DDHQ 2018 House Updates — September 5, 2017

Welcome to our daily DDHQ House Elections Updates. I’m your host, G. Elliott Morris. Questions, comments, concerns? Feel free to pass along via email. There are 427 days until the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats are up in the generic ballot by 8% and we rate 196 seats as Safe, Likely or Lean Democratic. Check our full U.S. House forecast here and read our full list of ratings here. 


Here’s what happened in elections to the U.S. House of Representatives over the Labor Day weekend.


Three new open seats: PA-10, HI-01, OK-01


The three new open seats are Tom Marino’s (R) PA-10 Colleen Hanabusa’s (D) HI-01, and Jim Bridenstine’s (R) OK-01. Marino has been nominated by President Trump as drug policy czar, Hanabusa is looking to primary Hawaii Governor Ige, and Bridenstine has been nominated by the President to lead NASA. Besides the Bridenstine announcement, which the White House has been hinting at for a while now, these new vacancies are somewhat surprising, as both Marino and Hanabusa’s seats are presumed safe and both have a pretty productive record in the House. Then again, safe seats always make for the best vacancies a party could want; successors are presumed winners of their races.

Marino hasn’t even seen the need to fundraise for his R+28 seat, finishing at the bottom of the Pennsylvania delegation for donations in both the first and second quarters. DDHQ has profiled PA-10 in the past, and the write-up mostly still holds relevant. 

Hanabusa has previously run for statewide office in the Aloha State, losing a Democratic primary bid for U.S. Senate by less than a percentage point in 2014.


SD-AL: Two entries for “biggest Trump supporter” in Republican primary


State Senator Neil Tapio is planning to be the fourth candidate for  South Dakota’s open House district, vacated by Kristi Noem as she runs for the state’s governorship. Tapio has pledged to be Trump’s “staunchest supporter” — a sign that he may see the electoral opportunity in siding with a President that won 66% of the state in 2016 and ran two points ahead of Noem. Whoever wins the Republican primary in South Dakota will likely be the seat’s eventual owner; only one Democrat has won election to the district since 1996.

Of course, the title of staunchest Trump-supporter in the primary won’t be easily claimed: Shantel Krebs, the South Dakota Secretary of State, is also in the race and has made a similar claim.


WA-05: McMorris Rodgers gets Democratic challenger


The fourth-ranking Republican member of the U.S. House has drawn a challenger, the Seattle Times reports. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) has been serving in the House since 1994 when she won her first election in Washington’s 7th district. She has faced a number of Democratic and Republican challengers over the years, but this time may be different. Her challenger, former Washington state Senate leader Lisa Brown, has sixty years experience in state politics and deep connections to Democratic pockets in the state. That being said, WA-05 is a very red district, voting for McMorris Rodgers 60-40 and Trump 57-43. We’re keeping our eyes on WA-05 to see how many Democrats and Republicans file to run in the two-round jungle primary — if too many Republicans primary McMorris Rodgers, a more unified Democratic ticket may be able to win the seat in the primary, the inverse of the circumstances in California that could see vulnerable Republicans survive through too many Democratic entries. DDHQ ranks the seat as Likely Republican.


AL-01: Rep. Bryne (R) running for reelection


Representative Bradley Bryne will not seek election to higher office next cycle — at least, not governor. Rumors have been circulating for quite some time that Bryne, a Republican in a safe district (he managed to beat several Tea Party primary challengers in 2013 to replace Rep. Jo Bonner), would jump ship in 2018. Bryne ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010: it’s possible that his past failure in running for statewide seat will keep him in AL-01 for now, until he perhaps plots out a Senate bid.

Bryne ran unopposed in 2016, and a Democratic challenger would likely perform similarly to Burton LeFlore in 2014, who won just over 30% of the vote.


Other Buzz

  • Members of the House are considering a number of big-ticket items in the upcoming week, including a relief package for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, keeping Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and a bill to regulate self-driving cars. These policies put some members in tough positions. Chiefly, big-ticket spending and support of DACA could force Republicans to take positions that are unpopular with their base and President Trump, setting the stage for tough primaries.
  • The Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman has a piece at FiveThirtyEight.com this morning that is worth reading about the 2018 elections and the college-educated electorate. We at DDHQ rely on similar demographic analyses when rating House seats, so at the very least, Wasserman’s peice offers some insight into our process.