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Top Races in 2016: The Plains States

Supporters of Joni Ernst celebrate on Election Night 2014 after hearing that their candidate had won. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

This is the fifth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races in 2016. The Plains Region covers Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.  

Iowa 3rd District: Democrats are targeting freshman Rep. David Young, but the congressman’s district isn’t as favorable for a challenge as GOP Rep. Rod Blum’s 1st District. Obama won the 3rd with 51 percent in 2012 and 52 percent in 2008. Three Democrats are in the race including investment executive Mike Scherzan, Iraq War veteran/former Steve King challenger Jim Mowrer, and businessman Desmund Adams. This is a must-win seat for Democrats in a race that will probably be dominated by spending from the campaign committees.  

Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating: Tossup.  

Missouri Senate: Republican Sen. Roy Blunt isn’t on the verge of defeat, but if his race against Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander gets close, it’s probably a sign that the Republican majority in the Senate has been lost. Blunt has been in Washington since before Mark McGwire was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals and the senator has family connections to lobbyists, who aren’t particularly popular these days. But Kander is punching above his weight class and must prove he can keep up his fundraising pace. The last sitting secretary of state elected to the Senate was Democrat Max Cleland in Georgia in 1996.  

Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating: Republican Favored.  

Nebraska 2nd District: Republicans don’t have a lot of House takeover opportunities, but this is one of them. Democrat Brad Ashford knocked off GOP Rep. Lee Terry in 2014, although it was more about Terry’s ineptness than Ashford’s strength. But after a rocky start in office, Ashford has apparently righted the ship and Republicans aren’t exactly flocking to get into the race. Retired Brig. Gen. Don “Bits” Bacon and former state Sen. Chip Maxwell are running on the Republican side, while others are waiting for the political climate to improve or wait for the 66-year-old Ashford to retire.  

Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating: Tossup.  

What race 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.