Diary

2018 Midterms- The West Coast About One Year Out

Today, I look at the West Coast states including Alaska and Hawaii.

ALASKA

Nothing to see here.  Don Young, the GOP incumbent at-large House member, currently faces no opposition in a primary or general election. There is no Senate race this year.

CALIFORNIA

  • 53 districts- 39 Democratic/ 14 Republican
  • Incumbents facing primary challenges (own party)- 9 Democrats and 5 Republicans
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challengers- 13 (of 39) Democrats and 14 (of 14) Republicans
  • Senate race- Diane Feinstein (D): 6 Democratic and 3 Republican primary challengers

 California uses a best-two system from the primary advancing to the general election.  Thus, it is possible the general election can have a Democrat versus a Democrat.  Perhaps that is why in the 14 GOP districts, the Democrats are fielding at least one opponent in all 14 and at least three candidates in seven of the 14 districts.  Thus far, Republicans have opponents for Democratic incumbents in 13 of 39 districts, but at least three GOP candidates in only one district.

This is a very blue state and Republican strongholds are fewer and fewer these days.  That is why four of the 14 GOP districts are considered of importance: the 10th (Jeff Denham), the 25th (Steve Knight), the 39th (Ed Royce) and the 49th (Darrel Issa).  This writer expects two of these Republican incumbents to be defeated in 2018- most likely Knight and Issa.  No Democratic district is in any danger of flipping.

Besides Democratic incumbent Diane Feinstein, there are nine other candidates in the Senate race, three of them Republican.  Much of the early entries into the race were built upon speculation of Feinstein’s retirement.  At 83, she is the oldest member of the Senate.  However, every indication is that she will run for one last term.  If not, then there will be a mad scramble as more viable candidates will enter the race. Still, it looks like this seat will remain Democratic no matter who occupies the seat.

HAWAII

  • 2 districts- both Democratic
  • Incumbents facing primary challenge- 1
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challenger- 1
  • Senate race- Mazie Hirono (D)- no primary or GOP challengers

This is another deeply blue state.  Both House districts are in Democratic hands.  The only drama may be in the 2nd where Tulsi Gabbard has drawn a primary opponent.  Gabbard drew the ire of the DNC when she quit their leadership over the railroading of Bernie Sanders.

Mazie Hirono is the Democratic Senator up for reelection and looks like a shoo-in drawing no primary or general election opposition to date.

OREGON

  • 5 districts- 4 Democratic/ 1 Republican
  • Incumbents facing primary challengers- 0
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challengers-  3 (2 Democrats and the 1 Republican)
  • Senate race- NONE this year

Four of five districts are held by Democrats, but that isn’t preventing them from coming after the lone Republican- Greg Walden in the 2nd.  Four Democrats (at this point) will fight for the opportunity to take him on.  However, of the four, only one seems like a viable candidate.

WASHINGTON

  • 10 districts- 6 Democrats/ 4 Republicans
  • Incumbents facing primary challenge own party- 1
  • Incumbents facing declared challenger opposition party- 4
  • Senate race- Maria Cantwell (D)-  one declared Democratic opponent

Like California, Washington adopted the top-two from the primary advancing to the general election system.  Four of ten districts are currently held by Republicans.  Thus far, Democrats are fielding candidates in all four districts with at least three Democrats in two of those districts.  By contrast, thus far Republicans have no declared candidates in the six Democratic-held districts and only one Democrat thus far faces any primary opposition.

Perhaps the biggest target is Republican Dave Reichert in the 8th Congressional district.  Although he easily won reelection in 2016, this district is rated even by the Cook PVI (I rate it nominally GOP because I factor in Congressional results).  Freshman Congressmen are always targeted, so it would be no surprise if the Democrats went hard in the Yakima-based 4th District.

On the Senate side, Democrat Maria Cantwell is up for reelection and has thus far drawn only another Democrat in the primary with basically no chance of winning in a general election if the GOP fails to field a candidate.

In conclusion, its possible the GOP can lose one seat out of Washington, but not likely at this point.  With Trump’s low approval rating in the state, how much of a factor that plays will be watched.

Next: the Mountain states