The Year of the Rematch
Former Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is seriously considering a run for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District in 2016 — setting up the possibility of yet another House rematch this cycle.
“I am so grateful to all of you who have been also asking me to run again for the United States House of Representatives,” Shea-Porter said recently in an email to supporters obtained by CQ Roll Call. “I received 48.2% of the vote in a very tough cycle, which mean we can win the seat in 2016 when more voters turn out. My team and I are hard at work looking at everything, and I will send you an email when a decision is made.”
If she opts for a run, the race would be one of a half-dozen top-target 2016 House races that could see Republican members of Congress face the Democratic foes they defeated two years earlier.
For the most part, Democratic operatives chalk these defeats up to a bad midterm climate, rather than the politicians’ respective skills as candidates. Democratic operatives added that second (or third, or fourth) attempts at the same seats means these candidates have a donor base, familiarity with voters and an understanding of how to run a race — the trappings of a successful campaign.
“Not only do they have the knowledge of how a campaign works, but they have the battle scars to prove it. They’ve been through it, they know what’s coming at them,” said Mike Fraioli, a Democratic fundraiser.
Shortly after the midterms wrapped up, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began recruiting former members and candidates for five rematches in districts held now by Republicans that President Barack Obama carried in 2012.
Two already have declined bids.
Former Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., took a job at a consulting firm, ending the chance of a rematch with GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy. And former Colorado state Speaker Andrew Romanoff took a position as a mental health advocate, likely ending the possibility he will challenge GOP Rep. Mike Coffman again in the 6th District.
But the rest either have announced their candidacies or moved closer to running over the past few weeks. They include:
- Former state Sen. Emily Cain, who wants a rematch with GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin in Maine’s 2nd District. Obama carried the district by a 9-point margin in 2012, making Poliquin a top Democratic target this cycle.
- Former Rep. Brad Schneider, who inched closer to a third rematch with GOP Rep. Robert J. Dold in Illinois’ 10th District. Obama won here in 2012 with 58 percent.
- Former Rep. Pete Gallego, who did not rule out the possibility of a rematch with GOP Rep. Will Hurd in Texas’ 23rd District. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the sprawling southwestern Texas-based district by a 3-point margin in 2012, making it competitive territory.
Two other failed 2014 candidates also are reportedly leaning toward another round with the Republicans who beat them:
- Former state Sen. Staci Appel said she is strongly considering another challenge to GOP Rep. David Young in Iowa’s 3rd District, according to the Des Moines Register. Young defeated Appel in last fall’s open-seat contest in the southwestern quadrant of the Hawkeye State.
- Retired Army Maj. Gen. Jerry Cannon also is exploring a rematch with GOP Rep. Dan Benishek in Michigan’s 1st District. The Upper Peninsula-based district voted for Romney by an 8-point margin in 2012 — but Benishek’s past vulnerability gives Democrats optimism they can make the contest competitive.
Last year, a similar half-dozen House contests featured rematches.
Some Senate contest matchups also will look familiar.
In Pennsylvania, former Rep. Joe Sestak
hopes to once again face his 2010 GOP rival, now-Sen. Patrick J. Toomey. And in Wisconsin, former Sen. Russ Feingold is gearing up to run against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who ousted him from the Badger State Senate seat by a slim margin four and a half years ago.
To be sure, even if these lawmakers opt for another run against former foes, they must win their party’s nomination.
Last cycle, both parties were preparing for a bruising rematch between former state Sen. Richard Tisei and former Rep. John F. Tierney in Massachusetts’ 6th District. But Tierney never made it to the general election, losing a Democratic primary to now-Rep. Seth Moulton by a stunning more-than-10-point margin.
If Schneider opts for a bid he will have to get through a Democratic primary with Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, who announced her bid earlier this month.
Unexpected retirements could also nix possible rematches. In 2014, four members headed for rematches said farewell instead.
Republicans sound confident, insisting the same Democratic candidates means they already have successful playbooks on the shelf to win.
“Clearly these re-run Democrats aren’t electable seeing most just came off huge double-digit losses in 2014,” National Republican Congressional Committee Communications Director Katie Martin said in an email. “One thing we’ve learned over the years is that the DCCC and its strategy of recycling failed candidates truly embodies the definition of insanity.”