House of Representatives
The path to power in the U.S. House of Representatives winds through a few dozen districts, many of them suburban, in Tuesday’s election. Republicans defending their majority and Democrats looking to gain 23 seats they would need to win control. Click here to view a map of the latest results.
After the first polls close in the Eastern United States, the tallies will start revealing clues to where Americans stand in 2018 on immigration, guns, health care, gender equality in the #MeToo era — and who they want representing them in Washington during the next two years of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Races to watch:
The ruby-red state known for the Derby and sweet bourbon is hosting one of the most competitive and expensive races in the country. The Lexington-area battle pits third-term Republican Rep. Andy Barr against Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot. Trump won the 6th District by more than 15 percentage points in 2016. But with the help of carefully shaped campaign ads that went viral, McGrath holds the edge on campaign fundraising. UPDATE: McGrath lost to Barr.
Red-hot Georgia is home to a House race that turns on issues of race and gun laws. Republican Rep. Karen Handel narrowly won her seat in a special election last year that set a record for spending. Now her Democratic challenger is Lucy McBath, a former flight attendant turned gun control activist. McBath’s 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was killed by a white man at a gas station in 2012 when the black teenager refused to lower the volume on the rap music in his car. The district north of Atlanta leans Republican, but Trump won it by only 1 percentage point.
Rep. Dave Brat won his seat after upsetting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 2014 Republican primary. Now, it’s Brat’s turn to fight for re-election to the Richmond-area district against Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer who is one of a record number of women running for Congress this year.
North Carolina’s 9th District became a key election bellwether when the Rev. Mark Harris narrowly ousted three-term Rep. Robert Pittenger in the GOP primary, giving Democrats a wider opening in solidly red territory. Democrats answered with Dan McCready, an Iraq War veteran, solar energy company founder and Harvard Business School graduate. Trump won the district by 12 points and a Democrat hasn’t been elected to represent it since John F. Kennedy was president. UPDATE: McCready won.
It’s a rematch in central Ohio’s 12th District between Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor. Balderson won short-term control of the seat in August during a special election after Republican Pat Tiberi retired. Republicans in the district appear divided over the president, making the seat vulnerable to a Democrat who, like O’Connor, has supported some Republican ideas. He’s engaged to a Republican who calls herself a “Dannycrat.” UPDATE: Troy Balderson is projected to win.
National Republicans and Democrats are pouring major resources into the Miami-area 27th District seat, held since 1989 by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The Democratic nominee, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, has ramped up her Spanish-language advertising and Hillary Clinton campaigned for her. But she’s facing a stiff challenge from her Republican opponent, Maria Elvira Salazar, a Cuban-American and former broadcast journalist who, unlike Shalala, speaks Spanish. Though Trump won Florida in 2016, Clinton won this congressional district by nearly 20 points. UPDATE: Donna Shalala won.
Along with California and Pennsylvania, suburb-filled New Jersey is a key battleground for House control. Two seats are open, vacated by veteran Republican Reps. Frank LoBiondo and Rodney Frelinghuysen, and could fall to the Democrats.
Keep a close eye on the 3rd District south of Trenton, which twice voted for President Barack Obama but went for Trump by about 6 percentage points. Fighting for re-election is Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur, who helped strike a deal that pushed the GOP’s “Obamacare” repeal bill to House passage (it failed in the Senate). His Democratic opponent is political newcomer Andy Kim, a National Security Council staffer under Obama who has worked in Afghanistan.
Democrats have particular reason to believe they can flip as many as six seats in the Keystone state. A state Supreme Court decision in January threw out 6-year-old congressional district boundaries as unconstitutionally drawn to benefit Republicans. The replacement districts approved by the court’s Democratic majority have created more competitive contests.
One key race is playing out in the Philadelphia suburbs. Freshman Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, has a centrist voting record and has explicitly tried to put distance between himself and Trump. He’s facing Scott Wallace, a longtime Democratic Party donor who was co-chairman of the Wallace Global Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that supports liberal social movements. He’s heavily funding his campaign and outspent Fitzpatrick nearly 5-to-1 in the July-September quarter.
Trump and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi loom large over a race in Northeastern Kansas. That’s where Democrat Paul Davis, the former state House minority leader, and Republican Steve Watkins, an Army veteran and engineer, are battling for the seat vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Lynn Jenkins. Davis has said he would not support Pelosi for speaker if Democrats win the House. And Republicans were hoping that Trump’s visit to Topeka last month would boost Republican Steve Watkins, who has faced questions over claims he made about his qualifications and background.
Four House seats could flip from one party to the other in this traditionally Democratic stronghold.
For evidence of Democratic gains, look to the state’s booming suburbs. Clinton won Minnesota’s 3rd District west of Minneapolis by 9 percentage points. GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen is under heavy pressure from Democrat Dean Phillips there. Paulsen avoided Trump’s recent rally in Rochester and his rally this summer in Duluth, and he has said he wrote in Marco Rubio’s name in the 2016 election. Still, Trump endorsed Paulsen last month. UPDATE: Dean Phillips is projected to win.
The open 2nd District seat left open by Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, who is running for governor, offers a look at how the parties fare along the border with Mexico, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans. Pearce attracted support from Hispanics and the region’s oil and gas interests. But the race between Democrat Xochitl Torres Small and GOP opponent Yyvette Herrell has focused on hot-button issues such as immigration and guns. Torres Small has raised more than five times the campaign cash drawn by Herrell.
This deep-blue state offers a look at how race and Trump’s clout are playing out in the president’s home state.
North of New York City in the 19th District, an ad released last month by the Republican National Congressional Committee showed clips of Democrat Antonio Delgado performing songs from his 2006 rap album under his stage name, A.D. The Voice. Delgado, a Rhodes scholar and Harvard Law School graduate, said his opponent, Rep. John Faso, was using racial attacks to alienate him, a black first-time candidate in a district that is more than 90 percent white. Voters there are evenly split among Democrats, Republicans and independents, and went twice for Obama but favored Trump.
And in the Buffalo-area’s 22nd District, first-term Rep. Claudia Tenney, an early Trump supporter, is drawing comparisons to the president by brashly suggesting some people who commit mass murders are Democrats and promoting a petition to lock up Clinton. But in a close race against Democrat Anthony Brindisi, she’s shifted to a softer tone of bipartisanship. Brindisi, a state assemblyman, argues that Tenney’s hyper-partisan approach undermines her claim of working across the aisle. Trump beat Clinton by nearly 16 percentage points here.
One Iowa race offers a test of whether a Trump-style advocate for immigration limits can win.
Republican Rep. Steve King is keeping a low profile in his bid for a ninth House term, his success suddenly in question after he was engulfed in controversy for his support of white nationalists. But Democrats, already hoping to flip two other seats among Iowa’s four-person delegation, have a tough road to success in the 4th District that voted for Trump by 27 percentage points. In an unusual move, the GOP’s campaign chief condemned King the week before the election, but it’s unclear whether the criticism will boost his Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten.
Democrats have targeted a string of Republican-held districts in California that carried Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
One such battleground in the nation’s fruit-and-nut basket, the Central Valley, is where Republican Jeff Denham is trying to keep Democrat Josh Harder from taking his job. Fallout from Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings and fights over health care and immigration have produced a tossup race where Democrats count a slender registration edge. Denham, a centrist who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, won re-election by 3 percentage points in 2016, while Clinton won the district with about 49 percent of the vote.
In another test of GOP clout in a rapidly diversifying district, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s re-election is in question for the first time in 30 years. A wave of new and more diverse residents and divisions over Trump and the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct have produced a strong challenge from Democrat Harley Rouda. The district went to Clinton in the 2016 presidential contest.
Southwest Washington’s 3rd District offers a test of whether the tea party-driven GOP House takeover in 2010 survives. Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, first elected that year and twice re-elected with more than 60 percent of the vote, has been out-raised in campaign funding by Democrat Carolyn Long. Herrera Beutler has broken with her party on such issues as health care. But Long has emphasized her credentials as an outsider. The district stretching east along the Oregon border voted for Trump by 7 percentage points.
Republicans have a huge advantage as they seek to hold or expand their 51-49 Senate majority, with the battle for control running mostly through states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.
Out of the 35 Senate contests taking place Tuesday, 10 involve Democratic incumbents seeking re-election in states that Trump won, often handily. He’s spending much of the final week before the election traveling to those states in the hope that it will nudge his supporters to the polls.
Meanwhile, Democratic hopes of taking the Senate hinge on nearly all of their incumbents winning — a difficult task — and on flipping seats in a few states that lean Republican, most notably Arizona, Tennessee and Texas.
Trump is pushing back on the idea that the election is a referendum on him, though he’s also boasted of helping Republicans in key Senate races with his frequent campaign rallies.
Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is trying to fend off Republican businessman Mike Braun in a state that Trump won by 19 percentage points. Donnelly is Indiana’s lone Democrat elected statewide and has sought to align himself with Trump on the hot-button issue of expanding the border wall with Mexico. He has portrayed himself as a moderate who works with both parties to pass legislation. “I go against my party all the time,” he said recently.
Braun has sought to question Donnelly’s independence and describes him as a career politician. He notes that Donnelly supported Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency and sided with the vast majority of Democratic senators in voting against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. UPDATE: Mike Braun is projected to win.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is a former governor in search of a second full Senate term representing a state that supported Trump by a whopping 42 percentage points in 2016. His opponent is Patrick Morrisey, a two-term state attorney general and staunch Trump supporter.
Manchin has made maintaining health care protections for pre-existing conditions a major focus of his campaign and has hit Morrisey for joining a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. On major issues, Manchin did join Democrats in voting against the tax cuts, but he broke with his caucus and supported both of Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Morrisey calls Manchin a liberal who only acts bipartisan around Election Day. UPDATE: Joe Manchin is projected to win.
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is seeking a fourth term in the race against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott has spent millions of dollars out of his own personal fortune to help fund his campaign. He has said that he would work to cut taxes and regulation if sent to Washington.
The two have clashed sharply on gun violence, a big issue in Florida following the February shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Nelson has stressed that he favors a ban on military-style assault weapons and implementing a comprehensive system of background checks. Scott signed legislation in Florida that requires anyone wanting to buy a gun to be 21 years old, but the bill didn’t include a ban on assault weapons.
The two have also differed on health care, with Nelson calling for strengthening the Affordable Care Act, but Scott calling the law deeply flawed and costly.
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is running for a third term against state Attorney General Josh Hawley. Trump won Missouri by nearly 19 percentage points, and the state has shifted from a battleground to strongly Republican in recently elections.
McCaskill is touting herself as a moderate: “Claire’s not one of those crazy Democrats. She works right in the middle and finds compromise,” says one of her recent radio ads.
Hawley says of McCaskill that on any issue important to Missourians, “she’s with her party down the line.”
Trump has traveled several times to Missouri to campaign for Hawley, repeatedly describing the state’s 38-year-old attorney general as a “star.”
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez is facing a tough re-election fight, and it has nothing to do with Trump. Rather, allegations of corruption have alienated some New Jersey voters. His bribery trial ended last year with a hung jury. Prosecutors decided not to retry the case, but the Senate Ethics Committee followed up with a report that said his actions advancing the personal and business interests of a top donor “reflected discredit upon the Senate.”
Democratic groups have spent millions in the state to boost Menendez in his race against Republican Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive who has tapped his own wallet for $24 million to finance a TV-ad-heavy campaign.
Democrats have more than 900,000 additional registered voters than Republicans in New Jersey, and Trump’s low ratings in the Garden State could give Menendez a boost. UPDATE: Robert Menendez is projected to win.
Polls close at 8 p.m. EST
Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn is running against former two-term Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen in a state Trump won by 26 percentage points.
Blackburn would be the state’s first female senator if elected. She has served eight terms in the House and is viewed as one of the more conservative members of that chamber.
Bredesen is trying to brandish his credentials as a centrist. He has said he will support or oppose Trump based on his specific ideas and how they affect Tennessee. UPDATE: Marsha Blackburn is projected to win.
The two are running to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican who has frequently clashed with Trump.
Democrats have high hopes for flipping this seat in Arizona, where Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is running against Republican Rep. Martha McSally.
They are running for the seat left open when Sen. Jeff Flake, a sharp critic of Trump, opted to retire, acknowledging that he could not win a GOP primary in the current political climate.
McSally is a former Air Force fighter pilot who represents a moderate district that is based in Tucson. Sinema represents a district based in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe and is a former Green Party activist who transformed herself into a centrist Democrat.
McSally accused Sinema of “treason” for comments about the Afghanistan war in 2002, while Democrats have been hammering McSally for her vote to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is trying to fend off a strong challenge from Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer in a state Trump won by 36 percentage points.
Heitkamp has sought to draw differences with Cramer on health care and trade. She says she is working to improve the Affordable Care Act while he’s been working to eliminate it. Cramer has argued that President Donald Trump’s approach on trade must be given time to work.
Heitkamp’s campaign stumbled when it identified victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape in an ad. Heitkamp apologized after she learned that several of the women named in the newspaper ad either hadn’t authorized being named or are not survivors of abuse. UPDATE: Kevin Cramer is projected to win.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is seeking a second term against Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a rising star in the Democratic Party who has shattered Senate campaign fundraising records despite shunning donations from outside political groups.
O’Rourke is trying to become Texas’ first Democrat to win statewide office since 1994, but faces long odds given the advantage that GOP candidates have in statewide elections.
Cruz has made nice with Trump despite the ugly words they exchanged during the presidential campaign in 2016. Trump held a campaign rally for Cruz in Houston, calling the candidate “Beautiful Ted.” UPDATE: Ted Cruz is projected to win.
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is seeking a third term against Republican Matt Rosendale, Montana’s auditor.
Trump has invested heavily in the race with four trips to a state he won by more than 20 percentage points. Rosendale has returned the admiration, describing himself as a Trump conservative.
Trump has blamed Tester for derailing the nomination of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to head the Veterans Affairs Department.
Facing all the GOP’s firepower, Tester has stuck with the populist approach that worked for him in his 2006 and 2012 elections, highlighting his life as a grain farmer and even the three fingers he lost as a child in a meat grinder.
Republican Sen. Dean Heller is seeking a second full term against Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen in the one true battleground state that features a Republican incumbent.
Heller and Trump have embraced each other after a rocky start, with both highlighting their desire to get more of the president’s judicial nominees confirmed, a top priority for many social conservatives.
Heller is the only Republican running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.
Rosen is a first-term congresswoman who could benefit from a wave of Democratic and female activism fueled by opposition to Trump.
Democrats took back the governor’s offices in Illinois and Michigan on Tuesday, major steps in their nationwide strategy to reverse years of Republican gains in state capitols.
In Michigan, a perennial presidential battleground state, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer defeated Republican Bill Schuette, upending years of Republican control in the state. The former legislative leader will become the second female governor in a state where Democrats heavily targeted other statewide and legislative offices.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in Illinois lost his bid for a second term to Democrat J.B. Pritzker. The billionaire appears to have capitalized not only on Rauner’s lack of popularity but broader dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump.
Democrats Andrew Cuomo in New York and Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania easily won re-election.
Elsewhere, there was better news for Republicans.
They celebrated the re-election of Gov. Larry Hogan in Maryland and Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, two moderates who remain popular in deeply Democratic states.
Republicans are in control more often than not in state capitols across the country, but Democrats were trying to pull a little closer in elections Tuesday for governor and state legislature.
There were no quick victories in the closely contested open governor’s races in Florida and Georgia, two Deep South states where black candidates would break barriers if they win but faced Republicans who were drawing energy from their close alignment with Trump.
Democrats were hoping enthusiasm among their voters also could flip governor’s seats in Iowa and Kansas, as well as in the traditional battleground states of Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin.
In all, voters were choosing 36 governors and 6,089 state legislators in general and special elections that have attracted record amounts of spending from national Democratic and Republican groups.
The political parties are trying not only to win now, but also to put themselves in strong position for the elections two years from now that will determine which party will have the upper hand in redrawing congressional and state legislative districts.
Voters also were deciding ballot measures in four states — Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah — that propose to overhaul the redistricting process and reduce the likelihood of partisan gerrymandering by either major party.
Republicans entered Tuesday’s election with a sizable advantage, controlling two-thirds of the 99 state legislative chambers and 33 governors’ offices. The GOP held a trifecta of power in 25 states, compared with just eight for Democrats.
Parties that fully control the legislative and executive branches can enact policies that might not pass with a divided government. For example, Missouri’s Republican trifecta enacted a right-to-work law limiting union powers that was repealed in a voter referendum in August. California’s Democratic-dominated Legislature, with the help of one Republican lawmaker, enacted a 12-cent gas tax hike to pay for road repairs. That law faced a referendum seeking to repeal it on Tuesday’s ballot.
History suggests Democrats are likely to make gains during the first midterm election involving Trump. Some of Democrats’ best chances at new trifectas were in Illinois and New Mexico, where they already control both legislative chambers and were attempting to flip the governor’s office.
In New York, even a slight gain by Democrats could wrest the state Senate from Republicans and thus give Democrats a governing trifecta. Republicans were largely on defense but also were angling for gains in a few traditionally Democratic states, such Connecticut.
A large-scale reversal of state political fortunes appeared to be a long shot.
“It’s a year that could be good for Dems,” said Jon Thompson, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association. “But Republicans are still in a good position to hold a large majority of governorships.”
The governor’s races have extra emphasis in 28 states where the winners will serve four-year terms with the potential power to approve or reject district boundaries drawn for Congress or state legislatures.
The Democratic Governors Association has focused on nine swing states — Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where it believes the governorships could be pivotal in congressional redistricting. Republicans currently hold trifectas in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. The rest have split partisan control.
“Those states together are majority-makers in Congress,” said Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association. “If you can elect Democrats in a good portion of those states, you can prevent Republicans from doing the same kind of gerrymandering in 2021 that they did in 2011.”
As of mid-October, the Democratic Governors Association and its affiliated entities had raised $122 million during the past two years — a record outdone only by the Republican Governors Association’s new high mark of at least $156 million.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and Republican State Leadership Committee, which focus on state races, also set record fundraising targets. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led by former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder, has pumped additional money into state races viewed as critical in future redistricting decisions.
Although most state lawmakers responsible for redistricting will be elected in 2020, voters on Tuesday were electing more than 800 state lawmakers in about two dozen states to four-year terms where they could play a role in approving new congressional or state legislative districts.
Story by the Associated Press. Maps by CGTN America.