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Fri Sep 27, 2019, 12:17 AM

Hotline's House Power Rankings

1. Oklahoma’s 5th District: Rep. Kendra Horn (D)

After scoring the upset of the midterms, Horn is the underdog in this Oklahoma City-based seat that Trump won by 14 points. Republicans won't be caught off-guard again and already have two well-funded female recruits in this race: Stephanie Bice and Terry Neese. But they will still likely have to spend to flip this seat—Horn has cut a moderate profile in her first months in office and banked $800,000 by the end of June—and that diverts focus and resources from elsewhere on the map.

2. South Carolina’s 1st District: Rep. Joe Cunningham (D)

In 2018, Trump’s worst-performing Republican-held district in the state witnessed its incumbent, Mark Sanford, lose in the primary and Katie Arrington, who defeated Sanford, lose in the general to Cunningham. He was the first Democrat to win the area since 1980, capitalizing on Republican fissures and the evolution of a coastal, Charleston-based district that is perhaps no longer as conservative as it once was. Several Republicans are vying to take him on, but the one to watch is state Rep. Nancy Mace, who ran for the Senate in 2014 and was the first woman to graduate from The Citadel.

3. Texas’s 23rd District: Open (R)

This massive West Texas district topped Democrats’ target list before Rep. Will Hurd’s shocking retirement announcement, but now even Republican leaders admit it will be hard to hold. Democrats feel confident that 2018 nominee Gina Ortiz Jones, who came within 1,000 votes of ousting Hurd and had banked nearly $600,000 by July, will have an easy path to the nomination. The Republican to watch here is probably Tony Gonzales, a Hispanic Navy veteran. The good news for the GOP is that this race is unfailingly close every cycle and the party flipped a state Senate district in 2018 that spans much of the 23rd by besting none other than former Rep. Pete Gallego, who represented it from 2013 to 2015.

4. New Mexico’s 2nd District: Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D)

Torres Small, a gun-touting former water attorney, has a fitting profile for this rural district in the southern portion of the state. But this is another race where Trump's presence on the ballot could be a GOP boon. A number of party strategists aren't thrilled that the Freedom Caucus-aligned Yvette Herrell is running again after losing by 2 points. Some prefer Claire Chase, the youngest and first female president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, though her campaign had a less-than-auspicious launch after detractors dug up social-media posts she wrote that were critical of Trump. Still, operatives say either woman can win a seat that the president carried by 10 points.

5, Utah’s 4th District: Rep. Ben McAdams (D)

Trump’s unpopularity in solidly red Utah shoves a significant variable into Republican hopes of defeating McAdams in his first reelection bid. It’s the most competitive seat in the state—Democrat Jim Matheson held it for seven terms before retiring in 2014, and McAdams unseated second-term Republican Mia Love last year by less than 1,000 votes while running downballot from now-Sen. Mitt Romney—but it still leans decidedly Republican. Among a sea of Republicans pining for it, state Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert is the most prominent.

6. New York’s 22nd District: Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D)

Former Rep. Claudia Tenney is very likely to make a comeback bid after losing by 2 points last year. While she may not be the first choice of all GOP recruiters, she will likely get a boost from Trump, who carried this upstate district by more than 15 points in 2016—a larger margin than any other Democrat-held seat except Minnesota's 7th. Still, Democrats have their best possible incumbent in Brindisi, a moderate who had $770,000 by the end of June in a district with relatively inexpensive media markets.

7. Minnesota’s 7th District: Rep. Collin Peterson (D)

Republicans haven't fielded a serious candidate against Peterson since 2014 but are emboldened by the fact that his victory margins continue to drop anyway in a sprawling rural district that Trump won by 31 points. This time they are running Michelle Fischbach, a former state Senate president, lieutenant governor, and wife of the leader of Minnesota's National Right to Life affiliate. Still, it will be hard to oust the Agriculture chairman, who already has his own sugar-industry-funded super PAC and opposed the impeachment inquiry. One question here is whether Peterson retires—especially because Minnesota is set to lose a seat in the 2021 reapportionment.

8. New York’s 11th District: Rep. Max Rose (D)

Former Rep. Michael Grimm says he will decide by the end of September whether to wage yet another run for his old seat since leaving prison in 2016. His first comeback attempt ended in an unsuccessful 2018 GOP primary challenge to then-Rep. Dan Donovan, who went on to lose the only Republican-held seat in New York City (one Trump carried by 10 points). The first-term incumbent’s more likely opponent is state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who ran for mayor in 2017 and raised $250,000 in the second quarter. But Rose will be well prepared—he had $1.2 million on hand already by the end of June.

9. Pennsylvania’s 10th District: Rep. Scott Perry (R)

Perry, a conservative hard-liner, was redistricted last year out of a safe district and into competitive territory where he is new to about 40 percent of voters. He came within 3 points of losing it in 2018 and now has a top-tier challenger in Eugene DePasquale, the state auditor general who represented part of the district in the state legislature. The Club for Growth could come in for Perry, but DePasquale makes this a race to watch. He won the district with nearly 51 percent of the vote when he ran statewide in 2016. Trump would have won this new seat by 9 points.

10. Georgia’s 7th District: Open (R)

Rep. Rob Woodall’s retirement is likely good news for Republicans given his lackluster fundraising and reticence to attack ads, but this suburban Atlanta seat is still highly vulnerable. Trump chased Mitt Romney’s 22-point win there with just a 6-point win, and 2018 nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux is running again after coming within 500 votes of unseating Woodall. With two well-funded Republicans in Lynne Homrich, a former Home Depot executive, and state Sen. Renee Unterman, a sponsor of the state’s heartbeat abortion law, the potential for a runoff complicates things. There is also another Democrat to watch: state Sen. Zahra Karinshak.

11. Iowa’s 3rd District: Rep. Cindy Axne (D)

Former Rep. David Young is back for a rematch after a 2-point loss in this Des Moines-based seat. Republicans are hopeful about his prospects because private polling found his favorables above water after Election Day—which was not true for many of his fellow fallen incumbents. His fundraising is up compared with 2017, bringing in $360,000 last quarter. But in a sign of Republicans’ relative fundraising woes, Axne raised $600,000 and ended June with over a half-million dollars more on hand than Young.

12. Iowa’s 1st District: Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D)

Trump’s popularity in Iowa will greatly shape the House races for both Iowa seats on this list, but the 1st District might be more favorable to Democrats. Obama won it by 14 points before Trump carried it by 4. Private polling suggests Trump’s numbers have tanked here, but Republicans are ecstatic about their recruit, Ashley Hinson, a state representative who likely boasts high name ID from her time as an anchor at a Cedar Rapids TV station. She had a relatively good first fundraising quarter, but Finkenauer ended June with twice as much on hand.

13. Maine’s 2nd District: Rep. Jared Golden (D)

Golden, a former Marine and aide to Republican Sen. Susan Collins, has charted a decidedly centrist course since winning this rural district through the state’s ranked-choice voting system. 2018 Senate candidate Eric Brakey is running, but the GOP field here is still in flux. Ex-state Rep. Dale Crafts is considering a bid and more names could enter. Trump carried the district by 10 points—though he only got 51 percent of the vote—and a wild card could be whether his campaign decides to invest. Maine is one of just two states that rewards electoral votes for carrying congressional districts.

14. Texas’s 24th District: Open (R)

This North Texas seat is another where Republicans will benefit from some fresh blood, though it has trended away from them—Trump won it by 6 after Romney’s 22-point margin. Rep. Kenny Marchant’s August retirement announcement gave Democrats a fundraising head start, but they’re looking at a messy primary. Privately, some Democrats worry about the electability of their top fundraiser, Kim Olson, a former state agriculture commissioner nominee who has been dogged by a controversial end to her military career. Republicans may be on track to avoid a runoff if former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne can scare off other contenders.

15. Texas’s 22nd District: Open (R)

Trump’s 2016 margin in this suburban Houston seat was 17 points less than Romney’s, and 2018 Democratic nominee Sri Preston Kulkarni is running again after a 5-point loss. Republicans say Democrats hit a high-water mark in 2018 and that the GOP can prevail with increased turnout and more spent to define the opponent. In fact, they claim to have damaging oppo on Kulkarni that never hit the airwaves last cycle. Republicans fielded Felicia Harris, a former city councilwoman, but others could jump in before the December filing deadline. One big name considering a bid: Pierce Bush, the grandson and nephew of former presidents.

16. Virginia’s 7th District: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D)

Republicans think they have a better chance in this central Virginia district without Dave Brat, who, after being significantly outspent, lost a seat that Trump won by 7 points. But the field has been slow to take shape, something GOP operatives attribute to the off-year legislative elections. State Del. Nick Freitas is a name to watch—the Club for Growth has already signaled that it will make a hefty investment for him—but others are likely to enter. Still, Spanberger, a former CIA operative, has a sizable head start; she’s banked more than $1 million and spent 2019 holding town halls across the district.

17. Pennsylvania’s 1st District: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R)

Fitzpatrick is one of two Republicans seeking reelection in a district carried by Hillary Clinton, and Democrats expect to have a stronger candidate this time than Scott Wallace, the multimillionaire philanthropist who was battered with negative ads and lost by over 2 points despite a national wave that crashed through the suburbs. But who will it be? None of the three Democrats who have stepped forward in this Bucks County-based seat so far appear to be top recruits, and it may take that to unseat an incumbent who has proved capable of separating himself from Trump.

18. New York’s 24th District: Rep. John Katko (R)

Katko ran as a bipartisan problem solver and was reelected by 5 points in the 2018 Democratic wave in a district that Obama carried by 16 points and Clinton won by 4. He could again face former Syracuse professor Dana Balter, who challenged his independent profile and, with the help of outside spending, held the incumbent to his lowest winning percentage in three elections. Two Navy veterans who recently moved back to the district, Francis Conole and Roger Misso, could splinter the anti-Balter primary vote. Whoever emerges, Katko entered the summer with a cash-on-hand edge of at least $500,000 over each of his potential opponents.

19. Georgia’s 6th District: Rep. Lucy McBath (D)

House Democrats caught a major break last week when McBath announced she would seek reelection rather than run to replace resigning Sen. Johnny Isakson in a special election. Republican Karen Handel, who won the seat in a June 2017 special before being unseated by McBath, is back, but she isn’t alone. State Sen. Brandon Beach, self-funding businesswoman Marjorie Greene, and commercial maritime officer Nicole Rodden are also seeking the nomination in one of two suburban Atlanta districts that are expected to see plenty of attention up and down the ballot.

20. Illinois’s 14th District: Rep. Lauren Underwood (D)

Republicans think Underwood is too liberal for this one-time GOP stronghold that ex-Gov. Bruce Rauner won by 8 points in 2018 while losing statewide by 15. But the real question is whether Republicans think it’s worth spending in the pricey Chicago media market. The answer might depend on who emerges from the primary. Former Notre Dame kicker Ted Gradel and state Rep. Sue Rezin could be strong candidates, but operatives likely want to avoid a win by perennial candidate Jim Oberweis.


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