By Hastings Wyman –
The Democrats need to win 30 congressional seats that are currently held by the GOP to win a majority in the House of Representatives. Currently Republicans hold 246 seats in the House to 188 Democrats. The Senate has long been considered in play, but Democrats, smelling a major victory over Donald Trump in November, now believe they can come close to a majority, if not an outright majority. In addition to hoping that Trump will be a drag on Republican down-ballot candidates, Democrats are cheered by court-ordered redistricting in several states that have created new opportunities for Democratic gains.
Here is a look at some of the congressional contests in the South.
Florida’s 7th District (Orlando suburbs) Mitt Romney and President Obama were roughly even four years ago in US Rep. John Mica’s (R) bailiwick, due partly to an increase in Latino voters. This suggests a good opportunity for Democrats, but since banker Bill Phillips dropped out of the race, they don’t have a candidate. The filing deadline for the August 30 primary is June 24.
Florida’s 23rd District (Broward County, etc.) In what may be the most-watched Democratic congressional primary in the nation, US Rep. – and Democratic National Chairwoman – Debbie Wasserman Schultz is facing a well-financed challenge from law professor Tim Canova, who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders. She is favored, but if Canova runs a close race, it will send a message to more moderate Democratic officeholders to move left or face a primary challenge . In any case, the seat is safe for the Democrats in November.
Florida’s 26th District (Key West to Miami) Freshman Carlos Curbelo (R) has seen redistricting make the 26th more Democratic and his party nominate a presidential candidate who is not likely to run well among Latino voters. Curbelo says he will not support Trump and is stressing issues of importance to the 26th District, such as the DREAM Act. In November, he will face either DCCC-endorsed Annette Taddeo or former US Rep. Joe Garcia.
North Carolina’s 2nd District (Raleigh suburbs, etc.) Third-termer Renee Ellmers (R), despite an endorsement from Donald Trump, lost the primary to second-termer George Holding (R), who is a solid favorite to hold the seat in November.
North Carolina’s 3rd District (the Outer Banks, etc.) Eleventh-termer Walter Jones (R) is a non-ideological maverick, especially in his opposition to military excursions abroad. He won his second primary challenge from Taylor Griffin, who served in the George W. Bush administration, by a landslide and should win again in November over Democrat Ernest Reeves.
North Carolina’s 9th District (Charlotte, etc.) Second-termer Robert Pittenger (R) won by a razor-thin 142 vote margin. A recount is likely. Pittenger did well in Mecklenburg County, but his opponent, Baptist minister Mark Harris, was strong in the rural areas, which were mostly new to Pittenger, due to redistricting. Another factor, Pittenger’s real estate company, which his wife has been handling, is facing an FBI investigation.
Oklahoma’s 2nd District (Muscogee, etc.) US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R) is facing an aggressive challenge from Jarrin Jansen, a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan. US Sens. Jim Inhofe (R) and James Lankford (R) have endorsed Mullin, while former US Sen. Tom Coburn (R) is supporting Jansen. Voters go to the polls on June 28.
Tennessee’s 4th District (Sewanee, etc.) US Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) is once again facing a tough reelection battle. His first hurdle will come on August 4 when he vies for the GOP nomination in a primary with Murfreesboro lawyer Grant Starrett, who has a large war chest, including $250,000 from the candidate himself.
Virginia’s 10th District (Loudoun County, etc.) Freshman Barbara Comstock (R) won a comfortable (56%) victory two years ago, but Trump at the top of the Republican ticket in this increasingly diverse electorate is giving Comstock problems. She has already given away a campaign donation from Trump and she’s stressing that her district, heavy with federal employees, needs an advocate in the GOP majority. Her opponent is LuAnn Bennett, a businesswoman and newcomer to politics, although she is the former wife of former US Rep. Jim Moran (D).
More to come. Stay tuned!