Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

The “Sweet” Sixteen House Races

In House on March 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Continuing our sector review of the 16 most competitive political campaigns reflective of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament’s spirit, we today turn to the US House campaigns:

AZ-1: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) won a similar version of this seat in 2008, lost it in 2010, and reacquired it last November when incumbent Paul Gosar (R) decided to seek re-election in District 4. With a 2012 victory percentage of only 49 percent in a district that Mitt Romney carried, Kirkpatrick can again expect stiff competition in 2014.

AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber (D) who replaced his former boss, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords upon her resignation, had a closer than expected regular election contest against Republican Martha McSally. With Barber only scoring an even 50 percent of the 2012 vote, expect a strong re-match effort from retired Gulf War veteran McSally.

CA-26: When the California Citizens Redistricting Commission crafted this Ventura County district, they did so with the idea of making a marginal 50-50 seat. The goal was achieved, so freshman incumbent Julia Brownley (D) will continue to face strong competition likely for the rest of the decade. Former state senator Tony Strickland lost to Brownley in November and is considering seeking a re-match in 2014. Rep. Buck McKeon (R) deciding to retire in adjacent District 25, however, could attract Strickland to what would be an open seat.

CA-31: Rep. Gary Miller represents the strongest Obama district in the country (57 percent) that elected a Republican congressman. He was fortunate to draw another Republican in the 2012 general election, but will likely face a Democrat in 2014. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D), who failed to qualify for the general election last year, is looking to run again. This will be a top Democratic conversion target.

CA-36: Freshman Rep. Raul Ruiz (D) unseated veteran incumbent Mary Bono Mack (R) last November. Though the former congresswoman is unlikely to run again, state Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R) already says he will challenge Ruiz. The seat is marginal, so a competitive 2014 contest is a likelihood.

CA-52: This San Diego city seat, another marginal district, saw incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray fall to San Diego Port Commission chair and ex-city councilman Scott Peters in the general election. Former city councilman Carl DeMaio, who lost a close race for mayor in November, is publicly considering running here. In the general election, DeMaio carried the 52nd District city precincts, thus making this area strong territory for him. Should he run, this will become a top national target.

CO-6: Rep. Mike Coffman (R) received a difficult draw from the redistricting court and can expect a tough fight every two years. He won re-election in 2012 with just 48 percent, and he will arguably face a more difficult opponent next time in the person of former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D).

FL-18: The eastern Florida district just north of West Palm Beach should favor more Republicans than Democrats. Freshman incumbent Patrick Murphy (D) nipped one-term Rep. Allen West (R) in the ’12 general election. The mid-term turnout model may bring this seat back to the GOP. West already has said he will not run again. Republicans must recruit a tier-one candidate in order to win.

FL-26: This South Florida district went to Democrat Joe Garcia against scandal-ridden freshman Rep. David Rivera (R). But Garcia’s toughest election campaign may still be ahead of him, possibly in 2014 depending upon his Republican opponent. Several GOP state legislators are already making moves to run.

IL-13: Freshman Rep. Rodney Davis is the Republican who won by the smallest percentage of any congressman in the country (47 percent). The 13th District, stretching from Champaign through Decatur and Springfield, will remain a marginal seat. Davis is the favorite in 2014, but the race will be highly competitive.

IN-2: Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) won a close point and one-half election against Democrat Brendan Mullen in a district that was drawn to elect a Republican. The north-central Indiana seat has a penchant for unseating incumbents, so Walorski will face another battle. A re-match with Mullen is a strong possibility.

MI-11: Freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R) is an accidental congressman, winning after then-incumbent Thaddeus McCotter (R) failed to qualify for the ballot. Expect the Democrats to field a much stronger candidate in 2014. Bentivolio is likely in for a much tougher campaign in the next election, meaning a Democratic conversion is a possibility.

NH-1: The eastern New Hampshire district is another that keeps flipping between the parties. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) has won, lost, and won this district. In 2012, she unseated freshman Rep. Frank Guinta (R). A re-match is a possibility, but Guinta could also run for the Senate. The mid-term turnout model has favored the New Hampshire GOP in the previous elections. It may again in 2014.

NY-11: Though sophomore Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R) district became a bit more Republican in redistricting, he will have a stronger opponent in the upcoming election. New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia has already announced his congressional candidacy. Former representative Mike McMahon (D) is openly considering a comeback bid.

NC-7: Perhaps the most endangered member is North Carolina’s Mike McIntyre (D). Winning by only 654 votes in November, McIntyre will have an even more difficult time holding on under a mid-term turnout model. Former state senator David Rouser, the 2012 Republican nominee, is heading for a re-match.

UT-4: Veteran Rep. Jim Matheson (D) was a 768-vote winner against Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love (R) in November. The two will do battle once more, as Love has already filed her 2014 campaign organization statement. This campaign will be a toss-up all the way to Election Day.

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