Survey of the Sunbelt (October 10)

Update 305 — Survey of the Sunbelt
Candidate Endorsements in AZ, CA, NV, TX

Last month, 20/20 Vision endorsed 29 candidates for the next Congress, the first round of such endorsements.  Almost all of these candidates are in margin-of-error-tight races in districts currently held by Republicans. Candidates were endorsed based on disparate considerations but we mainly focused on candidates who are:

  • running in flippable districts
  • campaigning for progressive and forward-thinking economic policy
  • refusing corporate PAC contributions
  • female, under 40, first-time office seekers

This week, we review the 2018 endorsed candidates running for Congress in the sunbelt states of Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas.  We will cover candidates in the Northeast next week.




United States Senate

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema  •  Arizona

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is vacating her seat in the Arizona 09 House district to run for the Senate seat left open by retiring Sen. Jeff Flake.  Arizona hasn’t elected a Democratic Senator since 1988. Drawing on her own background of hardship, namely housing insecurity, Sinema’s priorities include protecting the social safety net by providing quality, affordable healthcare, supporting veterans, and opposing cuts to Medicare and Social Security. She has also put forward a common sense economic platform which includes job creation for residents of Arizona.

Sinema is running on bread-and-butter issues with messaging that is diametrically opposed to her Republican contender, Rep. Martha McSally.  McSally ran hard to the right in order to prevail in the primary election, but that kind of rhetoric may have limited appeal to voters in a state that Trump won by just three percentage points.  Recent polls put Sinema ahead of McSally, but still within the margin of error.

Rep. Jacky Rosen  •  Nevada

Rep. Jacky Rosen, a first-term House member representing NV-03, is challenging Sen. Dean Heller in November.  If she wins, Nevada will be represented by two Democratic women in the Senate. Rosen has campaigned on protecting Social Security and Medicare, as well as improving the affordability of healthcare for all Americans — consistent with her professional background in healthcare management.  In Congress, Rosen has introduced and co-sponsored legislation aimed at curtailing President Trump’s attempts to undermine the ACA. She also emphasizes the importance of improving public education as a way of increasing job attainment and supports developing renewable energy to grow our economy and create jobs.

Heller is the only Republican incumbent running in a state that Donald Trump lost in 2016 and is in trouble for inconsistency on healthcare votes. Rosen has outraised Heller every quarter since July 2017.  As of September 30, Rosen had raised $16.4 million with $2.6 million cash on hand. Sen. Heller has not released his third quarter totals, but as of June 30, Heller had raised $8.3 million with about $5.8 million cash on hand. There are many Democratic incumbent Senate races going on across the country, but many are saying Rosen provides the best chance at flipping a Senate seat in 2018.

U.S. House of Representatives

Jessica Morse (CA-04)

  • Cook PVI:  R+10
  • 2018 Primary:  McClintock 52/Morse
  • Total amount raised 1H 2018*:  Morse $1.15M/ Rep. McClintock $450

Jessica Morse is running in CA-04 to unseat Tom McClintock, one of the most conservative representatives in California. McClintock has held the seat since 2009 with no serious challenger. A traditional Republican stronghold, CA-04 is now deep purple. Morse, 35, brings a background in national security and sharp analytic skills to the race. Morse has outraised McClintock in every quarter with over ten thousand individual contributors and no corporate PAC support.

Morse holds a Master’s Degree in nuclear non-proliferation from Princeton University and spent over a year in Baghdad as a civilian with USAID at the height of the Iraq War.  Morse’s campaign platform is winning support across the district by focusing on local issues like vocational job training, fire prevention, and access to healthcare. She has been endorsed by EMILY’s List, League of Conservation Voters, and Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, along with many other local and national figures.

Katie Hill (CA-25)

  • Cook PVI:  Even
  • 2018 Primary:  Knight 52/Hill 20
  • Total amount raised 1H 2018*:  Hill$1.85M/Knight $935

Katie Hill is running in her home district, the last Republican congressional district in Los Angeles county, against Rep. Steve Knight. Hill’s campaign has focused on issues important to her community, including rebuilding the middle class, ensuring access to affordable health care for all, and campaignfinance reform.  The daughter of an emergency room nurse and a police officer, Hill worked as the Deputy CEO and executive director of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless), which she grew into the largest non-profit provider of housing for the homeless in California.

Despite being a first-time candidate, Hill’s role in PATH gave her critical policy experience that she will take with her to Washington. She managed a budget of nearly $50 million for PATH and spearheaded two ballot measures that passed in 2016, raising over a billion dollars for permanent housing for the homeless in Los Angeles.  The campaign is clearly resonating with residents of CA-25, as recent polls show the race in a dead heat.

Katie Porter (CA-45)

  • Cook PVI:  R+3
  • 2018 Democratic Primary:  Rep. Walters 53/Porter 20
  • Total amount raised 1H 2018*:  Porter $1.56M/ Rep. Walters $1.58M

Law Professor Katie Porter from the University of California, Irvine, Law School has had substantial national support since she declared her candidacy last year.  She was the first 2018 House candidate endorsed by Emily’s List. In the general election, she will face Rep. Mimi Walters, one of seven California Republicans running for re-election in districts that backed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Porter is being heralded by the progressive community for her stances on financial regulation, Medicare-for-All, and campaign finance reform. Before becoming a law professor, Porter practiced as a consumer interest attorney and fought against predatory lending and corruption in Wall Street banks, an effort she hopes to continue in Congress.  Last week, she led a group of over 100 House candidates that sent a letter to Congress demanding that campaign finance reform be the first issue addressed in 2019. Along with close to 150 other progressive House candidates this cycle, Porter is refusing corporate PAC money.

Susie Lee (NV-03)

  • Cook PVI:  R+2
  • 2018 Democratic Primary:  Lee 67/Weiss 8
  • Total amount raised 1H 2018*:  Lee $2.19M/ Tarkanian $705K

In NV-03, education advocate Susie Lee is running to fill Rep. Jacky Rosen’s seat.  She faces Danny Tarkanian, a businessman who’s perennially run and lost in a variety of races in Nevada. Since 2010, Lee has served as President of Communities In Schools of Nevada (CIS), a leading dropout-prevention organization. Under her leadership, CIS has grown to serve over 64,000 students in 63 Nevada schools. Lee has been consistently ahead in the polls and has eclipsed Tarkanian in fundraising by more than $1 million.

Lee has campaigned on protecting and strengthening the ACA to increase affordability of healthcare.  She also supports middle class tax relief and job training programs for those with or without a four-year degree. Unsurprisingly, one of her biggest priorities is education. She seeks to increase investment in public education and expand programs to make college more affordable and reduce the burden of student loan debt.

Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23)

  • Cook PVI:  R+1
  • 2018 Democratic Primary:  Ortiz Jones 42/Trevino 18
  • Total amount raised 1H 2018*:  $2.17M/ $1.80M

Gina Ortiz Jones is an Iraq War veteran, intelligence officer, and the first-generation American daughter of a single mother. She faces Rep. Will Hurd in what some call the only true swing district in Texas.  Although Hurd might be considered a moderate in Texas, he has voted with President Trump 95 percent of the time. Jones earned a four-year college scholarship through Air Force ROTC and went on to serve in the US Air Force, reaching the rank of Captain.  Following her service, she worked in the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Jones’ platform issues include education, job creation, affordable healthcare, veteran protection, and entitlement preservation for seniors. Forced to keep her sexual orientation a secret under the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, another key platform issue for Jones is the protection of civil rights and liberties for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.

MJ Hegar (TX-31)

  • Cook PVI:  R+10
  • 2018 Democratic Primary:  Hegar 67/Mann 38
  • Total amount raised 1H 2018*:  Hegar $1.26M/ Rep. Carter $447K

MJ Hegar is an Air Force veteran, a businesswomen, and a teacher.  She was born and raised in TX-31, a district that has been represented by eight-term incumbent Rep. John Carter since 2002. Hegar decided to run because she believes Rep. Carter is more beholden to special interests than the constituents of TX-31. Although originally classified by Cook as a Solid R district, it has now moved to Lean R.

Hegar supports lowering prescription drug prices and making healthcare more affordable. She wants to get money out of politics and has refused corporate PAC money during her race. As a veteran herself, she has campaigned on protecting and supporting veterans.

*Total campaign receipts compiled according to FEC Data from Jan. 1, 2018-Jun. 30, 2018

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