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Some members of Congress not sweating reelection this year

Herb Jackson, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — Control of both chambers of Congress is in play this year, and Federal Election Commission data shows Senate and House candidates up this year have already raised nearly $1.4 billion and spent $881 million.

But all elections are most decidedly not created equal.

On Super Tuesday next week, five of the 16 states holding presidential primaries or caucuses will also hold congressional primaries that will pick nominees for 115 House seats, or more than a quarter of the chamber.

And while some lawmakers’ careers could be on the line in Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina and Texas, it’s a different story for dozens of their colleagues, some of whom have no opposition at all or only a nominal primary challenge with no one from the other major party even filing to run.

Because of gerrymandering or the partisan lean of the areas they represent — in some areas, mapmakers couldn’t draw competitive districts if they wanted to — many House members represent districts where the opposing party has practically no chance of flipping their seats.

In the 61 districts held by Democrats having primaries on March 5, Joe Biden’s average margin over Donald Trump in 2020 was 33 percentage points, CQ Roll Call found using data compiled by Daily Kos Elections. Biden’s average margin grows to 39 points if the analysis excludes three districts in North Carolina that were redrawn by the Republican-controlled legislature last year to contain voters who backed Trump over Biden by double-digit margins.

In the 54 districts held by Republicans that are up, Biden lost to Trump by an average of 20 points.

 

Viewed another way: Of the 115 seats up on Super Tuesday, 99 have races in November rated as Solid Republican or Solid Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. That indicates only members of those parties pose a real threat to incumbents seeking reelection, yet many of those lawmakers do not even face that. Here’s what the March 5 ballots show:

No opposition in sight: Seven incumbents not only have no opponent in their own party, they have no one in the opposite party running for the nomination to face them in November. Five are from Texas: Republicans Nathaniel Moran, August Pfluger and Ronny Jackson and Democrats Al Green and Joaquin Castro. The others are Republicans Dale Strong of Alabama and Greg Murphy of North Carolina. Pfluger had $2.4 million in his campaign account on Feb. 14, the most recent filing shows; Jackson had $2.2 million and raised $279,000 in the first six weeks of this year alone.

Solo Democrats: There are 21 additional Democrats with races rated Solid Democratic who have no Democratic opponents this year. They include five with partisan primaries on Super Tuesday: North Carolina Reps. Valerie P. Foushee and Alma Adams and Texas Reps. Henry Cuellar, Sylvia R. Garcia and Greg Casar. They also include 16 members from California, where the state’s primaries pick two November candidates regardless of party, a process that could produce Democrat vs. Democrat battles in very blue areas if someone ran in the primary. Yet Reps. Jared Huffman, John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier, Eric Swalwell, Kevin Mullin, Jimmy Panetta, Jim Costa, Judy Chu, Pete Aguilar, Ted Lieu, Linda T. Sánchez, Mark Takano, Nanette Barragán, Lou Correa, Sara Jacobs and Juan C. Vargas all face no Democratic challengers. Chu, Panetta and Aguilar each have more than $3 million in their campaign accounts.

Solo Republicans: There are 15 additional Republicans facing races rated Solid Republican with no Republican opposition this year. They are Arkansas Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill and Bruce Westerman; California Reps. Doug LaMalfa, Tom McClintock, Jay Obernolte and Darrell Issa; North Carolina Rep. David Rouzer; and Texas Reps. Lance Gooden, Morgan Luttrell, Randy Weber, Chip Roy, Troy Nehls, Beth Van Duyne and Wesley Hunt. Westerman, Van Duyne and Hunt each have more than $2 million in their campaign accounts.

Smooth sailing after primary: Another five Republicans in districts that backed Trump over Biden by 23 to 62 percentage points have heavily underfunded primary challengers and no Democrat running to face them in November. They are Alabama Reps. Mike D. Rogers and Robert B. Aderholt and Texas Reps. Daniel Crenshaw, Jodey C. Arrington and Roger Williams. Rogers, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, and Arrington, who chairs the Budget Committee, each had $1.6 million in their campaign accounts on Feb. 14, while Rogers’ best-funded opponent had $479 and Arrington’s had $2,115. There’s also no Democrat running in the open 6th District in North Carolina, which Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning decided not to defend after the map was redrawn from a district that backed Biden by 12 points to one that backed Trump by 16 points. Democratic Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Texas, meanwhile, has no Republican opponent if she gets nominated again in the 30th District, which backed Biden over Trump by 57 points. One of Crockett’s Democratic challengers did not raise enough to file an FEC report, and the other had $2,075 on Feb. 14. She had $607,000 in her campaign fund.


©2024 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Visit cqrollcall.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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