Cook Report rating changes in 12 Districts fuel the narrative.
The Cook Political Report (CPR), a non-partisan group that analyzes elections, has changed the ratings in 12 districts across the country for the House 2018 elections as Democrats gain strength.
It’s important to note that the ratings have not gone directly to Democrat, but it shows that these districts have become vulnerable. Only one went from solid Democrat to likely Democrat, a plus for the Republicans.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) warned on Friday that if the GOP-controlled Congress doesn’t accomplish anything, they face a “bloodbath” in the 2018 midterms. They’ve already failed to repeal Obamacare and tax reform looks iffy, especially with only a two seat majority in the Senate.
Lean Republican to Toss Up
Rep. Martha McSally represents Arizona’s second district, which contains Tucson, Conchise County. CPR has called this district a must win if the Democrats want to retake the House.
McSally has developed a reputation as a moderate Republican, which helped her win re-election in 2016 even though Hillary Clinton won the district. But CPR said that her support for the House GOP Obamacare repeal bill may damage her reputation, but some have said that she voted for the repeal as a way “to preserve her viability in a future statewide GOP primary.” She may also run for Sen. John McCain’s senate seat if he cannot finish his term due to health concerns.
If McSally decides to run for re-election, she faces former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who decided to move to Tucson after she did not win her challenge against McCain:
Kirkpatrick is running as an unabashed progressive defender of the ACA and has the support of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly. She’ll also seek to deflect the carpetbagger label by talking about moving to Tucson to care for her family based there, including two grandchildren who were recently born prematurely months after the 2016 election. It also helps that she’s advertised in Tucson in all of her congressional races.
Kirkpatrick won’t have a free ride in the primary: 2016 nominee Matt Heinz is probably her most serious competition, but former Assistant Army Secretary Mary Matiella, former state Rep. Bruce Wheeler and hotel manager Billy Kovacs are running too. However, Giffords’s endorsement of Kirkpatrick will be difficult for others to overcome. If Democrats are to take back the House, this is a must-win race.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has represented California’s 48th district since 1948, which has coastal Orange County. He has been a moderate with a reputation as a “surfing, pro-marijuana conservative” that has fit well with his constituents.
But a few things have changed within the district, which has changed Rohrabacher, but CPR believes these “could amount to self-sabotage.” CPR notes that he has spoken “sympathetic comments towards Russia” and has had some “strange interactions with Julian Assange and internet conspiracy theorist Chuck Johnson.” The Democrats have jumped on this:
Democrats in DC are thrilled with Hans Keirstead, a stem cell and cancer researcher who founded a biotech company that was sold for $126 million. Keirstead will talk about helping spinal cord injury victims recover function and the need to cut through FDA red tape. He’s not just new to politics, he’s new to the country: he grew up in Canada, still speaks with a Canadian accent and only became a U.S. citizen in 2008.
Keirstead is confident he can get past real estate businessman Harley Rouda in the primary and peel off Rohrabacher’s corporate support, but his political skills are still unproven to say the least. Rohrabacher allies insist voters aren’t focused on Russia and appreciate his “independent streak,” but Democrats can also make the case that 30 years in Congress is too long. This is one of Democrats’ best takeover opportunities in California.
Iowa’s first district also went from Republican to a tossup, which includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Dubuque. Rep. Rod Blum has kept the seat, even though the district has left-leaning tendencies. However, he only won re-election by 54% and came under heat when he stormed “out of a TV interview while he was surrounded by schoolchildren.”
Blum may face a challenge by a young state female representative:
At 28, Dubuque state Rep. Abby Finkenauer would be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She hails from a union family and has EMILY’s List’s endorsement, and looks like the frontrunner over former Labor Department official Thomas Heckroth in the primary. Finkenauer would make for a jarring contrast with Blum, who is more than twice her age and personally wealthy. This is shaping up to be another highly competitive race.
Utah’s Mia Love
I was shocked to see her name on this list.
Utah fourth district’s Mia Love shot to fame in 2012 when she first ran for Congress and only lost by 1,000 votes. She won the seat in 2014 and in 2016 when she received more votes in her district than did President Donald Trump. CPR noted that Love has toned down “her initial reputation as a spotlight seeker,” but she still has a ways to go to nail down the seat.
CPR also mentioned that Trump’s unpopularity in Utah has changed the seat from strong Republican to likely Republican:
In a major coup for Democrats, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is on the verge of running against Love. McAdams, 42, won the top county office in 2012 and 2016 and already represents 85 percent of UT-04 (although UT-04 is much more Republican than the county). McAdams has built a unique brand as a wonky, nerdy Mormon Democrat, raised over $1 million in past races and cultivated relationships with Republican mayors.
McAdams, an attorney, will likely focus on local needs like transportation and infrastructure funding and paint Love as an inaccessible obstructionist who has sided with the Tea Party over Salt Lake’s business community on issues like reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. His allies contend he’ll be harder to pigeonhole as “Nancy Pelosi’s dream” than Love’s previous opponents because voters already know him as a pragmatist.
Solid Democrat to Likely Democrat
Arizona’s ninth district is usually a solid Democrat seat, but that has changed to likely Democrat since Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has decided to run for the Senate. This could be a chance for the GOP to grab this seat that contains east Phoenix, Tempe, and parts of Scottsdale:
In the wake of Sinema’s Senate bid, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton quickly jumped into the race. He’s the clear frontrunner for both the primary and general election, although Democratic former state House Minority Leader Chad Campbell is mentioned too.
However, the open seat also gives Republicans hope they can put it in play, and they’ve got a credible candidate in Steve Ferrara, a physician and Afghanistan veteran who served as the Navy’s chief medical officer. This seat has a history of supporting moderate Republicans, so Ferrara’s campaign is worth watching, but this could be mission impossible if 2018 turns into a Democratic wave.
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