Barber’s best political asset is his team, many of whom used to run Gabrielle Giffords’ campaigns.
The GOP had already landed a top recruit in former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who has pitched himself as a moderate, a selling point in this district. DeMaio, an openly gay Republican, has also garnered considerable national media attention.
Peters’ campaign argues that DeMaio’s record is more extreme than he portrays.
Both campaigns will have the financial means to make their case: DeMaio reported nearly $1.3 million in the bank as of March 31, just shy of Peters’ nearly $1.5 million war chest. Expect a lot of outside money to be spent here, too.
In the past, Rahall boasted one of the best local brands in politics, effectively keeping enough distance between himself and a national party that’s increasingly unpopular in West Virginia. When Mitt Romney carried the 3rd District by 32 points in 2012, Rahall coasted to a 12-point victory.
But this year, the National Republican Congressional Committee and GOP outside groups are showing renewed determination to pick up his seat. The GOP’s recruit is Democratic-turned-Republican state Sen. Evan Jenkins.
Local Republicans are confident they will take the seat, but Rahall is putting up a fierce fight. His fundraising is strong and he has aired one of the cleverest ads of the cycle to date. If Rahall loses in the 3rd District, it will say more about the political climate in West Virginia than about his political acumen.
Only 1,086 votes separated Rangel and his primary rival, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, in 2012. Espaillat is back for another challenge, and now Rangel must also contend with Pastor Michael Walrond.
The enhanced danger for Rangel in 2014 is that Walrond, who is African-American, could peel off black votes from Rangel’s already narrow margin.
Rangel also lost a handful of high-profile Hispanic endorsements this cycle. Further complicating matters, the congressman endorsed against now-Mayor Bill de Blasio in the Big Apple’s 2013 Democratic mayoral primary.
Along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and others in the delegation, Rangel has a major trump card: Bill Clinton.