DDHQ 2018 House Updates – September 12, 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 or twitter. There are 420 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 on Monday, September 11 and over the weekend.


CO-02: Second Democrat joins the race for open congressional seat

Former Boulder County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Williams announced his bid to replace retiring Representative Jared Polis (D) this past weekend.  No Republican has announced yet, and that’s understandable: Polis won the district by 20% in 2016, and Hillary Clinton won it by an even wider margin.


VA-10: DCCC expands their sights in challenge to Barbara Comstock

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has decided to support candidates other than top recruit State Sen. Jennifer Wexton in their race to unseat Rep. Barbara Comstock (R, VA-10). The DCCC, which recruited Wexton earlier this year, has decided to support additional candidates in a field that is growing into one of the most crowded Democratic primaries in 2018. Those other candidates include former State Department official Alison Kiehl Friedman, Army veteran and business strategist Dan Helmer, and former Obama administration official Lindsey Davis Stover. Friedman may have played a large part in the DCCC’s decision to expand their scope, as she has received several high level endorsements and funding.

Wexton’s “problem” is really a good one for Democrats. More candidates joining field in VA-10 is a hint than Democratic enthusiasm may be building up to consequential levels VA-10 is a tossup district just a short half hour drive from the U.S. Capitol. Currently, DDHQ rates the seat as Lean Democratic.


NY-01: Lee Zeldin (R) draws a crowd of opposition

Multiple Democrats have announced their bids to win back a blue seat in upper Long Island. The district was won by Zeldin in one of the dozen Republican flips of 2014, and has been lower on the list of target districts since. Though Democrats previously held the district, Zeldin won by 18 points in 2016, and Hillary Clinton barely earned 43%. The district has all of the characteristics of one trending red, so even if things sour for Republicans, there are bigger targets that will flip before Zeldin’s seat.


MI-11: Retirement in a Lean Republican district

Rep. Dave Trott (R) announced his retirement from the House on Monday, saying he would not run for reelection in 2018 because he wants to spend more time with his family and in the private sector. There had been a bout of skepticism recently on whether Trott would pull the trigger, and when he pulled it, the hammer fell with a bang. Trott is the third Republican retirement in two weeks, prompting hope for some Democratic strategists who see a national political environment trending away from the GOP finally paying dividends. Although MI-11 may spark an abundance of optimism on the left, note that Trott’s retirement is not the most valuable Democrats could hope for; those spots are reserved for previously uncontested seats and those GOP-held seats Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Democrats will have to put in the work — and money — in districts like MI-11 to turn Lean Republican seats into Democratic victories.


MI-06: Rumors of another retirement.

At the same time the MI-11 rumors mill was churning, another seat Wolverine State district kept popping up: MI-06.  Michigan’s sixth is a little more red than the eleventh district, voting for Trump with 55% rather than 53%. If MI-11 and MI-06 end up being open seats, both will likely be very competitive — but the sixth will be a slightly tougher turn for the Democrats. And, of course, the two districts are in states that are now known for their newfound reverence for President Trump. It could be that a couple of moderates vacating the seats give way to more Trump-like representatives. We’ll see which candidates choose to run in MI-06, if it opens up.


WI-08: Freshman Republican gets a challenger.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R) is a freshman representative in the U.S. House, but nobody is throwing him softballs this season.  Democrat Beau Liegeois announced Monday that he will run to represent Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District n November 2018. “I can fight for the working, middle-class families in this community because I’m raising a working, middle-class family of my own,” Liegeois said, according to the Green Bay Press Gazzette. The bid would be a long shot for Liegeois, as WI-08 voted for Trump by a 20% margin and Gallagher by even more. Not every announcement is good news for Democrats, and Liegeois’ bid fits the bill for what some are calling “moral victories” — good news for Democrats in terms of improvement or potential, but representing no real consequential advancement.


NJ-02: Democrats announce bid to unseat Rep. LoBiondo (R).

Democrat and former teacher Tanzie Youngblood announced her challenge to long-time Representative Frank LoBiondo on Monday. Youngblood is looking for support from the working class residents of southern New Jersey in her bid, promising a higher minimum wage and tax code reforms. This differentiates her from Republicans, but her stance on healthcare is not much different than LoBiondo’s: he was one of the few Republicans that voted against the House’s repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act earlier this year, which makes sense in a district where Clinton won 48% of the vote in 2016. LoBiondo’s 20+ year tenure in the House and a moderate voting record in step with his district keeps an otherwise tempting Democratic target in the lean Republican category for now.