2014 Toss-Up Races: A Three-Part Series
The U.S. Senate races are rightly attracting much of the
attention during the early portion of the 2013-2014 election cycle, as minimal
action is occurring in House campaigns. At this point, House Republicans appear
poised to hold their majority, and may be more likely to add a small number of
seats, besting their Democratic Party counterparts.
Comparing the 2014 House line-up to what we saw during
the 2012 cycle yields a much different situation. "Toss-up” seat
projections are way down. Currently, only seven races appear as pure toss-ups;
two held by Republican House members and five held by Democrats.
The two Republican toss-up House races are featured
California’s 31st district
In 2012, under California’s “jungle” primary – where the
two top finishers advance regardless of party affiliation – Democrats failed to
have a candidate qualify to face Rep. Gary Miller (R) in the November election.
Miller went on to defeat fellow Republican state Sen. Bob Dutton with 55.2% of
the vote. What was one of the Democrats best pick-up opportunities became one
of their biggest embarrassments.
Miller will not be so lucky this election cycle. Representing
a Hispanic/Latino majority district which twice voted for President Barack
Obama by 57% has made the congressman “Target #1.” Following his re-election,
the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) afforded Miller just one
month before it began running ads against him. This activity will increase
heavily as Election Day 2014 nears.
So far, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, former U.S. Rep. Joe
Baca, Attorney Eloise Reyes and San Bernardino School Board member Danny
Tillman are the announced Democratic candidates.
Aguilar, who finished third in the 2012 primary, has the
backing of the DCCC. Its support is definitely evident in Q2 fundraising
efforts; he has raised $301,880, just $14,368 less than Congressman Miller’s
haul. The DCCC’s efforts, however, may be complicated by Emily’s List, a
national group that supports female pro-choice candidates, which has placed its
support behind Reyes.
It’s hard to predict the results of a “jungle” primary,
but it’s likely the top two candidates will be Millerand Aguilar or Reyes.
Colorado’s 6th district
After winning re-election to a third term, Rep. Mike
Coffman (R) begins 2013 as the second most vulnerable House Republican. He
represents CO-6, a district with a slight Democratic tilt that twice voted for President
Obama. Had Democrats recruited one of their top tier candidates in 2012, it is
likely that Coffman would have been defeated.
Democrats are not making the same mistake again. Former
state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), who during his time in the legislature
became the state’s second youngest House speaker at the age of 39, has stepped
forward. Romanoff is a better candidate than his 2012 predecessor and it’s
showing in his fundraising efforts. He is running near even with Coffman – having
raised more than $1 million, and has the cash-on-hand advantage over the
congressman by more than $60,000.
One unknown in this race is how a new law will impact
voter turnout. Recently, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed a bill which states
that all registered voters will receive a ballot by mail.
The previous electoral structure, where voters had to go
to a polling location on Election Day, would have resulted in a midterm
electorate that would have favored Republicans. Any advantages they may have had
could now be mitigated by the new law.
Featured next week are the five Democratic toss-up
- AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber
- CA-52: Rep. Scott Peters
- FL-26: Rep. Joe Garcia
- NC-7: Rep. Mike McIntyre
- UT-4: Rep. Jim Matheson
For more information, contact David Ashinoff
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