Likely New Members of the 117th Congress (September 1, 2020)
September 1, 2020 · 2:00 PM EDT
Predicting election outcomes can be a fraught business. You don’t have to look further than the 2016 presidential race to see that
But for some races, one candidate has such an advantage -- due to the constituency’s partisan lean, candidate quality, or other factors -- that their path to office is nearly assured. Those are the races rated as Solid by Inside Elections.
When incumbents in solid seats retire, they often set up competitive primaries that dovetail into uncompetitive general elections. Inside Elections is keeping track of those races and who wins them, since those winners have the inside track to Washington, DC. As more states hold their primaries, we’ll continue to update this list with future lawmakers.
Here are the likely new members of the 117th Congress:
Jerry Carl, R
District: Alabama’s 1st (Greater Mobile)
Current Member: Bradley Byrne, R, ran for Senate
Previous elected office: Mobile County Commissioner (2012-present)
Why he’s going to win: This district, which sits at the southwest corner of the state at the convergence of Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Florida panhandle, voted for President Trump by 29 points, 63-34 percent, and for Mitt Romney by 25 points, 62-37 percent.The southwest corner of Alabama has been represented by Republicans continuously since 1965, with Democrats only occasionally standing up a nominee; last cycle, Byrne beat Democrat Robert Kennedy, Jr. (no relation to the Massachusetts clan) by 27 points. This year, Carl will face retired Marine and non-profit executive James Averhart, who had just $9,400 in the bank at the end of June.
His politics: During the primary, Carl emphasized his pro-life and pro-gun positions, and he supports nationwide concealed carry reciprocity. Carl ran with Byrne’s endorsement as a Trump conservative, and tarred his GOP opponent Bill Hightower as a “Never Trumper” because he was supported by the Club for Growth, which spent against Trump in the 2016 presidential primary. Carl has also highlighted his anti-immigration stances and support for the border wall. Locally, Carl has pledged to secure funding for the long-languishing I-10 bridge expansion project to connect Mobile and Baldwin Counties on the Gulf Coast.
Barry Moore, R
District: Alabama’s 2nd (Southeastern Alabama)
Current Member: Martha Roby, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: Alabama State House (2010-18)
Why he’s going to win: After finishing behind self-funding businessman Jeff Coleman 38-20 percent in the initial March 3 primary, and being outspent 6-1, Moore eked out a win in the July 14 runoff. This district voted for Trump 65-33 percent, and Romney 63-36 percent. Though it was briefly represented by conservative Democrat Bobby Bright from 2009 to 2011, Bright was defeated by Roby in 2010, and when Bright made a comeback attempt in 2018, he did so as a Republican. Roby had a narrower-than-expected victory in 2016, winning 48-40 percent; 11 percent cast protest write-in votes, angry at Roby for calling on Trump to step aside after the Access Hollywood tape was released. In 2018 she won by a more comfortable 23-point margin, and in the initial 2020 primary on March 3, total GOP votes outnumbered Democratic votes 103,000 to 46,000. Democratic nominee, educator Phyllis Harvey-Hall, had just $584 in the bank on March 31.
His politics: Moore, who challenged Roby in the GOP primary in 2018 but placed third behind her and Bright, the former Democrat, was the preferred candidate of the conservative Club for Growth, the House Freedom Caucus, and the NRA. Moore ran on a platform of expanding gun rights and universal concealed carry reciprocity, building the wall, and on his claim that he was the first elected official in Alabama to endorse Trump during the 2016 GOP primary.
Jay Obernolte, R
District: California’s 8th (Northern San Bernardino County and the High Desert)
Current Member: Paul Cook, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: Member, California State Assembly (2014-present); Mayor, Big Bear City (2010-2014)
Profession: Video game developer, businessman
Why he’s going to win: The 8th District was Donald Trump’s third-best in California, handing him a 15-point victory over Hillary Clinton even as he lost statewide by 30 points. In 2018, even as Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom won the gubernatorial election by 21 points, GOP candidate John Cox won the 8th by nearly 20 points. And in the 2020 primary, Demcratic candidates combined for just 37 percent of the vote. Obernolte is endorsed by President Trump, who is likely to carry this district, and it’s just not clear how Democrat Chris Bubser can overcome the partisan lean of the district to win unless the president hits rock bottom.
His politics: In addition to endorsements from Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Obernolte is endorsed by the anti-tax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the activist California Republican Assembly. During his time in the California legislature, Obernolte has a 100 percent rating and endorsement from the California Pro-Life Council and an “A” rating from the NRA.
Kat Cammack, R
District: Florida’s 3rd (North Florida, including Gainesville and Ocala)
Current member: Ted Yoho, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: None
Profession: Congressional staffer
Why she’s going to win: Cammack won a narrow victory with 25 percent out of the crowded GOP field; self-funding businessman Judson Sapp placed second with 20 percent. The 3rd District voted for Donald Trump by 15 points in 2016, and for Mitt Romney by 16 points in 2012, and Yoho’s closest race was a 58-42 percent win in 2018. Cammack will face businessman Adam Christensen in the general. Cammack had just $98,000 in the bank on July 29, but she’d raised nearly $500,000 overall, and Christensen had just $16,000 on hand on July 29, having raised just $31,000 overall.
Her politics: Cammack has said her top issue is “standing with President Trump” followed by defending the Second Amendment and “protecting the unborn.” A signatory to Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, she has a 92 percent rating from the NRA and supports building the border wall.
Byron Donalds, R
District: Florida’s 19th (Cape Coral and Fort Myers)
Current member: Francis Rooney, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: Member, Florida House of Representatives (2016-present)
Profession: Financial adviser
Why he’s going to win: Donalds won a crowded and nasty GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Rooney by just a few hundred votes. With 13 candidates vying for the nomination, the four top contenders all finished with about one-fifth of the vote. Donalds received 23 percent, while state House Majority Leader Dane Eagle pulled in 22 percent, restaurateur Casey Askar won 20 percent, and urologist William Figlesthaler took 18 percent. Trump won this Cape Coral district by 22 points in 2016, while GOP Sen. Rick Scott and Gov. Ron DeSantis each took 61 percent of the district in their 2018 races. Donalds will face Florida Gulf Coast University political science Professor Cindy Bayani, who had a paltry $21,000 in the bank on July 29, in the general election.
His politics: Donalds will be a significant departure from the mild-mannered Rooney, a former US Ambassador to the Vatican City who was firmly ensconced in the old GOP establishment and had even expressed openness to voting for impeachment at one point. Donalds has endorsements from Sen. Rand Paul, the NRA, and the Club for Growth, which spent at least $2.5 million to boost his primary campaign. Donalds highlights his 100 percent rating from Florida Right to Life, supports a balanced budget constitutional amendment, and is in favor of allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines. Donalds cites his support for federal funding of the Central Everglades Restoration Project as an example of bipartisanship. Donalds proudly positions himself as a repudiation of “the fake news media,” calling himself, “a Trump supporting, liberty loving, pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment black man.” With the retirement of Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Donalds will likely be the only Black GOP House member in the next Congress.
Nikema Williams, D
District: Georgia’s 5th District (Downtown Atlanta)
Current member: Vacant due to the death of John Lewis, D
Previous elected office: Member, Georgia State Senate (2017-present)
Profession: Political activist
Why she’s going to win: When Civil Rights icon/Rep. John Lewis died on Friday, July 17, Georgia law required the Georgia Democratic Party to select a replacement nominee by the next business day. The party received 131 applications, which it narrowed down to five finalists and then selected Williams, who currently serves as the state party chairwoman, by an executive committee vote (Williams received 37 of 41 votes, with the others going to other finalists). Lewis only occasionally faced opposition in this district, which voted for Hillary Clinton 85-12 percent, and in 34 years Lewis never received less than 69 percent of the vote. Williams is a lock in the general election against media personality Angela Stanton-King, who spent two years in federal prison on conspiracy charges in the early 2000s but was pardoned by President Trump earlier this year.
Her politics: Williams represents a younger generation of establishment Black political leaders, and occupied a middle ground among the five finalists, between younger, more progressive options such as 29-year-old state Rep. Park Cannon, and older leaders such as former Morehouse College president Robert Franklin. Williams has spent her life in political advocacy, first as a vice president for Planned Parenthood Southeast and later as deputy political director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. While pitching herself as a replacement nominee, Williams highlighted her 2018 arrest at a protest in Atlanta over the results of that year’s gubernatorial election, saying it showed how she aligned with Lewis’ mantra of getting into “good trouble.”
Andrew Clyde, R
District: Georgia’s 9th District (Northeastern Georgia)
Current member: Doug Collins, R, running for Senate
Previous elected office: None
Profession: Gun store owner
Why he’s going to win: Despite trailing state Rep. Matt Gurtler in the first round of the primary 21-19 percent (among a field of nine candidates including former 10th District Rep. Paul Broun), Clyde won the Aug. 11 runoff with 56 percent of the vote. This Gainesville, Ga. district is one of the most Republican in the nation; in 2016 Trump won 78 percent to Clinton’s 19 percent. Clyde will face Army veteran/professional actor Devin Pandy in November. Just 11,000 votes were cast in the Democratic primary runoff, compared to 88,000 in the GOP runoff, and Pandy’s campaign ended July with a negative bank balance.
His politics: Clyde’s main priorities include the further deregulation of the firearms industry, going as far as to call for repeal of parts of the 1934 Firearms Act. He also supports abolishing the EPA and the Department of Education, as well as the IRS, which he wants to replace with a flat tax. Prior to running for office, Clyde was involved in a multi-year fight with the IRS over the controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture, which saw him testify in front of Congress in 2015 on the issue. Clyde lists “Supporting President Trump” as one of his top campaign issues, and is a proponent of the border wall.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, R
District: Georgia’s 14th (Northwestern Georgia)
Current member: Tom Graves, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: None
Profession: Construction company owner
Why she’s going to win: Greene placed first in the June 9 GOP primary with 40 percent, but did not secure the majority she needed to avoid a runoff. After Politico uncovered the first of several troves of offensive videos made by Greene, some Republicans, most prominently House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, began to actively support her runoff opponent, neurosurgeon John Cowan. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the videos appalling but remained neutral in the race. Greene defeated Cowan 57-43 percent in the Aug. 11 runoff and was personally congratulated by McCarthy that night. The 14th District is one of the most Republican in the country, voting for Trump 75-22 percent in 2016. Democratic nominee/software developer Kevin Van Ausdal had just $5,400 in the bank at the end of June. Despite nationwide attention on the race, Democrats are content to use Greene as a cudgel to attack other Republicans in Georgia and elsewhere, and do not intend on attempting to stop Greene from winning this seat.
Her politics: Green will be the most controversial incoming member of Congress in recent memory. She has a well-documented history of espousing racist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic ideas, including but not limited to saying that Muslims should not be able to serve in government and that there is an “Islamic invasion” of America led by Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, that Black people should be proud of Confederate monuments and that Black Lives Matter demonstrators are akin to the KKK, and that George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, is a Nazi (a baseless claim) on her Facebook page and in videos online. She is also a promoter of the debunked Pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy theories, which posits that Democrats are running a secret Satanist global child sex-trafficking ring. One of her campaign ads was removed from Facebook for threatening physical violence against protesters. At one point she disputed that a plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 (though she later said she believed one had) and has also called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be tried for treason and potentially executed. She was recently called a “future Republican star” by President Trump, and was invited to attend his renomination speech at the White House on the last night of the Republican National Convention.
Kai Kahele, D
District: Hawaii’s 2nd District (Northern Oahu and all other islands)
Current member: Tulsi Gabbard, D, gave up seat to run for president
Previous elected office: State Senator (2016-present)
Profession: Fighter pilot (United States Air Force); commercial pilot (Hawaiin Airlines)
Why he’s going to win: Kahele, who launched his campaign in January 2019, before Gabbard decided not to seek re-election, faced only token opposition in his Aug. 8 primary, which he won with 76 percent of the vote. This district, which voted for Hillary Clinton 61-30 percent in 2016, has never sent a Republican to Congress, and won’t start now. The GOP nominee is Air Force veteran/businessman Joe Akana, who had just $2,000 in the bank on July 19.
His politics: Kahele, a decorated fighter pilot, was endorsed by a slew of progressive groups, including Planned Parenthood, the Hawaii AFL-CIO, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and Daily Kos Elections. Kahele is a supporter of Medicare-for-All, universal gun background checks and an assault weapons ban, and believes Congress should repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force that has governed conflicts in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, and replace it with a more narrowly defined directive that includes a sunset provision. Kahele supports “the concept of a ‘Green New Deal.’”
Marie Newman, D
District: Illinois’ 3rd District (Southwestern Chicago area)
Current member: Dan Lipinski, D, defeated in primary
Previous elected office: None; 2018 3rd District candidate
Profession: Anti-bullying advocate; consultant
Why she’s going to win: Newman narrowly defeated eight-term incumbent Dan Lipinski by 1 point in the March 17 primary, two years after she fell just short of knocking off the conservative Democrat. Illinois’ 3rd District hasn’t voted for a Republican president since 1988, and Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 15 points in 2016. Lipinski regularly won by more than 30 points, and in 2018, the only Republican to even run was a local neo-Nazi, which speaks to GOP organization in the district.
Her politics: Newman’s candidacy was a cause celebre for progressives nationwide, especially in contrast to Lipinski’s pro-life, anti-Obamacare politics. She was endorsed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ro Khanna, and Ayanna Pressley, as well as EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood Action, the Sierra Club, Justice Democrats, and a battery of other liberal organizations.
Mary Miller, R
District: Illinois’ 15th District (East-central and southeastern Illinois)
Current member: John Shimkus, R, not seeking re-election
Previous Elected Office: None.
Profession: Grain and livestock farmer; homeschool teacher
Why she’s going to win: This 94 percent white district encompasses the entire southeast quadrant of the state, and went for Trump 71-46 percent in 2016. The 60-year-old Miller, who runs a farm with her husband, state Rep. Chris Miller, took a decisive 57 percent in the GOP primary, and though she only showed $100,000 cash on hand in her Feb. 26 pre-primary FEC report, she will easily defeat Democratic opponent Erika Weaver, an attorney in the Coles County public defender’s office.
Her politics: Miller secured endorsements from Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Ted Cruz in the primary. She was also backed by the House Freedom Caucus’ PAC and is expected to join that group in Washington. Miller stresses her Christianity, promises to “put an end to godless socialism and defend the unborn,” and supports the border wall.
Frank J. Mrvan, D
District: Indiana’s 1st (Northwestern Indiana)
Current member: Peter Visclosky, D, not running for re-election
Previous elected office: Trustee, North Township, Ind.
Profession: Pharmaceutical sales representative, mortgage broker
Why he’s going to win: This northwestern district, anchored in Gary, Ind., hasn’t sent a Republican to Congress in 90 years. Hillary Clinton won it by 13 points in 2016, and Visclosky only failed to receive 60 percent of the vote twice over his 18 terms. Mrvan faces perennial candidate Mark Leyva in the general -- Leyva has lost seven of the last nine general elections in this district, by margins ranging from 20 points (in 2010) to 40 points (2008).
His politics: In the primary, Mrvan touted his endorsements from organized labor, including nods from the Indiana chapter of the American Federation of Teachers and the United Steelworkers, and received a zero percent rating from the NRA. His campaign emphasized his work on local issues, particularly emergency preparedness, and his issue stances fall well into the mainstream Democratic lines on the economy and healthcare.
Randy Feenstra, R
District: Iowa’s 4st (Northwestern Iowa)
Current member: Steve King, R, defeated in primary
Previous elected office: Member, State Senate (2009-present)
Profession: Insurance manager
Why he’s going to win: Feenstra defeated nine-term incumbent Steve King in a pitched primary battle that drew national attention because of King’s history of controversial statements about white supremacy and white nationalism. Having dispatched King 46-36 percent in the GOP primary, Feenstra is now the heavy favorite in this district that voted for Trump by 27 points in 2016 and GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds by 21 points in 2018 (Reynolds won by just 3 points statewide). Democrat J.D. Scholten is running a credible campaign, but he couldn’t beat King in 2018 despite a massive financial advantage, a favorable environment, and the NRCC denouncing King before the election.
His politics: Feenstra was supported by the US Chamber for Commerce and the National Right to Life. From his time in the state Senate, he has an 83 percent lifetime score from the American Conservative Union. His website highlights his support for tax cuts, “Christian values,” Trump’s border wall, and the 2nd Amendment.
Lisa McClain, R
District: Michigan’s 10th (Northern Macomb County and the "Thumb" region)
Current member: Paul Mitchell, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: None
Profession: Financial adviser
Why she’s going to win: McClain was considered to be an underdog in the GOP primary to succeed Mitchell. Her main opponent, state Rep. Shane Hernandez, already represented part of the district and endorsements from Mitchell, the 10th District GOP committee, and the Club for Growth, which spent $1.5 million to support him and attack McClain. But McClain spent $1.45 million of her own money and eked out a 42-36 percent victory, with retired Brig. Gen. Doug Slocum placing third with 22 percent. Trump won this district 64-32 percent in 2016 while narrowly carrying the state, so even if Joe Biden wins a convincing victory statewide. McClain should have no trouble handling Democratic web developer Kimberly Bizon, who ran for this seat in 2018 and lost 60-35 percent.
Her politics: McClain was endorsed by New York Rep. Elise Stefanik’s Elevate PAC, which aims to increase the ranks of GOP women in Congress, and McClain will be one of a handful of GOP women who will replace GOP men on Capitol Hill. McClain has a 92 percent rating from the NRA, and was endorsed by former Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski and controversial former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. McClain is “absolutely opposed to any government mandated vaccinations...including parents’ rights to choose all, or no, vaccinations for their children.” She supports amendments to the Constitution mandating a balanced budget and outlawing abortion.
Cori Bush, D
District: Missouri’s 1st (St. Louis and northwestern suburbs)
Current members: Lacy Clay, D, defeated in primary
Previous elected office: None
Profession: Registered Nurse; pastor
Why she’s going to win: Just two years after losing her primary challenge to Clay 57-37 percent, Bush pulled off a major upset this time, eking out a 49-46 percent victory over the 10-term incumbent. This deeply Democratic district gave 77 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016, and just 19 percent to Donald Trump. Clay consistently won by at least 50 points, and Bush will trounce GOP nominee/comedian Anthony Rogers, who spent just $28 in his primary.
Her politics: Bush cut her teeth as a Black Lives Matter activist on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and drew support from Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Sunrise Movement, and insurgent groups Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress. Previously featured in the Netflix Documentary Bringing Down the House alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and 2020 West Virginia Senate nominee Paula Jean Swearingen, Bush supports ending cash bail, abolishing private prisons, and legalizing marijuana. She is also a proponent of the Green New Deal, Medicare-for-All, and nationwide rent control, as well as the cancellation of student and medical debt, and tuition-free public higher education. Like members of the “Squad” and others, Bush represents a new activist wing of the Democratic Party, telling the New York Times, ““I’m an organizer at heart, so if we need to be in the streets, I will be in the streets.”
Ben Ray Luján, D
Current Member: Tom Udall, D, not seeking re-election
Previous Elected Office: US House of Representatives (2009-present)
Why he’s going to win: New Mexico was once a swing state, but it’s fast becoming solid Democratic territory. Hillary Clinton won the state by 8 points in 2016, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham won the gubernatorial race by 14 points in 2018, and Sen. Martin Heinrich won a three-way race in 2018 with 54 percent of the vote, 14 points ahead of Republican Mick Rich. Early on in the cycle, Republicans talked about making a play for this seat, and they got their preferred nominee in former meteorologist Mark Ronchetti, but something major would have to change on the national level for this race to be competitive, especially with the GOP playing defense in so many other Senate seats.
His politics: Luján, a former DCCC chair, has endorsements from almost every major Democratic player, including the Brady Campaign, End Citizens United, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the Sierra Club. He supports the DREAM Act, the removal of minor marijuana convictions nationwide, and Medicare for All. As assistant speaker, he is the highest-ranking co-sponsor of the Green New Deal.
Teresa Leger Fernandez, D
District: New Mexico’s 3rd District (Northern New Mexico)
Current Member: Ben Ray Luján, D, running for Senate
Previous Elected Office: None
Why she’s going to win: Leger Fernandez won a convincing victory in the Demcoratic primary for this district, receiving 43 percent of the vote; former CIA officer Valerie Plame placed second with just 25 percent. Hillary Clinton won this district by 15 percent, and Fernandez’s Republican opponent, Alexis Johnson, had just $178 in the bank on May 13.
Her politics: Leger Fernandez was endorsed in the primary by EMILY’s List, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, tuition-free public college, and overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Leger Fernandez has a long career of practicing civil rights and water law, and led a lawsuit that forced Santa Fe to adopt ranked choice voting in 2017.
Ritchie Torres, D
District: New York’s 15th District (The Bronx)
Current Member: José Serrano, D, retiring
Previous Elected Office: New York City Council (2014-present)
Profession: Housing policy advocate
Why he’s going to win: Torres, the first openly gay legislator from the Bronx and the youngest member of the city council, finished atop a crowded primary field that included two fellow city councilmen, the former city council speaker, a current DNC vice chairman, and a Bernie Sanders and AOC-backed progressive. The race attracted late attention due to the presence of Trump-supporting conservative Democratic candidate/Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr., but Torres won with 30 percent of the vote while Díaz placed third with 15 percent. This district has been the most Democratic in the nation for more than a decade: Clinton won 94 percent of the vote to Trump’s 5 percent.
His politics: Torres, who will represent the poorest congressional district in the country, has spent his career focused on building up social safety nets. On the council, he’s pushed for greater regulation of and funding for NYCHA, the city’s public housing authority, increased distribution of overdose-reversing drug naloxone to city employees, and tougher regulations on landlords. His campaign was endorsed by NARAL, End Citizens United, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, but several prominent progressive politicians and organizations chose to back organizer Samelys Lopez over Torres in the primary. Torres, who was a Sanders delegate to the 2016 DNC, supports Medicare For All, but has also said he would sponsor legislation to create a public option. He is a vocal supporter of Israel, calling himself “the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive,” a stance that earned him praise from Jewish groups in the city but condemnation from Lopez. And Torres also cast aspersions on the Democratic Socialists of America, noting that they have “most robust membership in wealthier, whiter gentrified neighborhoods.” Torres described himself as a pragmatic progessive in our interview a year ago, so it will be interesting to watch his alliances on the Hill.
Jamaal Bowman, D
District: New York’s 16th District (Southern Westchester County and the northern Bronx)
Current Member: Eliot Engel, D, defeated in primary
Previous Elected Office: None
Profession: Middle school principal
Why he’s going to win: Bowman, who was recruited by progressive group Justice Democrats to challenge Eliot Engel from the left in the Democratic primary, capitalized on several missteps made by Engel in the final weeks of the campaign to pull off an upset of the 16-term incumbent. After a lengthy vote-counting process, the AP called the race for Bowman as he led Engel 56-40 percent. As the Democratic nominee, Bowman is a lock for election in this New York City district, which voted for Hillary Clinton by 53 points in 2016, 76-23 percent. He will face perennial candidate/Conservative Party nominee Patrick McManus in November.
His politics: Bowman will be one of the most progressive members of the House -- joking recently that he’s “absolutely” going to apply to be a member of “The Squad,” the group of four Democratic legislators who have become the face of the party’s left wing in Congress. Bowman ran on a platform of racial justice, the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, tuition-free public college, dismantling ICE, completely abolishing felon disenfranchisement, a massive increase in education funding, and defunding the police, which he defines as “reallocating resources toward public health and investing in alternatives with people who are adequately trained to do the jobs we’re asking armed police to do.” But at a time when Democrats are struggling with internal divisions, Bowman, who was endorsed in the primary by The New York Times, also maintains that he is “right in alignment with Joe Biden” on issues such as coronavirus, the economy, and racial and economic justice.
Mondaire Jones, D
District: New York’s 17th District (Westchester County)
Current Member: Nita Lowey, D, retiring
Previous Elected Office: None
Why he’s going to win: Jones initially planned on challenging Rep. Lowey in the primary from the left, but when Lowey announced her retirement, the field expanded to include several credible candidates, including two state legislators, a former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense, and a billionaire federal prosecutor who helped uncover the college admissions cheating scandal. Jones surged late, propelled by endorsements from Bernie Sanders and The New York Times editorial board, and the nationwide reckoning on race that erupted after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Jones won 43 percent of the vote in the split field; prosecutor Adam Schleifer came in second with 20 percent. This district voted for Clinton in 2016 by 14 points and Obama by 15 points in 2012. Republicans did not nominate candidates in 2016 or 2018, and 2020 nominee Maureen McArdle-Schulman ended the second quarter with negative cash on hand.
His politics: Jones supports tuition-free public college, Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal. He also favors DC and Puerto Rico statehood, the legalization of marijuana, and an assault weapon ban. Jones was endorsed in the primary by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley, but he breaks with the progressive wing of the party on one issue key to this district: Jones supports a restoration of the SALT deduction that was removed by the 2017 GOP tax bill and resulted in higher taxes suburban Democratic districts such as the 17th.
Madison Cawthorn, R
District: North Carolina’s 11th District (Asheville and Appalachian North Carolina)
Current Member: Vacant (Last held by Mark Meadows, R)
Previous Elected Office: None
Age: 24 (will be 25 when sworn in)
Profession: Motivational speaker
Why he’s going to win: The 24-year-old Cawthorn, who had planned to go to the US Naval Academy before a car crash left him wheelchair-bound, won an upset victory in the June 23 primary runoff over 62-year-old Lynda Bennett, a friend of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ wife who had been endorsed by President Trump. In November, he’ll face retired Air Force Col. Moe Davis, the Democratic nominee. But Cawthorn, who has been showered in nationwide publicity since his win, is the clear favorite in this redrawn district that would have given Trump an 18-point victory over Clinton in 2016, 58-40 percent.
His politics: In interviews, Cawthorn posits himself as a generational figure for Republican politics, a young millennial/Gen Z counterweight to progressive figures such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As such, he takes some heterodox positions for a Republican: he approves of removing statues of Confederate leaders through governmental processes, says he believes “Black Lives Matter” (using those exact words), and supports a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. But Cawthorn is no moderate: he’s pro-life, opposes the ACA and sanctuary cities, supports Trump’s border wall, and disputes the existence of manmade climate change. As a young, outspoken, telegenic conservative, expect Cawthorn to be a regular figure on the cable circuit when he arrives in Washington next year.
Deborah K. Ross, D
District: North Carolina’s 2nd District (Raleigh)
Current member: George Holding, R, not seeking re-election.
Previous Elected Office: Member, North Carolina House of Representatives (2003-2013); Democratic nominee for Senate in 2016 (lost 51-46 percent)
Profession: Civil Rights Attorney; former ACLU state director
Why she’s going to win: North Carolina’s 2nd District was radically redrawn in last year’s court-ordered redistricting. It now ecompasses deep blue Raleigh and the surrounding Wake County, and had this district existed in 2016, Hillary Clinton would have won it with 60 percent. Incumbent George Holding is choosing to retire rather than fight for his political life, and the Republican nominee, Alan Swain, is unknown and unfunded. This leaves Ross, who won a commanding 70 percent in the Democratic primary, as the prohibitive favorite in November.
Her politics: Ross has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, EMILY’s List, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the AFGE and AFL-CIO unions. While in the state legislature, she had a 100 percent score from the ACLU and an “F” rating from the NRA. Her website cites infrastructure, healthcare, housing, education, and climate change as top priorities.
Kathy Manning, D
District: North Carolina’s 6th District (Greensboro and Winston-Salem)
Current member: Mark Walker, R, not seeking re-election.
Previous Elected Office: None; Democratic nominee for the 13th District in 2018 (lost 45.5 to 51.5)
Profession: Attorney; member of UNC Greensboro Board of Trustees; former chair of the Jewish Federations of North America nonprofit
Why she’s going to win: The 6th District was also significantly altered by the 2019 redistricting. Its new configuration includes all of Greensboro, and Winston-Salem -- two liberal college cities. In 2016, Clinton would have won this district with 59 percent of the vote. Manning won a competitive five-way primary with 48 percent of the vote, and will have no issue dispatching Republican Lee Haywood in the fall.
Her politics: In 2018, when Manning ran in the more Republican 13th District, she was endorsed by the moderate Blue Dog Coalition and NewDem Action Fund; neither have endorsed her yet this cycle, though in 2018 they only did so in October. In 2020, Manning is endorsed by the National Organization for Women and the Sierra Club.
Cliff Bentz, R
District: Oregon’s 2nd District (East of the Cascades and part of southern Oregon)
Current member: Greg Walden, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: State Senator (former, 2018-2020); state representative (former, 2008-2018)
Why he’s going to win: This district voted for Donald Trump 57-36 percent in 2016, and Mitt Romney 57-41 percent in 2012. It’s a vast, rural, 89-percent White district that hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress in 40 years. Bentz won a crowded GOP primary against three serious opponents and should have little trouble defeating either writer Alex Spenser or businessman Nick Heuertz come November.
His politics: Bentz has an A+ rating from the NRA, a 100 percent rating from the Oregon Chamber of Commerce, and a 0 percent rating from the Oregon ACLU and AFL-CIO. In 2019, Bentz was among the group of GOP state legislators who fled the state to prevent Democrats from reaching the quorum they needed to pass a climate change law. But Bentz was viewed as the mainstream candidate in the GOP primary, receiving backing from the Republican Main Street Partnership. Knute Buehler was backed by a more moderate faction, while businessman Jimmy Crumpacker received support from conservative organizations such as Oregon Right to Life.
Bill Hagerty, R
Current member: Lamar Alexander, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: None (US Ambassador to Japan 2017-2019)
Profession: Private equity investor
Why he’s going to win: Hagerty was originally expected to waltz to the GOP nomination after President Donald Trump personally lobbied him to throw his hat in the ring. But he faced a late surge from Vanderbilt orthopedic surgeon Manny Sethi, who drew support from conservatives such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in the waning weeks of the race. In the end, Hagerty won 51-39 percent. But that wasn’t the only thing that went right for Hagerty. On the Democratic side, the only candidate running a credible race, attorney and veteran James Mackler, came in third in his primary despite raising more than $1 million and securing the endorsement of the DSCC. He was beaten by Memphis activist Marquita Bradshaw, who last reported just $8,400 through March 31 and has failed to file regular FEC reports since then. In 2018, Democrats had a great candidate in former Gov. Phil Bredesen, who outraised Rep. Marsha Blackburn by several million dollars but still lost by 11 percent. Even if Trump only wins this state by half of his 26-point margin from 2016, Hagerty will have no trouble.
His politics: Hagerty began his career as a figure of the establishment GOP, serving as an adviser in the George H.W. Bush White House, as the national finance director for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, and as a Jeb Bush delegate in the 2016 GOP primary. Since joining the Trump administration, Hagerty has hewed much closer to the president, expressing support for the border wall, calling for the death penalty for human traffickers, and labeling Sharia Law a national security threat to the US. He also supports a balanced budget constitutional amendment and defunding the Education Department, and was endorsed by both the Chamber of Commerce and the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List.
Diana Harshbarger, R
District: Tennessee’s 1st District (Northeastern Tennessee)
Current member: Phil Roe, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: None
Why she’s going to win: Harshbarger beat out 15 other candidates for the GOP nomination, though she won just 19 percent of the total vote. Five candidates finished within 10 points of Harshbarger -- state Rep. Timothy Hill placed second with 17 percent. Harshbarger won despite the Club for Growth spending over $800,000 in support of Hill, though Harshbarger did self-fund to the tune of $1.3 million. Hillary Clinton did not crack 20 percent of the vote here in 2016, and Northeastern Tennessee has not sent a Democrat to Congress since 1878. Harshbarger will defeat veteran/Democratic nominee Blair Walsingham in November.
Her politics: Harshbarger entered the race as a pro-Trump conservative, and has a 92 percent rating from the NRA, though she was passed over for Hill by the Club for Growth and the House Freedom Caucus. She is pro-border wall, pro-life, supports term limits for all federal offices, and has called for sanctions on China. During the primary, Harshbarger came under fire because her husband spent four years in federal prison for selling phony Chinese medication to dialysis patients in Kansas. Though never charged, Harshbarger was listed as one of just two officers and directors of her husband’s company, and became president of the company when he was incarcerated. Harshbarger denies any wrongdoing, but that didn’t stop the Club for Growth from using the case in ads against her. She’ll add to the small group of GOP women in the House.
August Pfluger, R
District: Texas’ 11th District (Midland and San Angelo parts of rural west Texas)
Current member: Mike Conaway, R, not seeking re-election.
Previous elected office: None
Profession: Former National Security Council staffer in Trump administration; Air Force Lt. Col. (Ret.)
Why he’s going to win: Pfluger, who served 20 years as a fighter pilot before briefly serving as a staffer on Trump’s National Security Council, took 52 percent of the vote in a crowded primary, avoiding a runoff. This expansive midwest Texas district is one of the most Republican in the country -- one of just six districts where Hillary Clinton failed to receive even 20 percent of the vote. Having won the GOP primary, Pfluger is as good as elected.
His politics: While the House Freedom Caucus’ PAC endorsed a different candidate in the GOP primary, Pfluger has signalled willingness to join the caucus when he arrives in Washington. Pfluger promises to “fight back against oil-hating liberals” and protect the “God-given” rights in the Second Amendment, as well as the rights of Christians and other groups. Throughout his campaign, he has emphasized his military service, and criticized the low number of veterans in Congress.
Ronny Jackson, R
District: Texas’ 13th District (Texas Panhandle)
Current member: Mac Thornberry, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: None
Why he’s going to win: Jackson, who previously had served as White House physician under Presidents Obama and Trump, and whose nomination to be Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs was derailed by accusations of professional misconduct, defeated lobbyist Josh Winegarner 56-44 percent in the runoff. This is one of the reddest districts in the entire country; Hillary Clinton garnered just 17 percent of the vote here in 2016, Obama just 19 percent. Thornberry won his last five elections with 82, 90, 84, 91, and 87 percent of the vote. Democratic nominee Gus Trujillo will be lucky to crack a quarter of the vote.
His politics: Jackson has fully embraced the aggressive politics of his former patient, attacking his former colleagues in the Obama White House, where he served for eight years, as “deep state traitors” who deserve “to be brought to justice for their heinous actions.” Jackson, who was endorsed by Trump in the primary, supports the border wall, is pro-life, and promises to protect America from “the socialist healthcare plans of the left.” Jackson also supports term limits, and has pledged to serve no more than eight years in the House.
Pete Sessions, R
District: Texas’ 17th District (College Station, Waco, and a slice of Austin suburbs)
Current member: Bill Flores, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: US Congressman (1997-2019)
Why he’s going to win: Sessions, who was ousted from the Dallas-area 32nd District after 11 terms by Democrat Colin Allred, is set to make his congressional comeback 80 miles south, in the 17th District. Unlike the demographically shifting 32nd, the 17th District is solidly Republican, voting for Trump 56-39 percent in 2016, and Romney 60-38 percent in 2012. Flores’ closest call was in 2018, when he defeated Democrat Rick Kennedy by 16 points, 57-41, the only time Flores received less than 60 percent of the vote. Kennedy is the nominee again after winning the runoff with 57 percent, but he had less than $14,000 in his campaign account at the end of June.
His politics: While in Congress, Sessions served as the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, and was a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee. He also served as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2010 cycle, overseeing the largest GOP House gains in history. Sessions amassed a solidly conservative voting record, receiving a 94 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, an “A” from the NRA, and a 100 percent lifetime rating from the National Right to Life. He supports the border wall and codifying Trump’s “public charge” immigration restriction into law. Sessions also highlights his work in the late 1990s passing a series of balanced budgets, and says he will do so again in Congress.
Blake Moore, R
District: Utah’s 1st District (Ogden and northern Utah)
Current member: Rob Bishop, R, ran for lieutenant governor (lost in primary).
Previous elected office: None
Profession: Management consultant; Foreign Service officer (former, 2012-13)
Why he’s going to win: Moore won a close primary over Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson, 30-28 percent, that has been called by the AP though the vote count is not yet complete. The 1st District was Trump’s best in the Beehive State — he nearly cracked 50 percent, taking 49.7 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 22.37 and Evan McMullin’s 22.3 percent. When a GOP-friendly third-party candidate isn’t on the ballot, Republicans put up far larger victories; Mitt Romney carried this district in the 2018 Senate election by 41 points, 67-26 percent, and Mike Lee won a larger 49-point victory in this district in the 2016 Senate race. The Democratic primary is still too close to call, but Moore will face either Darren Parry, a councilmember for the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, or Jamie Cheek, a district director in the Utah Office of Rehabilitation. Neither Democrat had more than $6,000 in the bank on June 30.
His politics: Moore styles himself as a process-oriented candidate. Rather than emphasize his conservative policy positions (he’s pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and wants to repeal the ACA) he talks mostly about his experience in consulting, which he says gives him the tools to bring people together in Washington. He’s also highlighted his time in Asia as a Foreign Service officer as a strength when tensions with China are on the rise. Moore has expressed frustration about the high level of federal land ownership in the district, saying that “public lands will benefit greatly from the current conversation of states’ rights and local decision-making.” Moore notably broke with the president on deploying federal forces in American cities, a position Moore opposes. In the primary, Moore drew heat for not living in the 1st District, but has pledged to move into the district if he is elected.
Scott Fitzgerald, R
District: Wisconsin’s 5th (Milwaukee suburbs)
Current member: Jim Sensenbrenner, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: Member, State Senate (2011-2012, 2013-present)
Profession: Newspaper publisher
Why he’s going to win: Fitzgerald won an easy 77-23 percent victory in the GOP primary over Coast Guard Reserve Commander Cliff DeTemple. In 2016, Trump won this district by 20 points, 57-37 percent. In 2018, even as Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin won statewide by 11 points, GOP senate candidate Leah Vukmir carried this district 57-43 percent, indicating that even a large swing toward Joe Biden statewide would not make the district competitive. In November, Fitzgerald will face businessman Tom Palzewicz, who lost to Sensenbrenner 61-38 percent in 2018.
His politics: As Senate Majority Leader, Fitzgerald led the effort to strip incoming Gov. Tony Evers of much of his powers following the 2018 election, intimating along with state House Speaker Robin Vos that the opinions of voters in Wisconsin’s cities did not count for as much as rural voters. Fitzgerald has received consistently high ratings from the American Conservative Union throughout his time in the legislature, and was endorsed by the NRA in his race for Congress. Fitzgerald has made a name for himself as a budget slasher, and he trumpets his role in passing Act 10, the law that stripped public workers of collective bargaining rights and sparked massive protests in the state capitol a decade ago.
Cynthia Lummis, R
Current member: Mike Enzi, R, not seeking re-election
Previous elected office: US House of Representatives (2009-2017), State Treasurer (1999-2007)
Why she’s going to win: Lummis won a nominally crowded GOP primary with 60 percent of the vote. Converse County commissioner Robert Short placed second with 13 percent. She will face University of Wyoming Zoology Professor Merav Ben-David in November, and should have no trouble returning to DC. Lummis has won statewide six times before, and Trump won Wyoming by 46 points, his largest margin of victory in the country.
Her politics: Lummis was a founding member of the conversative House Freedom Caucus, and though she said in 2016 that she would be “holding her nose” when she voted for Trump, she has since become one of his biggest supporters, twice interviewing to be Secretary of the Interior. While in Congress, Lummis often earned the ire of party leadership for publicly breaking with them on spending issues. Lummis says she’s running to build the border wall, stop the socialist agenda, and defend the Second Amendment, and she says that she “opposed President Obama’s radical agenda more often than any other member of Congress.”