Off to the Races: Top 5 House Races

There are less than 240 days until the 2020 Presidential Election and while it is becoming clearer who the Democratic challenger to President Trump might be whether it be Senator Bernie Sanders or former Vice President Joe Biden, the battle for the House is heating up. In the next blog, we will examine the candidates view on transportation and infrastructure investment, but I leave you with this one tidbit for the Presidential race to keep a close eye on especially in those key swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina, look at the primary voting in terms of turnout, it matters!

On to the House, we are going to take a quick look at the Top 5 House races to watch in the 2020 election, which could possibly determine which party controls the House in 2021.

Oklahoma 5th District

This was truly one of the most surprising upsets in the 2018 election, where Congresswoman Kendra Horn (D-OK-5) defeated two-term incumbent Steve Russell (R-OK-5) by one percentage point. This truly stands out when you look at the fact that President Trump won the district by 31 points in 2016. Congresswoman Horn is the first Democrat to represent this district in over 40-years. The Republican Party is awaiting their primary to determine which candidate emerges as her opponent. The two front runners appear to be state Senator Stephanie Bice and businesswoman Terry Neese. A number of campaign and political experts mark this as a tossup race. My prediction is Republicans regain this seat because President Trump is on the ticket.

California 50th District

This is the seat previously held by Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA-50), who recently resigned for corruption and pleaded guilty for misusing campaign funds. California has a unique primary system, where the top two vote-getters are placed on the ballot in November. The primary was on March 3rd (Super Tuesday), and it appears that Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) and former Congressman Darrell Issa (R) who served in the House from a neighboring district beginning in 2001 until his recent retirement in 2019 will be on the ticket. Mr. Campa-Najjar (D) previously ran for this seat against Congressman Duncan Hunter in 2018 and lost by almost 9,000 votes. He was the first Latino-Arab American to run for Congress and is a former staffer for the Obama Administration. My prediction is Republicans narrowly win and retain the seat. It is a strong Republican district, but President Trump remains unpopular in California. How the cloud over Congressman Duncan Hunter pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds will play in the race remains to be seen.     

South Carolina 1st District

Congressman Joe Cunningham (D-SC-1)  narrowly won a longtime Republican seat in the Charleston area (one of my favorite places for sure), in part by running on a strong campaign message and pledge to oppose offshore drilling, which lead to his defeat of Katie Arrington (R-SC-1) by one percentage point in 2018. Ms. Arrington defeated the incumbent Congressman Mark Sanford (R-SC-1) and former Governor of South Carolina in the 2018 primary. President Trump won this district by 11 points in 2016 and he is likely to face businesswoman Nancy Mace (R) who was the first female to graduate from The Citadel in 1999. She has received financial support from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and is seen as a top-tier candidate. On the other hand, Vice President Biden did extremely well in South Carolina and the Democratic primary saw a high turnout rate, which certainly bodes well for Congressman Cunningham. My prediction is Republicans retake this seat with Nancy Mace (assuming she wins the primary on June 9th), narrowly defeating Rep. Cunningham thanks to President Trump being on the ticket.

New York 11th District

Congressman Max Rose (D-NY-11) defeated two-term incumbent Congressman Dan Donovan (R-NY-11) in 2018 by six percentage points. Congressman Rose served in the U.S. Army as a platoon leader in the War in Afghanistan, where he was wounded and received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. President Trump won this district in 2016 by 10 points. Republicans seem to be rallying behind Nicole Malliotakis (R) who is a member of the New York State Assembly, where she has represented the 64th district for seven years. When Ms. Malliotakis ran mayor of New York City in 2017, she won the 11th district. Congressman Rose is considered a moderate member of the Democratic party and was one of the last House Members to support the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. It will remain interesting to see if that hurts him in November. My prediction is Democrats retain this seat with Congressman Rose narrowly defeating his Republican challenger.

Utah 4th District

Finally, Utah’s 4th Congressional district, where current Congressman Ben McAdams (D-UT-4) narrowly defeated two-term incumbent Congresswoman Mia Love (R-UT-4) by 0.3 points (or less than 700 votes)! President Trump won the State of Utah with 45.5 percent of the vote, which is a little misleading as Independent candidate Evan McMullin (and Utah native) receiving 21.5 percent of the vote and Hillary Clinton receiving 27.5 percent. There are several candidates running for the seat on the Republican side and we won’t know who the candidate is until June 30th. I think with the name recognition that Congressman McAdams has makes him a difficult challenger. My prediction is Democrats retain this seat, giving Democrats a win in the State of Utah on election night.

Overall, Republicans need 19 seats to regain control of the House – with that number really being closer to 21, as Republicans are set to lose two seats in North Carolina because of redistricting. My prediction for the whole House is that Republicans will certainly make it a race on election night but might come up just short of regaining control of the House. With that being said, I think President Trump gets reelected and could push them over the top. Grab the popcorn and wait and see…

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