The Campaign Spot

Hey, Guess What! Another Special Election for a House Seat!

Never a need to rename this site — the campaigns never end.

And with California congresswoman Ellen Tauscher expected to be confirmed as President Obama’s new undersecretary of state for arms control, it’s created another open House seat and another special election in the near future (the date hasn’t been settled yet). Her district used to be pretty competitive, but Democrats have a 16 percentage point advantage in voter registration.

So blue district seat stays blue, right? Eh, there’s an outside chance for the GOP.

First, the seat is filled in an unusual manner — all candidates from all parties appear together on one ballot during the first round of special-election balloting; if no one tops 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates from each party* advance to a special general election two months later.

Right now, a ton of Democrats are interested, including Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and at least one state senator and one state assemblyman. (Boy, nobody wants to stay in Sacramento, huh?) Meanwhile, there are a few Republicans of varying strength mentioned as interested, most notably Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf.

If the two Democrats who qualify for the second round split evenly, it’s not unthinkable that the Republican could eke out a win.

* Roll Call writes, “If no candidate exceeds 50 percent of the vote, the top vote-getters from each party advance to a special general election two months later.” I saw similar language in a story about the special election to replace California Rep. Solis. But it’s not the top two in each party, it’s the top two from two separate parties.

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