Congress’s lines are being redrawn, putting some longtime incumbents in a tough spot heading into next year’s election. Due to population shifts and partisan interests, some congressional districts are undergoing extreme makeovers, forcing their representatives to run in unfamiliar and sometimes inhospitable territory. Here are the five most vulnerable Democratic incumbents.
#5: Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.)
Missouri is losing a congressional district, and Republicans in control of the Missouri statehouse overrode Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto to axe Carnahan’s suburban St. Louis district. He still plans to run for Congress and seems to be leaning towards a Republican-leaning district that includes much of the territory represented by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who is running for the Senate. His centrist record could help keep him in the House, but the district is about 53 percent Republican and he may face a rematch with Republican Ed Martin, who lost to Carnahan in a more Democratic district by just two points in 2010.
Shuler, a centrist Blue Dog Democrat, survived the 2010 wave election in a Republican-leaning western North Carolina district. But Republicans have made his district even more conservative in redistricting, removing half of the liberal college town Asheville from the district. Shuler’s nine-point win in a terrible year for Democrats proves he will be a tough foe, but while the old district gave Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) 52 percent of the vote the new one would have given him at least 58 percent.
#3: Mark Critz (D-Pa.)
Pennsylvania is losing a congressional district and Republicans are in control of the map-drawing process. The southwest part of the state he hails from has had the slowest population growth and Critz’s district can be easily parceled out to Republicans without weakening them too much. He may be paired with fellow centrist Democrat Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) in a tossup district, or may choose to run an uphill race against Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) in a heavily Republican district.
#2: Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
Michigan lost population in the last decade and the Republicans in control of the statehouse targeted Peters’s suburban Detroit district for removal. He has few good options: he could either take on longtime and popular Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) in a primary, or take on a nearby Republican in a tough to win district, possibly Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.).
#1: Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.)
Like Shuler, Kissell survived a competitive 2010 race, winning with 53 percent of the vote. But he is known as less of a conservative than Shuler and his district goes from one that would have given McCain 47 percent of the vote to one that would have given him 57 percent of the vote.
Honorable mentions: Democratic Reps. Howard Berman (Calif.), Linda Sanchez (Calif.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), John Barrow (Ga.), Bill Keating (Mass.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Brad Miller (N.C.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Lloyd Doggett (Texas), Leonard Boswell (Iowa).