The House Opens – Part II

By Jim Ellis

May 10, 2021 — In our second of the two-part series on the House open seats, today we analyze the eight Republican open seats from six states.

Two of the House’s five vacancies are currently Republican held and will be filled in special elections conducted from late June through Nov. 2. The six regular cycle Republican openings result from retirement decisions (2), and members seeking a different office (4).

AL-5 – Rep. Mo Brooks – running for Senate

Rep. Brooks (R-Huntsville), with former President Trump’s endorsement (which has proven extremely strong in other Republican primaries), is running for the Senate. Now that we know Alabama is not losing a seat in reapportionment, the open 5th District will elect a new member, and the 2022 Republican primary becomes the key focus.

Ex-President Trump carried this district in November with a 63-36 percent victory margin. Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong (R) looks like the strongest candidate making an early announcement. Madison County encompasses half of the 5th District.

GA-10 – Rep. Jody Hice – running for secretary of state

In late March, Rep. Hice (R-Greensboro) announced that he will challenge Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the 2022 Republican primary. Raffensperger has come under heavy attack for his handling of the 2020 election, which makes him very vulnerable in a Republican primary.

As with all 14 of Georgia’s congressional districts, the 10th will be re-drawn as part of redistricting, but the GOP is in control of the process so we can count on this seat remaining safely Republican. We can expect a crowded GOP primary followed by a two-person runoff. The eventual Republican nominee then becomes a prohibitive favorite to the hold the seat in the 2022 general election.

NY-1 – Rep. Lee Zeldin – running for governor

With Rep. Zeldin (R-Shirley) in the governor’s race, the open eastern Long Island 1st District will likely host a competitive general election campaign. Already, one of the 2020 Democratic candidates, Suffolk County legislator Bridget Fleming, has announced her candidacy for the open seat. Nancy Goroff, the 2020 Democratic nominee who lost a 56-44 percent race to Rep. Zeldin, confirms that she is considering returning for a second campaign. We can expect NY-1 to be a hotly contested open seat next year and will be at least a moderate Democratic conversion opportunity race.

NY-23 – Rep. Tom Reed – retirement

Rep. Reed (R-Corning) has already announced that he will not seek a seventh term, having taken a six-term limit when he first ran in 2010. With New York losing a seat in reapportionment and the 23rd having the lowest population figure according to the 2019 Census Bureau estimate, and the neighboring 22nd being the second lowest, chances are good that these two seats will be combined. If that happens, 22nd District Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) will likely run in this region. She can expect Republican primary competition, however, but the post-redistricting seat will likely heavily favor the GOP nominee in the general election.

NC-13 – Rep. Ted Budd – running for Senate

Rep. Budd (R-Advance) has already announced for the Senate, where he faces an uphill challenge to win the Republican senatorial nomination. His open 13th District that occupies much of the area between Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte, will certainly see significant change in redistricting. The seat is likely to remain heavily Republican, so the true open seat battle will come in the post redistricting Republican primary.

OH-15 – Rep. Steve Stivers – resigning May 16

Rep. Stivers (R-Columbus) has already announced that he is resigning from the House on May 16 to accept a position as president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. The special election to replace the congressman will occur with a partisan primary on Aug. 3 and the succeeding special general Nov. 2. Four sitting Republican state legislators and one local official have already announced their congressional candidacies.

The real battle will likely occur in the Republican primary. The eventual GOP nominee becomes a prohibitive favorite for the special general in a district ex-President Trump carried 56-42 percent.

TX-6 – Vacant – runoff election cycle

The special election to replace the late Congressman Ron Wright (R-Arlington) who succumbed to cancer and COVID in February is well underway. The special May 1 primary rather surprisingly yielded a double Republican runoff that will occur when Gov. Greg Abbott (R) schedules the vote after the canvass returns official results.

The congressman’s widow, Susan Wright, faces freshman Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) in the runoff election. Republicans are assured of holding the seat and redistricting will likely make this seat more to the GOP’s liking during the decade’s remaining years.

TX-8 – Rep. Kevin Brady – retirement

Texas US Rep. Brady (R-The Woodlands), the ranking Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee, announced in mid-April that he will not seek a 14th term in 2022. This opens the sixth safest Republican seat in the state (’20, Trump 71-28 percent) and we can expect a multi-candidate GOP primary when the Montgomery County anchored district is re-drawn. The eventual 2022 Republican nominee should be a lock to win the general election.

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