This is the first in a monthly series of reports on news involving the battle for the US House in 2016.
CA-25: The Democrats believe they have a decent candidate in Santa Clarita Water Board member Maria Gutzeit. Why? Because the Water Board is elected so she therefore has won an election before. They believe that Republican incumbent [mc_name name=’Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’K000387′ ] is vulnerable due to his weak fundraising and the fact he won by only 7 points in 2014. They fail to mention that his opponent was a fellow Republican that year. Maybe their next best choice would be the elected Dog Catcher.
FL-6: With [mc_name name=’Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’D000621′ ] vacating this seat to run for the Senate seat left vacant by Rubio, this reliably red district will be open game for any Republican with aspirations. Three have thus far declared their candidacy with a fourth- St. John’s county commissioner Mark Miner- considering a run. Look for this to be an interesting GOP primary.
FL-18: Democrat Pat Murphy is vacating this seat to run for the Senate although his path may be complicated if Grayson enters the race. This is clearly a seat for the taking as the growing GOP field illustrates. Enter Dan Bongino who almost defeated [mc_name name=’Rep. John Delaney (D-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’D000620′ ] in Maryland’s 6th District race in 2014. Bongino, perhaps one of the best Republican never to win office, has since moved to Florida and has a considerable fundraising base should he decide on a run. Although there will likely be accusations involving the word “carpetbagger,” in a crowded field he may slip in there if he decides to run. Florida- the land of opportunity.
IL-8: With [mc_name name=’Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’D000622′ ] running for the Senate, the GOP has a very, very outside chance of picking up this seat, although it would be a real long shot. With three Democrats fighting it out and more to possibly come, no Republican has yet to enter the race. But a crowded, bloody Democratic primary could potentially bolster the chances of the eventual Republican candidate. Larry Kaifesh is the only name thus mentioned on the GOP side.
LA-3: This district becomes interesting because of the domino effect in Louisiana. With current [mc_name name=’Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’V000127′ ] most likely to be the next Governor to succeed the term-limited Bobby Jindal, he would get to choose his successor in the Senate. That person, according to most reports, would be Charles Boustany out of the Third District. He would then run for a full term in 2016. This is a strong Republican district and almost a shoo-in free ticket to Washington for any Republican. Look for a crowded field if Boustany is appointed. Of course, its all for naught if Vitter appoints someone else.
MN-1: On paper, Democratic incumbent [mc_name name=’Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’W000799′ ] looks vulnerable. The GOP hoped to recruit state representative Tony Cornish who initially sounded interested, but he opted to remain in the state legislature. That leaves Jim Hagedorn who lost to Walz by 10 points in 2014. Calling women in the military “bimbos who wear tennis shoes” is not going to endear Hagedorn to too many female voters and his fundraising left much to be desired in 2014. There is always Aaron Miller who was the favorite of the NRCC last time, but enthusiasm is not high.
NV-4: Crescent Hardy, the Republican incumbent who won a surprising victory in 2014, has a huge target on his back. Three Democrats are lining up thus far to take him on with it likely to come down Lucy Flores or Ruben Kihuen. This is a very close district. John Oceguera is expected to be a fourth Democrat to enter the race. In 2012, he ran a bad race in the Third District, but he has the name recognition. Hardy’s best shot at reelection is with Oceguera as an opponent.
NH-1: [mc_name name=’Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000570′ ] finds himself in some trouble with some Republicans suggesting he resign. This goes back to his 2010 Congressional run and a $355,000 “donation.” There are certain questions involving that money. Was it a loan, or was it a contribution? Was it his money, or was it his parent’s money? Oh the scandal! Guinta has since paid back the $355,000 and a $15,000 fine to the FEC. [mc_name name=’Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’A000368′ ] and state Republican leaders have called for his resignation- which he has refused and instead announced his intention to run in 2016- while the state party itself has remained officially neutral- hardly a ringing endorsement.
The GOP is probably privately hoping a primary challenger emerges, possibly Dan Innis, but he has expressed interest only if it is an open race. No matter what happens, the Democrats were coming after this seat with all guns blazing. This seat has been going back and forth for several cycles now with neither party establishing a trend other than the Shea-Porter/Guinta/Shea-Porter/Guinta trend.
NJ-2: This district has befuddled the Democrats for years. [mc_name name=’Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’L000554′ ], the Republican incumbent, has held the seat since 1984 in a district that is increasingly Democratic. Although redistricting has slightly helped LoBiondo in 2014, he still pulled off an impressive victory over Bill Highes, Jr.- the son of a very popular former Congressman. The secret to LoBiondo’s success is simple: pork barrel spending.
The Democrats would dearly love for state assemblyman Jeff Van Drew to run and he is highly popular in the district, more so than Hughes, Jr. However, he has been reluctant, although cagey in his answers to queries about his intentions. Stay tuned for this race.
NY-24: [mc_name name=’Rep. John Katko (R-NY)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’K000386′ ] is the freshman Republican Congressman from the 24th District. His chances of success were recently bolstered when Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner, who the Democrats highly recruited, opted against a run. Miner gained some prominence by taking on Governor Cuomo over funding for city infrastructure projects. This leads many to believe she may have her political sights on some statewide office.
VA-10: [mc_name name=’Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001105′ ] won an impressive 17-point victory in 2014 in a district Romney barely won by one point in 2012. Democrats hope to unseat her before she becomes entrenched. There are three declared candidates- state senator Jennifer Wexton, state delegate Kathleen Murphy, and Cathleen Magennis Wyatt who runs a non-profit. See the pattern here? Three women vying to take on a woman. This gives new meaning to the “war against women” meme.
That’s it for this month. See you at the end of June for another edition of…. Battle for the House-2016.