irish PM Under Investigation

Where would the Briefing be on St. Patrick’s Day without a story about Irish politics?

Leo Varadkar, the former Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) who is currently serving as deputy prime minister (Tánaiste), is under investigation. He has been accused of leaking a confidential document to a friend while prime minister. For now, Varadkar has not been asked to step down by his party or his coalition partner, but the opposition Sinn Féin have called on him to resign.5


Election Calendar

Today is election day in The Netherlands.
3 days until the jungle primaries in LA-02 and LA-05.
6 days until the Israeli election.
8 days until the Newfoundland and Labrador election.

Today’s Further Reading

  1. Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard, “Kansas Senate GOP leader booked into jail, released, on allegations of DUI, fleeing officer,” The Kansas City Star, 16 March 2021.
  2. Julia Manchester, “Special election a bellwether for Texas Democrats,” The Hill, 16 March 2021.
  3. Aaron Navarro, “Virginia Republican candidates for governor show grip Trump has on party,” CBS News, 16 March 2021.
  4. VOCM, “Premier Accuses PC Leader of “Absolute Desperation” Following Calls for Evidence Behind Election Decision,” VOCM, 16 March 2021.
  5. Ronan Duffy, “Leo Varadkar says he ‘isn’t distracted’ from his job and rejects suggestion he should step aside,” The Journal, 16 March 2021.

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