With election day 2022 now less than a year away, the pressure is on for us to begin our House coverage. The campaign has been in limbo so far, with candidates waiting on the completion of this decade’s Covid-belated redistricting process. This week’s edition covers Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and West Virginia. House updates like this will be coming out every Wednesday until the November election.
A big thanks to Armin Thomas, Andrew Ellison, and Eric Cunningham for supplemental quotes.
Colorado’s Supreme Court recently signed off on the Redistricting Commission’s proposal. In gaining an 8th district, the markedly-Democratic Centennial State produced a balanced map. Under the new lines three seats are Democratic, two are Republican, and three more are competitive.
CO-03 (Lauren Boebert, Republican)
The western Colorado-based 3rd district is home to enigmatic conservative Lauren Boebert, who pulled off an upset Republican primary victory against incumbent Scott Tipton last year. Boebert’s new district exchanges heavily-Democratic Ski Country territory (Routt and Eagle counties) for redder Hispano territory (Las Animas and Otero counties) in the east.
The changes make the seat slightly more Republican than the current rendition. Redistricting also pushed out top Democratic contender Kerry Donovan, a State Senator who lives outside the 3rd’s new boundaries. Boebert still faces credible challenges from Democrats Donald Valdez and Sol Sandoval, though it is unclear how profusely the party will target the Trump seat in a Republican year. We are starting this race off at Likely Republican.
What are your thoughts on the new district?
While competitive on paper, given the expected red title of 2022’s midterm electorate, this race will likely not be competitive and 2024 will mark the first real time Democrats can play for Boebert’s seat.Armin Thomas
CO-07 (Ed Perlmutter, Democrat)
Ed Perlmutter’s new 7th district could be in reach for Republicans next year assuming the party’s favorable environment holds up. Commissioners chose to unpack the Adams-Jefferson based seat, giving Perlmutter a lot of southern territory he is unfamiliar with. Solidly-Republican Fremont County, stripped from the growing 5th district, now finds itself in the 7th. There are no prominent GOP recruits here yet, but the reduced Democratic partisanship pushes us to rate the race Likely Democratic.
What are your thoughts on Perlmutter’s vulnerability?
Perlmutter is a strong incumbent with a firm base, but the new map gives him a ton of new territory that he has no connection to. Much of this territory is filled with Republican voters. He should be reelected, but things could get dicey on a really bad night for Democrats.Armin Thomas
CO-08 (Open, new seat)
The new 8th district should be Colorado’s most competitive. At Biden+4, the swing seat lies right in the sweet spot on the Republican target list as the party plots its path to retake the House majority next year. The seat is based in Weld and Adams counties, two of Colorado’s most populated, and has attracted numerous candidates from both parties.
On the Democratic side, state Representative Yadira Caraveo and Adams County commissioner Chaz Tedesco are both running. State Senator Dominick Moreno is also expected to join. Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine and State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer form the Republican field. We currently rate this race as a Tossup.
What are your thoughts on Colorado’s closest race?
The new 8th seat is highly competitive. It’s going to be a battle between Democratic-leaning Adams and Republican-leaning Weld counties. Both parties are fielding excellent candidates that will play well to their bases – there are two many unknowns to predict anything other than a photo finish. Tossup.Armin Thomas
Illinois Democrats produced an aggressive gerrymander, but it is unclear how effectively it will hold up in 2022. Georgia Democrats shaped a favorable map ahead of the 2002 elections, only to see it dummymander right after implementation. Overextension is a serious risk that both parties must keep in mind during the redistricting process.
IL-06 (Sean Casten and Marie Newman, Democrats)
Despite some significant design changes, the baseline Democratic advantage in the new 6th district is not insurmountable for Republicans. The big story here is the double-bunking of two novel Democrats: Sean Casten (IL-06) and Marie Newman (IL-03). Casten ousted long-time Republican Peter Roskam in 2018 and Newman beat pro-life Democrat Dan Lipinski in a 2020 primary rematch.
While the new 6th includes more territory currently represented by Newman, that does not inherently advantage her. Expect this to a particularly nasty redistricting primary rife with outside involvement. We consider it a Tossup.
Assuming Republicans benefit from the national environment, Democrats cannot afford to take the general election here for granted. GOP candidate Jeanne Ives did better than expected in the current seat last year, and the new 6th is slightly more Republican than its predecessor. Republicans do not yet have a well-established candidate, but a divisive Democratic primary could allow the party’s eventual nominee to focus on the general election while riding a potential wave to victory in this Biden +10 seat. We rate this district Likely Democratic.
What is the composition of the new district?
The new IL-06 consists of the following portions of old districts: 41% from Newman’s IL-03; 23% from Casten’s IL-06; 16% from Bobby Rush’s IL-01; 9% from Raja Krishnamoorthi’s IL-08; 7% from Bill Foster’s IL-11; and 4% from Mike Quigley’s IL-05.Andrew Ellison
What are your expectations for the Casten v. Newman primary?
It’s important to emphasize that while Newman currently represents a bigger portion of the new IL-06, that turf is not necessarily favorable to her. Although Newman won her 2020 primary, Lipinski actually won the portions of the old IL-03 that are included in the new IL-06 48%-43%. Some of culturally conservative Chicago neighborhoods here might be inclined to vote for Casten over Newman. Newman could have some pull with more progressive suburban voters in the DuPage portion of this district, who might want to elect a progressive woman. The primary election will likely be a referendum on Newman, so it will be interesting to see how her campaign reacts to outside investment.Andrew Ellison
What are Republican chances like next year?
Illinois’ new belated primary could impact the general election. Bad feelings from the primary could make Democratic unity difficult. Republican State Representative Deanne Mazzochi has been redrawn into a Democratic-leaning State House seat with another incumbent Democratic representative, so she might take her chances on a congressional campaign. Republicans still have a deep bench in the DuPage County portion of the district who could run, such as DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin, and it’s possible that some candidates in crowded primaries for local offices might take a look at the congressional seat instead.Andrew Ellison
IL-11 (Bill Foster, Democrat) & IL-14 (Lauren Underwood, Democrat)
Under normal environmental circumstances, both the new 11th and 14th districts would be out of reach for Republicans. But “normal” does not seem to be in the cards right now. Although there are no prominent GOP candidates running yet in either district, the partisan leans under the new boundaries are enough to keep them in contention. The incumbent Democrats here are Bill Foster and Lauren Underwood. Out of an abundance of caution, we will be rating both races Likely Democratic.
How does Underwood look next year?
Lauren Underwood should be fine for re-election outside of a cataclysmic environment for Democrats. Former Republican State Representative Grant Wehrli might look for a comeback in this district. Another potential Republican candidate could be State Senator Sue Rezin, who ran for IL-14 in 2020 and represents much of the new IL-14 in her state senate district.Andrew Ellison
IL-12 (Mike Bost and Mary Miller, Republicans) & IL-15 (Rodney Davis, Republican)
With Adam Kinzinger opting for retirement instead of a long-shot reelection bid against fellow-Representative Darin LaHood, the 12th district is the only remaining potential Illinois double-bunking. Democrats drew 12th district Republican Mike Bost into the same heavily-Republican downstate seat as 15th district freshman Mary Miller to make up for the state’s loss of the 18th district. Bost is already running, but Miller remains undecided. It seems that she could be waiting to see what her colleague Rodney Davis plans to do next year.
Davis currently represents the competitive 13th district, a seat he almost lost in the 2018 blue wave. Widely speculated as a strong potential statewide recruit for the Republicans, Illinois Democrats drew him a safe seat for next cycle. But the new 15th gives the incumbent a lot of new territory with which he has no connection, potentially endangering him in a primary.
If Davis runs statewide, Miller could very well jump north into the 15th to avoid a raucous primary against the more-experienced Bost. Should Davis decide to run for reelection in his new seat, locking up primary support would be his only significant concern. A redistricting primary between Bost and Miller would be just as nasty as the 6th district race if it happens. We would probably give Bost a slight edge in such a situation.
Both the 12th and 15th districts are Safe Republican regardless of the national environment.
What are your thoughts on these districts?
It’s tough to say what Rodney Davis plans to do because his plans depend on Mary Miller’s decision of whether to run in the 12th or 15th district. If Miller decides to run in the 12th, Davis would probably be in the driver’s seat in the 15th. If Miller decides to run for the 15th district, Davis could run for Governor. Mike Bost has already locked down endorsements from GOP leadership in most of his existing district as well as from the portions that overlap with Miller’s current district, so Miller would probably have a stronger chance of winning a primary in the 15th. Most of the western part of the new 15th district would be new to both Davis and Miller, so both of them would have a lot to prove to the voters out west, and it’s even possible that a new candidate could appear from that region.Andrew Ellison
In an attempt to solidify their gerrymander, Democrats stripped much of the Republican territory out of the current 13th district represented by Rodney Davis. The new seat is Biden+11, but could be at risk for the Democrats in a bad environment like the northwestern 17th.
Candidate quality could be the deciding factor in a close election in this district. Republicans do not have any credible candidates yet with Davis in the new 15th. On the Democratic side, Nikki Budzinski appears to be an early favorite. We currently consider the 13th a reach seat for the GOP and rate it Leans Democratic.
How does the 13th look next year?
The new IL-13 is drawn to elect a Democrat even in a difficult midterm election. It replaces many rural areas with the blue Metro East suburbs of St. Louis to create a secure Dem seat. Nikki Budzinski is the establishment Democratic candidate. She has locked up major endorsements throughout the district, and has a strong likelihood of winning the nomination, though other Democratic candidates will be making a play for the district as well. There are no obvious Republican candidates at this time.Andrew Ellison
IL-17 (Open, Democratic)
The outstate 17th district is the final addition to the new gerrymander. Incumbent Democrat Cheri Bustos recently announced her retirement after a closer-than-expected 2020 victory against Republican Esther Joy King.
Under the new lines, the 17th sheds enough Republican territory to turn it from a marginal Trump seat to one that backed President Biden by eight. But the forced-bluing here does not mean that Democrats are out of the woods. If next year’s environment ends up even remotely similar to the R+8 climate of November 2nd, any seat under Biden +15 is at risk. Much like Iowa’s 3rd, though, this seat will probably reenter the Democratic fold later in the decade if it flips next year.
Republican Esther Joy King is running for the seat again and has the support of Caucus Chair Elise Stefanik. Among a potentially-crowded field of Democrats in this blue-leaning district, Rockford state Senator Steve Stadelman could be the strongest contender. We consider this seat a Tossup.
Tell us about the 17th.
The bluer IL-17 takes in most of Macomb and most of the Bloomington-Normal metro area, as well as blue-trending suburban Peoria and Rockford. While Democrats could have made the seat more suburban to make it a Democratic-trending district, they should still be competitive here. At this moment, Democratic candidates to take on Esther Joy King include former Rockford State Representative Litesa Wallace, Rockford Alderman Jonathan Logemann, Rock Island County Board member Angie Normoyle, and former Rockford meteorologist Eric Sorensen. Rockford State Senator Steve Stadelman is also expected to announce his candidacy at some point in the near future.Andrew Ellison
Indiana’s GOP-oriented map includes six Republican seats, one Democratic seat, and one competitive seat. With the elimination of the suburban 5th district as a competitive district, all eyes have turned to the Democratic-leaning 1st.
IN-01 (Frank Mrvan, Democrat)
Like Ohio’s 13th and Michigan’s 5th, the current 1st district’s traditional Democratic roots seem to be weakening from incessant trends. Located in northwestern Indiana steel-country, the 1st takes in minority communities akin to nearby Chicago along with numerous working-class white enclaves. The Biden+8 seat’s new lines are very much similar to those of the current district.
Given the partisanship and auspicious shifts over the last decade, this district should be a top target for Republicans in a red wave. But freshman Democrat Frank Mrvan’s family name is a force to be reckoned with. Unless Republicans field an A-tier candidate here, Mrvan should be able to hold on. We rate this seat Likely Democratic.
Tell us about the new seat.
The new seat remains very similar to its 2010s iteration. Design changes have the effect of making the seat about half a point redder. Republicans have struggled to compete for IN-01 in the past because of the inelasticity of Lake County, the expensive Chicago media market, and the lack of a high-quality Republican bench. Educational polarization is hurting Democrats and the depopulation of historically blue northern Lake County (especially Gary and Hammond) is eroding the Democratic baseline of support.Andrew Ellison
What’s the story behind Mrvan’s strength?
Frank Mrvan is a strong freshman incumbent due to his 16-year tenure as North Township Trustee and his father’s near half-century tenure as a moderate State Senator. The only Republican running at this moment is Jennifer Ruth-Green, an Air Force veteran. If Leyva runs again he would be a poor nominee. Other potential candidates include ex-Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas, Democrat-turned-Republican Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor, ex-LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo, and Indiana GOP Treasurer and real estate developer Chuck Williams.Andrew Ellison
Just like the current map, Iowa’s new lines yield four Trump-won districts. While three of the seats are competitive on paper, Democrats are only in serious contention for one next year.
IA-01 (Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Republican)
Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks is running in the renumbered 1st district. She pulled off a surprise six-vote victory in long-time Democrat Dave Loebsack’s open seat last year. Despite her close shave, Miller-Meeks seems to be in a much safer position for reelection in 2022. Rookie state Representative Christina Bohannan is running for the district on the Democratic side. We currently rate this race Likely Republican.
IA-02 (Ashley Hinson, Republican)
Freshman Republican Ashley Hinson will be running in the renumbered 2nd, which includes most of her current territory and is slightly more Republican on paper. Hinson upset freshman Democrat Abby Finkenauer in 2020. State Senator Liz Mathis is running as a Democrat next cycle, but her odds appear just as slim as Finkenauer’s in the state’s Senate race. We also categorize this race as Likely Republican.
IA-03 (Cindy Axne, Democrat)
One of the most contested House races in the nation is brewing in the 3rd district, the least Republican of the Hawkeye State’s four districts. Polk County (Des Moines) is still the hub for the new seat. This part of the state has been gaining population and trending toward the Democrats, but not fast enough to evade the Republican grasp in a good environment.
Incumbent Democrat Cindy Axne defeated Republican Congressman David Young in 2018 and beat him again in 2020. But the lone Democrat in Iowa’s Congressional delegation seems to be facing her tallest odds yet as her party sounds the alarm in swing districts ahead of a potentially-catastrophic midterm.
State Senator Zach Nunn and former state Representative Mary Ann Hanusa are running on the Republican side. Even with an Axne loss, this district could find its way back into the Democratic column by the end of the decade. For now we rate the 3rd as a Tossup.
Maine is a Democratic state at the federal level, but the northern 2nd district remains favorable for Republicans. It backed former President Trump twice under its current lines (giving him an electoral vote under the Pine Tree state’s CD allocation system) and its new iteration is mostly unchanged. The new seat is slightly more Democratic than its predecessor, but still broke for Trump by six.
For a strong moderate incumbent like Democrat Jared Golden, that partisanship would normally be of less concern. But a Republican environment would put Trump-district Democrats like him in difficult reelection fights. Former Congressman Bruce Poliquin is running to retake the seat he narrowly lost in 2018. We consider this race a Tossup.
For the first time since the 1990 elections, Big Sky country will have two Congressional seats. The western 1st district is drawn favorably for the GOP but remains competitive. With Representative Matt Rosendale running in the blood red 2nd, the door has been left wide open in the western seat. Former Congressman Ryan Zinke is running with the Trump endorsement. Numerous Democrats are lining up to challenge him, but it seems unlikely that the Democrats will win this district in a red wave with Helena removed. The party lost contested races for the At-Large seat in 2018 and 2020. For now we consider this district Likely Republican.
Tar Heel State Republicans recently enacted a new Congressional map. As one might expect, the new lines benefit the GOP. Three seats are Safe Democratic, eight are Safe Republican, and three are competitive. The map is designed to elect an 11 to 3 Republican delegation, drawing out Democrat Kathy Manning while bringing the state’s new 14th district into the GOP column. Although successful litigation is not out of the question in a state like North Carolina, we expect the new map to stand for the time being.
NC-2 (G. K. Butterfield, Democrat)
The 2nd district is the only truly competitive seat on the new map. It is held by Democrat GK Butterfield, who has represented this region of the state for almost two decades. In its current form, the 1st district is drawn to be plurality black. Modestly blue at best, Butterfield had a closer-than-expected eight point win last year.
But the latest design changes have endangered the veteran member of the Congressional Black Caucus by reddening his seat. Under the new lines the 2nd voted for President Biden by just two points. No prominent Republicans have announced campaigns as of this writing. We expect Butterfield to put up a tough fight and consider his new seat a Tossup. If the long-time Congressman does win next year, his position does not look much brighter for the rest of the decade.
How do Butterfield’s reelection chances look?
Mildly good in the short run, but bad in the long run. Population trends and political shifts in northeastern North Carolina are not kind to him.Eric Cunningham
NC-04, 07, and 14 (Open)
Three Republican-leaning seats are open on this year’s map.
The GOP is favored next year in the moderately-Republican 4th district, but both parties could contend over the next few cycles. Most of the Republican support is centered in Johnston County, with Cumberland County (Fayetteville) accounting for a large portion of the Democratic vote. Former Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, who lost a redistricting primary to fellow incumbent George Holding in 2016, is considered a potential candidate. We consider this race Likely Republican.
In the heavily-Republican 7th district, incumbent Ted Budd is running for the Senate. Former Congressman Mark Walker is considered a potential nominee should he choose to end his Senate bid. As the most Republican of the open seats, the 7th takes in favorable party territory between Greensboro and Raleigh. This race is Safe Republican.
The western mountain-based 14th district was originally drawn for freshman Republican Madison Cawthorn. Slightly bluer than its current equivalent, the new district could be seriously contested in an even environment later in the decade. While no one really knows what Cawthorn is thinking, it would not be off base to attribute his move to the safer 13th district to a desire to avoid competitive elections down the line. In a red wave, the eventual Republican nominee here should be safe. Lynda Bennett, who lost last year’s primary to Cawthorn despite having the Trump endorsement, is a potential candidate, as are state senators Deanna Ballard (R-Blowing Rock) and Ralph Hise (R-McDowell). This district is starting off at Safe Republican.
What are your thoughts on the open seats?
The 4th will be the most important primary to watch. I would suspect it would be a Republican from Johnston County and not Renee Ellmers as has been suggested. The 7th seems to be drawn for Mark Walker. The 14th could be any number of Republicans from the deep bench out there including Lynda Bennett or state Senator Deanna Ballard.Eric Cunningham
NC-11 (Virginia Foxx, Republican and Kathy Manning, Democrat)
Stretching Democratic Greensboro into reliably-Republican Appalachia, the new 11th district double-bunks 5th district Republican Virginia Foxx and 6th district Democrat Kathy Manning. Unlike that of her shored up freshman colleague Deborah Ross, Manning’s post-redistricting situation is precarious. Her new seat voted for Trump by double-digits and butchers Democratic Guilford County irreparably. There is simply no viable path to reelection for the embattled freshman under the new lines. We rate this race Likely Republican until we hear from Manning.
Thoughts on Manning’s reelection chances?
I don’t see a viable path forward for her. She lost a run in 2018.Eric Cunningham
NC-13 (R – Madison Cawthorn)
Mountain Congressman Madison Cawthorn recently disrupted state politics in an unexpected way. Abandoning a bluer version of his current seat, which accounts for nearly 90% of his current constituents, Cawthorn jumped into the race in the significantly-redder 13th. His decision led shoo-in state House Speaker Tim Moore to decline to run in a that he essentially drew for himself. Cawthorn may be safe in a general election, but he is still at risk in a primary due to his lack of connection with the suburban and exurban enclaves of Charlotte. This race is Safe Republican.
Thoughts on Cawthorn’s district switch?
I am not sure Cawthorn’s move will work for him – Gaston and Mecklenburg are their own thing, and there’s a slew of Republicans in both who would love to be in Congress.Eric Cunningham
Nebraska’s new map maintains the status quo in the general sense. Two seats are solidly Republican, while the 2nd district remains Biden won. Boding well for Congressman Don Bacon, who won comfortably last year in his Democratic seat, the new 2nd is slightly more Republican. Democratic state Senator Tony Vargas is his party’s leading contender for the seat. Assuming Bacon’s BIF vote does not come back to haunt him in the form of a primary challenge, we do not see him being particularly vulnerable in a Republican environment. The odd-looking new 2nd is currently Likely Republican.
Republicans were initially optimistic that a backroom deal with the Democrats could yield two Safe Republican seats on Oregon’s new map. The GOP ended up sorely disappointed. The Democrats’ new map shores up long-time incumbent Pete DeFazio, produces a new Democratic-leaning 6th district, and keeps vulnerable Democrat Kurt Schrader in a Biden-won seat. The result: two Democratic seats, one Republican seat, and three competitive districts.
OR-04 (Pete DeFazio, Democrat)
Long-time Democrat Pete DeFazio faced a tough reelection battle against Republican Alek Skarlatos last year. Sensing his growing instability in the Eugene-based swing seat, Democrats made the new 4th district about nine points bluer in redistricting. Under the current lines the seat backed President Biden by roughly 13 points, making it a reach seat for the GOP next year. Skarlatos, an ostensibly good candidate, is running for a rematch next year. We currently classify the district as Likely Democratic.
OR-05 (Kurt Schrader, Democrat)
From a fundamentals standpoint, the 5th is probably the most vulnerable Democratic-held seat in Oregon. Under its new lines the district is only Biden+9, making it slightly redder than the current 5th. Blue Dog Democrat Kurt Schrader faced a closer-than-expected reelection last cycle and could be in danger next year. Former GOP state Representative Cheri Helt is considered a potential challenger. We are starting this one off at Leans Democratic.
OR-06 (New, open)
Oregon’s newest district is more Democratic on paper than both the 4th and 5th districts, but it is not out of reach for the GOP in a good year. Former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith is an early contender, but numerous legislative Democrats could also run. On the Republican side, former Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith is a possible recruit. Until we get a better sense how the 6th district campaign will shape out, Likely Democratic is the most appropriate rating.
Texas Republicans pulled out all the stops to produce a new Republican gerrymander. The new map ensures that Republicans who have previously been vulnerable in Democratic-trending seats are insulated ahead of the midterms. Republicans are also looking to expand their foothold in the Rio Grande valley, where President Trump performed exceptionally well with Hispanic voters last year. The Lone Star State gained two seats in reapportionment.
The 15th is the most competitive seat on the new Texas map. Design changes have essentially resulted in a slightly more Republican version of the current seat represented by Vicente Gonzalez, a factor that likely drove him to seek reelection in the neighboring 34th. Riding former President Trump’s exemplary performance with Rio Grande Valley Hispanics last year, Republican Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez came close to beating Gonzalez in a race that was on no pundit’s radar. Cruz-Hernandez is running again next year. The alterations to the 15th should give Republicans an ostensible advantage in a red wave, but we are keeping the race as a Tossup for now.
TX-23 (Tony Gonzales, Republican ) & TX-28 (Henry Cuellar, Democrat)
The incumbents in both of these seats are strong reelection favorites, but not enough for us to move their races off the board. In the reddened 23rd, freshman Republican Tony Gonzales is running in a Likely Republican reelection race. The 23rd evaded Democrats on numerous occasions under the current lines, with President Trump helping Gonzales over the line last year. We would be surprised if Gonzales ended up at serious risk of losing his bid for a second term.
Conservative Democrat Henry Cuellar is in a Likely Democratic reelection race. The long-time incumbent has been electorally-reliable despite his tenuous relationship with progressive Democrats. Jessica Cisneros is challenging Cuellar from the left again after losing last year. The 28th is bluer than its predecessor, but a weak nominee could put it at risk in a Republican midterm. There is also a chance that Cuellar could decide to join numerous Democrats in retiring as the party reckons with potential minority status. Until then, we feel confident in a Likely Democratic rating.
TX-34 (Vicente Gonzalez, Democrat) & TX-38 (Dan Crenshaw, Republican)
15th district Democrat Vicente Gonzalez is moving to the bluer 34th to avoid a difficult reelection bid. The new seat opened after Democrat Filemon Vela announced his retirement. Gonzalez’s decision gives Republicans an even better chance of winning the new 15th, a district drawn favorably for them. Gonzalez currently faces no significant primary or general election opposition. The new lines do not make the seat blue enough to obviate a horrendous national environment for the Democrats, but the transplanted incumbent is still a favorite. We consider this seat Likely Democratic.
2nd district Republican Dan Crenshaw has not announced his intentions, but he will almost certainly end up running in the renumbered 38th. Wesley Hunt, the 7th district Republican nominee against Lizzie Fletcher last year, has already entered next year’s race. This seat is Safe Republican regardless of the GOP nominee.
With the days of competitive House general elections in West Virginia long gone, competition is most widespread in Republican primaries. Owing to continuous population loss, the Mountain State lost its 3rd district in reapportionment. The renumbered 2nd combines most of the central and northern territory of the current 1st and 2nd districts. Incumbent Republicans David McKinley and Alex Mooney are double-bunked under the adopted map.
McKinley has not had a close race since he narrowly beat Mike Oliverio in 2010. Maryland expat Alex Mooney has been a perennial underperformer in what should be a reliably-Republican 2nd district. We currently consider the senior Congressman the favorite in the primary, but Trump’s endorsement of Mooney in retaliation for McKinley’s infrastructure vote could change the race dynamics. The only primary poll thus far showed a lopsided lead for McKinley. Regardless of the eventual winner, Republicans remain heavy favorites in both West Virginia districts.