Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 24, 2014

Top 5 Races to Watch in the West

begich 160 091114 Top 5 Races to Watch in the West

Begich will face Sullivan in a high-stakes election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The West has been difficult territory for Republicans over the last decade or so, but small GOP gains in the region could be a sign of larger gains elsewhere around the country.

If Republicans can win the Alaska Senate race, they would be in strong position to win that chamber’s majority. And picking up a House seat or two in California would likely be the icing on a very good night for Republicans.

Three races dropped from our Top 5 list since last summer. Nevada’s 3rd District is barely regarded as competitive at this point. The Hawaii Senate race isn’t worth watching anymore after Sen. Brian Schatz survived the Democratic primary. And GOP Rep. David Valadao is looking stronger and stronger in California’s 21st District, at least in this midterm election.

Here are the top five races to watch in the West this year:

Alaska Senate. The race clarified last week when former Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan won the Republican primary. That sets up a great general-election matchup with Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. It may not be a must-win for Republicans to control the Senate, but it’s one of the five most competitive Senate races in the entire country. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Tossup/Tilts Democrat.

California’s 52nd District. The race between Democratic Rep. Scott Peters and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican, continues to be one of the most competitive House races in the country. There is no reason to believe that this won’t be extremely expensive and close. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Pure Tossup.

California’s 7th District. Former Rep. Doug Ose fended off a pair of conservative Republican challengers in the primary and faces Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in November. Bera is in his first term, so he hasn’t had an opportunity to solidify himself. This might be Republicans’ best shot to defeat him. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Leans Democratic.

California’s 26th District. Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley faces a somewhat similar challenge as Bera. The congresswoman is running for re-election for the first time, but she isn’t originally from the district and isn’t as well-defined as are some members. Brownley faces state Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, who has a legislative base in the 26th District and a moderate reputation. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Leans Democratic.

Hawaii Governor. State Sen. David Ige defeated Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary on
Aug. 9. He faces former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, the GOP nominee, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a Democrat running as an independent, in the general election. The third-party dynamic gives Republicans a shot, but it remains to be seen how real the opportunity is since the primary concluded so recently. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Leans Democratic.

What races would you add to or subtract from the list?

Note: This is the fifth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The West Region includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. The previous regions: Mid-Atlantic, New England, Midwest and the Plains.

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