Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron/Sioux City) has been under heavy media attack over racial comments for the past two weeks, and a new poll has shown the controversy has hurt him. Winning re-election by just a 50-47% margin in what is normally a safe Republican district, 2018 Democratic nominee JD Scholten would already lead the Congressman according to a new poll just released.
The Insight 20/20 organization, polling for the Majority Rules Political Action Committee (1/16-17; 472 IA-4 registered voters), finds Rep. King trailing Mr. Scholten, 39-44%. Mr. King scores a poor 36:59% favorability ratio. This compares to 55:45% for President Trump, 55:30% for Sen. Joni Ernst (R), and 61:29% for Gov. Kim Reynolds (R). Already, state Sen. Kurt Feenstra (R-Hull) has announced his primary challenge to Rep. King. Both Gov. Reynolds and the official Iowa Republican Party committee leadership has said they will not support Rep. King for re-election.
First-term Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) scored a close 50-49% upset victory over Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell) in November. Therefore, it is clear that she will be a major GOP conversion target in 2020. Already, one potential opponent has filed a fundraising committee with the Federal Election Commission. State Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) took the action just before the holiday weekend break. It is expected several Republicans will compete for the party nomination to be decided in a May 2020 primary likely followed by a July run-off.
The eastern Iowa congressional district that is usually friendly to Democrats but had a Republican Representative for the previous two terms figures to be another battleground region in 2020. Freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) defeated Rep. Rod Blum (R-Dubuque) 51-46% last November. Now, state Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) confirms she is considering the race and expects to soon make a decision. Reports coming from the National Republican Congressional Committee suggests that they expect Ms. Hinson to become a strong challenger candidate.
Democratic attorney Mike Siegel, who held Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin) to a 51-47% re-election victory, says he will again seek the 2020 Democratic nomination in preparation for a re-match with the seven-term Congressman and former Homeland Security Committee chairman. The 2018 race was surprisingly close, and Siegel can again expect a big vote coming from the Travis County (Austin) part of the district. So, Rep. McCaul will have to take this contest very seriously once the next campaign approaches.
As expected, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her candidacy for President but did not do so at a Martin Luther King Day rally in her birthplace city of Oakland as originally planned. Instead, she made her declaration during an interview on ABC News’ Good Morning America, followed by a speech at Howard University in Washington, DC. Regardless of her announcement venue, Sen. Harris is now an official presidential candidate.
Yesterday, five-term Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) announced that he is going to resign from the House on January 23rd to accept a position in the private sector. The 12th District is safely Republican, and the vacancy means a special election will be called likely to coincide with the state’s municipal election primary on May 21st. Republicans will be favored to hold the seat, which is the third best Republican district in Pennsylvania and the 41st most pro-Trump CD in the country. President Trump carried PA-12 with a 66-30% margin in 2016.
Yesterday, former Flagstaff City Councilmember Eva Putsova announced that she will oppose two-term Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) in the 2020 Democratic primary. Ms. Putsova, a native of Slovenia, was a member of the local council for one four-year term that ended in 2018. Her challenge to the moderate House member will be from his ideological left.
Tom O’Halleran served three terms in the Arizona House and one in the Senate as a Republican. He lost re-nomination in the 2008 Republican primary. Returning to elective politics in 2014, he unsuccessfully attempted to regain his lost state Senate seat, but this time as an Independent. Mr. O’Halleran first ran for Congress in 2016, easily winning the open Democratic primary, and then scoring a 51-43% general election victory in the competitive and sprawling 1st Congressional District. He was re-elected 54-46% in the 2018 general election after running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District has unseated more incumbent House members than any CD in the United States since 2006. In an open seat situation last year, NH Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D) defeated former police chief Eddie Edwards (R) by a healthy 54-45% margin. But, considering the competitive history of this district, one can never fully predict what the voters here will do.
Mr. Edwards confirms he is considering running again next year. Republican Party leaders, however, may prefer to look in a different direction because the 2018 nominee under-performed in terms of attracting votes and fundraising.
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) became the focal point leader of the Democratic opposition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once the party captured the majority in the 2018 election. Though Mr. Moulton voted for Speaker Pelosi in the House roll call, his future opportunities in the chamber are not expected to be particularly plentiful.
Yesterday, it was reported that the Congressman is scheduling meetings in neighboring New Hampshire, suggesting that he, too, may now be thinking about testing the waters for a presidential run. Rep. Moulton has also been mentioned as a potential Democratic primary opponent to Sen. Ed Markey, but such a move doesn’t appear to have any political legs at this time.
After filing an exploratory committee before Christmas to study his chances of winning the upcoming 2020 San Diego Mayor’s race, Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego), a former SD City Council President, has abandoned further plans to return to local government. Facing a crowded field in the 2020 jungle primary to succeed term-limited Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), and a race that would require him to risk his congressional seat, Rep. Peters has instead announced that he will seek a fifth term in the US House next year.
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