Tag Archives: Rep. David Loebsack

US House Open Seat Status

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 17, 2019 — With US House retirements coming in bunches, it can be confusing to remember how many open seats currently exist for the 2020 cycle and where they stand in terms of political projections. Now that the two North Carolina special elections have been decided, it is a good time to review the future open seat contests.

As things currently stand, 20 seats are known to be open, including the WI-7 seat that Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) will resign from next week. Of the 20, only four seats are Democratic, meaning the remaining 16 belong to the Republicans.

Most of the districts are safe – likely 14 of the 20 – and are projected to remain with the succeeding incumbent party nominee. The remaining six either lean to one party or the other (4) or are already cast in the toss-up category (2).

At this point, 13 of the 14 least competitive seats are in the safe category with one in the Likely segment:

Safe D:

  • CA-53: Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) – retiring
  • NM-3: Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe) – running for Senate
  • NY-15: Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) – retiring

Safe R:

  • AL-1: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) – running for Senate
  • AL-2: Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) – retiring
  • IL-15: Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) – retiring
  • KS-1: Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) – running for Senate
  • MI-10: Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden/Macomb County) – retiring
  • TX-11: Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) – retiring
  • TX-17: Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan/Waco) – retiring
  • UT-1: Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Brigham City) – retiring
  • WI-5: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menominee Falls) – retiring
  • WI-7: Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) – resigning for family reasons

Likely R:

  • IN-5: Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) – retiring

The most competitive seats are as follows:

Lean D:

  • IA-2: Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) – retiring

Lean R:

  • MT-AL: Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) – running for Governor
  • TX-22: Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) – retiring
  • TX-24: Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell) – retiring

Toss-Up:

  • GA-7: Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) – retiring
  • TX-23: Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) – retiring

Analysis

  • GA-7: This district produced the closest raw vote margin in the country last year, as Rep. Rob Woodall was re-elected with just a 417-vote spread over former state Senate budget director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D), who returns to run again in 2020.
    Bourdeaux, however, will not have the nomination field to herself. Six other Democrats have filed, including state Sen. Zahra Karinshak (D-Duluth), state Rep. Brenda Lopez (D-Norcross), and former Fulton County commission chairman John Eaves. Nine Republicans are in the race including state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and former Atlanta Falcons football player Joe Profit.
    This race will have to gel after the primary in order to obtain a better read on how the political contest will ultimately end. It appears both parties are headed to run-off elections to settle upon a nominee. The Georgia primary is May 19, with a run-off, if necessary, scheduled for July 21.
  • TX-23: No matter who the major party candidates turn out to be, the 2020 TX-23 race will end in a razor-thin margin. The highest percentage attained by a winning candidate throughout the current decade is 50.3 percent in 2012, and no one has won with a majority since. With each major party nominee virtually assured of a percentage in the high 40s, this will be a competitive race regardless of who eventually advances into the general election.
    Grace Ortiz Jones, the 2018 Democratic nominee who came within 926 votes of unseating Rep. Will Hurd, returns to run again. She has a strong chance of becoming a consensus candidate. Republicans will likely have a contested primary and possibly a run-off. This race, in a district that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, will go down to the wire before it is ultimately decided.
  • MT-AL: Republicans should have an advantage here in a presidential year, as Montana figures to be one of President Trump’s strongest states in 2020. Two Republicans elected statewide, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and state auditor and 2018 US Senate nominee, Matt Rosendale, are competing for the open seat in a field of five candidates to date.
    Democrats look to have strong candidates, as well. Former state Rep. Kathleen Williams, who held Rep. Greg Gianforte to a 51-46 percent win last November, returns for another try. Her Democratic opponents are state Rep. Tom Winter (D-Missoula) and rancher Matt Rains.
  • TX-22: Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) is retiring after four terms from a district that is becoming much more competitive. The minority complexion is now high, with the non-Hispanic white percentage dropping to 45.9 percent among citizens of voting age. Six Republicans have announced with possibly wealthy donor and conservative activist Kathaleen Wall, who ran in the 2nd District open seat in 2018, could be the person to beat.
    Democrats are likely to back 2018 nominee Sri Preston Kulkarni, who held Rep. Olson to a 51-46 percent win. Expect this race to be a major battleground House campaign, and though the district is clearly changing, the GOP still maintains at least a slight advantage.
  • TX-24: Veteran Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell), who had a close call last November with a 51-47 percent win against an opponent who didn’t even spend $100,000, decided to retire after serving what will be eight terms. Republicans appear to be coalescing behind former Irving mayor, Beth Van Duyne, who will be a credible and energetic candidate.
    Democrats already have a crowded field that already features six candidates. The early favorite for the party nomination is retired Air Force colonel and 2018 state agriculture commission nominee Kim Olson, who lost her statewide campaign, 51-46 percent, which is one of the stronger Democratic showings in the recent past. The 24th will host another Texas competitive contest in 2020, but the seat still leans the Republicans’ way.
  • IA-2: The only competitive Democratic open seat that could come into play is Iowa’s southeastern district. With seven-term Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) retiring, Democrats are coalescing around former state senator and lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart.
    Republicans appear to have their own consensus candidate, former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling, who served one term after winning the 2010 election in the Rock Island/Moline district across the Mississippi River from the Iowa border. Several years later, Schilling moved to Iowa and now is looking to revive his short-lived political career.
    Democrats have a clear advantage here, but in this open seat where the candidates already appear set and President Trump outpolled Hillary Clinton, a meaningful campaign could develop.

Another One Bites the Dust:
Rep. Martha Roby to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery)

July 30, 2019 — In the past week, three Republican House members made public their intention not to seek re-election including one this weekend. The action brings the grand total of open seats to 13, still a low number but one that is beginning to grow exponentially.

Now joining Reps. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) and Pete Olson (R-TX) in the recent retirement category is Alabama Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery). The congresswoman released an electronic message indicating that she will not seek a sixth term and thanked her family and the people of her state’s 2nd District for the opportunity of serving in the US House for what will be a full decade.

Unlike in 2018, Roby looked to have a clear path to re-election. In the last campaign cycle, she drew a significant primary challenge because of negative comments she made about President Trump during the 2016 electoral contest. But the president endorsed her in the ’18 GOP nomination campaign and she scored a solid 68-32 percent win opposite former Democratic Congressman Bobby Bright in the Republican run-off.

Against four primary opponents, however, Rep. Roby only managed 39 percent of the vote, thus forcing the run-off. She rebounded nicely in the secondary election, and then went onto post a 61 percent victory in the general election. So far, no one from either party has come forward to challenge her, thus, Roby announces her retirement devoid of political pressure.

Alabama’s US Congressional Districts

Alabama’s 2nd District occupies the southeastern corner of the state, from the capital city of Montgomery to the Florida border on the south and Georgia to the east. It contains 14 whole counties and almost two-thirds of Montgomery County.

The seat is solidly Republican. President Trump posted a whopping 65-33 percent win here against Hillary Clinton, even topping Mitt Romney’s 63-36 percent margin over President Obama in 2012. In her five congressional general elections, Roby averaged 58.4 percent of the vote, but that figure is a bit misleading. She unseated then-Rep. Bright in 2010 with 51.1 percent and then survived a surprisingly close call in 2016 when she defeated a relatively unknown Democrat with only a 48.8 – 40.5 percent point spread. In her other three generals, she recorded victory percentages of 64, 67, and 61.

While the open seat figure is creeping upward, the majority of what will be incumbent-less campaigns are still non-competitive for next year’s election season. The overwhelming number of the 13 opens are Republican-held (10R-3D), and it appears at this early point in the election cycle that five of the districts will feature seriously contested general election contests, including four currently in GOP hands.

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Will Schilling Become a 2-State Rep?

By Jim Ellis

Republican Bobby Schilling

May 14, 2019 — In a dozen instances throughout American history a person has been elected to the House of Representatives from one state, departed Congress for whatever reason, moved to another domain, and then won an additional congressional election, or elections, from the adopted place.

Republican Bobby Schilling served one term in the House from western Illinois’ 17th District, losing his re-election bid in 2012. Relocating across the Mississippi River to Iowa in 2017, former Representative Schilling is reportedly looking to make a political comeback. It is expected that he will soon announce his candidacy for the Hawkeye State’s open 2nd Congressional District.

If the ex-Illinois representative were to win the Iowa seat, he would become the 13th person in American history to represent two different states in the House of Representatives. It last occurred when former Texas congressman, Ed Foreman (R), won a New Mexico US House seat in the 1968 election. Prior to that, the two-state switch had only happened one other time since the turn of the 20th Century.

Interestingly, the same number of individuals, 12, have represented two states by serving first in the House, moving, and then winning a Senate seat from the secondary place. The most famous of these is Sam Houston, who served in the House from Tennessee and as governor before helping found Texas as a country and state, and then subsequently serving as its president and US senator, respectively.

Schilling, a local restaurant owner, first won his Quad Cities anchored seat in the Republican landslide year of 2010, defeating then-two-term Rep. Phil Hare (D-Rock Island). But, in a redistricting year from a process the Democrats controlled, and with President Obama running for re-election at the top of his home state ballot in 2012, Schilling was unable to politically survive in the more Democratic district.

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Another House Retirement Ahead

By Jim Ellis

Iowa Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) to retire

April 16, 2019 — Seven-term Iowa Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) announced Friday that he will not seek re-election in 2020. Loebsack, a former college professor, first came to Congress in the 2006 election when he unseated GOP Rep. Jim Leach in a major upset victory.

Since his first re-election, Loebsack has generally faced Republican competition, but the GOP has never been able to elevate a challenge against him to top-tier status. Still, in his seven elections, Rep. Loebsack recorded only a 53.7 percent average victory margin. Last November, he defeated Republican Chris Peters, who also ran in 2016, 54-42 percent.

Iowa’s 2nd District occupies the southeastern quadrant of the four congressional districts in the state under a mapping plan that divided the territory geographically by quarters. The two largest 2nd District population centers are the cities of Davenport (102,000 population) and Iowa City (74,000).

Politically, the 2nd looks to be the strongest Democratic district of the state’s four seats, but the electorate did support President Trump with a 49-45 percent margin. Previously, however, President Obama ran strong here in both of his national campaigns, carrying the district 56-43 percent in 2012 and 57-42 percent during his initial 2008 campaign.

With President Trump needing to win Iowa next year, it is clear that his campaign will attempt to maximize right-of-center turnout in IA-2, meaning a potential Republican open seat congressional candidate should get an indirect boost. Now, with no Democratic incumbent running to defend the seat, this district figures to become a key GOP conversion opportunity.

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Loras College Polls Size Up Iowa House Races

Another institution of higher learning has released political polling data, this time targeting US House elections in one particular state.

Dubuque’s Loras College conducted a statewide poll of the Hawkeye State electorate and divided the respondents evenly among Iowa’s quartet of congressional districts. At least to a degree, all of the campaigns are competitive. The methodology included weighting the responses for demographic characteristics but not political party preference. Therefore, the overall sample appears skewed Democratic by more than two full percentage points.

The pollsters first asked about President Obama’s job approval, and found that only 41 percent of the sampled respondents (300 per congressional district) expressed positive sentiments. A clear majority, 53 percent, disapproves of how he handles his official duties. In a state that twice voted for Obama and gave him six- and 10-point victory margins in 2012 and 2008, respectively, these job performance numbers have to be considered poor.

The survey questionnaire also featured a query about the direction of the country’s policies, commonly referred to as the “right track/wrong track” question. Here, as in all Continue reading >