Diverse group all but assured seats as new House members in solidly partisan districts

Group includes a Black Lives Matter activist, a QAnon follower and the president's former physician

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican who won Georgia's 14th Congressional District, has supported QAnon publicly.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican who won Georgia's 14th Congressional District, has supported QAnon publicly. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted November 3, 2020 at 10:00am

In an election year full of uncertainty, more than 30 House candidates face the closest thing American politics has to a sure thing: After their primaries were settled, there hasn’t been much doubt how their elections would go because of the strong partisan leanings of their districts.

As a result, a Black Lives Matter activist, a QAnon believer, a former presidential physician and two openly gay Black men are expected to  join the freshman class of the 117th Congress. They are among 10 Democrats and 21 Republicans whose races have been all but preordained by the primary. 

The group includes a few familiar faces: Cori Bush, who was featured in the 2019 documentary “Knock Down The House” along with New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is expected to win in Missouri’s 1st District. In a primary in August, she beat Rep. William Lacy Clay, a fellow Democrat who took over the seat from his father in 2001.

It also includes Ronny Jackson, who served as physician to the president from 2013 to 2018, leaving that job only after a failed stint as the nominee to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Jackson, a Republican, will likely replace retiring Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Republican who has served in the district since 1995 and who rose through the ranks of the House Armed Services Committee to be its chairman and then ranking member.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican who ran to replace Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., drew attention for comments promoting QAnon, a right-wing conspiracy. Her Democratic opponent, Kevin Van Ausdal, dropped out of the race after 31 days.

The incoming House class will also likely include a familiar face: Republican Pete Sessions, the former chairman of the House Rules Committee. Defeated by Democrat Colin Allred in 2018 after 11 terms in Congress, Sessions ran in a different Texas district after Rep. Bill Flores decided not to run for another term. 

Others running for open seats in districts that overwhelmingly favor candidates from their parties include: 

  • Florida’s Byron Donalds, whose victory would ensure there is at least one Black man in the House GOP delegation after Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, retires at the end of this term. Donalds, who has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2016, is expected to replace fellow Republican Rep. Francis Rooney.
  • New York Democrats Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, the first two openly gay Black men to serve in Congress. They are expected to replace Rep. Jose E. Serrano and Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, respectively.
  • Texan August Pfluger, a Republican who previously served as a member of President Donald Trump’s National Security Council staff, is the overwhelming favorite to replace K. Michael Conaway in Texas’ 11th District. 
  • Texas state Sen. Pat Fallon, who is set to become Rep. Fallon after getting the nomination to replace John Ratcliffe, who left Congress in May to serve as Director of National Intelligence.

At least four Republican women who are expected to replace men who decided not to run again:

  • Mary Miller, running to succeed Rep. John Shimkus in Illinois’ 15th District;
  • Lisa McClain, vying to replace Rep. Paul Mitchell in Michigan’s 10th District;
  • Kat Cammack, who is expected to replace Florida Rep. Ted Yoho, in whose 3rd District office she worked as deputy chief of staff;
  • Diana Harshbarger, who would succeed Rep. Phil Roe in Tennessee’s 1st District.

Five new members are poised to replace candidates who lost primaries for other offices:

  • Democrat Kai Kahele is expected to prevail in Hawaii's 2nd District after Rep. Tulsi Gabbard launched an unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination and then decided not to seek another House term. Kahele is a combat veteran and airline pilot who serves in the Hawaii National Guard. 
  • Louisiana’s Luke Letlow will likely replace fellow Republican Ralph Abraham in the 5th District after Abraham lost his 2019 bid for governor. 
  • Democrat Jake Auchinschloss, whose family has ties to the Kennedy family, is set to replace Joseph P. Kennedy III in the 4th District seat Kennedy gave up to make an unsuccessful challenge to Sen. Edward J. Markey in the primary.
  • Alabama’s Jerry Carl will likely replace fellow Republican Bradley Byrne, who also ran in a Senate primary and lost. 
  • Blake D. Moore is the favorite to succeed fellow Republican Rob Bishop, who ran for lieutenant governor of Utah.

Five ousted incumbents in primaries in districts where the opposite party is the underdog:

  • Democrat Marie Newman beat Rep. Daniel Lipinski in Illinois’ 3rd District.
  • Republican Randy Feenstra beat Rep. Steve King in Iowa’s 4th District.
  • Bush, who lost a Senate primary in 2016 and a House primary in 2018, defeated fellow Democrat Clay in Missouri’s 1st District.
  • Democrat Jamaal Bowman beat Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel in New York’s 16th District.
  • Jake LaTurner beat Rep. Steve Watkins, R-Kansas, in the state’s 2nd District.

Four new House members would replace long-time lawmakers who are retiring: 

  • Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, is set to replace longtime Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner.
  • Barry Moore, is set to succeed fellow Republican Martha Roby of Alabama.
  • Republican Cliff Bentz, will likely replace Rep. Greg Walden in Oregon
  • Democrat Frank J. Mrvan won the nomination for the seat currently held by Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana. 

Four would fill the seats of candidates on the ballot Tuesday for other offices: 

  • Gun store owner Andrew Clyde is the favorite to replace 9th District Republican Rep. Doug Collins, who is challenging appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s special Senate election.
  • Former Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann is favored to succeed fellow Republican Rep. Roger Marshall, who is running for Kansas’ open Senate seat. 
  • Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez is set to replace Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is running for the state’s open Senate seat.
  • In California, Jay Obernolte is favored to replace fellow Republican Paul Cook, who is leaving Congress to run for the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.