Tag Archives: Rep. Pete Olson

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.

Three More to Retire From Congress

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 6, 2019 — Yet another Texas Republican House member has decided not to seek re-election next year, but additionally, two representatives from other states, including the second-longest serving member and a 20-year Democratic congresswoman, also made similar announcements late Wednesday.

In Texas, five-term Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan) becomes the fifth Lone Star State GOP congressman to voluntarily end his congressional career. Veteran Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls), who was first elected in 1978 and is second in seniority only to Alaska Rep. Don Young (R-At-Large), also released a statement saying that he will not seek a 22nd term next year. And 10-term California Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) was the third to delcare retirement. She indicated it is time for her to again live full-time back in the Golden State.

Neither Flores, Sensenbrenner, nor Davis faced difficult re-election campaigns, so electoral politics is certainly not driving these decisions. In his five House victories, Flores averaged 64.8 percent of the vote, including obtaining 62 percent when he ousted veteran incumbent Chet Edwards (D-Waco) back in 2010. Rep. Sensenbrenner posted a 66.5 percent average over the last four elections, while Davis recorded a similar 64.1 percent mean during this decade’s elections.

All three of these districts should remain in the controlling party’s hands. President Trump carried TX-17 with a 56-39 percent margin, though that was down from Mitt Romney’s 60-38 percent victory spread four years earlier. Trump’s victory spread in WI-5 was 57-37 percent, but only 30-64.5 percent in CA-53.

The Central Texas district is home to eight whole counties and parts of four others. The seat has three population anchors, the Waco/McLennan County region, Bryan-College Station, the home of Texas A&M University, and the Pflugerville area of Travis County, just north of Austin. Crawford, Texas, the home site of former President George W. Bush’s ranch, is also found within the district confines and located west of Waco.

Sensenbrenner’s western Milwaukee largely suburban district contains all of Washington and Jefferson Counties, and parts of Waukesha, Milwaukee, Dodge, and Walworth Counties. In addition to what will be 42 years of service in the House at the end of his tenure, Rep. Sensenbrenner also spent four years in the Wisconsin state Senate.

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Yet Another Texas Rep. to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2019 — The House Republican retirements keep coming. Now, three-term Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) announced late last week that he will not seek re-election, risking the truest swing seat in the Texas delegation. Hurd, a former CIA officer, says he wants to leave the House “to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.”

Texas Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio)

The Lone Star State’s 23rd District stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso, a distance of some 550 miles, making this one of the largest CDs in the United States that does not encompass an entire state. The 23rd also shares approximately 800 miles of the US-Mexico border, the largest of any congressional district.

TX-23 contains 26 counties and parts of three others, but just about 50 percent of the people live either in Bexar (San Antonio) or El Paso Counties. The seat’s voting history is as politically tight as its area is expansive. Hillary Clinton carried the district over President Trump, 50-46%, but Mitt Romney slipped past President Obama, 51-48 percent.

Rep. Hurd has represented the district for three terms but has never reached 50 percent in his trio of victories. Though he has won three times, his average vote percentage is 49.1 percent. In 2018, against Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones, Rep. Hurd won the second closest raw vote victory of any Republican in the House, a 926-vote win. This seat will now likely become the top Democratic conversion target in the 2020 election cycle.

Prior to Rep. Hurd winning here in 2014, the district had flipped between the two parties since Democrat Ciro Rodriguez defeated seven-term veteran Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla in 2006. A subsequent court order after the state legislature drew new districts in 2003 changed significant parts of this seat, making it more Democratic.

After being re-elected in 2008, Rep. Rodriguez then lost in 2010 to Republican Quico Conseco, who then lost to Democrat Pete Gallego in 2012, who then lost to Hurd in 2014. From 2010-2018, the top winning percentage was Gallego’s 50.3 percent in 2012. Therefore, the 23rd has performed as the most evenly split district in the country during the current decade.

The citizen voting age population breaks into two racial demographic sectors, Hispanic (62.0 percent) and non-Hispanic white (31.8 percent). It is the most Hispanic district in the US that consistently elects a Republican candidate.

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Texas Rep. Mike Conaway to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland)

Aug. 1, 2019 — It looks like the House GOP retirement cavalcade of the past week is continuing. Reports surfaced overnight yesterday that Texas Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) would announce his retirement from Congress after what will be 16 years in office at the end of the current term. He did so yesterday in an afternoon press conference in Midland, Texas, which opens the 15th House seat in this election cycle, and the fifth in the past week.

Though the last five seats all come from the Republican side, four are safe for the party and will produce GOP successors. The eventual Republican nominee in the TX-22 seat, from which Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) is departing, will still be favored next November, but this district will be competitive.

Texas Congressional District 11, currently represented in the US House by Mike Conaway (R-Midland)

Texas’ 11th District is the third-safest Republican seat in the nation, at least on the 2016 Trump presidential scale. The president received 78 percent of the vote from this west Texas constituency, and the eventual GOP nominee will become a prohibitive favorite in the 2020 general election.

The 11th District is anchored in the Midland-Odessa region deep in west Texas, moves east to annex the city of San Angelo, and then travels northeast almost to the outer Ft. Worth suburbs. The district contains 27 counties and parts of two others. In addition to posting 78 percent for Trump, Mitt Romney earned 79 percent, and John McCain recorded 76 percent support in 2008.

More than 70 percent of the congressional district lies in two state Senate seats, the latter districts actually being larger than federal CDs. Interestingly, those two Senate seats are anchored in cities, Lubbock and Amarillo, that lie as population anchors of different congressional districts. Therefore, Sens. Chris Perry (R-Lubbock) or Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) will have a smaller political base in the 11th CD than one would guess from looking at the district overlay map.

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Another Open House Seat …

Texas Congressional District 5, currently represented in the US House by John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall)


By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/ Rockwall)

July 31, 2019 — The announcement that Dan Coats is resigning as Director of National Intelligence and Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall) being nominated to replace him creates another open House seat. Now within the space of just one week, the number of open congressional seats for the next election has jumped from 10 to 14.

It is likely that Ratcliffe will go through the confirmation process well into November, meaning Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will call a special election to fill the balance of the current term upon the nominee’s confirmation. Looking ahead, it is likely the special general could fall on March 3, which is the day of the 2020 Texas primary, which means that the candidates would be running to simultaneously fill the current term and for the 2020 party nomination. The confirmation process and calendar, however, will largely dictate if such a schedule will happen.

John Ratcliffe was elected to the House in 2014, after he defeated 34-year congressional veteran Ralph Hall (R-Rockwall) in that year’s Republican primary. He was easily elected in the three subsequent general elections and posted a 76 percent victory last November.

Texas’ 4th District begins at Texarkana on the Texas/Arkansas border, encompasses the counties that touch the northwest Louisiana boundary, and then moves westward and well north of Dallas along the Red River and Oklahoma state line.

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