Ten House seats Dems hope Trump will tilt

Democrats are feeling emboldened about their prospects of taking back the House. 

Donald Trump’s tough week on the campaign trail, which has underlined concerns about his appeal to women voters, is only giving Democrats more hope that it’s possible a wave election could be forming. 

{mosads}Democrats would need to gain 30 seats to retake the House, an exceptionally tall order. And some of these districts still lack a candidate. 

Yet the division within the GOP and the prospect that a badly-damaged Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) could be the nominee, is making Democrats more optimistic they can widen the playing field. 

Swing-district seats held by Republicans such as Reps. Bob Dold (Ill.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.) and Will Hurd (Texas) would be competitive in any election cycle. But Democrats believe a number of other seats are being brought more into play by the GOP presidential race. 

Multiple competitive races feature freshman GOP incumbents who aren’t as well known to their districts, making it easier for Democrats to tie them to the candidate at the top of the ballot. 

Here’s a look at 10 of them: 

Minnesota’s 3rd District

Rep. Erik Paulsen’s (R-Minn.) seat hadn’t even been on Democrats’ radar until recently. But Paulsen, who had previously endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for president, is more vulnerable this year despite winning reelection easily in the past.

President Obama narrowly won the suburban Minneapolis district twice, raising the likelihood that voters would find a Trump or Cruz nomination unpalatable. And GOP primary voters in the district flocked to Rubio in the March 1 caucuses. 

Minnesota Nurses Association lobbyist Jon Tollefsen has announced he will run to challenge Paulsen, but other Democrats could jump in as the race gains prominence. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently shifted the race from the “Solid Republican” column to “Likely Republican” in its batch of ratings changes that all favored Democrats. 

New York’s 23rd District

Rep. Tom Reed’s (R-N.Y.) full-on embrace of Trump could be a liability for him in his GOP-leaning district that narrowly backed Obama in 2008 and then went to Romney by 1 point in 2012 after redistricting. 

Despite his swing-district splitting during presidential cycles, he easily won reelection in 2014. But now that he’s endorsed Trump, this gives Democrats fodder to tie him to the controversial GOP front-runner. The Cook Political Report has upgraded his district from “Likely Republican”to “Lean Republican.” 

Former Defense Department official John Plumb is running for the Democratic nomination. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) prioritized this race by adding the former Navy submarine officer to its “Emerging Districts” program. 

Plumb has attacked Reed for supporting Trump, but the GOP congressman fired back and tied his Democratic opponent to his work on President Obama’s administration. 

Iowa’s 3rd District

Freshman Rep. David Young’s (R-Iowa) district has long been represented by a Republican. Yet the Cook Political Report recently changed its outlook from a “Lean Republican” to a “Toss Up” in a sign that this year’s race will be far more competitive than in the past.

The Des Moines-area district narrowly went for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 despite sending Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) to Congress for two decades.

Young is treading carefully with the GOP front-runner. He has declined to say whether he’ll support Trump if he becomes the nominee and has expressed disagreement with the real estate mogul’s proposal to ban Muslims from the U.S.

Three Democrats are vying to challenge Young in the June primary, including Jim Mowrer, an Iraq War veteran who lost a race to Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in 2014. 

Wisconsin’s 8th District

Three-term Rep. Reid Ribble’s (R-Wis.) retirement opens up a pickup opportunity for Democrats in a district that has alternated between the two parties in recent years. The district went for President Obama in 2008 but opted for Mitt Romney four years later. And Ribble replaced a Democrat in the 2010 GOP wave election.

Ribble, who had endorsed Rubio, is among the handful of GOP lawmakers who have ruled out ever supporting Trump.

Recent polls leading up to Wisconsin’s presidential primary on April 5 show Cruz leading Trump, suggesting that it might not be fertile territory for the real estate mogul in a general election.

Analysts still rate the district as leaning toward electing another Republican. The GOP primary already has three contenders, while multiple Democrats are still weighing whether to launch candidacies. 

Florida’s 7th District

Florida’s redrawn congressional maps have changed the demographics in Rep. John Mica’s GOP-leaning district to sway more Democratic. The population now consists of almost 21 percent Latinos.

Trump’s inflammatory remarks regarding immigration could imperil his chances in a new district where these voters could be motivated to turn out against him. 

The DCCC has also pinpointed Mica’s district as a target. The group has knocked him for not saying if he’d support Trump as the nominee and highlighted the congressman’s own remarks about illegal immigration in Florida.

Mica has also recently come under fire for his spending on meals with constituents, totaling $230,000 since 1998. And Democrats have been quick to pounce on his spending habits and say it could constitute a violation of House Ethics rules.

But the Democrats have yet to field a strong candidate against him.Banker Bill Phillips is currently the only Democratic candidate running, but has posted lackluster fundraising so far. 

Arizona’s 2nd District

Freshman Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) was already considered a Democratic target. Her district went to Romney by 2 points in 2012 and she defeated Democratic Rep. Ron Barber by less than 200 votes in a year that was favorable to Republicans. 

Her GOP-leaning Tucson district also has a larger Hispanic population and Trump as the nominee could have an impact on her reelection chances. 

McSally hasn’t taken a position on whether she’d back Trump, but Democrats and outside groups like EMILY’s List have already sought to link her to the real estate mogul. 

But in an MSNBC interview late last year, she condemned Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country, calling it “ridiculous” and said it’s “not helpful in securing our country.”

Democrats have two candidates currently running, former state lawmakers Victoria Steele and Matt Heinz. 

California’s 25th District

Freshman Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.) has long been one of Democrats’ top targets due to paltry fundraising and a dustup with an immigration protester a year ago.

Knight has not endorsed any candidate for president, but has suggested Trump would flame out if he were at the top of the ticket in November. He told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal in January that he didn’t think Trump “could win the general [election] in a million years.” Since then, however, Knight has not indicated if he will still support Trump if he’s the nominee.

President Obama won the district in 2008, but lost narrowly to Mitt Romney in 2012. Democratic voter registration surpassed Republicans in the district last year, which gives the party added hope it can swing it in their favor.

Still, former House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, a Republican, had represented the Simi Valley district before Knight for more than two decades.

Two Democrats, Los Angeles police lieutenant Lou Vince and attorney Bryan Caforio, are running in the June “jungle” primary that advances the two candidates who win the most votes, regardless of party, to the general election ballot. 

Virginia’s 10th District

Rep. Barbara Comstock’s (R-Va.) district consists of Beltway suburbs and she has sought to cast herself as a moderate who’s bucked her party when it comes to local issues.

Her district was already a Democratic target, but with a nominee like Trump or Cruz — who have trashed the Washington establishment– her seat was upgraded to the “Lean Republican” category. 

She won her seat by a wide margin in 2014, but it split in the last two presidential cycles. In 2008, Obama won by almost 3 points while Romney won her district by 1 point in 2012. 

Democrats recruited a high-profile candidate: real estate executive LuAnn Bennett, who’s the ex-wife to former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), and she has sought to tie Comstock to Trump.

Comstock, who’s a former Rubio supporter, has yet to say whether she’d back Trump as the nominee.

But the first-term congresswoman is already distancing herself from Trump. Late last year, she chided him for his ban on Muslims, calling it “unconstitutional.” And she donated her 2014  $3,000 contribution from him to two rehabilitation centers for wounded veterans in her district.

Kansas’s 3rd District

In a more conventional year, a district in Kansas wouldn’t be on the radar for Democrats. But the DCCC has stepped up its recruiting efforts in Rep. Kevin Yoder’s district thanks to Trump.

Plus, Yoder is embroiled in an ethics complaint from last year alleging that he received campaign contributions from payday lenders while also backing a bill that would deregulate the industry.

A few Democratic candidates have already thrown their names into the ring including Reggie Marselus and Nathaniel McLaughlin.

Competing in this district is still a steep climb for Democrats. Obama won it in 2008, but the district became more Republican leaning after redistricting. Yoder defeated the long-time Democratic incumbent’s wife in 2010 and he was reelected by a sizable margin in 2014. 

New York’s 24th District

The Syracuse-area district is one of the few ultimate swing seats left in the House. Voters in the district have repeatedly alternated between Democrats and Republicans over the last four consecutive election cycles and went for President Obama twice.

A Trump nomination consequently would likely spell defeat down the ballot for freshman Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) if it results in depressed GOP turnout or motivates more Democrats to vote. The Cook Political Report recently upgraded the district from “Lean Republican” to a “Toss Up.”

Katko has tried to distance himself from Trump and Cruz while declining to endorse anyone and maintaining he’ll back the eventual nominee. He told a local editorial board in January that Trump, Cruz and “all the loud mouths” running for president haven’t offered enough substantive policy positions.

“Until I hear something, I can’t get excited about any of them,” Katko said. He also condemned Trump’s proposed Muslim ban last year.

Two Democrats are running to challenge Katko: Colleen Deacon, a former aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and attorney Steve Williams. Deacon has strong ties to the party establishment given her work for Gillibrand and an endorsement from New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, who is expected to be the next Senate Democratic leader in 2017.

Tags Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Jim Moran Kevin Yoder Kirsten Gillibrand Marco Rubio Reid Ribble Ron Barber Ted Cruz

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