By Jim Ellis
Feb. 21, 2022 — Part II of our incumbents’ primary challenges report concentrates on the Democratic members who find themselves in serious nomination contests. (Note: Part I — the Republicans — was published Friday. Please scroll down to read.) Nine such situations are covered in this update, with one of them, the Texas race of veteran Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) to be decided on March 1.
GA-7: Dem Pairing
Primary: May 24
Runoff: July 26
Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee)
Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta)
• Bourdeaux Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $2,005,771
• McBath Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $2,452,731
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: D+16
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 58.4% D
Republicans held the redistricting pen in Georgia and after losing two Atlanta metropolitan districts in consecutive elections, it was clear the GOP map drawers were going to take one back. That translated into loading Democrats from the previously Republican 6th District into the transitioning 7th CD.
Along with bringing more Democrats into the 7th, the 6th District incumbent, Rep. McBath, decided to join them. Instead of fighting for re-election in a new Republican 6th District (R+24), she moved south to challenge freshman Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux in the party primary. As you can see from the cash-on-hand totals above, both incumbents are well-heeled financially, so a major campaign is underway.
Also in the Democratic field is state Rep. Donna McLeod (D-Lawrenceville), who points out that she is the only one of the three that actually lives in the 7th CD. Her campaign has been slow to begin, so it is doubtful that she will be much of a factor, and probably will not draw enough support to force the two congressional incumbents into a runoff. Therefore, it is likely that this pairing will be settled in the May 24 primary.
Among carryover constituents Rep. Bourdeaux has a big advantage in seeing a majority of her current 7th District constituency (57 percent) remaining in the new 7th. McBath, however, sees only 12.1 percent carryover from her 6th District. The larger Democratic influx came from Rep. Hank Johnson’s 4th CD, as 26 percent of his constituency was transferred to the new 7th.
On the other hand, the new 7th is overwhelmingly minority: 29.8 percent black, 21.3 percent Hispanic, and 15.8 percent Asian. Thus, the demographics could help Rep. McBath, who is African American. Her strength within the party’s leftward faction is also a benefit in a primary contest. With each incumbent showing similar strength levels, this will be an interesting race to watch on May 24.
GA-13: Rep. David Scott
Primary: May 24
Runoff: July 26
• Scott Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,107,286
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: D+52
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 77.9% D
After only scoring 52.9 percent in the 2020 Democratic primary against three opponents, Rep. David Scott’s (D-Atlanta) 2022 race may be even more serious. Opposing him in this election are two candidates with an election track record, former state senator and 2017 Atlanta mayoral candidate Vincent Fort, and South Fulton City Councilman Mark Baker. The latter man bills himself as the “strongest progressive” in the race, but ex-Sen. Fort was well entrenched with the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Therefore, both opponents are attacking Rep. Scott from the left, which should help him split the opposition vote. Whether such a split will be enough to again allow him to capture majority support in the May 24 primary may be another question. Rep. Scott has long been attacked over not being further to the left on the ideological spectrum, which could again be a problem for him in a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic. Neither Baker nor Fort filed an FEC report at the end of the 2021, meaning they are behind on fundraising.
Rep. Scott must still be rated as the favorite to prevail, but this is another contest that will merit attention on May 24.
IL-6: Dem Pairing
Primary: June 28
Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove)
Rep. Marie Newman (D-La Grange)
• Casten Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,580,171
• Newman Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $573,120
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: D+6
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 51.4% D
The Illinois race is the second of the three Democratic congressional pairings, and it features sophomore Rep. Casten and freshman Rep. Newman. This particular pairing came about because of complaints that a second Hispanic seat should be drawn in Chicago.
Fearing a loss in court, the Democratic legislative leadership acquiesced and drew a new open 3rd District that is 44 percent Hispanic. As a result, Rep. Newman’s home was placed in Rep. Chuy Garcia’s (D-Chicago) 4th District, but she pivoted to run in the 6th against Rep. Casten. Her move made sense because 43 percent of her constituency was drawn into the new 6th District versus just 24 percent coming from Rep. Casten’s current 6th District.
While Casten has a financial advantage and the support of most of the Chicago Democratic establishment, Rep. Newman is a darling of the far left and will likely attract the more ideological voter that tends to dominate primary voting in both parties.
The aspect of this race that attracts little attention is that the pairing winner is not necessarily home free in the general election. With the Illinois gerrymander drawing 14 Democratic seats of 17 total districts, some of the Dem seats are weak. The 6th, with a D+6 rating from the FiveThirtyEight data entity, is one of those. Therefore, a divisive primary could make the eventual Republican nominee even more viable in the general election.
This draw was not favorable to either Democratic incumbent, and we will see a spirited fight between now and the June 28 primary.