Politics

Meet the Special Election Class of 2017 (So Far)

This year’s elections have brought a new crop of freshmen to Congress

California Rep.-elect Jimmy Gomez hugs his mother, Socorro, as his wife, Mary Hodge, looks on, during his ceremonial House swearing-in Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By CHRIS HALE, BILL CLARK and TOM WILLIAMS

California Democrat Jimmy Gomez became the newest member of the House on Tuesday after being officially sworn in by Speaker Paul D. Ryan

Gomez took his seat more than a month after he defeated fellow Democrat Robert Lee Ahn 59 percent to 41 percent in a June 6 special election in California’s 34th District. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthycriticized him for delaying his swearing-in, though Gomez, a former state assemblyman, has said he had voting obligations in the Assembly, and later, a family scheduling conflict. 

He replaces former Rep. Xavier Becerra who resigned in January after California Gov. Jerry Brown tapped him to be the Golden State’s attorney general. 

Gomez joins a group of other new freshman lawmakers following a string of special elections this year and one senatorial appointment. They will be joined by at least another House member this year. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s resignation last month opened up his 3rd District seat. A special election is scheduled for November. And a Senate special election in Alabama this year could also add a new face. 

Here is a quick roundup of the other newest additions to Congress:

UNITED STATES - JUNE 26: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., conducts a ceremonial swearing in of Rep. Karen Handel, R-Ga., in the Capitol on Monday, June 26, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker Paul Ryan, Georgia Rep.-elect Karen Handel and her husband Steve Handel participate in a ceremonial swearing-in in the Capitol on June 26. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the year’s most high-profile special election, Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff 52 percent to 48 percent in a June 20 runoff in Georgia’s 6th District. The race to fill the seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was the most expensive House race ever, with total spending topping $50 million. 

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., waits for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., to conduct his ceremonial swearing in at the Capitol on Monday, June 26, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
South Carolina Rep.-elect Ralph Norman waits for Ryan to conduct his ceremonial swearing-in at the Capitol on June 26. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In another special election on June 20, Republican Rep. Ralph Norman defeated Democrat Archie Parnell to win South Carolina’s 5th District seat by a tighter-than-expected 51 percent to 48 percent. Norman replaces former Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who resigned from the House in February to become President Donald Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., his wife Susan, and family, arrive for a swearing in ceremony in the Capitol with Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., before the actual event on the House floor on June 21, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Montana Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte, his wife Susan, and family arrive for a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony in the Capitol on June 21. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On May 25, Republican Greg Gianforte won Montana’s special election to fill the at-large House seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke, who left to become Trump’s secretary of the Interior. Gianforte beat Democrat Rob Quist 50 percent to 44 percent, a day after he was charged with misdemeanor assault after attacking a reporter at his campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling, and had to pay $385 in fees. 

 From left, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Susan Estes and Rep.-elect Ron Estes, R-Kan., participate in Estes' ceremonial swearing in at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Ryan, Kansas Rep.-elect Ron Estes and his wife Susan Estes participate in Estes’ ceremonial swearing-in at the Capitol on April 25. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Kansas witnessed the first special election of Trump’s presidency. Republican Rep. Ron Estes, the state treasurer, defeated Democratic lawyer James Thompson 52 percent to 46 percent. The race to fill the 4th District seat former Rep. Mike Pompeo, who left to become Trump’s CIA director, was also closer than expected for Team GOP.

 Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., is administered an oath by Vice President Mike Pence during a swearing-in ceremony in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, February 9, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Alabama Sen.-elect Luther Strange, joined by his wife Melissa Strange, is administered an oath by Vice President Mike Pence during a swearing-in ceremony in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber on Feb. 9. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The only new member so far this year who was not elected is Alabama Sen. Luther Strange, appointed by the state’s then-Gov. Robert Bentley on Feb. 9 to replace Sen. Jeff Sessions. Sessions vacated his seat to become Trump’s attorney general and has since found himself embroiled in the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Strange is currently running in this year’s special election to complete the remainder of Sessions’ term. The GOP primary is Aug. 15. 

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