2018 Midterms- The Southwest About One Year Out

Today, I look at Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.


  • 9 Districts- 5 Republicans, 4 Democrats
  • Incumbents facing primary challenger-  1 (Sinema-D-9th)
  • Incumbents facing declared opposition party challenger- 8
  • Senate race:  Jeff Flake (R)-  2 primary challengers/ 2 declared Democratic candidates

The Democrats main target seems to be the 2nd District (Martha McSally) as there are four announced Democratic primary entrants.    The main target of the GOP is the 1st District held by freshman Democrat Tom O’Halleran.  A secondary target is Krysten Sinema in the 9th District where four Republicans will fight it out in the primary.  Unlike the 1st, Sinema has drawn a Democratic primary opponent.  Given Sinema’s electoral history, the First District is the more realistic and attainable GOP pick-up.

On the Senate side, incumbent Republican Jeff Flake is up for reelection.  He has a tedious 44% approval rating in a state where Trump sports a 43% approval rating.  Both of them are on the cusp giving this writer pause regarding Flake’s general election chances.  That being said, Flake has placed himself a distance from Trump and had some of the best lines of the 2016 presidential campaign.  Flake first has to get through the vulture on the McCain death watch, Kelli Ward, in the GOP primary.  Keep an eye on this race; if the Democrats field a decent opponent, Flake may have a tough time on his hands come November, 2018.


  • 4 Districts- 3 Democratic/1 Republican
  • 1 open race-  3rd District- Jackie Rosen (D) running for Senate
  • Incumbents facing primary challenge-  all 3
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challenge-  2
  • Candidates in open race- 4 Democrats/5 Republicans
  • Senate race- Dean Heller (R)- 1 primary challenger/ 4 declared Democratic candidates

The lone GOP district is the 2nd and the incumbent has drawn a familiar primary opponent in Sharron Angle.  Either candidate should prevail in the general election.  Meanwhile, the other two Democratic opponents will have to face primary challengers and there are two declared GOP candidates in the 4th District (none yet in the 1st).  If the GOP is to pick up a seat out of Nevada, my money would be on the vacant 3rd.

In the Senate race, Republican incumbent Dean Heller has picked up a familiar primary opponent- Danny Tarkanian- who is trying everything to get to DC.  However, four Democrats are fighting for the chance to challenge him in the general election and two of them have formidable credentials heading into this race.  Like Arizona, Heller and Trump’s numbers in Nevada are almost similar and on the cusp of a relative degree of confidence regarding his reelection chances.  The Democrats will be coming hard for this seat to mitigate potential losses elsewhere on the map.  The RNC will have to spend big here if they expect to keep this seat.


  • 3 districts- 2 Democrats/ 1 Republican
  • 2 open races- Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-1st) running for Governor and Steve Pearce (r-2nd) running for Governor
  • Candidates in open races- 1st: 9 Democrats/ 2 Republicans.  2nd district: 5 Democrats/ 4 Republicans
  • Other district- held by Democrat- no primary or general election challengers
  • Senate race- Martin Heinrich (D)- no primary challenger/ 1 declared Republican challenger

Usually a yawn-fest, New Mexico takes on some interest this year as two of three Congressional incumbents- one from each party- are vacating their seats to run for Governor in 2018.

First things first: defend the 2nd district.  Then they can go after the 1st District, but even then it would be a long shot.  Put another way, given the blue slide of New Mexico, the Democrats have a greater chance of winning the 2nd than the Republicans have of winning the 1st.

There is a Senate race where Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich is seeking reelection.  Although there is an announced Republican opponent so far, Trump sports a dismal 37% approval rating in the state while Heinrich has a respectable 48% approval rating.  Put them both together and do not expect a GOP upset here.


  • 36 districts- 25 Republicans/ 11 Democrats
  • Open races- 2 Sam Johnson (R) in 3rd retiring and Beto O’Rourke (D) in the 16th running for Senate
  • Candidates in open races- 3rd: 2 Republicans and 3 Democrats/ 16th: 3 Democrats/ 0 Republicans
  • Incumbents facing primary challenge-  10 (of 24) Republicans and 2 of 10 Democrats
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challenger- 23 of Republicans/ 3 of 10 Democrats
  • Senate race- Ted Cruz (R)- 2 primary opponents/ 4 declared Democratic candidates

Looking at the playing field in Texas, one would think that the Democrats know something the rest of the political world doesn’t.  Republicans hold 25 of 36 Congressional districts.  One- Sam Johnson in the 3rd- is retiring.  Of the remaining 24 GOP incumbents, Democrats have announced candidates in 23 of the districts.  In eight of those 22, they have at least three announced candidates.  Of the 24 GOP incumbents up for reelection, ten of them will face competitive primaries.  Conversely, of the 11 Democratic incumbents, one is vacating their seat to run for the Senate.  Meanwhile, only two of the remaining ten face a primary opponent and only three have drawn an announced Republican opponent.

Just a side thought: in the 3rd where Sam Johnson is retiring for the GOP, the Democrats have a candidate named Sam Johnson running.

In reality, the only district where the GOP should have any worries is the 23rd where incumbent William Hurd faces Pete Gallego, a former Congressman.  Other than that, this writer cannot foresee Democrats picking up more than one seat in Texas.

In the Senate race, Ted Cruz faces reelection and faces token opposition in a primary.  Four Democrats have announced their intention to run with Beto O’Rourke perhaps the biggest name in the bunch.  Although Trump has a 42% approval rating in Texas which should give some pause, it should also be remembered that Cruz has a 57% approval rating in the state.  That is more than enough to retain this seat.


The Democratic Party has a program to turn Texas blue.  With all due respect, that isn’t happening in 2018.  At most one seat in the House, but even that is suspect.

Next: The Midwest


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