Recapping the US House Open Seats — Part I: Arizona through Minnesota

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJuly 6, 2018 — Last Saturday’s election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) reduced the total number of open House seats 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. Today we’ll examine Arizona through Minnesota. On Monday we’ll review Nevada through West Virginia.

Arizona 2 & 9: Reps. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) are both running for the Senate and may oppose each other in the open general election. Rep. McSally is engaged in a three-way Republican primary that will be decided on Aug. 28. Rep. Sinema is the consensus Democratic Senate nominee. Polling shows McSally as the favorite to win the Republican nomination. Early general election pairings find Sinema leading the race from 7-11 points.


CO-2: Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) is leaving the House to run for governor, and he defeated three Democratic opponents with 45 percent of the vote to win the party nomination on June 26. He now advances into the general election where he opposes state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who won the Republican nomination. An immediate post-primary Colorado Democratic Party poll (Public Policy Polling) gave Rep. Polis an early seven-point general election advantage.


FL-6: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) is in the multi-candidate Florida gubernatorial primary and some polls project him to be running neck and neck with agriculture commissioner and former US congressman, Adam Putnam, for the Aug. 28 Republican primary. The general election is expected to be a toss-up campaign regardless of whom the two parties nominate.


HI-1: Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu), who gave up her House seat to run unsuccessfully for the party Senate nomination in 2014 and then returned to her previous position when her successor passed away, is again challenging a statewide incumbent. Rep. Hanabusa is now opposing first-term Democratic Gov. David Ige in the Aug. 11 Democratic primary. Hanabusa is so far leading in all pre-primary polling.


ID-1: Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) left his House seat to enter the open Republican gubernatorial primary, but lost in the May 15 election. Labrador placed second in a pool of seven Republican candidates, losing to Lt. Gov. Brad Little, 37-32 percent.


IN-4 & 6: Both Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) entered the US Senate primary hoping to challenge first-term Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in the general election. Both, however, lost the Republican primary to former state representative and national auto parts distribution company owner Mike Braun in the May 8 Republican primary. The final primary result favored Braun, 41-30-29 percent, over Reps. Rokita and Messer, respectively.


MD-6: Rep. John Delaney (D-Potomac) announced he would not seek re-election in 2018 so that he could concentrate on building a 2020 presidential campaign. The congressman is now visiting Iowa and New Hampshire to attempt to gain an initial foothold in the two states with the earliest presidential nominating venues.


MN 1, 5 & 8: Three of Minnesota’s five Democratic House members are running for another office, but none against each other. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) leaves the southern Minnesota 1st District to run for governor. He lost the party nominating convention vote to state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), but now opposes she and Attorney General Lori Swanson in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary.

After the party nominating convention that saw Swanson lose the official endorsement for her re-election as attorney general, she decided to pivot and entered the governor’s primary. This opened the AG office, and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) entered the race. He faces party-endorsed candidate Matt Pelikan and three others in the Aug. 14 primary contest.

Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/Duluth) had originally announced his retirement, but then Swanson asked him to join her gubernatorial campaign as her lieutenant governor running mate. His fate in the statewide election is tied to her performance. All three Democratic House members face competitive statewide primaries and general election battles should they advance into the November contest.

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