The Battle for the House- 2016: February News- Part 1

AL-02:  A National Journal article appeared to breath life into the campaign of Republican Becky Gerritson in her bid to challenge fellow Republican incumbent Martha Roby in the primary.  However, several polls show Roby absolutely crushing her in the primary.

AZ-01:  Pinal County sheriff Paul Babeau’s candidacy is facing some headwinds on the GOP side for this open Democratic seat.  Video recently surfaced indicating that he was aware of abuses at a school he ran before becoming sheriff.  His filing statement with the FEC came three months late and incorrectly listed the district…twice.  The only good thing is that comparatively speaking, his fundraising is OK, if not stellar.  He places second in that category to wealthy rancher Gary Kiehne, although former gubernatorial candidate Ken Bennett probably has the most name recognition.  The winner of the GOP primary will likely face Tom O’Halleran for the Democratic Party who used to be a Republican.  However, the DCCC recently neglected to place this district on their list of targets most likely because of disappointment with his fundraising to date.

AZ-05:  In an unexpected move, GOP incumbent Matt Salmon announced he was retiring.  Once thought to be a viable alternative to John McCain in a Senatorial primary from the right, he said he wants to spend more time with his family.  State senate president Andy Biggs immediately announced his candidacy and Salmon endorsed him.

CA-21:  Dave Parra is a Democrat trying to unseat Republican David Valedeo in this San Joaquin Valley district.  The DCCC is not very supportive citing his weak fundraising efforts to date.  However, he has the backing of local Democratic activists who claim that the DCCC meddled and micro-managed the campaign of Amanda Renteria in 2014.

CA-25:  And the same dynamic is playing out in the 25th District with local Democrats taking on the DCCC.  With the locals falling in line behind Lou Vince, they are accusing the DCCC of meddling in the race by encouraging a potential primary opponent.

CA-48: A little intrigue here in this GOP seat held by Dana Rohrabacher.  Scott Baugh made noises he would run in the primary as a Republican.  Rohrabacher said that Baugh was just laying the groundwork for a future run.  Now the intrigue- Baugh confirmed that although not technically in, he is acting as if he is and that Rohrabacher is likely looking to get out of Congress in 2016 or 2018.  The filing deadline is March 11th, so we will know Rohrabacher’s intentions very soon.

CA-52:  The GOP was originally high on candidate Jacquie Atkinson to take on Scott Peters in November, but have soured on her of late.  Instead, attention is now turning to Denise Gitsham as a possible opponent.  She owns a public relations firm and has ties to Karl Rove from his days in Texas.

FL-26:  Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo has a huge target on his back and the national Democratic Party is falling behind Annette Taddeo.  Chris Van Hollen urged two prospective Democratic challengers to stay out of the race.  One is former Democratic Congressman David Garcia, best known for having former staffers spend time in prison and cameras showing him picking his ear and apparently eating it (while on the floor of the House).  The other was Andrew Korge, a wealthy businessman, who heeded the advice/warning and will stay out of the race and instead run for state senate.

GA-03:  Jim Pace entered the race on the GOP side for this open Republican seat outside Atlanta.  He is a close friend of Dan Cathy, the head of Chick-Fil-A.  In his speech announcing his entry into the race, he summoned forth his inner Trump.

IL-12: Republican incumbent Mike Bost would seem to be a likely target by the Democrats but for the fact their only candidate in the mix- C.J. Baricevic- is proving to be an unworthy adversary.  Thus, Bost’s chances of retaining this seat seem to have improved.

IL-13:  Another Illinois seat occupied by a Republican (Rodney Davis) would seem to be vulnerable also.  But again, the only Democrat in the race- Mike Wicklund- has proven to be a dismal fundraiser and the Democrats may have given up on this seat.  Additionally, their 2012 nominee- David Gill- has decided to run as an independent that will siphon votes from Wicklund.

IN-03: Kevin Howell jumped in this open GOP seat race on the Republican side.  He is a former aid to Marlin Stutzman.  He’ll face state senator Jim Banks and Kip Tom in the Republican primary.  Banks has the support of some influential Tea Party groups while Tom is very wealthy.  There is also state senator Liz Banks in the primary, but she seems to lack the gravitas of Banks or the resources of Tom.

IA-01: Republican Rod Blum represents a district that Obama won in 2012 with 56% of the vote.  He also voted against Boehner as speaker which put him at odds with the GOP House leadership.  That landed him in the RCCC’s doghouse.  Now that Boehner is gone, new Speaker Paul Ryan has decided to headline a fundraiser for Blum realizing the importance of keeping this seat in GOP hands.  Meanwhile on the Democratic side, the DCCC is not particularly happy about former representative Pat Murphy’s attempt to regain his seat.  Instead, they prefer Monica Vernon and one can tell why.  Vernon clearly is a better fundraiser than Murphy.  Meanwhile, ex-SNL member Gary Kroeger has raised the paltry sum of $8,000 thus far.

IA-04:  GOP incumbent Steve King has drawn the ire of the Iowa ethanol industry for his support of Ted Cruz in the presidential race.  And sure enough, there are reports that ethanol lobbyist Eric Branstad (son of Governor Terry Branstad) is recruiting state senator Rick Bertrand to run against King in the Republican primary.  The filing deadline is March 18th so stay tuned.

MD-08: Wealthy liquor store chain owner David Trone entered the Democratic primary which truly may upset the apple cart.  Previous to his entry, it looked like a two-person race between Jamie Raskin and Kathleen Matthews.  For Trone (like Matthews) his biggest drawback is that he has generously donated to Republicans in the past.  There are other Democrats of lesser stature in the mix that will split some of the vote in the April primary, but Trone’s entry most likely hurts Matthews more than Raskin (the more liberal of the three).  And soon after announcing, his $150,000 in donations to Republicans took attention away from Matthews’ and her former donations to Republicans.  But, Trone summoned forth his internal Trump and asserted that he donated “to buy access” and that it was simply doing business.

MI-08: The DCCC apparently feels that the Seventh District is a more viable target and they are betting on their candidate Gretchen Driskell to defeat Tim Walberg in November.  That is bad news for former Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert who is running in the 8th as a Democrat.  Although her fundraising has been admirable, her burn rate is not as she has gone through two-thirds of the money raised.

MN-02:  GOP candidate Jason Lewis is running in this open Republican seat.  However, some statements from his past on his radio show are starting to some back to haunt him.  State GOP party chief Chris Fields has publicly criticized Lewis over these comments.  The Republican establishment is hoping an opponent can beat him and making predictions, given the Minnesota convention system, it is hard to determine an outcome here.

MN-03:  Democrats have targeted GOP incumbent Erik Paulsen in this district to no avail.  Jon Tollefson, a former State Department official, has entered the race on the Democratic side and is said to be the nominal favorite of the DCCC.

Tomorrow:  The rest of the races of interest and updated ratings chart.