House Candidates File in Two Competitive States

By Jim Ellis

Candidate filings have closed in both Nevada and Iowa.

March 23, 2022 — Though both are only four-district congressional states, Iowa and Nevada will both host a large number of highly competitive US House races this year, and now the candidates have filed.

The Senate races in both states are already well defined and will come to a head in the general election. In Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) is on the ballot for an eighth term having been first elected in 1980, and it is clear that he will face former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) in the general election.

In Nevada, first-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) defends her seat most likely against former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), but he must first deflect a credible Republican primary challenge from businessman and disabled Afghan War veteran Sam Brown.

The Hawkeye State House races feature only one safe member, freshman Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux City). The other three races will again host tight campaigns as they did in 2020, which of course includes Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) six-vote victory.

In the new 1st District, Miller-Meeks will again campaign in a district not much different than the 2nd District that she carried by the slimmest of margins in the last election. She won’t again face former state Sen. Rita Hart (D), however. Despite coming agonizingly close to victory in 2020, Hart declined to seek a re-match this year. Democrats only filed one candidate, so state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City) and incumbent Miller-Meeks will compete in a venue that is likely to yield another close finish.

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids), who knocked off then-Rep. Finkenauer in what was Iowa’s 1st District, finds herself in a slightly more Republican 2nd District. Like in the new 1st CD, the Democrats filed only one candidate. In this seat, the Democrat nominee will be state Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha) a former news anchor at the same television station where Hinson also reported the news. The new 2nd rates as R+6 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization.

In the Des Moines-anchored 3rd CD, Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) has won two plurality victories and looks to face another difficult re-election campaign in a seat that rates R+2. State Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) looks to be the strongest Republican of the three GOP contenders and is the favorite to win the nomination. This will become a top national Republican conversion opportunity.

Not previously mentioned as a potential candidate against Nevada Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) in a new 1st District that is much more Republican, former 4th District Congressman Cresent Hardy (R) filed at the deadline on Friday to officially enter the race.

Rep. Titus has expressed displeasure at the configuration of her new district that FiveThirtyEight calculates went from a current D+22 rating to a D+4 under the new plan. Dave’s Redistricting App finds the average 1st CD Democratic vote at 52.6 percent and the Republican percentage at 42.3 percent. This is considerably better than the seat where Titus averaged 62.1 percent in the five elections conducted during the previous decade.

As many as four other Republicans may qualify for the primary ballot, but Hardy appears to be the most formidable of the contenders. The new 1st District contest, in a CD that encompasses part of Las Vegas before moving south to include the cities of Henderson and Boulder City, will become competitive in the fall but is still an uphill battle for any Republican nominee.

Frequent candidate Danny Tarkanian (R), who last year was elected to the Douglas County Commission after a long string of electoral defeats, is again running for Congress. This will be his fourth quest for the US House in a third different district, on top of two Senate races. Previously, he lost a pair of campaigns in the 3rd CD and one in the 4th District.

This time, Tarkanian is challenging six-term Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) in northern Nevada’s 2nd District Republican primary. It is likely that he will return to his losing ways, as Rep. Amodei is a heavy favorite for re-nomination.

Seven Republicans have filed in the traditionally tight 3rd CD, fully contained within Clark County, and it appears that former state Senate candidate and attorney April Becker is the favored candidate. Becker came within 600 votes of defeating the state Senate Majority Leader in 2020.

Third District Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) won a second term in 2020 with just 48.7 percent of the vote against former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer (R). Her defeated opponent then moved to Texas and even entered the 6th District special election in 2021. Not surprisingly, he fared poorly.

Because the legislature made the 1st District more Republican, they did so in order to add Democratic votes to both the 3rd and 4th CDs, both politically marginal districts. The current 3rd CD rates as a R+2 despite having Democratic representation. The new lines break as a D+2 according to FiveThirtyEight. Dave’s Redistricting App pegs the average 3rd CD Democratic vote a 51.7 percent and the Republican percentage at 43.6 percent.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) gets a stronger district, seeing his seat move from R+1 to D+5. The Dave’s calculations project the Democrats at 52.5 percent with the Republicans posting 42.0 percent. The top Republican candidates appear to be first-term state Assemblywoman Annie Black (R-Mesquite) and insurance agency owner Sam Peters who placed a strong second in the 2020 Republican primary.

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