SPECIAL ELECTIONS: Liberty fights to retain Debroff’s seat in special Senate election, House seats

Tonight marks the official election date for special elections, of which there are two. The first, a marquee race for the Senate seat vacated by Michael Debroff when he was confirmed to the post of Secretary of International Trade; the second, a potentially competitive race for Lucille Tallow’s former House seat. Tallow was confirmed to head the Panem Space Administration, the first appointment of a Conservative to the government of Panem since President Canth was impeached and removed from office over four years ago.

In the race for the Senate in District 11, freshly-appointed Senator Wesley North of the Liberty Party will face off against Centre nominee Melinda Raquel Johnson, a representative, and Civic nominee Tanner Qualiski, the district’s former lieutenant governor. The race was expected to be a photo finish until Representative Carl Parsons, who previously served as the district’s lieutenant governor as well, opted not to run for the seat. Parsons and the Conservatives in turn endorsed Senator North, providing a much needed boost for the North campaign. We rated this seat Likely Liberty due to the expectation that Johnson and Qualiski’s campaigns will split the anti-Liberty vote, while North will easily skate into office due to the coalition that he has built. Should this race go awry, it will be a clear sign that Liberty is in trouble next year when the full midterm elections roll around- and even more so for Senator North, who has announced his campaign for next year regardless of if he wins or not today.

As for Tallow’s House seat in District 2, Tallow easily swept the elections for many years while she was in office. Her first election was her only competitive one, and since then, the district has only moved more towards the Conservatives. In this past presidential election, the district easily voted for both Jones and Sutherland, providing Sutherland with enough votes to eek out a win over Vice President Tarson. The Conservatives have nominated district representative Dominic Lopez for the seat. Lopez’s district lies within the boundaries of Tallow’s old House seat, and he easily had her endorsement from when he started his campaign. His competition is Jacob Heller, a Centre attorney, and former judge Sandra Garrison of the Labor Party. Following the Liberty Party’s decision not to run a candidate against Lopez for the seat (likely due to the Conservative endorsement in District 11’s Senate race), we initially rated this seat Lean Conservative. Following developments in the campaign, we are anticipating this race being uncompetitive, so we are moving it to Likely Conservative. 

These two races will show which way the political headwinds are blowing in regards to next year’s midterms. Both races, though likely not to switch hands, boast high amounts of contributions from the major political parties of Panem and feature high-profile candidates that have waged extremely well-run campaigns.

We will update you as the night goes on regarding the incoming results.

 


UPDATE 1: We now have our first results out of District 2 for the House seat recently vacated by PSA Administrator Lucille Tallow.

4% – Lean Lopez

Dominic Lopez (Conservative): 40 percent

Jacob Heller (Centre): 34 percent

Sandra Garrison (Labor): 26 percent

Right now, things look decent for Tallow’s chosen successor. The race is closer than expected at the moment, but Lopez’s worst areas typically are the first to report, so a six point lead is not shabby.

UPDATE 2: We now have the first results from District 11’s Senate race.

5% – Likely North

Wesley North (Liberty): 54 percent

Tanner Qualiski (Civic): 28 percent

Melinda Raquel Johnson (Centre): 18 percent

North is off to a rampaging start, but for the appointed Liberty senator to win this, he will need to rack up as many votes as possible from the right-leaning voters in the heartland of the district and in the southern region. These voters are typically the first to report, with voters in District 11’s northern region and in the district capital are usually last to report, and lean towards Centre or towards Civic. If North can get a decent turnout from the areas previously mentioned that favor Liberty and the Conservatives, he should have no issue getting a full term. If Civic and Centre voters are inspired tonight, they could potentially find themselves in charge should the right wing of Panem’s politics stays home tonight.

UPDATE 3: We now have further results from DIstrict 2.

37% – Likely Lopez

Dominic Lopez (Conservative): 57 percent

Jacob Heller (Centre): 27 percent

Sandra Garrison (Labor): 16 percent

Lopez now seems on track for a massive win over his opponents, considering the 17 point movement since the last update. Better news for him is the fact that the remaining areas to report have very little room for movement for Heller or Garrison; if turnout is low, they may be able to make a comeback, but it appears more and more unlikely.

We also have updates from District 11.

34% – Likely North

Wesley North (Liberty): 61 percent

Tanner Qualiski (Civic): 25 percent

Melinda Raquel Johnson (Centre): 11 percent

North is heading into a comfortable lead for only 34 percent of precincts reporting. It’s yet to be seen if this will be enough to maintain his lead over Qualiski and Johnson as the less favorable areas begin to report.

UPDATE 4: We now have further results from DIstrict 2. We can now project that Dominic Lopez, the Conservative nominee, will succeed Lucille Tallow as a District 2 representative. This will be a Conservative hold of the seat. 

61% – LOPEZ WINS

Dominic Lopez (Conservative): 62 percent

Jacob Heller (Centre): 27 percent

Sandra Garrison (Labor): 11 percent

A great win for the Conservatives, no doubt.

We also have updates from District 11.

60% – Likely North

Wesley North (Liberty): 54 percent

Tanner Qualiski (Civic): 31 percent

Melinda Raquel Johnson (Centre): 12 percent

North is still leading, but his margin has dwindled since the last set of reports by 7 points. If this continues, we may need to consider moving the prediction for this race.

UPDATE 5: We have further updates from District 11.

77% – Lean North

Wesley North (Liberty): 45 percent

Tanner Qualiski (Civic): 38 percent

Melinda Raquel Johnson (Centre): 14 percent

We are officially moving our prediction to Lean North as Tanner Qualiski is making this a very competitive race. The big question now lies with if Melinda Raquel Johnson will serve as a spoiler to Qualiski, preventing him from winning what could be a winnable race now.

UPDATE 6: We have further updates from District 11.

77% – Lean North

Wesley North (Liberty): 45 percent

Tanner Qualiski (Civic): 38 percent

Melinda Raquel Johnson (Centre): 14 percent

We are officially moving our prediction to Lean North as Tanner Qualiski is making this a very competitive race. The big question now lies with if Melinda Raquel Johnson will serve as a spoiler to Qualiski, preventing him from winning what could be a winnable race now.

UPDATE 7: We have further updates from District 11.

89% – Tilt North

Wesley North (Liberty): 40 percent

Tanner Qualiski (Civic): 37 percent

Melinda Raquel Johnson (Centre): 20 percent

We are officially moving our prediction to Tilt North as Tanner Qualiski is now within three points of North. It does appear that our hunch that Johnson might serve as a spoiler is coming true; with only 11 percent of precincts left to report, can Qualiski make it?

UPDATE 8: We have further updates from District 11. We can officially call the Senate election in District 11 for appointed Senator Wesley North, the Liberty nominee. Wesley North will continue on as the successor to Michael Debroff, the Secretary of International Trade, and the seat will remain in Liberty’s hands.

100% – NORTH WINS

Wesley North (Liberty): 40 percent

Tanner Qualiski (Civic): 39 percent

Melinda Raquel Johnson (Centre): 21 percent

We also have final results from District 2.

100% – LOPEZ WINS

Dominic Lopez (Conservative): 71 percent

Jacob Heller (Centre): 20 percent

Sandra Garrison (Labor): 9 percent


ANALYSIS: A good night for the Liberty/Conservative alliance that has arisen as of late, with Dominic Lopez officially becoming the successor to his mentor, Lucille Tallow, and Senator Wesley North returning to the Capitol. The biggest conundrum of the night, however, lies with the landscape that has emerged from the races. While pundits search for a definite answer on what tonight means, it must be considered that tonight, despite the extremely close race in District 11, was definitely a right-wing leaning night. The Liberty and Conservative Parties did not lose either seat at the end of the night. However, they should be wary of that District 11 result; while the overwhelming win in D2 might be reason to jump for joy, the D11 result is concerning for the Liberty Party. A lieutenant governor-turned-senator with a high profile name and predecessor nearly lost election to a full term to a former lieutenant governor who hasn’t held elected office in over eight years. While that can be attributed to the fact that this was a special election, it comes down to turnout; will Liberty voters repeat the issues from last night in a year, when the midterms roll around?

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D11 SENATE: Carl Parsons will not run against North, leaving Conservatives without candidate

In a stunning turn of events, Representative Carl Parsons (Conservative-D11) will not run against newly-appointed Sen. Wesley North (Liberty-D11) in the upcoming election for the seat recently vacated by now Secretary Michael Debroff.

In a statement, Parsons declined to run and stated that he didn’t feel that the time was right to run for a higher office. “Though I’m honored to be considered by many for a Senate candidacy, I don’t believe that this is the right course of action for me at this point in my career. I enjoy serving District 11 as a representative, and I look forward to running for reelection this term,” the first-term Congressman and former lieutenant governor said.

This decision leaves the Conservatives without a candidate right before the deadline to file. It is unknown if the Conservatives will field a candidate as a result. D11 Conservative Party chair Carson Odom indicated that if this was the case, the party would likely endorse North. “I mean, we can’t help if nobody files. Obviously, Carl’s decision has taken us aback, but we completely understand his decision. But to answer your question, yes, we might look at a possible endorsement for the current senator if we don’t find a credible candidate,” Odom told our local affiliate.

This leaves a few contenders in the race, including former Civic lieutenant governor Tanner Qualiski, Centre representative Melinda Raquel Johnson, and Centre district senator Paul Connors. Due to Parsons declining to enter the race, we now are moving this race into the Lean Liberty column with a possible move to Likely Liberty should the Conservative Party of District 11 endorse North for reelection.

With Mellark, Summerfield, Oppenheim, and Oswald, Liberty comes back from the brink

In November, the Liberty Party headquarters was buzzing with activity. It was election day, and not one person on staff had a clue of how that night would go; all they knew is that they were desperately attempting to avoid an embarrassing first-round result in the face of Panem’s first runoff elections that would be inevitably held in December. Katniss Everdeen, then chair of the Liberty National Committee while serving as wife to the President, closely watched the screen as the results from the districts poured in.

The final three districts were called around two o’clock in the morning. Peeta Mellark and Rebecca Tarson won District 14 to no one’s surprise, while Julie Roydon and Matthias Christian of the Centre Party scored wins in District 15 and the Capitol. Everdeen grimaced at the Centre Party wins, which further cemented the fact that the party had suffered massive electoral blows that day. The Liberty ticket would be heading to a runoff; these wins simply determined their opponents.

Everdeen called her staff together to discuss the next course of action. The LibNC was prepared for a runoff as it was considered a fairly likely scenario in the last few weeks due to the tightening polls. Everdeen promptly put that plan into action before the President and Vice President spoke that night, intending to preempt the Jones and Christian campaigns.

In December, the plan barely worked. While Mellark and Tarson were reelected to a second term, Mellark barely won in a squeaker, and Tarson won due to the popular vote percentage in the scenario of an unlikely electoral tie. The two were sworn in on January 1st along with Congress, bringing a prompt reminder that Liberty was at its lowest point in years. The party had lost a majority in the House and was forced to seek a governing coalition with the Conservatives, something that appeared easy but in actuality was quite difficult to negotiate. Upon the inauguration of Mellark and Tarson to a second term, Everdeen presented her husband with her resignation as chair of the LibNC. She personally felt responsible for the severe losses incurred during the election cycle, and she felt that it was time for a change.

Following Everdeen’s resignation, the gears began to turn in the Capitol. The Liberty Party began to move in a new direction, rejecting the party’s previous image and qualities and reshaping into a more modern and competitive party.

After Everdeen, Mellark chose his Secretary of State, Celine Oswald, to lead the party’s top committee. Oswald had already notified the President she would not return as the top diplomat, but Mellark’s offer to chair the party intrigued the political heavyweight. While never a perfect campaigner, Oswald is undoubtedly skilled with political strategy and diplomacy, making her an ideal fit. This move was the first major move to reshape the party, as Oswald immediately scrapped the plans of Everdeen’s administration of the committee in favor of newer plans to rebrand Liberty as a party that was forward-thinking and representative of the common man.

Then came the changes in the House of Representatives. Constantin Richelieu triggered what may have been a generational change in Panem politics with his resignation as Speaker, causing a leadership election between majority leader Miranda O’Neal and young upstart Wes Summerfield. Despite the entrenched O’Neal being considered essentially Speaker-in-waiting, Summerfield convinced the members of the Liberty caucus that the way forward for their party was not through a rehashing of the same type of politics. Summerfield insisted to his colleagues that Richelieu and O’Neal were exactly what caused a crisis of confidence with Liberty and swing voters in the past election cycle and pledged to set forth a new agenda to determine exactly how to regain the party’s lost majority. Until then, he informed the members, he would seek a governing majority with the Conservatives that was stronger and more solvent than Richelieu’s failed coalition was. He accomplished this through providing the majority whip position to the Conservative leader, Kari Lyles, and through higher committee assignments for the Conservative members of the coalition. While the deal was not what many wished for, it certainly has ensured a working majority; Richelieu never achieved such a majority, which was the cause of his resignation.

The Senate changes came last and were deeply planned between Stonehaven and the Senate leadership. Michael Debroff, the majority leader, had already been planning his retirement from politics due to an illustrious career that spanned decades. His retirement was destined to trigger a competitive open election during the midterms that could have resulted in a gain for the Centre or Conservative Parties if the conditions were right. Furthermore, it would have caused a major Senate leadership shakeup right after the midterm elections. Instead of postponing the inevitable Senate leadership battle and to ensure that Liberty had the upper hand in the election for Debroff’s seat, Mellark decided to move Debroff to his Cabinet to the open position at the Department of International Trade. Debroff’s Senate credentials would provide no issue on his confirmation, and it would be the pinnacle of the senator’s lengthy career. It also provided a chance to keep the seat; Oswald cheered when the decision was made as the incumbency of Debroff’s replacement was sure to help in keeping the seat in a special election and in the midterms.

However, the vacancy for majority leader in the Senate caused an internal rift, which was beginning to seem fairly common for the Liberty Party in this era. Wendy Oppenheim stepped up almost immediately to run for the position, but Wesley Benson made it clear that he had intentions of governing the Senate. The two had been whipping votes in preparation for Debroff’s expected retirement, but following his ascension to the Cabinet, the whipping only intensified. The rift grew wider, and allies of Oppenheim and Benson quickly recognized the damage that the two could cause by being at odds with each other. As such, the two sides brokered an agreement; the two would essentially co-govern the Senate with Oppenheim as the official leader, while Benson would select nearly all of the remaining leadership.

Oswald and Mellark felt a sense of accomplishment in the new leadership. It was no secret that Mellark’s relationship with Richelieu was always cordial at best and that the former was always discontent with the lack of energy and the complacency of the old guard. By reforming the leadership in the legislative branch, the pair of political pros essentially cleared the path for a pro-Mellark Congressional agenda. Oswald was particularly pleased with the response that she was seeing from the polls taken following the changes. Overwhelmingly the Liberty Party electorate was pleased with the new leadership and with the Mellark administration’s agenda. The President’s approval ratings rose from a paltry 43 percent on inauguration day to 58 percent following the passage and signing of the ethics legislation that he championed. The generic congressional ballots indicated that voters were trending towards Liberty in the midterms, rather than away, for the first time in four years. In addition to these short term successes, Oswald also saw a future for the party past Mellark. The ever-consistent talk of the next executive elections now featured names that were not simply old news; voters were becoming accustomed to Wes Summerfield, Jacqueline Warner, Jacob Ellsworth, and Celeste Armstrong. For once, the Liberty Party didn’t seem to be in decline.

Will the party remain that way? There’s certainly no way to predict the fortunes of a political party. Future missteps could endanger the Liberty Party further, but at the current moment, the party seems well positioned for the upcoming midterms. It’s clear to see that the rebranding of the party has worked masterfully; the voters believe the changes are real and palpable, and certainly a new leadership of the party has emerged at the behest of Mellark and Oswald. While the old guard was clearly successful in its day, that day has passed and the voters responded as such. With the new, young leadership of the party, voters seem to be willing to give Liberty a second chance- one that, if capitalized on correctly, will restore their majority in the House and ensure that the next election will be Liberty’s to lose, regardless of who runs.

Sens. Oppenheim and Benson strike deal on leadership roles, averting contentious election

In the face of yet another contentious election for Congressional leadership (this time in the upper chamber, rather than the lower one), Senators Wendy Oppenheim (Liberty-D13) and Wesley Benson (Liberty-Capitol) have reached a deal to avert such a scenario.

Rather than Oppenheim and Benson face off and split the Liberty caucus, the two have reached a deal to avoid such a divide that could have possibly caused an ungovernable set of senators. Under this deal, Senator Oppenheim will run unopposed for the position of Senate Majority Leader to succeed the recently resigned Michael Debroff, who now serves as Secretary of International Trade. Senator Benson will run unopposed for the currently vacant position of Senate Majority Whip, which has been vacant since Peeta Mellark assumed the presidency but has been essentially filled by Oppenheim during her time as chair of the Liberty Senate Conference. The two also jointly decided the remainder of their leadership team, who will run with them as well.

The finalized Liberty leadership list is as follows:

  • Senate Majority Leader: Wendy Oppenheim (Senior Senator, D13)
  • Senate Majority Whip (Deputy Leader): Wesley Benson (Senior Senator, Capitol)
  • Chair, Liberty Senate Conference: Jacqueline Warner (Junior Senator, D7)
  • Vice Chair, Liberty Senate Conference: Antonio Wallace (Senior Senator, D4)
  • Chair, Liberty Senate Policy Committee: Jacob Ellsworth (Junior Senator, D3)
  • Chair, Liberty Senatorial Campaign Committee: Hanley Trent (Senior Senator, D12)

Clockwise from the top: Wendy Oppenheim (Senate Majority Leader, Liberty-D13), Wesley Benson (Senate Majority Whip, Liberty-Capitol), Jacqueline Warner (Chair of Liberty Senate Conference, Liberty-D7), Hanley Trent (Chair of the Liberty Senate Campaign Committee, Liberty-D12), Jacob Ellsworth (Chair of the Liberty Senate Policy Committee, Liberty-D3), and Antonio Wallace (Vice Chair of Liberty Senate Conference, Liberty-D4).

The finalized listing shows a definite impact by Benson on the selections for the leadership. While Oppenheim chose Hanley Trent, a longtime senator, prolific fundraiser, and personal friend to President Mellark, to serve as chair of the Liberty Senatorial Campaign Committee, Benson essentially chose the rest of the leadership. Senators Ellsworth and Wallace were both elected alongside Benson, and Senator Warner is yet another fresh face in the Senate after being selected to succeed now-Attorney General Calvin Wilkie.

In addition to the deal on the top two positions and the determination of the ticket, Oppenheim also offered Benson the same deal that Michael Debroff extended to Peeta Mellark when Mellark served in the Senate. As Majority Whip, Benson will also serve as Deputy Leader. However, according to sources close to the negotiations, Oppenheim is taking this a step further and expanding the role to essentially a co-leadership in order to ensure Benson took the deal.

The new leadership team along with Senate President pro tempore Sophia Delacruz is now set to meet with President Mellark, Vice President Tarson, Chief of Staff Melanie DeFrancis, Speaker Summerfield, House Majority Leader Brooklyn Howard, and House Majority Whip Kari Lyles at Stonehaven to discuss policy and to reorient themselves on the agenda of the administration.

D11 Gov. Vance Fletcher names Wesley North to Senate, also nominates new LG

Vance Fletcher, the Governor of District 11, has nominated Wesley North to serve as the next senator from the district, replacing Michael Debroff who is now serving as the Secretary of International Trade.

Wesley North previously served as Lieutenant Governor of District 11 for the past five years, having been recently reelected alongside Governor Fletcher. He previously served as the district’s secretary of agriculture for a single term, a very powerful position in District 11 that oversaw the district’s vast agricultural industry. Prior to this, he worked as a district senator and in the agricultural industry.

North has indicated that he will seek to run in the special election that Governor Fletcher has scheduled for January 1, only five months from now. Despite the district’s lean towards the Liberty Party, North could possibly face competition for the seat. Tanner Qualiski, the former Civic lieutenant governor of District 11, has already declared his candidacy for the seat, and the Labor Party has declined to field a candidate in response. The Centre Party announced that they will have a contested primary for their party nomination, and the Conservatives appear to be looking towards running former LG Carl Parsons for the seat in an attempt to gain their first seat in the Senate. Given that this is a special election with irregular timing, the increased attention to the election, and the fact that three former lieutenant governors are likely to face off against each other for the seat, we are calling this a Tilt Liberty election at the moment. North has the advantage of incumbency and favorable numbers, but District 11 has had strange political tides occur over the years. It wouldn’t be surprising if Carl Parsons made this competitive, considering that he was only swept out due to an anti-Conservative wave.

In addition, Fletcher nominated a new lieutenant governor to replace North. Grant Barrett, who currently serves as the district’s land commissioner, will replace North as lieutenant governor.

Perry confirmed for Commerce; Debroff confirmed for International Trade

The Senate confirmed the President’s two newest Cabinet picks today in relatively-uncontentious votes.

Allan Perry was sworn in by President Peeta Mellark as the new Secretary of the Department of Commerce, while Michael Debroff was sworn in as the new Secretary of International Trade. The two resigned their previous positions by letter that took effect upon their inauguration as members of the Cabinet.

The ascension of the two to the Cabinet may not have major ideological changes for their respective departments, but it will have a major ripple effect throughout Panem politics. Perry’s resignation as governor of District 13 makes Lieutenant Governor Callista Abbott the new governor of the district, the third such ascension since the last elections. However, Debroff’s resignation brings much more of an effect than that of Perry’s. Debroff’s resignation causes its first effects in District 11, where Governor Vance Fletcher will name Debroff’s replacement. Fletcher can name pretty much anyone he wants; that person, however, will either be a placeholder or run in the special election that will follow. Fletcher could even theoretically name himself to the position, causing yet another ascension to a governorship for D11’s lieutenant governor, Wesley North. Furthermore, Debroff’s resignation has triggered a leadership election in the Senate, which may be potentially contentious. Wendy Oppenheim, the senior senator from DIstrict 13, has made it clear to her colleagues that she plans to run for majority leader; nonetheless, Wesley Benson, the senior senator from the Capitol who was only elected three years ago, is also mulling his own run for the spot. It is uncertain what would happen in the upper chamber if the two duked it out as Debroff has served as majority leader for as long as political parties have existed in Panem, providing no precedent for a leadership election.

Pres. Mellark selects Gov. Allan Perry for Sec. of Commerce, Sen. Michael Debroff for Sec. of International Trade

President Peeta Mellark announced his picks for the recently-vacated positions at the Departments of Commerce and International Trade.

To succeed current Secretary Tyler Thompson at the Commerce Department, the President has selected Governor Allan Perry of District 13. A Liberty Party member, Perry has served as the governor of District 13 for the past three years after being elected during the last midterm cycle. He previously served as the lieutenant governor to then-Governor Owen Talton, who now is the junior senator for the nuclear district. Perry also served previously under President Katniss Everdeen as the Deputy Secretary of Commerce, providing much needed experience for the role he is expected to assume. The governor’s elevation will allow Callista Abbott, who was elected with Perry to serve as lieutenant governor, to become the governor of District 13. That in turn will also raise district secretary of state Johanna Radclyffe to the lieutenant governorship and trigger a special election for Radclyffe’s former role.

At the Department of International Trade, Secretary Cynthia Garth will be succeeded by current Senate Majority Leader Michael Debroff of District 11. Debroff has served as the senior senator for District 11 since the first Panem Congress was convened following the Panem Revolution twenty-seven years ago, serving as the Senate Majority Leader for nineteen of those years. (The first eight years featured no political parties in the Senate. When the Liberty Party was founded, Debroff became one of the first senators to join the party.) As Senate Majority Leader, Debroff has overseen a vast expansion of Panem’s political world; he has served from the beginning of the nation to the present. Debroff’s ascension to the Cabinet is likely to be the peak of his career, and it will certainly lead to massive restructuring of the Capitol’s power structure as well as that of District 11’s. It has been reported that two senators are jockeying for the position of majority leader now that Debroff is set to retire from the role: Wendy Oppenheim of District 13 and Wesley Benson of the Capitol. Oppenheim, like Debroff, has served since the first Panem Congress and has massive experience as a result. She has served as a member of the leadership team in the Senate for many years as the leader of the Liberty Senate Conference. Benson, on the other hand, is a rising star in the party and was elected only three years ago. While many are impressed by his rise in the party, quite a few also believe that it may be a bit early for him to serve in such a role in the Senate. Conversely, in District 11, it now will become a guessing game on who will be appointed to replace the senator. District 11’s law mandates that an interim senator be appointed to serve until a special election is held if the vacancy arises more than a year prior to the next scheduled election to that seat. As the next election is a year from now, this law applies. Potential nominees may include Lieutenant Governor Wesley North, Representative Tina Li, or even Governor Vance Fletcher himself.