The Early Targets

By Jim Ellis

April 3, 2019 — Continuing our early outlook of the 2020 House situation, we can begin by narrowing the field to those districts where Republicans will be concentrating at least their initial efforts in order to reclaim the majority they lost in November.

After the 2016 election, there were 12 districts that supported President Trump but elected a Democrat to the House. After the 2018 midterm, that number rose to 31. For the Republicans to regain the majority, they will need to convert a net 18 seats back to their column, or 19 if the Democrats score a victory in the NC-9 special election to be held later this year in the Charlotte-Fayetteville metro areas in southern North Carolina.

The other two House special elections, PA-12 (May 21) and NC-3 (Sept. 10), unless huge upsets occur, look to remain within the Republican stable of districts.

Of the 31 Trump/House Democrat seats, 16 of them also voted for Mitt Romney over President Obama in 2012. Furthermore, a dozen within this group elected a Republican Representative until the 2018 election. They are:

  • GA-6 – Rep. Lucy McBath (D) – Defeated Karen Handel (R)
  • IL-14 – Rep. Lauren Underwood (D) – Defeated Randy Hultgren (R)
  • MI-8 – Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) – Defeated Mike Bishop (R)
  • MI-11 – Rep. Haley Stevens (D) – Replaced David Trott (R)
  • NJ-11 – Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D) – Replaced Rodney Frelinghuysen
  • NM-2 – Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D) – Replaced Steve Pearce (R)
  • NY-22 – Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D) – Defeated Claudia Tenney (R)
  • OK-5 – Rep. Kendra Horn (D) – Defeated Steve Russell (R)
  • SC-1 – Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) – Replaced Mark Sanford (R)
  • UT-4 – Rep. Ben McAdams (D) – Defeated Mia Love (R)
  • VA-2 – Rep. Elaine Luria (D) – Defeated Scott Taylor (R)
  • VA-7 – Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) – Defeated Dave Brat (R)

The four Trump/Romney districts that previously elected a Democratic incumbent are:

  • AZ-1 – Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona)
  • MN-7 – Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes)
  • NJ-5 – Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wycoff)
  • PA-17 – Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh)

There are 10 districts that voted for Hillary Clinton but previously chose Mitt Romney over President Obama, and five of those lie in California. It remains to be seen how much emphasis the Republicans place on attempting to regain California seats in 2020 when President Trump is again likely to lose these particular seats.

Now, with a newly-elected Democratic Representative, the following districts will likely be targeted in 2020, but they would begin in lesser status than the aforementioned:

  • CA-25 – Rep. Katie Hill (D) – Defeated Steve Knight (R)
  • CA-39 – Rep. Gil Cisneros (D) – Replaced Ed Royce (R)
  • CA-45 – Rep. Katie Porter (D) – Defeated Mimi Walters (R)
  • CA-48 – Rep. Harley Rouda (D) – Defeated Dana Rohrabacher (R)
  • CA-49 – Rep. Mike Levin (D) – Replaced Darrell Issa (R)

Of these, CA-49 (Levin) figures to be the least of the targets. The remaining five non-California Clinton/Romney seats are:

  • IL-6 – Rep. Sean Casten (D) – Defeated Peter Roskam (R)
  • KS-3 – Rep. Sharice Davids (D) – Defeated Kevin Yoder (R)
  • NJ-7 – Rep. Tom Malinowski (D) – Defeated Leonard Lance (R)
  • TX-7 – Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D) – Defeated John Culberson (R)
  • TX-32 – Rep. Colin Allred (D) – Defeated Pete Sessions (R)

Of these, NJ-7 (Malinowski) and TX-7 (Fletcher) appear to be the most likely top-tier targets.

Though the 2020 political map will substantially change as we move through the election cycle, the seats listed above will be highlighted for candidate recruitment early in the process. If the Republicans are to take back the House, the preponderance of the 31 Trump/Democrat seats must return to the GOP column.

Of the seats that were converted to the Democratic column in 2018, five also voted for Hillary Clinton and previously for President Obama. Of the converted freshman Democratic seats, these are most likely to remain in the Dem column:

  • CA-10 – Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) – Defeated Jeff Denham (R)
  • CA-21 – Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) – Defeated David Valadao (R)
  • CO-6 – Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) – Defeated Mike Coffman (R)
  • FL-26 – Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Miami) – Defeated Carlos Curbelo (R)
  • WA-8 – Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Sammamish) – Replaced Dave Reichert (R)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *