Vacancy: West Valley, AZ

There exists a vacancy in the Eighth Congressional District of Arizona (West Valley), vice Harold Trent Franks, resigned.

The Eighth District is seen as a likely Republican hold. It re-elected Franks with 68.6% of the vote in 2016; it would flip on a 34.3% Democratic two-party swing (by this measure, the 212th seat to flip). The district gave Donald Trump a 58.1%-37.0% margin in 2016 and Mitt Romney a 61.7%-36.9% margin in 2012.

The partisan composition of the House of Representatives is now 239 Republicans and 193 Democrats, with three vacancies.

Vacancy: Detroit West, MI

There exists a vacancy in the Thirteenth Congressional District of Michigan (Detroit, West), vice John James Conyers Jr., resigned.

The Thirteenth District is seen as a likely Democratic hold. It re-elected Conyers with 77% of the vote in 2016; it would flip on a 30.7% Republican two-party swing (by this measure, the 145th seat to flip). The district gave Hillary Clinton a 78.8%-18.1% margin in 2016 and Barack Obama a 85.2%-14.2% margin in 2012.

The partisan composition of the House of Representatives is now 240 Republicans and 193 Democrats, with two vacancies. A date for the special election has not been set.

Election Day 2017

I don’t have a ballot today, but these are the biggest races I’m watching.

Race Projection
Maine Question 2
Medicaid expansion
New Jersey Governor DEM Gain. Murphy elected.
New York, NY Mayor DEM Hold. DeBlasio re-elected.
Utah Congressional District 3
GOP Hold. Curtis elected.
Virginia Governor DEM Hold. Northam elected.
Washington Senate, District 45
Kirkland, Redmond, & Sammamish
DEM Gain. Dhingra elected.

The Washington legislative seat is principally important because gaining it also gives Democrats control of the Washington Senate (and full control of the Washington state government).

I’m also going to try to keep an eye on Virginia’s lieutenant governor and attorney general races, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court elections, and the aggregate change in the Virginia House of Delegates, as well as any other interesting state or local results that come in.

Vacancy: Mount Lebanon and Greensburg, PA

There exists a vacancy in the 18th Congressional district of Pennsylvania (Mount Lebanon and Greensburg), vice Timothy Francis Murphy, resigned.

The Eighteenth District is seen as a probable Republican hold. It re-elected Murphy without opposition in 2016; in 2012, Murphy was re-elected with 64% of the vote. The district gave Donald Trump a 58.1%-35.1% margin in 2016 and Mitt Romney a 57.9%-41.0% margin in 2012. This area last sent a Democrat (Frank Mascara) to Congress in 2000, prior to the 2002 redistricting that made the seat significantly more Republican and elected Murphy.

The partisan composition of the House of Representatives is now 239 Republicans and 194 Democrats, with two vacancies. A date for the special election has not yet been set.

2017 County Highpointing, and What Comes Next

My current county high point completion map.
Absent an unexpected travel opportunity, I’m done with county high points for the year. It was a fairly productive year in terms of my original goals, but there were still plenty of lessons to learn.

My big push for this year was to get most of the Lake Tahoe-area high points, and this was very successful. The only county high point that remains for me near Tahoe is Snow Valley Peak, high point of Carson City. I also tagged a few other county high points in the northern Sierras. As a result, I was able to extend my home glob into Nevada—more on that later.

I also had a multiday trip through Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon for this year’s total solar eclipse. The part of this trip that centered around the eclipse was wildly successful, as I had a wonderful view of the eclipse from the high point of Gem County, Idaho. However, I didn’t plan the second half of the trip as well as I should have. Poor weather and a lack of adequate research led to failure on Hat Mountain, high point of Lassen County, and no attempt on Eagle Peak, high point of Modoc County. In the future, I’ll do a better job of checking the weather and planning for an entire trip, although a lack of eclipse focus should help here too—I paid almost exclusive attention to making sure I’d have a clear spot to view it.

Despite the problems with this trip, I was able to extend my home glob into Oregon by ascending Crane Mountain (and Mount Rose, a couple weeks later), and added a significant amount of glob area in Oregon by ascending Granite Peak. I now stand at 48 county high points, with 39 (across three states and 86,392 square miles) connected.

So what comes next? I’m almost out of county high points that I can hike without sleeping anywhere but my own bed, so my next targets (outside of Los Prohibidos) will likely be weekend trips, with the possibility of a longer trip or two thrown in. My current priorities, in no real order:

  • I was hoping to ascend San Gorgonio Mountain, the highest point in Southern California, this summer, but after an exhausting Sunday combining San Jacinto Peak and the drive home I decided that quidditch weekends and highpointing weekends should be separate. I should be able to do this next summer, globbing both San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. (Santiago Peak would also be nice if I have time.)
  • With better planning and fewer fires, the Hat/Eagle combo in far northeastern California should be a fun weekend. It would be cool to find a route up Hat that doesn’t involve the annoying descent to Lost Lake, but I can deal with that if it’s drier and I’m not worried about thunderstorms.
  • The rest of the northern tier of California is also on my high-priority list, subject to feasibility. Mt. Eddy (ultra!) is the obvious pick. Salmon Mountain and Bear Mountain would be obvious, but last I heard the road to Bear Mountain is impassible from last winter’s storms. Hopefully that will be repaired sooner rather than later.
  • As I mentioned above, Snow Valley Peak is the last county high point I haven’t ascended near Tahoe, and it’s also one of the last doable in a (very long) day from home.
  • I want to start seriously pushing towards a Nevada completion. Nevada’s easier to complete than California, due to a lack of access issues, fewer counties overall, and no apex high points. I don’t expect to complete Nevada next year but I’d like to make some headway.
  • Similarly, I’d like to extend my home glob into Idaho and connect the three counties I already have there. Unfortunately Humboldt County doesn’t have adjacency with Idaho, so that means—in addition to Cinnabar Mountain—either BM Stevenson, a notorious tire-killer, or Ruby Dome, which is reportedly both quite fun and the hardest county high point in Nevada. Again, I don’t really expect to glob Idaho next year, but 2019 maybe?
  • And finally, some inroads into the High Sierra. White Mountain Peak (14er!) would be the obvious starting point, I think. (Although White Mountain Peak isn’t actually in the High Sierra, but the nearby White Mountains.)

In the mean time, there are plenty of Bay Area peaks to climb this winter. That is, if the worst fire season anyone can remember ever ends.

Pictures from this summer’s highpointing adventures can be found on my Facebook.