August 7 Primary Results Reveal Growing Number of Competitive November Races (August 8)

Update 290 — August 7 Primary Results Reveal Growing Number of Competitive November Races

Last night was another exciting Tuesday primary and special election day in the midst of a slow-moving August recess week here in Washington.  From Ohio to Michigan, Washington State, and even Kansas, elections were held that set up competitive general elections in November in purple-red districts around the country.

Women candidates once again came out on top.  Some economic policy progressives had less-than-impressive showings.  In Democratic primary races with one male and one female candidate, without an incumbent on the ballot, the woman has now won 69 percent of the time; by contrast, Republican women have won only 34 percent of the cases.

The blue wave is taking a recognizable shape.  Details below.





KS-03: Davids v. Rep. Yoder (Add)

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 47/ Trump 46
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 54/Obama 44
    • 2016 House: Yoder (R) 51/Sidie (D) 41
    • Cook PVI: R+4

In KS-03, openly-gay, Native-American attorney and EMILY’s list-endorsee Sharice Davids faced off against Brett Welder, a PCCC-backed progressive candidate. EMILY’s List spent $400,000 on an ad campaign for Davids, which highlighted her experience working on economic development programs on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and other Native American reservations.

In a close race between two first-time candidates, Davids narrowly came out on top, 37 to 34 percent, and will challenge Rep. Kevin Yoder, who is seen to be the most vulnerable Republican congressman in Kansas, in November. Davids says she chose to focus on the issues that were most relevant to constituents in her district as opposed to campaigning on a purely progressive platform.  Her economic platform focuses on reversing the Republican tax cuts, incentivizing health care benefits for small businesses, creating a childcare tax credit, and supporting efforts to increase broadband access.


MI-01: Morgan v. Rep. Bergman

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 58/ Clinton 36
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 53/ Obama 45
    • 2016 House: Bergman (R) 55/ Johnson (D) 40
    • Cook PVI: R+9

MI-01 is now a viable pickup chance for Democrats in November.  Matthew Morgan, the only Democratic candidate, was disqualified from running on the ballot in the Democratic primary due to an administrative error by the campaign staff.  Morgan, now having qualified as a write-in candidate, will face incumbent Rep. Jack Bergman in November. A 20-year marine veteran, Morgan is running a campaign focused on healthcare for all.  He also addresses the problems of wage stagnation and crumbling infrastructure — two important issues for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

MI-06: Longjohn v. Rep. Upton

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 51/ Clinton 42
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 50/ Obama 49
    • 2016 House: Upton 59/ Clements 36
    • Cook PVI: R+4

Dr. Matt Longjohn won what turned out to be an easier-than-expected victory.  Longjohn won 37 percent to moderate George Franklin’s 28 and will now face House Energy Committee Chair Fred Upton, who has been in Congress since 1986. Longjohn will have a tough road, though local Michiganders believe that MI-06 is the third best pickup chance this November. Longjohn will do so with a message on healthcare, an issue he knows well from his experience as the YMCA national health officer.  Though Longjohn has a progressive healthcare message, he has also advocated for some deregulatory policies, saying “community banks must all be supported better by our federal policies by eliminating unnecessary regulations.”

MI-07: Driskell v. Rep. Walberg

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 56 / Clinton 39
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 51/ Obama 48
    • 2016 House: Walberg 55/ Driskell 40
    • Cook PVI: R+7

In MI-07, former State Rep. Gretchen Driskell easily beat primary challenger and progressive grass roots activist Steven Friday, 85 to 15 percent, to face off once again against Rep. Walberg in November.  The race is a repeat of 2016, but with the blue wave behind her, Driskell is more likely to beat Republican incumbent Tim Walberg this time around. Driskell campaigned on creating jobs, protecting social security and medicare, and investing in public education.

MI-08: Slotkin v. Rep. Bishop

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 51/ Clinton 44
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 51/ Obama 48
    • 2016 House: Bishop 56/ Shkreli 39
    • Cook PVI: R+4

Elissa Slotkin, a formal national security advisor, beat Michigan State University professor Chris Smith, 70 to 29 percent, to become the Democratic challenger to face Rep. Bishop in MI-08 in November.  MI-08 was recently moved from lean Republican to toss-up by Cook Political and is seen as a pickup opportunity for Democrats. Slotkin gained favorable national media attention campaigning on investment in education and infrastructure, ensuring retirement security, fixing the federal budget deficit, and fighting for campaign finance reform.  She has repeatedly called out Rep. Bishop for voting for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year, which she believes was a fiscally irresponsible decision.

MI-11: Stevens v. Epstein

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 50/ Clinton 45
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 52/ Obama 47
    • 2016 House: Trott 53/ Kumar 40
    • Cook PVI: R+4

Haley Stevens emerged as the victor in yesterday’s MI-11 Democratic primary, securing an auspicious win over her other Democratic challengers. Stevens, a former chief of staff of President Obama’s Auto Rescue, received a late endorsement from Hillary Clinton, which may have helped tip her over the line.  Stevens campaigned hard on bringing down health care costs in her district and has a strong background in federal economic policy from her experience on the Obama administration’s auto bailout task force. Stevens and Slotkin’s races will be the most flippable seats to watch in the Great Lakes State come November.


MO-02: VanOstran v. Rep. Wagner

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 53/ Clinton 42
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 57/ Obama 41
    • 2016 House: Wagner 59/ Otto 38
    • Cook PVI: R+8

MO-02 featured an interesting primary in the only competitive congressional district in the state. The Democrats in MO-02 out-voted the Republicans by 20,000 votes in the primary. Rep. Ann Wagner doesn’t look like she is a candidate on the brink of falling apart, but voters are looking at a more moderate Democratic choice in Cort VanOstran. Having won his primary handily against progressive Matt Osmack, VanOstran will continue to speak against slashing regulations that will hurt our financial system, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and for a progressive policy of raising the minimum wage to a liveable wage.  


WA-03: Long v. Rep. Herrera Beutler

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 50/ Clinton 43
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 50/ Obama 48
    • 2016 House: Herrera Beutler (R) 62/ Moeller (D) 38
    • Cook PVI: R+4

In another top-two primary, Carolyn Long and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler advanced to face off against each other in November. Beutler secured 41 percent of the vote, while the five Democratic challengers in the race secured over 50 percent between them. After the primary election, Cook Political moved this race from Likely Republican to Lean Republican making it a much more viable pickup chance this November. On the issues, Long is a staunch supporter of the ACA, campaign finance reform, Social Security and Medicare, progressive tax reform, and gender equity and security for women. The incumbent Beutler will now face a tight race against the former political science professor in November.

WA-05: Brown v. Rep. McMorris Rodgers

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 52/ Clinton 39
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 54/ Obama 44
    • 2016 House: McMorris Rodgers (R) 60/Pakootas (D) 40
    • Cook PVI: R+8

In WA-05, the blue wave seems to be crashing-in and may claim a member of Republican leadership. The top-two primary yielded the fourth ranked Republican in the House Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Fmr. State Sen. Majority Leader Lisa Brown. The most exciting news however was the margin, with 64 percent of precincts reporting McMorris Rodgers leads Brown by a stunning 47.5 to 47.1. A sign that come November, McMorris Rodgers could have her work cut out for her. McMorris Rodgers has yet to claim a majority and is looking at a potential loss. Brown, however boasts a progressive agenda, including expansion of medicare and investing in infrastructure and education. A Democrat win here would suggest more of a tsunami than just a wave.

WA-08: Schrier v. State Sen. Rossi

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 48/ Trump 45
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 50/Romney 48
    • 2016 House: Reichert (R) 60/Ventrella (D) 40
    • Cook PVI: EVEN

In WA-08, pediatrician Kim Schrier narrowly beat former prosecutor Jason Rittereiser by 1.5 percentage points to emerge as the Democratic primary winner to face State Sen. Dino Rossi in November. An open seat, WA-08 is one of the more than 20 districts held by Republicans that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, making it a viable opportunity for Democrats. Schrier supports a livable wage, increased investments in STEM and infrastructure, and Medicare-for-all.

Ohio Special Election

In an R+7 district that Donald Trump won by 10 points, Democrat Danny O’Connor came within a percentage point of claiming victory over his GOP rival, Troy Balderson in a special election race in OH-12. There are still provisional ballots to be counted, but it looks like Balderson will be able to cling onto his win. Regardless, the district should not have been competitive in the first place, and the razor thin margin for the GOP is yet another promising sign for Democrats in November.

Bet the House to Save the House?

If Ohio’s special election result in an R+7 district tells us anything, it’s that the Republican control of Congress is teetering on the edge. Republicans hold 24 House seats classified as toss-ups and another 10 seats classified as Lean Democrat or better according to Cook Political Report — Democrats only need to flip 23 to regain the majority in the lower chamber.

The GOP spent nearly a million dollars in get-out-the-vote efforts as they frantically scrambled to secure a win in addition to the millions they had already poured into Balderson’s campaign. With many seats up for grabs and Democrats on the charge, the GOP will need to reach deep into their pockets to try and save their House majority.

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