By Jim Ellis
July 9, 2018 — With the election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) the total number of open House seats was reduced from 65 to 64. Within that group, 42 seats are currently Republican held, 21 are Democratic; one seat is new, created by Pennsylvania redistricting and left open when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to run in a paired incumbent race with Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) instead of opting for the new Republican-dominated western Pennsylvania CD-14.
Among the 63 House members who have either passed away, resigned, lost their primaries, or are not seeking re-election, 23 chose to run for another office. Some of their political fates are decided, while others remain active campaigners. We we’ll look at those who became candidates for other offices and report on their current status. On Friday we examined Arizona through Minnesota. Today we’ll review Nevada through West Virginia.
NEVADA (NV-3): Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) is skipping her first re-election campaign and instead enters the US Senate contest to challenge Sen. Dean Heller (R). Both she and Sen. Heller easily won their respective party nominations on June 12. The latest Gravis Marketing poll gave Rosen a 45-41 percent general election lead. The Senate race is expected to remain as a toss-up campaign all the way to Election Day.
NEW MEXICO (NM-1 & 2): Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) and Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) oppose each other in the open governor’s race after both became their respective party nominees on June 5. The first two post-primary polls staked Grisham to leads between 9-13 percentage points.
NORTH DAKOTA (ND-AL): After Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) announced he would seek re-election, he suddenly decided to change course and pivoted into a Senate challenge against incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (D). Both won unanimous party convention support, which paved the way for easy June 5 nomination victories. The first post-primary poll actually places Rep. Cramer three points ahead of Sen. Heitkamp in what promises to be a hard-fought general election.
OHIO (OH-16): After originally entering the governor’s race, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) switched to the Senate race after the two leading gubernatorial candidates formed a Republican ticket, and US Senate candidate Josh Mandel ended his campaign due to his wife’s illness. Rep. Renacci won the May 8 statewide primary and now faces two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). Three June polls give Sen. Brown leads of between 13 and 17 percentage points.
PENNSYLVANIA (PA-9): Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) leaves the House to challenge two-term Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D). After winning the statewide Republican primary with 63 percent of the vote, Rep. Barletta assumes the underdog position against Sen. Casey. Two June polls place the incumbent’s lead at 15 and 17 points.
SOUTH DAKOTA (SD-AL): Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood) became the first incumbent House member to announce her candidacy for a different office when she declared her intention to run for governor shortly after the 2016 election. She defeated Attorney General Marty Jackley, 54-46 percent, in the June 5 open Republican gubernatorial primary, and now is a heavy favorite to defeat state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton in the general election.
TENNESSEE (TN-6 & 7): Reps. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) are both running statewide. Rep. Black is in a tight Republican primary race for the open governor position – she leads in one poll and trails in another – while Blackburn is set for the party nomination. The latter representative will face former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in what is expected to be a competitive general election to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R).
TEXAS (TX-16): Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) leaves the House after what will be three terms to challenge Sen. Ted Cruz (R). O’Rourke defeated two Democrats in the March 6 primary with 62 percent of the vote, and the most recent general election polling shows him running 7-10 points behind Sen. Cruz. Voting history suggests the senator’s eventual victory margin will be greater, however.
WEST VIRGINIA (WV-3): Two-term Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) entered the US Senate primary, but fell to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, 35-29 percent, in the May 8 GOP nominating contest. AG Morrisey advances to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the fall.