With Republican Mark Sanford seeking a political rebirth in South Carolina’s special congressional election Tuesday comes the news that Idaho is the only state in the union to have never held such a mid-term contest.
Once again, Idaho is missing out on the entertainment. We’ve been spared the nostalgia about side trips from the Appalachian Trail to the mistress in Argentina. We’re bereft of jokes about Stephen Colbert and his sister, Elizabeth, who is running a close race against Sanford despite the handicap of being a Democrat.
Since statehood in 1890, not a single House vacancy has been filled by a special election, according to Eric Ostermeier at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
With just two seats in the House, Idaho has fewer chances than most states of a lawmaker passing away mid-term, leaving for the Senate or a member announcing — and following through — on an intention to resign.
Idaho went without one congressman for seven months after Democrat Thomas Coffin died on June 8, 1934.
Writes Ostermeier: “A decade later, four-term Republican U.S. Representative Henry Dworshak resigned his House seat on November 5, 1946, having just been elected to the Senate (in a special election to that seat).
With less than two months remaining of his unexpired House term, no special election was held and the seat stayed vacant throughout the remainder of the 79th Congress.”
No. 2 on the list? Delaware, which last had a special election in 1900.