As we approach the midway point in the national redistricting process, it is a good time to check the status of the House open seats. Because reapportionment creates a dozen new seats, the incumbent-less district count is already 29. An average election cycle features about 35 open seats, although the last two elections have broken the 40 mark. Should the proposed maps in California and North Carolina pass, at least three more vacancies will be added to the 2012 total. And if Utah Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT-2) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3) along with Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2) run statewide, as they are considering, then three more would be added.
To review, the following are the announced open seats:
|AZ-6||Jeff Flake (R)||Running for Senate||AZ-9||New Seat||CA-6||Lynn Woolsey (D)||Retirement||CA-51||Bob Filner (D)||Running for San Diego Mayor||CT-5||Chris Murphy (D)||Running for Senate||FL-26||New Seat||FL-27||New Seat||GA-14||New Seat||HI-2||Mazie Hirono (D)||Running for Senate||IN-2||Joe Donnelly (D)||Running for Senate||IN-6||Mike Pence (R)||Running for Governor||MO-2||Todd Akin (R)||Running for Senate||MT-AL||Denny Rehberg (R)||Running for Senate||NV-1||Shelley Berkley (D)||Running for Senate||NV-2||Vacant||Rep. Dean Heller appointed to Senate||NV-4||New Seat||NM-1||Martin Heinrich (D)||Running for Senate||NY-9||Vacant||Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned||ND-AL||Rick Berg (R)||Running for Senate||OK-2||Dan Boren (D)||Retirement||SC-7||New Seat||TX-14||Ron Paul (R)||Running for President||TX-33||New Seat||TX-34||New Seat||TX-35||New Seat||TX-36||New Seat||UT-4||New Seat||WA-1||Jay Inslee (D)||Running for Governor||WA-10||New Seat|
Of the 29 open districts, 12 are new seats, nine current incumbents are running for Senate, two are running for governor, another pair are retiring from politics, one is seeking the U.S. Presidency, and one more is running for mayor of San Diego. Two members resigned their seats; one because of being appointed to the Senate; one due to scandal. Nine of the vacating incumbents are Democrats, six are Republicans. The two vacant seats split evenly, one from each party.
Most of the current seats will stay within the designated party control, but at least six (IN-2, Donnelly; MT-AL, Rehberg; NV-2, Vacant – special election Sept. 13; NM-1, Heinrich; OK-2, Boren; and TX-14, Paul) will likely join the competitive ranks.
With already a large number of open seats in the 2012 election cycle, it would not be surprising to see the total number approach 50 before filing closes in each of the states. Should this happen, added to the 97 members currently serving their first term, a full one-third of the House will have two terms of seniority or less in the next Congress.
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