The Battle for the House 2016: February News- Part 2

NV-04: We don’t hear too much from this endangered Republican held seat by incumbent Crescent Hardy, but the Democrats are heavily targeting this district.  Since Harry Reid endorsed Ruben Kihuen, he has gotten a ton of union endorsements.  However, there are others in the mix on the Democratic side.  Susie Lee is partially self-funding here and has a cash advantage over Kihuen while John Oceguera has some cash in the bank.  Enter Lucy Flores,  Nevada’s rendition of the Spanish abortion Barbie, who recently endorsed Bernie Sanders while Kihuen endorsed Clinton.  Flores is a former protege of Reid and she lost the Lt. Governor’s race in stunning fashion in 2014.  Obviously hoping to cash in on the Sanders endorsement, the one problem among many is that the Democratic primary occurs in June- months after the Nevada presidential caucuses.

NH-01:  GOP incumbent Frank Guinta may have gotten lucky when he avoided a one-on-one rematch against 2014 GOP primary opponent Dan Innis since state Rep. Pam Tucker entered the race.  The belief is that Innis and Tucker will split the anti-Guinta vote and the incumbent will prevail.  Democrats would prefer facing Guinta.

NH-02:  GOP state representative Jack Flanagan has expressed some interest in taking on Democrat Annie Kuster.  That rumor was bolstered by the fact he recently stepped down as the majority leader and a March announcement is now expected.  This could make this race somewhat competitive.

NJ-07:  David Larsen announced that he would challenge Republican incumbent Leonard Lance in the GOP primary.  Lance beat him 54-46 in 2014.  Although Lance has only $440,000 on hand in an expensive market, Larsen had to loan himself $200,000 to get started.

NJ-09:  There were rumblings that former Paterson mayor Jeffrey Jones may enter the primary against fellow Democrat Bill Pascrell.  There are strained relationships dating back years when Pascrell was Paterson’s mayor and Jones was on city council.  In 2012, Jones endorsed Pascrell’s primary opponent Steve Rothman which drew the ire of many local Democrats.  And sure enough, Jones did enter the race.

NY-03:  Two more Republicans may soon enter the race for this open Democratic seat.  State legislators Jack Martins has some social media sites dedicated to a run and Chad Lupinacci has referred to himself as a candidate for Congress.  This will be an important race come November and may tell us early on the direction of things in the House.

NY-18:  With the filing deadline approaching on April 14, the GOP may want to seek another candidate.  Their man thus far- Dan Castricone- raised only $10,000.  The Democratic incumbent Sean Maloney could be vulnerable with the right opponent.

NY-19:  Although the Democrats are aligning behind law professor Zephyr Teachout, she’ll have some primary opposition in Will Yandik who used to be an aid to Kirsten Gillibrand.

NY-22:  Republican Steve Wells entered the race for this open seat and joins Claudia Tenney and George Phillips in the GOP primary.  Wells is a very wealthy food service distributor who could self-finance a campaign.  The national Republicans are not keen on Tenney or Phillips at this stage and Wells can be the default beneficiary.  Regardless, no viable Democrat has entered this race yet.

NY-24: Republican freshman incumbent John Katko has a big target on his back, but he is proving to be a fighter if fundraising totals are any indication.  Conversely, none of the three Democrats running are exactly setting the world on fire in that department.  Further, although the DCCC has targeted this seat, they are letting the primary run its course and are not endorsing anyone.

NC-02:  The Club for Growth is supporting a primary challenge by Jim Duncan against fellow Republican Renee Ellmers.  In the run-up to the March 15th primary, they will be hitting the airwaves with $400,000 in advertisements against Ellmers with some of it online.

NC-09:  It is an uphill climb for GOP primary challenger George Ruoco against Robert Pittenger, but he is getting some endorsements from former state officials including Robin Hayes who may have connections to funds.  Pittenger’s fundraising has not been great.  Earlier it was revealed that Pittenger’s land company was the subject of an FBI investigation that has not gone anywhere.  But, after the legislature redrew the district, they also moved the primary back to June so there may be some time for this story to fester.

OR-05:  Ben West has entered the Republican primary against Colm Willis, an Oregon Right to Life lobbyist.  West was a plaintiff in a case that brought gay marriage to Oregon and, yes…he is gay.  He is also considered one of the best up-and-coming young Republicans in the state.  Whoever wins will take on Democrat Kurt Schrader in November.

PA-02: Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney has endorsed Dwight Evans in his Democratic primary bid against the criminally indicted Democratic incumbent Chaka Fatah.  Evans was one of the first African-American Philadelphia area politicians to endorse Kenney in the mayoral race.  And to add to Fattah’s misery, Governor Tom Wolf also endorsed Evans in the primary.  However, Fattah did pick up the endorsement from the local AFSCME affiliate.

PA-07:  National Democrats are excited about Bill Golderer’s campaign against GOP incumbent Pat Meehan.  However, the local party is at odds with the national apparatus and the local Chester, Delaware and Montgomery county Democratic committees announced their support for Golderer’s primary opponent, Ellen Balchunis.

PA-08: Just like the neighboring 7th, the national DCCC is throwing its support behind Shaughnessy Naughton.  However, the Democratic committees of two counties threw heir support behind Steve Santarsiero.  The DCCC is dismayed by his fundraising thus far, however, which is causing friction with the national leaders.

On the GOP side, Scott Petri dropped out of the race.

PA-09:  Republican Bill Shuster is drawing Art Halvorson as a primary opponent again.  In 2014, Shuster won after an unimpressive campaign by Halvorson.  Making matters worse this year is the fact that Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who has been a pain in the butt with the GOP House leadership, is backing Shuster.  This is a not-so-subtle message for far right groups to steer clear here.

TN-08:  Another Republican incumbent from the class of 2010 decided to call it quits when Stephen Fincher announced his impending retirement.

TN-09:  Democrat Steve Cohen, a white man, represents this mainly black district.  He received some god news when state senate Democratic leader Lee Harris, who is black, decided against a primary challenge.  There are still two black politicians making noises about running against Cohen, but with an April filing deadline looming, they’ll have to move fairly quickly.

TX-29:  Democratic incumbent Gene Green is facing a challenge from fellow Democrat Adrian Garcia in this predominantly Hispanic district.  Garcia is counting on large Hispanic turnout.  However, several major Latino organizations and legislators have overwhelmingly endorsed Green.

VA-04:  No Democrats have entered the race in this district, but that should change soon.  The filing deadline is March 31st.

VA-05:  Randy Forbes announced that he will run in the 2nd District which is being vacated by Scott Rigell, a fellow Republican, due to the court-ordered redistricting map.  Part of Forbes’ old district had been redrawn into neighboring districts, particularly the 7th where some establishment Republicans have been itching to avenge Eric Cantor’s loss of Dave Brat two years ago.  However, Mike Wade beat Forbes to the punch in challenging Brat in the primary.

WI-08:  Although not on the radar of the Democrats, the retirement of GOP incumbent Reid Ribble now places this district in play.  They seem to like Outagamie county executive Tom Nelson although are possibly others in the mix.  Meanwhile, state senator Frank Lasee has entered the race on the GOP side with more likely to follow.  If Nelson opts out, GOP chances of keeping this seat increase.

WY-AL:  Liz Cheney, who angered state and national Republicans in 2014 with an ill-advised and unwarranted challenge against John Enzi in the Senate race, has entered the race to replace Cynthia Lummis on the GOP side.  One wonders if there is still animosity.

Updated ratings (worst case scenario is 9 seat GOP loss):

Probably safe Keep Close Eye On Battleground
F. Hill- AR02 M. Coffman- CO6 M. McSally- AZ02
J. Denham- CA10 D. Young-IA03 S. Knight- CA25
(R. DeSantis-FL6)-Open M. Bishop- MI-08 (D. Jolly- FL13) Open
R. Davis- IL13 E. Paulsen- MN03 C. Curbelo- FL26
(T.Benischek-MI01)Open E. Stefanik- NY-21 B. Dold- IL10
F. Upton- MI06 (R.Hanna-NY22) Open M. Bost- IL12
T. Wahlberg- MI07 R. Costello- PA06 R. Blum- IA01
F. LoBiondo- NJ02 W. Hurd-TX23 B. Poliquin- ME02
S. Garrett- NJ05 (R. Hurt-VA5) OPEN D. Trott- MI11
A. Mooney- WV2 V. Comstock-VA10 (J. Kline-MN2) Open
(J.Heck-NV03) Open
F. Guinta- NH1
L. Zeldin- NY1
(C. Gibson- NY19) Open
J. Katko- NY24
(M. Fitzpatrick- PA8) Open
(R. Ribble- WI08) Open
Probably Safe Keep Close Eye On Battleground
R. Grijalva- AZ03 (L. Capps-CA24) Open (A. Kirkpatrick-AZ-2) Open
J. Garamendi- CA03 P. Aguilar- CA31 K. Sinema- AZ09
A. Bera-CA7 R. Ruiz-CA-36 J. Costa- CA16
M. Takano- CA41 S. Peters- CA52 G. Graham- FL02
E. Perlmutter-CO7 (S. Murphy-FL18)Open C. Peterson- MN07
E. Esty- CT5 J. Delaney- MD6 B. Ashford- NE2
(M.Grayson-FL09) Open T. Walz- MN01 S. Maloney- NY18
(T. Duckworth-IL08)Open R. Nolan-MN08
B. Foster- IL11 S. Israel-NY3-open
D. Loebsack-IA2 (R. Hinojosa-TX15) open
K. Schrader-OR5