Many House Elections All But Settled Already

Posted September 9, 2004 at 5:13pm

Every cycle there are those open-seat House races where the primary or runoff — and not the November general election — determines who will be the newest Member from that district.

This year, after last cycle’s redistricting only served to increase the number of “safe” seats for both parties, is no exception. Plus, a midcycle round of redistricting in Texas produced three new seats, all of which are considered safe bets for Republicans.

With that in mind, Roll Call has compiled the current list of “shoo-ins” — those people who, barring unforeseen circumstances, are headed to Congress next year.

The list so far includes three former Members who are making political comebacks, three sons of former Senators and one current Member’s son. More than half of those on the list are current or former state legislators.

At least one more name will be added to the shoo-in ranks Tuesday, when voters in Wisconsin’s 4th district select nominees in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D). The seat is heavily Democratic, and whoever wins that primary should have little trouble in November. The same can be said for 2003 Louisiana gubernatorial nominee Bobby Jindal (R) in the state’s open-seat 1st district race. Still, we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to include him on the list because he hasn’t officially won his party’s nomination. Louisiana’s primaries take place on Election Day, and if no candidate garners 50 percent of the vote a December runoff is held. Jindal is well on his way to winning the nomination and the seat.

Dan Boren (D)

Oklahoma

2nd district

Boren, son of former Sen. David Boren (D-Okla.), is one of a quartet of political legacies slated to join the 109th Congress (along with Russ Carnahan, Dan Lipinski and Connie Mack IV), and he is one of two would-be freshmen who is a third-generation Member.

Boren, 31, was elected to the state House in 2002, defeating an eight-year incumbent.

His father, also a one-term former governor, served in the Senate from 1979 until 1994. Dan Boren’s grandfather, the late Rep. Lyle Boren (D), represented portions of what is now the 2nd district when he served in the House from 1937 to 1947.

Boren defeated former District Attorney Kalyn Free in a July primary, taking 58 percent of the vote. He faces horse breeder Wayland Smalley in November, but he is a virtual lock to succeed Rep. Brad Carson (D) in this largely Democratic district.

— L.W.W.

Russ Carnahan (D)

Missouri

3rd district

Carnahan’s victory in the St. Louis-based 3rd district furthers one of the nation’s most well-known political legacies.

The son of the late Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan and former Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan as well as the grandson of former Rep. A.S.J. Carnahan (D), Russ Carnahan entered the crowded Democratic race to replace 14-term Rep. Richard Gephardt (D) as the heavy favorite.

“There is a tremendous amount of good will from my own service in the state Legislature and from my father and my mother’s service,” the state Representative said recently.

In a contest largely ignored by voters, Carnahan claimed a 1,700-vote primary victory over Washington University professor Jeff Smith on Aug. 3. In November, he faces perennial Republican candidate Bill Federer, who lost twice to Gephardt.

Carnahan has had a quick political rise. He was first elected to the state House in 2000 in a seat entirely contained in the 3rd district.

While Carnahan said he has not given much thought to committee assignments, a spot on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee would be a good fit for his district.

His sister, Robin, is the party’s nominee for Missouri secretary of state.

— Chris Cillizza

Mike Conaway (R)

Texas

11th district (new)

For Conaway, an accountant, the second time was the charm.

After losing by just 587 votes to now-Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) in a June 2003 special election in the 19th district, Conaway took nearly 75 percent against a little-known opponent in the 11th district GOP primary and is heavily favored to win the general election.

Conaway and President Bush were partners in an oil company in the mid-1980s, and Bush, as Lone Star State governor, appointed Conaway to the state Board of Public Accountancy.

Now, Conaway will do something that Bush was never able to accomplish: represent the people of Midland in Congress.

Bush lost a 1978 Congressional race there, the only defeat of his political career.

Conaway has said that he would like to serve on the Agriculture Committee.

— C.C.

Henry Cuellar (D)

Texas

28th district

Months after the March primary, Cuellar, the former Texas secretary of state, finally claimed a controversial primary victory over Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) in July.

Following a series of recounts, a July 13 decision by the state’s 4th District Court of Appeals effectively ended Rodriguez’s candidacy and left Cuellar with a 58-vote margin of victory.

Cuellar served seven terms representing Laredo in the Texas House before being appointed secretary of state by Republican Gov. Rick Perry following the 2000 election. He resigned from that post shortly afterward to pursue his race against Rep. Henry Bonilla (R) in the 23rd district.

In that race, Cuellar came up 6,500 votes short out of more than 150,000 cast. But his ties to Perry — and his avowed friendship with President Bush — has made some Democrats suspicious of Cuellar’s political loyalties.

Rodriguez has already pledged to challenge Cuellar in 2006.

— C.C.

Virginia Foxx (R)

North Carolina

5th district

In one of the nastiest primaries of the cycle, Foxx, a state Senator, beat out Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson.

Although Robinson accused the former community college president of being a liberal in the mold of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D), there is little doubt that the conservative Foxx will compile a voting record more in line with Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) once she arrives in the House.

The heavily Republican 5th district, currently represented by Senate candidate Rep. Richard Burr (R), stretches from Winston-Salem to the Tennessee and Virginia borders.

Foxx has served in the state Senate since 1994. She and her husband own and operate a nursery and landscaping business. She faces Elkin dentist Jim Harrell Jr. (D) in November.

— L.W.W.

Al Green (D)

Texas

9th district

Green, a former Houston justice of the peace, used his status in the black community as well as more than $300,000 in personal funds to deliver a stunning primary upset over freshman Rep. Chris Bell (D) in the redrawn Houston-based 9th.

Green was elected justice of the peace in 1977 and served until January. He also was the head of the Houston chapter of the NAACP for a decade.

Green’s challenge was also significantly bolstered by the support of prominent Congressional Black Caucus members. That support was essential in a district where 37 percent of the voting-age population is black. Green is expected to glide to victory in the general election against attorney Arlette Molina (R), who was struck by a car while campaigning in mid-August.

— C.C.

Bob Inglis (R)

South Carolina

4th district

Inglis, a former Congressman, cruised to a June primary win in the Upstate 4th district and is certain to reclaim the seat that he held from 1992 to 1998 in the fall.

Inglis, 44, will face funeral home executive Brandon Brown (D) in the fall but is the heavy favorite in a district that President Bush won with 64 percent of the vote in 2000.

Inglis’ return to the House will come six years after he left the body in keeping with a three-term-limit pledge. He did not make a similar oath this time around.

“Along the way I realized it was a mistake to unilaterally disarm, and it was a mistake I would not repeat,” Inglis said.

Inglis failed in an attempt to knock off Sen. Fritz Hollings (D) in 1998, hamstrung by his unwillingness to accept money from political action committees. His House replacement — Rep. Jim DeMint — is the Republican nominee for the open Senate seat this year.

Though Inglis served on the Budget and Judiciary committees during his previous six-year stint on Capitol Hill, his prime interest now is energy-related. The International Center for Automotive Research is based in Greenville and is researching smart-car technology and alternative fuels. The project, which is based at Clemson University, received $13 million in funding from BMW and Michelin, both of which have headquarters in the district.

— C.C.

Dan Lipinski (D)

Illinois

3rd district

In one of the most carefully orchestrated transfers of power in recent memory, veteran Rep. Bill Lipinski (D) essentially bequeathed this South Side Chicago seat to his youngest son.

Last month, Bill Lipinski announced that he is retiring at the end of the year. Because the Illinois primary had already taken place, it fell to Democratic leaders in the 3rd district to select a ballot replacement for the 22-year lawmaker. It came as little surprise that they chose Dan Lipinski, for whom his father had already lined up the necessary support.

The younger Lipinski left his job as an assistant professor of political science at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville earlier this year and returned home to prepare to run in November.

Dan Lipinski, 37, received a Ph.D. from Duke University in 1998. He has a written a book, due to be released by the University of Michigan Press in October, titled “Congressional Communication: Content and Consequence.”

The 3rd is a solidly Democratic seat, and the younger Lipinski is expected to cruise to victory against Republican Ryan Chlada in the fall. Some have questioned whether Chlada, a 26-year-old political unknown, is a serious contender and he was reportedly put on the ballot by the older Lipinski and the South Side Chicago political machine.

— L.W.W.

Dan Lungren (R)

California

3rd district

Lungren, a former California attorney general and GOP gubernatorial nominee, is headed right back where he started: the House of Representatives.

Lungren represented the Long Beach area in Congress from 1978 to 1988, when he became one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite House Members. After losing the 1998 governor’s race to Democrat Gray Davis by 20 points, Lungren retired from politics to become a lawyer/lobbyist.

But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes, Lungren felt the call of public service, and the decision by Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.) to honor his three-term-limit pledge offered a perfect opportunity for a comeback. Lungren jumped into the expensive and often nasty GOP primary in the Sacramento-area 3rd district. While some polls just a few days before the March primary showed Lungren running third, he wound up winning, taking 39 percent of the vote over arch-conservative state Sen. Rico Oller and moderate businesswoman Mary Ose, the Congressman’s sister.

Lungren is heavily favored in November over financial adviser Gabe Castillo (D), who is badly underfunded.

— Josh Kurtz

Connie Mack IV (R)

Florida

14th district

Mack, the son of former Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), became the instant favorite when he entered the race to replace retiring Rep. Porter Goss (R).

Mack, 37, resigned his seat in the Florida House and moved across the state from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Myers to run for the southwestern seat once held by his father.

The younger Mack, who far outraised and outspent his three primary opponents in their contest last month, received tremendous fundraising support from a network of his father’s former colleagues and contacts in Washington, D.C.

Still, he only narrowly edged out his closest GOP opponent by a 4-point margin. Mack’s foes tried to paint him as a carpetbagger and political lightweight with little substance behind the famous name he inherited from his father and great-grandfather, a Hall of Fame baseball manager and owner.

But Mack should have little trouble trouncing Democrat Robert Neeld, an accountant, in the fall general election.

— L.W.W.

Kenny Marchant (R)

Texas

24th district (new)

When Republicans redrew the Congressional district lines last year, they made sure to carve Marchant a seat — the new 24th district. The state Representative won the March primary easily and faces token opposition in November.

Marchant is currently in his ninth term in the state House; prior to being elected he served as the mayor of Carrollton and a member of the Carrollton City Council.

In the state House, he headed the Texas House Republican caucus and was the engineer of the GOP’s takeover of that body from Democrats in 2002, a victory that allowed Republicans to redraw the state’s Congressional map last year.

— C.C.

Mike McCaul (R)

Texas

10th district (new)

McCaul, a former federal prosector, used a combination of personal wealth and powerful political endorsements to win the 10th district runoff, a victory that ensures he will be the next Congressman in the redrawn seat. No Democrats even filed for this strongly Republican seat.

McCaul gave $1.5 million from his own pocket to the race, a personal contribution dwarfed by the $3 million his runoff opponent, businessman Ben Streusand, loaned his campaign.

The vast majority of McCaul’s financial contribution came in the form of a line of credit on his half of the $3 million home he and his wife bought with cash in 2001.

Gov. Rick Perry (R) as well as Texas GOP Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and former Sen. Phil Gramm (R) all weighed in on McCaul’s behalf. Former President George H.W. Bush held a fundraiser for McCaul in Houston during the runoff.

Prior to his Congressional bid, McCaul served as the head of the terrorism and national security division in the western judicial district of Texas.

He also spent time in Washington, D.C., working in the Justice Department.

— C.C.

Patrick McHenry (R)

North Carolina

10th district

At 28, McHenry is so far the youngest Member of the would-be freshman class.

The rookie state legislator eked out a runoff victory last month that set him on course to replace retiring Rep. Cass Ballenger (R) in January. The results of a recount showed McHenry beat longtime Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman in an August runoff by 85 votes.

The race between Huffman and McHenry, neither of whom was considered likely to make a runoff in the first round of balloting, turned into a nasty affair.

McHenry, who moved into the district to run, was accused of being a political opportunist and of throwing wild parties at his house.

With the runoff now behind him, McHenry is the overwhelming favorite to win in this solidly Republican district in November.

— L.W.W.

Cynthia McKinney (D)

Georgia

4th district

If there’s one Member of the 109th Congress freshman class who will need no introduction it is McKinney, who held this seat for 10 years before being defeated in a primary last cycle.

McKinney shocked observers by breaking the 50 percent mark in a crowded July primary, avoiding what was expected to be a costly and contentious runoff.

Now, she appears on track to succeed the woman who defeated her in 2002, Rep. Denise Majette (D). Majette is running for Senate.

McKinney, both adored and demonized for controversial comments during her tenure in the House, has kept a lower profile on the campaign trail this year.

Although some Democrats have suggested that the colorful McKinney could end up costing the party the seat this fall, there is scant evidence that little-known Republican Catherine Davis has any real shot in this overwhelmingly Democratic district.

— L.W.W.

Tom Price (R)

Georgia

6th district

Price will become the fourth member of the Peach State delegation with a medical background, joining Reps. Phil Gingrey (R), John Linder (R) and Charlie Norwood (R). Linder and Norwood (both dentists) supported Price, an orthopedic surgeon, through the primary and runoff.

Geography played a key role in Price’s primary and runoff victories, and he will be the first non-Cobb County resident to represent this district, currently represented by Rep. Johnny Isakson (R) and formerly by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R).

Price hails from Roswell, which is in northern Fulton County. The district is split between the two counties, but almost two-thirds of its population resides in Cobb.

In the primary, Price was the only candidate from Fulton and in the runoff against state Sen. Robert Lamutt, and he compiled impressive numbers in Cobb in order to win the nomination and a seat in Congress. He is unopposed in November.

Price has served in the state Senate since 1996, and in 2002 he was elected as the chamber’s first Republican Majority Leader in the history of Georgia.

— L.W.W.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D)

Florida

20th district

Schultz has been described as one of the rising stars in the Democratic Party, even though she has yet to reach the halls of Congress.

The 37-year-old state Senator has had her eye on this Fort Lauderdale-based district ever since Rep. Peter Deutsch (D) first explored a run for Senate in 2000.

Schultz, a former legislative aide to Deutsch, is the youngest woman ever elected to the Florida Legislature.

She faced no primary opponent and has enjoyed the broad backing of Democratic leaders and interest groups since she entered the race. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has visited the district and campaigned on her behalf.

Schultz faces unknown Republican Margaret Hostetter in November.

— L.W.W.

Joe Schwarz (R)

Michigan

7th district

Schwarz, a 66-year-old physician and former state Senator, is all but guaranteed to replace Rep. Nick Smith (R) in Congress.

The moderate Republican bested five more conservative candidates, including Smith’s son, attorney Brad Smith, to clinch the GOP nomination.

While he garnered only 28 percent of the vote, it was enough to put him on top, and with weak Democratic opposition he is likely to cruise to victory on Election Day in the GOP-leaning district.

Schwarz was backed by the League of Conservation Voters and the Republican Main Street Partnership as well as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Schwarz angered the party faithful in 2000 when he headed up McCain’s successful presidential primary effort in the Great Lakes State and likely paid for it in 2002, when he lost his race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

In addition to his political service, which included a long run in the state Senate and a turn as mayor of Battle Creek, he maintained his family medical and surgical practices.

Schwarz is also a Vietnam veteran and a former CIA operative.

— Nicole Duran

Lynn Westmoreland (R)

Georgia

8th district

Westmoreland, a former state House Minority Leader, won a heated runoff with former Bush administration official Dylan Glenn last month to secure a seat in the 109th Congress.

He will succeed Rep. Mac Collins, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for Senate.

Westmoreland, 54, was elected to the state House in 1992 and continues to run the small construction business that he built from scratch.

He faces Democrat Silvia Delamar, a 26-year-old political novice, in November.

— L.W.W.