Some Congressional Races to Watch

Daniel G. Jennings
4 min readMar 26, 2018

All the signs point to a chaotic Congressional electoral season in 2018, with plenty of upsets. Observers think Democrats might win the U.S. of Representatives, but lose seats in the Senate.

Some Congressional that might be indicators of national trends include:

U.S. House of Representatives Sixth District Colorado

A March 1, Public Polling Poll showed Democrat Jason Chew with a five-point lead on incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Westword reported.

Elections in the district are notoriously unpredictable; Coffman has beaten tough Democratic challenges before. The race might change completely if President Trump appoints Coffman Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs. The Representative seems to be campaigning for the job by constantly criticizing the Veteran’s Administration.

This race is important because the Sixth District in Denver’s suburbs mirrors demographically changing areas throughout the West. It will also be a test of the GOP’s chances in the face of changing demographics in increasingly diverse suburbs.

Texas U.S. Senate

This might be the first competitive U.S. Senate race in the Lone Star State in decades. Democratic U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke has been attracting national attention and out fundraising the unpopular incumbent Ted “Lucifer” Cruz.

The race is important because Texas is the highest population state controlled by the GOP. A competitive Texas would completely change the nature of the 2020 Presidential race. Candidates will have to concentrate their time and money on the Lone Star state to reach the White House. This might lead to the most expensive Senate race in U.S. history.

California U.S. Senate

Moderate U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) is facing a serious challenge from leftist Democrat Kevin de Leon; the President pro tempore of the State Senate.

Victory by de Leon, would be a death knell to the moderate Democratic establishment and a swing to the left in the party. The race is likely to get expensive because under California’s system Feinstein and de Leon will face each other in the June 5 open primary and the general election in November.

A fascinating outcome of this race would be that de Leon and Feinstein would split the Democratic vote, and provide an opening for a Republican to reach the Senate from California. Another game-changing factor is Feinstein’s health, she’s 85 and looking increasingly frail, so the Senator might drop out any time.

This race is important because it is a referendum on moderate and leftist Democrats. Controlling a California Senate can give leftist Democrats enough super-delegate votes to choose their party’s presidential nominee in 2020.

U.S. House of Representatives 48th District California

This messy race might determine if the Grand Old Party has a future in the Golden State.

Controversial incumbent Dana Rohrabacher faces 15 challengers including eight Democrats and former Orange County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh in a June 5 primary, The Orange County Register reported. The race might become a referendum on President Trump; Rohrabacher has taken sympathetic positions to Russia similar to those of the President. Baugh is challenging him as a traditional Reagan Republican.

Another possibility is that several competing Democrats would split the vote. As in the California Senate race, this can lead to a situation in which Democrats get a majority of the vote but still lose the election.

Losses in Orange County would be an indication that the GOP has lost suburbia. This race is a test of how well Republicans can do in diverse suburban areas with a growing non-white population.

U.S. House of Representatives Fourth District Kansas

Republicans received a nasty surprise in this district, which includes Wichita, when their candidate Ron Estes underperformed President Trump by 20.3 points in an April 12, 2017, special election.

Estes won the April 12 contest by just seven points. His predecessor Mike Pompeo (now the U.S. Secretary of State Nominee), won by 31 points in November 2016. Democrat James Thompson; who succeeded in narrowing the gap by 24 points, will challenge Estes again in the general election.

This election is important because it will prove if Democrats can break the Republican lock on the Rural west. It will also show if Democrats can appeal to rural, white working class voters. A Thompson win would be a major embarrassment for conservatives; Wichita is the Koch brothers’ hometown.

U.S. House of Representatives Sixth District Georgia

This District became notorious as the setting for the most expensive race ever for the U.S. House of Representatives during a 2017 special election. Both parties spent around $55 million in the last race, The New York Times reported.

The district is also among the closest in the nation; Democrat Jon Ossoff won a slight victory in the first 2017 special election to fill this seat. Republican Karen Handel won a runoff in June by around five points. This race is likely to attract big money and be close again in November 2018.

This race is important, because the Sixth District is an ethnically diverse but middle class suburban area outside Atlanta. It is important because Republicans will need Georgia to keep the White House in 2020. Like the 48th District in California, the Georgia Sixth will be a test of Republicans appeal in white suburban areas and to diverse Sun-Belt electorates. Trump’s perceived racism will be a major issue in such contests.

Other Races to Watch

Other races to watch include the U.S. Senate contests in Nevada, Tennessee, and Arizona. Democrats have a strong possibility of picking up those seats, because of retirements and changing demographics. Also watch the U.S. Senate contests in Indiana, Montana, and Missouri; Republicans have a good chance of knocking off moderate Democratic incumbents in those states.

In the House watch California, Republicans seem to be in trouble in every District they control there. Their only hope for survival might be Democrats’ inability to come together. The state’s open primary system and vicious infighting between moderate and Leftist Democrats might allow a few Republicans to survive. Another possibility from California is a new crop of radical younger Democrats who will drag their party far to the left.

It looks like 2018’s Congressional election season will be an interesting one that will produce a few surprises. The only real losers will be the status quo and the establishment.

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Daniel G. Jennings

Daniel G. Jennings is a writer who lives and works in Colorado. He is a lifelong history buff who is fascinated by stocks, politics, and cryptocurrency.