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July 4, 2015

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July 2, 2015

Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Mountain Region

Senate Finance Committee

Bennet is trying to avoid the same fate as his Democratic colleague Udall suffered in 2014. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The Mountain Region includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Colorado Senate: Last cycle, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet saw his home state colleague, Mark Udall, go down to defeat. Now Bennet is trying to avoid the same fate. Republicans are still searching for a candidate after Rep. Mike Coffman recently announced his decision to seek re-election to the House. Potential GOP challengers include Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, businessman Robert Blaha (who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Doug Lamborn in a GOP primary), state Sen. Owen Hill and others. Democrats could improve their chances of taking back the majority in the Senate by re-electing Bennet and holding the Nevada open seat so other victories would pad their margin. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rate the race as Leans Democratic.

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Top Races to Watch in 2016: New England

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing on Holder

Guinta has been dogged by past campaign finance issues. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The New England region includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

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Top Races in 2016: The Midwest

Sen. Mark Kirk

Kirk is the most vulnerable Republican senator this cycle. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate in the Midwest Region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. 

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Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Plains Region

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Blum faces a competitive race in Iowa to hold onto his seat in the House. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

 

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The Plains Region includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Iowa’s 1st District: GOP Rep. Rod Blum is one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country considering President Barack Obama won the district with 56 percent in 2012 and 59 percent in 2008. Democrats are headed for a competitive primary between 2014 nominee/former state Rep. Pat Murphy, Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon, and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Gary Kroeger. Blum is already sideways with the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Pure Tossup.

Iowa’s 3rd District: Democrats are also targeting freshman Rep. David Young, but the Republican congressman’s district isn’t as favorable for a challenge as Blum’s seat. Obama won the 3rd with 51 percent in 2012 and 52 percent in 2008. The Democratic field is still taking shape but it should be a top takeover target in a presidential year. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Pure Tossup.

Nebraska’s 2nd District: Democrat Brad Ashford knocked off GOP Rep. Lee Terry in 2014 even though it was a terrible year for Democratic candidates. That says more about Terry’s ineptness than Ashford’s strength. Republicans don’t have a lot of takeover opportunities, but this Omaha-based district is one of them. Mitt Romney carried the 2nd with 53 percent in 2012 after Obama won it by a point in 2008. Retired Brig. Gen. Don “Bits” Bacon and former state Sen. Chip Maxwell are running on the Republican side but they are unlikely to have the field to themselves. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Pure Tossup.

Missouri Senate: Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander didn’t waste a lot of time announcing his challenge to GOP Sen. Roy Blunt. Democrats are excited about Kander’s candidacy, but the office of secretary of state has been a terrible launching pad for Senate candidates in recent elections. The last sitting secretary of state elected to the Senate was Democrat Max Cleland in Georgia in 1996. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Safe Republican, but the race could get more competitive.

Iowa’s 4th District: Democrats love to challenge polarizing GOP Rep. Steve King. But Romney won the 4th by 8 points in 2012 and Democrats haven’t been able to crack the code. In 2014, King defeated Democrat Jim Mowrer by a considerable 62-38 percent margin. Now Mowrer is being mentioned as a potential candidate in the 3rd District. But as long as King keeps talking, there is always a chance this race becomes competitive. For now, the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Safe Republican.

What race would you add to the list?

Related:

Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016

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July 1, 2015

Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Southwest

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Kirkpatrick’s Senate run sets up a competitive race for her House district. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

 

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The Southwest Region includes Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. 

Arizona’s 1st District: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s Senate bid creates an open-seat headache for Democrats. Kirkpatrick managed to win re-election in a terrible Democratic year in 2014, but she has a unique appeal in that district that could be difficult for another Democrat to replicate (and faced an underwhelming GOP nominee). Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain won the district with 51 percent in the 2008 presidential race and Mitt Romney carried it with 50 percent in 2012.

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Top Races to Watch in 2016: Mid-Atlantic States

Sen. Pat Toomey

The Senate race in Pennsylvania will likely be a rematch of the 2010 race between Toomey, above, and Sestak. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch in 2016. The Mid-Atlantic region includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Pennsylvania Senate: Democrats are on a quest to gain five seats and the Senate majority, and the Keystone State looks like one of the key contests. Republican Patrick J. Toomey defeated Democrat Joe Sestak in 2010, 51 percent to 49 percent. Even though some Democrats are unconvinced Sestak is the best candidate for 2016, no credible alternative has emerged, and the former congressman looks likely to be the nominee once again. Skepticism about Sestak doesn’t mean he can’t win. The Democrat will be a credible nominee and gets the chance to run in a presidential year this time, when Democratic turnout should be better. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rate the race as Tossup/Tilts Republican.

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June 30, 2015

Top Congressional Races in 2016: The West

Rep. Joe Heck

Heck is poised to jump into the race for Senate seat in Nevada that Reid is giving up. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch in 2016. The West Region includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Nevada Senate: Democrats have only a pair of vulnerable Senate seats, but retiring Sen. Harry Reid’s is one of them. GOP Rep. Joe Heck looks poised to enter the race at any moment, while Democrats are likely to nominate former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. The last Senate race in a presidential year was in 2012 when appointed-Sen. Dean Heller defeated Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley by a single point. Democrats are far more confident in Cortez Masto as a candidate, but she is relatively untested for a statewide office holder. Heck has been in tough races, but never statewide. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race is Tossup/Tilts Democratic but is creeping close to Pure Tossup.

Nevada’s 4th District: GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy is the most vulnerable incumbent in the House. He won a late-breaking race in 2014, 49-46 percent, over Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in a cycle in which Democrats completely collapsed in the state. But President Barack Obama won the 4th by 10 points in 2012 and 15 points in 2008 and Democrats are clamoring for the nomination. State Sen. Ruben Kihuen, former Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, and wealthy philanthropist Susie Lee are in the race and may be joined by former state Speaker John Oceguera. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as Tossup/Tilts Democratic.

Nevada’s 3rd District: If Heck runs for the Senate, his open House seat will be a top Democratic takeover target. Obama won the district narrowly in 2012 and by a wider 9 points in 2008. Heck’s previous victories scared aspiring Democrats over to the 4th District race, but his absence might prompt some of them to make the switch. State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson and Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers look likely to run on the Republican side. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Favored Republican with Heck but Pure Tossup without him.

California’s 24th District: Democratic Rep. Lois Capps’ retirement creates an open-seat opportunity. Last year, the congresswoman’s re-election race tightened and she won 52-48 percent. But Democrats believe presidential-year turnout will be significantly better. All candidates will run together in the June primary and the top two will move on to the general election. For Republicans, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and young businessman Justin Fareed (who finished third in the 2014 primary) will likely battle for one position while Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider will likely battle for the other. Republicans came close in the midterm last year but a presidential election year should pose a different challenge. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rate the race as Safe Democrat.

California Senate: The race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is worth watching, even though the seat is not at risk of a Republican takeover. With the Golden State’s top two primary on June 3, there is a chance that state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats, both move on to the general election next November. Either way, Democrats are likely to add at least one minority woman to their Senate caucus in the next Congress. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rate the race as Safe Democrat.

What races would you add to the list?

Related:

Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

Top Races to Watch in 2016: The South

The Faith & Freedom Coalition

Rubio’s decision not to run for re-election while he runs for president creates a hot race for a pivotal Senate seat.

 

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of looks at the most competitive House and Senate races in the 2016 election cycle. The South region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Florida Senate: From competitive primaries to the general election, the race to replace GOP Sen. Marco Rubio should have it all. Rubio left his party a competitive open seat to defend in the wake of his White House bid. The Republican field is still taking shape but a competitive primary looks likely. Reps. Ron DeSantis and Jeff Miller, and  Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera are running. Rep. Patrick Murphy is running on the Democratic side, but could be joined by colorful Rep. Alan Grayson in what would be an entertaining primary. Even though there is uncertainty about the nominees, the general election is likely to be one of the most competitive in the country, and a virtual must-win for Democrats to get back to the majority. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rate the race as a Pure Toss-Up.

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June 24, 2015

Yarmuth Retirement Rumor Offers Window Into Future

Rep. John Yarmuth

Before Monday’s news conference, there were rumors Yarmuth would announce he was retiring or even resigning. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rumors that Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth was poised to retire or resign were hot and heavy right up until the moment the Democratic congressman announced his re-election bid on Monday. But the public uncertainty provided a brief glimpse into what the race to replace him might look like when he decides to call it quits.

The exit rumors weren’t just wishful thinking by a Republican Party that hasn’t been able to seriously challenge for the Louisville-based 3rd District since Yarmuth knocked off popular GOP Rep. Anne Northup in 2006. Local Democrats were buzzing about the congressman’s plans and some were even preparing bids for an open seat.

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June 11, 2015

Race Plays Out on Congressional Baseball Game Field

If Murphy loses his Senate bid, he would no longer play in the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If Murphy loses his Senate bid in Florida, he would no longer play in the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Next year’s Florida Senate race is a high-stakes contest that could impact Roll Call Congressional Baseball Games for years to come. It may also decide the Senate majority in the next Congress.

Both parties are at risk of losing one of their youngest and most experienced players, since Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy and GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis are giving up their Florida House seats in order to run for Republican Marco Rubio’s open Senate seat. At least one member will lose and won’t be available for the 56th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game in 2017.

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May 27, 2015

14 Open House Seats, Few Takeover Opportunities

The retiring Fitzpatrick leaves behind one of the few competitive open seats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The retiring Fitzpatrick leaves behind one of the few competitive open seats in Pennsylvania’s 8th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

More than 90 percent of House incumbents routinely get re-elected, so open seats are a hot commodity. Five months into the 114th Congress, 14 House members have announced their departure, but just four of the seats they are leaving behind can be considered competitive.

At this stage in the cycle, Republicans have two vulnerable open seats: Chris Gibson’s 19th District in New York and Michael G. Fitzpatrick’s 8th District in Pennsylvania. President Barack Obama carried Gibson’s district twice and Fitzpatrick’s district once, in 2008, but both incumbents locked down their turf to the point where Democrats didn’t put up much of a fight last cycle.

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May 26, 2015

Kirkpatrick’s Decision Prompts Ratings Changes in 2 Arizona Races

A new challenger to McCain sparked two Arizona race ratings changes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s challenge to Republican Sen. John McCain impacts our ratings of two races in Arizona.

Up to this point, McCain was considered a heavy favorite for re-election to a sixth term, in part because the senator has proven to be a tough campaigner. Moreover, Republicans have carried The Grand Canyon State in the last four presidential elections, and Democrats haven’t won an Arizona Senate race since 1988. Full story

May 15, 2015

Ratings Change: Democrats Eye Seat After Being Shut Out in 2014

Knight could face a solid re-election challenge from a Democrat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The GOP didn’t have any trouble last year holding Buck McKeon’s open seat in Southern California after two Republicans finished in the top two in the primary and moved on to the general election. Steve Knight won the seat, 53 percent to 47 percent, over Tony Strickland, a two-time congressional candidate.

This cycle, the race will likely be competitive for Democrats. Although Mitt Romney won the district narrowly, 50 percent to 48 percent, in 2012, Obama carried it, 51 percent to 47 percent, in 2008. Full story

May 7, 2015

Parties Divide and Conquer Independent Spending

Walden is chairing the NRCC for a second time this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Walden is chairing the NRCC for a second time this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Having more than $50 million to spend on House races in the final months of the campaign may sound like fun, but both campaign committees have figured out it’s not a one-person job.

Each election cycle, the National Republican Congressional Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee designate a trusted operative who will eventually be walled off from the official committee to direct the independent expenditure effort. Full story

April 28, 2015

House Playing Field Is Small, but Can Change

Elections 2016

Israel, left, led House Democrats’ campaign efforts the last two cycles. Luján is chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With a year and a half to go before the 2016 elections, the House playing field is too small for Democrats to retake the majority. But there is time for the cycle to develop in favor of down-ballot Democratic candidates and for the number of competitive seats to grow. Full story

By Nathan L. Gonzales Posted at 11:45 a.m.
DCCC, House, NRCC

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