open-seat

Democrats Get Preferred Candidates in House Races in Texas
GOP sees mixed fortunes for establishment candidates in runoffs

Air Force veteran Gina Ortiz Jones won the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 23rd District. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

General election matchups in Texas were set following Tuesday’s runoffs, including a few expected to be competitive in the fall. 

Democrats saw new opportunities in the Lone Star state after Hillary Clinton carried three Republican-held seats in 2016. Each of those races on the Democratic side went to a runoff after no one took more than 50 percent of the vote in the March 6 primary. A slew of Republican retirements sparked crowded GOP primaries, which led to runoffs in five open seats. The winners of most of these contests are likely to come to Congress from the Republican-leaning districts.

Farenthold’s New Employer Wants AG Opinion Whether Hiring Was Legal
Former congressman dodges questions: ‘I’m not talking to reporters. I’m a private citizen now’

The Calhoun Port Authority is facing criticism for hiring former Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Disgraced former Rep. Blake Farenthold’s new employer is seeking the opinion of Texas’ attorney general about the legality of his hiring.

The Calhoun Port Authority is asking whether Farenthold’s hiring violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, the Victoria Advocate reported.

Rating Changes in 19 House Races, All Toward Democrats
In total, 68 GOP-held seats are now rated competitive

New Mexico Democrat Xochitl Torres Small is running for the seat GOP Rep. Steve Pearce is vacating to run for governor. The 2nd District race is now rated Leans Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite forecasts of a blue tsunami, it’s still not guaranteed that Democrats will win back the House majority. But the playing field of competitive House races is expanding and shifting to almost exclusively Republican territory.

After the latest round of changes, Inside Elections now has 68 Republican seats rated as vulnerable compared to just 10 vulnerable Democratic seats. And there are at least a couple dozen more GOP-held seats that could develop into competitive races in the months ahead.

Conyers’ Son Fails to Make the Ballot
Former congressman’s great nephew challenges signatures on son’s application to run to replace him in the House

The son of former Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and his great nephew hope to replace him in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The family feud to replace former Rep. John Conyers Jr. took another turn Wednesday when the Michigan Democrat’s son failed to qualify for the ballot.

The Wayne County Clerk’s elections staff said John Conyers III, the former congressman’s son, was ineligible because he fell short of the number of valid signatures on his application to run, the Detroit News reported.

Shalala Criticized for Skipping Debate
Frontrunner in race for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat said she told organizers she had prior obligations

Donna Shalala said “There will be lots of time to debate” after she didn’t attend one between Democratic candidates for retiring Rep. Ilean Ros-Lehtinen’s seat on Tuesday. (Aaron Davidson/Getty Images file photo)

Some Democrats in Florida’s 27th District criticized frontrunner Donna Shalala for disrespecting organizers of a debate by skipping it on Tuesday.

Shalala defended her decision not to attend, the Miami Herald reported, saying, “There will be lots of time to debate.”

Former Rep. Bentivolio Suing Opponent to Defend Military Record
Michigan Republican seeking $10 million from rival in race for Trott’s seat

Former Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich. is running for his old seat in Michigan's 11th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, running for his old seat in Michigan’s 11th District, is suing one of his fellow GOP primary challengers for $10 million for allegedly defaming his military record by questioning its authenticity.

Bentivolio and his lawyer are claiming that Rocky Raczkowski — another Republican in the crowded primary field for what could be one of the nation’s most hotly contested House races in November — has a history of waging a “malicious defamation campaign … telling multiple third parties that Bentivolio’s military record is fraudulent and fake,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

4 Things to Watch During Tuesday’s Primary Elections
Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho and Oregon will be hosting primaries

Voters head to the polls for primary elections in four states. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four states will host primary elections Tuesday, setting up matchups for several key races this fall. 

Pennsylvania, Idaho and Nebraska all have House primaries to watch. And the Keystone State’s new congressional lines will be tested for the first time. The state’s Supreme Court tossed out the old map earlier this year, deeming it an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. 

Nine House Members Pushing for Gubernatorial Promotion
But for many, the road to the governor’s mansion won’t be easy

Of all the House members running for governor this year, Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa may have the best shot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just seven of the 50 current governors have previously served in the House, and only five of those were elected directly from the House without holding a statewide office or another job in the interim period. But a handful of lawmakers are hoping to buck the trend and push that total number closer to double digits.

Many of them have to navigate competitive primaries first, and the precedent for members getting elected governor isn’t great. But while most of them are leaving behind safe seats, there’s an upside: becoming their state’s top elected official and departing from an unpopular Congress.

House Experience Poised to Nose-Dive
Following a rash of retirements, incumbent losses in November could bring the body’s experience to a low not seen since the 1990s

Michigan Democratic Reps. John Conyers Jr. and Sander M. Levin and Texas Republican Reps. Joe L. Barton and Lamar Smith are the four most senior House members to end their service during the current Congress. (Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photos)

If this election year ushers in as big a wave as Democrats are hoping for, it could end not just with a new party in control of the House, but with a major brain drain in the chamber. Departing members take with them their institutional knowledge and experienced staff. The freshmen who replace them will not only be starting from scratch, but, like Tea Party members did in 2010, could arrive by virtue of an antagonistic attitude and may be reluctant to back established party leadership.

The 69 representatives who for one reason or another won’t be a part of the House membership next year represent a significant portion of the House’s cumulative experience, a combined 828 years of experience in the chamber — roughly a fifth of the House’s total at the time this Congress began. 

Balderson and O’Connor to Face Off in Ohio Special Election for Tiberi Seat
Establishment GOP candidates win in 12th and 16th districts

The nominees for the special election to fill the seat of former Rep. Pat Tiberi are now set. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ohio Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor, the Franklin County recorder, will face off in the August special election to fill former GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi’s seat in the 12th District.

Balderson won the GOP primary with 29 percent of the vote, finishing narrowly ahead of Liberty Township Trustee Melanie Leneghan, who had 28 percent. The fight between them had become a traditional Republican proxy war.