- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 5, 2020

The battle for the House majority will come down to a handful of toss-up districts in 2020, with Republicans eyeing a net pickup of 19 seats to snatch the gavel from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The GOP has its eyes set on 55 swing districts, particularly 31 seats in districts that President Trump won in 2016.

But Mrs. Pelosi’s Democrats are playing both defense and offense. They aim to expand on the blue wave that delivered them the House majority in 2018 and chip away at more red territory in suburban areas where they think they have anti-Trump momentum.

There are at least 23 toss-up races this year, 18 in districts held by Democrats and five by Republicans, according to a breakdown by The Cook Political Report.

What’s more, another three Republican seats, all being left open by retirements, are nestled in Democratic territory — the seats now held by Reps. Will Hurd of Texas, and George Holding and Mark Walker, both of North Carolina.



The early analysis puts long odds on a Republican takeover on the House. But there are 11 months of campaign twists and turns to get to the Nov. 3 elections. Here are 10 potentially consequential races to watch in 2020:

Minnesota 7th District

Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson currently represents the largest district in Minnesota, spanning nearly the entire western flank of the state. In office since 1991, Mr. Peterson won reelection last cycle by less than 5 points.

However, while represented by a Democrat for decades, the area is fairly conservative. President Trump won the district in 2016 by more than 31 points.

Mr. Peterson has not yet filed to run again this year and says he is still undecided. Republicans are pouring into the race with five candidates already filed for a primary run.

Iowa 3rd District

Represented by Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne, the district covers southwestern Iowa, including Des Moines. It leans only slightly to the right, with Mr. Trump claiming victory by only 3 points.

Ms. Axne was one of the majority-making freshmen that flipped a red seat blue in the 2018 midterms. At least three Republicans have already filed to run in their primary.

Illinois 14th District

This northern Illinois district, bordering parts of Chicago, is represented by another of the majority-making freshman Democrats — Rep. Lauren Underwood.

Mr. Trump won the conservative learning district by about 4 points in 2016 and the Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren won reelection by about 19%. Two years later, Ms. Underwood toppled the four-term incumbent by 5 points.

There are already seven Republican hopefuls trying to retake the district.

New York 11th District

Freshman Democratic Rep. Max Rose took over the Staten Island-based district from Republican Rep. Dan Donovan, defeating him by about 7 points. Still, Mr. Trump won the district in 2016 with a solid 10-point advantage.

It is the most conservative area in New York City and Mr. Rose’s victory left Republicans without a House member for the metropolitan area for only the second time since the 1930s. So far, two Republicans — Joe Caldarera and Nicole Malliotakis — are in the GOP primary race to challenge Mr. Rose in the general election.

New York 22nd District

Another Democratic freshman, Rep. Anthony Brindisi, represents this conservative central New York state district that includes Binghamton and Utica. Mr. Trump won the district by a whopping 15 points in 2016. Before him, Mr. Romney secured the district by a razor-thin margin in 2012.

In 2018, Mr. Brindisi defeated the first-term GOP incumbent Rep. Claudia Tenney by a little more than 1 point. At least four Republicans are looking to challenge Mr. Brindisi this time, including Ms. Tenney.

Oklahoma 5th District

This densely populated district in the center of the state is represented by Rep. Kendra Horn. Her victory over incumbent GOP Rep. Steve Russell was the first time in 44 years that Democrats controlled the seat.

However, two years earlier Mr. Trump had handily won the district by about 13 points. Now, nine Republicans are already vying to take on Ms. Horn.

South Carolina 1st District

Freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham represents the coastal district after narrowly beating Republican Katie Arrington in 2018. The former incumbent, Mark Sanford — a former governor and short-lived Republican challenger to Mr. Trump last year — lost the 2018 primary in the district after taking a staunch anti-Trump stance.

Like his colleague in Oklahoma, Mr. Cunningham represents a consistently red district. Mr. Trump swept to victory there by about 13 points.

As Mr. Cunningham prepares to run for his second term, at least four Republicans are jostling for the nomination that is expected to give the GOP an easy win.

Utah 4th District

Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams took over the central Utah district in 2018 after beating Rep. Mia Love, who was the GOP’s only black female Congress member, by a 1-point margin. Mr. McAdam’s district is solidly conservative. The president won by 12 points in 2016.

In 2018, Mr. McAdams already had a host of Republicans lining up to challenge him, including a potential bid from Ms. Love. He’s also facing a primary challenge from progressive newcomer Daniel Beckstrand.

Georgia 7th District

The mostly urban district includes part of northeast Atlanta and is a conservative stronghold that has been represented by Republican Rep. Bob Woodall since 2011 and was won by Mr. Trump by 6 points in 2016. However, the area is shifting. Mr. Woodall only won his reelection in 2018 by a razor-thin margin.

Mr. Woodall announced earlier this year he won’t run for reelection and seven Democrats and nine Republicans are vying in their respective primaries for a shot at the open seat.

Illinois 13th District

Republican Rep. Rodney Davis represents this central district in Illinois. The area leans slightly Republican, though the president did win over the voters by more than five points. That’s more support than Mr. Romney got in 2012, when the vote was virtually tied.

Two Democratic challengers — including Betsy Londrigan who challenged him in 2018 — are looking to unseat the two-term incumbent. Mr. Davis only won back his seat last election by a few thousand votes.

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