5 Open Seats Already-- With No Reasonable Chance For Dems To Turn The House Any Bluer
Indiana’s Republican-controlled legislature gerrymandered the state’s congressional districts so that Indiana would send 7 Republicans (77%) and 2 Democrats (22%) to Congress, despite the fact that around 40% of the population are reliable Democratic voters. If there’s one district that could possibly flip, it’s IN-05— a traditionally Republican suburban district and the wealthiest in the state, 81% white and including voters from Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard, Grant and Tipton counties. The recent gerrymander resulted in a district with an R+22 partisan lean, up from just R+8. Trump beat Biden 57% to 42%— Trump’s worst performance in any of the red Indiana districts. With Victoria Spartz announcing she’s had enough and would not run for reelection, is there an opening for a Democrat to flip the seat? Almost impossible— which isn’t the same as impossible. If the GOP nominates a relatively sane conservative establishment figure— say Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings, who will almost certainly run— they’ll retain the seat. If they nominate a MAGA lunatic and if the Democrats put up a solid candidate, there’s a slim chance the seat could flip.
The Arizona election for the Kyrtsen Sinema Senate seat will see Ruben Gallego leaving a solid blue district— the most Democratic in Arizona— and there is no chance for an actual Republican to flip it, although one of the so-called Democrats, state Senator Catherine Miranda is a Republican in all but name. Yesterday, we covered how that race is shaping up here.
So far, the California Senate race includes 3 House members— 2 in solid blue districts (Adam Schiff’s and Barbara Lee’s) and one in a blue-leaning purple district (Katie Porter’s). There are likely to be other candidates as well. What’s important to remember here is that there will be a jungle primary— all candidates regardless of party— that will determine who the two November candidates will be. It’s almost certain that the two finalists will be Democrats At that point, there is a good chance that Republican general election voters will have an outsized influence in determining the winner.
I know all 3 candidates personally and for years— Schiff and Lee in person, Porter via phone and e-mail. I would be happy with any of them in the Senate; all 3 are extraordinary members of the House. Lee is the furthest left. Schiff has moved significantly left since first being elected. Porter has a tendency to vote her moderate district frequently, so much so that for the entire 117th Congress, Schiff’s voting record was more progressive than hers! On the other hand, this past week, Porter and Lee voted against the Republicans’ idiotic “we hate socialism” resolution and Schiff voted for it.
Let’s begin in CA-12, the East Bay district that includes Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro, Albany, Emeryville, San Leando, Piedmont, Alameda and Montclair. Trump only got 8.6% of the vote and the partisan lean is a nice solid D+77. People there are proud of Lee’s historic vote against Bush’s attack on Afghanistan— the only member of Congress with the cajones to do so. She’s solidly progressive but pundits are complaining she’d turn 80 halfway through her term. She seems in extremely good mental health and she pledged to serve just one term. Two other problems: she’s never had a staff as good as she is and she’s never been able to raise big money.
Since she hasn’t made a formal announcement yet, the field to replace her is speculative. It’s not likely the new member from CA-12 is going to be as good as her. The likely candidates are garden variety establishment liberals— moderates— like Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks and Mia Bonta, former Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, Loren Taylor, who lost the race to replace Schaaf and state Senator Nancy Skinner, who probably won’t run. There’s also talk that BART board member Lateefah Simon, the only Black member of the board, is going to run.
I’m guessing Adam Schiff is the best-known of the candidates, primarily because of the plum positions Pelosi gave him on committees that put him all over TV. (She has announced he will be endorsing him as soon as Feinstein announces she isn’t going to run for reelection.) Schiff is also one of the most successful fundraisers in the House. CA-30 is my district and Trump got just 26% of the vote here. The partisan lean is D+45. The district includes Burbank, Sunland-Tujunga, Glendale, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Hancock Park, Atwater, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park. Schiff is very popular here and has evolved to a point where he now supports progressive initiatives like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.
Again, we covered the way the race to replace him is starting to shape up a couple days ago. The presumptive front runners are flawed establishment legislators, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and state Senator Anthony Portantino, conservative former L.A. City Attorney (and anti-pot nutcase) Mike Feuer plus former Schiff opponent and Silver Lake neighborhood council member Maebe A. Girl, who would be the first transgender member of Congress. She’s a movement progressive; the others are far from that. You can help Maebe finance her campaign here. Another conservative in the race is son-of-a-rich Nick Melvoin, the anti-union candidate and, like Friedman, a charter school pawn. West Hollywood’s progressive mayor, Sepi Shyne Mayor may be running as well— not as progressive as Maebe but better than any of the other candidates.
And that brings us down to Orange County and Katie Porter, a progressive favorite without being excessively progressive— an Elizabeth Warren progressive, not a Bernie progressive. But a killer when it comes to performative committee politics. Progressives are disappointed that she endorsed her former conservative adversary, Dave Min, to replace her. He really sucks— and she certainly knows it. He scored an F from the Courage campaign and her endorsement of him throws her trust-worthiness into question.
CA-47 starts at Seal Beach in the north and follows the coast to Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach and goes inland to include Costa Mesa, Irvine and Walnut. Biden won the district by over 10 points— 54.5% to 43.4% though Porter had a much close race last year, beating Republican Scott Baugh 51.7% to 48.3%. The partisan lean is D+6. Another conservative Democrat, former one-term New Dem Harley Rouda, the hereditary moneybags in the race, is also running. He represented much of the district when he was defeated in 2020 but he was an unexceptional congressman and no one is clamoring to see him return outside of his immediate family and circle of friends. Blue America has endorsed the progressive candidate in this race, Dom Jones, and you can help her campaign here or by clicking on her photo:
Baugh is running again and is likely to make it into the runoff, along with one of the Democrats.