Two More Open House Seats in 2016

A pair of House members just announced that they will not seek re-election next year. One is running for Senate, while the other is retiring. The two political moves mean there are now nine vacant or open House seats (6R; 3D) just two months into the 114th Congress.


House Administration Committee chair Candice Miller (R) announced last week that she will not seek re-election to an eighth term. She originally won her seat in 2002, after serving eight years as Michigan’s Secretary of State.

Long mentioned as a possible statewide candidate, rumors are circulating that Rep. Miller may run for governor or potentially launch a future challenge to US Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D). Michigan will host an open governor’s race in 2018 because incumbent Rick Snyder (R) will be ineligible to seek a third term. At least for now, she is planning to return to private life at the end of the current Congress.

The 10th District anchors in southeastern Michigan, in the Detroit suburban county of Macomb. It then travels north along Lake Huron to Saginaw Bay covering the geographic area known as ”the thumb”. The shape of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula resembling a mitten gives this region its name. The 10th consistently votes Republican, supporting only Democratic President Clinton (1996) in the last six national elections. Rep. Miller has averaged a very strong 68.5 percent of the vote in her six re-election runs, never dropping below 66 percent.

Miller’s eventual successor as the Republican congressional nominee will begin as a heavy favorite to hold the seat for the GOP. A crowded Republican field is anticipated.


As expected, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) became the first person to officially declare his US Senate candidacy. This leaves open the safely Democratic 8th District, which will likely host a crowded primary to succeed Van Hollen. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D) retirement is igniting a series of political moves, with Van Hollen’s announcement likely opening the flood gates.

Several more people are expected to quickly follow the Maryland congressman’s lead. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD-4), in response to her colleague’s statement of candidacy, said she will make her plans known “in the next few days.” Four other Maryland Democratic delegation members, representatives Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2), John Sarbanes (D-MD-3), John Delaney (D-MD-6), and Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7), have all publicly said they are considering launching Senate campaigns.

The 8th CD is anchored in Montgomery County, and then travels northward through Frederick and Carroll Counties all the way to the Pennsylvania border. President Obama scored 63 and 62 percent of the vote in his pair of national campaigns within the district confines. The eventual Democratic nominee will succeed Van Hollen in the House. As many as nine Montgomery County Democrats are mentioned as possible congressional candidates, including former County Executive Doug Duncan.

In addition to the aforementioned House members, ex-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and several county executives who all could possibly run for the Senate, several more individual’s names popped upon the scene yesterday. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend who, as the Democratic gubernatorial nominee lost to Republican Bob Ehrlich in 2002, confirms she is considering a Senate run. So is former Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-MD-7), who served five terms in the House before leaving to head the NAACP.

The Maryland Democratic Senate primary is already shaping up as one of the most hard-fought campaigns of the 2016 election cycle.

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