House races offer Democrats best shot at claiming a chamber in Congress

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Democrats want to take back at least one chamber of Congress this year, and the House of Representatives may be their best shot.

The party needs to win 24 seats to make that happen and, as seen in the races below, Democrats are counting on swing districts, those held by retiring or resigned Republicans, districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the female candidates running in record numbers this year.

There are at least 41 Republicans who are retiring, have resigned or are running for another office, according to a count by ABC News. Polling shows President Donald Trump’s approval ratings are at a record low for an Oval Office occupant at this point in his presidency.

These factors, plus the hope that Republican control of Congress and the White House has rallied their base to come out in droves, are fueling the Democratic drive in the midterm elections.

Control of one chamber on Capitol Hill would give Democrats the power to block the Republican agenda and use their majority power in the respective congressional oversight committee to launch investigations into the White House.

And those actions will set the stage for the 2020 presidential election.

Here are the House races to watch.

7-time Democratic incumbent faces serious challenges on the left

BY MOLLY NAGLE

THE PLAYERS

Rep. Daniel Lipinski

Democrat

Seven-term Congressman for Illinois 3rd District, Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Committee on Science and Technology

Age: 51 (July 15, 1966)

Marie Newman

Democrat

Small Business owner, Marketing executive, and Organizer of a nation anti-bullying non-profit

Age: 54 (April 13, 1964)

Arthur Jones

Republican

Independent Insurance Broker

Age: 70 (Jan. 1, 1948)

THE STAKES

In this Feb. 2, 2018 photo from a video frame grab shows Arthur Jones. Jones, an outspoken Holocaust denier is likely to appear on the November ballot as the Republican nominee for a Chicago-area congressional district.Marcus DiPaola/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
In this Feb. 2, 2018 photo from a video frame grab shows Arthur Jones. Jones, an outspoken Holocaust denier is likely to appear on the November ballot as the Republican nominee for a Chicago-area congressional district.

As Democrats hope for a wave election in 2018, one race in Illinois could offer insight into the direction the party is headed.

Seven-term Congressmen Dan Lipinski is facing a tough primary battle for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District against progressive challenger Marie Newman. Lipinski ran unopposed in his last two elections, but his conservative record could cause him trouble in this deeply Democratic district.

Lipinski is a pro-life Democrat who voted against the Affordable Care Act and is more conservative on Immigration than many of the Democratic counterparts, which could hurt him in a district Senator Bernie Sanders won by 8 points in the 2016 primary.

Newman, who is seeking public office for the first time, hopes to capitalize on the energetic grassroots movement that has ramped up since the election of President Donald Trump. Three local chapters of Indivisible, a progressive group committed to electing candidates to oppose President Trump’s agenda recently endorsed Newman—the first time the group had supported a Democrat who's challenging to a sitting Democratic Member of Congress. She has also received endorsements from EMILY’s List and two sitting members of Congress from Illinois: Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09).

Democrats likely have little fear in running a more progressive candidate as well. Not only does the district heavily favor a Democrat, the only Republican challenger is Arthur Jones, a self-described ‘white racialist’ and Holocaust denier.

KEY DATES

March 20, 2018: Primary election

November 6, 2018: General election

New Hampshire 1st Congressional District’s history of swing seats set up an early battle

By DOMINICK PROTO

THE PLAYERS

State Sen. Andy Sanborn

Republican

Senator in the state's 9th District

Age: N/A

Eddie Edwards

Republican

Retired Chief of Police for South Hampton, Navy Veteran, Served as Chief of New Hampshire State Division of Liquor Enforcement

Age: 49

Andy Martin

Republican

GOP counterterror expert; Executive Editor of ContrarianCommentary.com

Age: N/A

Rep. Mindi Messmer

Democrat

Current State Representative

Age: N/A

Rep. Mark MacKenzie

Democrat

Manchester State Representative

Age: N/A

Maura Sullivan

Democrat

U.S. Marine, Iraq Veteran; Former Assistant Secretary of U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Age: N/A

Lincoln Soldati

Democrat

Strafford County Attorney, Veteran

Age: 69

Terence O’Rourke

Democrat

Rochester City Attorney; Former state and federal prosecutor; Iraq War veteran

Age: N/A

Chris Pappas

Democrat

Age: N/A

Deaglan McEachern

Democrat

Age: N/A

Dylan Robinson

Libertarian

Age: N/A

THE STAKES

PHOTO: Steve Bannon speaks during an event in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 9, 2017. Mary Schwalm/AP, FILE
Steve Bannon speaks during an event in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 9, 2017.

The outcome in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District –- a classic swing seat that flips with virtually every recent political wave -- will determine where a small, yet powerful district stands looking into 2020.

If a Democrat maintains the seat, the party can maintain a momentum going into the next presidential election.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting the district in this election in which U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is not seeking reelection.

The 1st Congressional District covers the Greater Manchester, Seacoast and Lakes Region of New Hampshire, a predominantly white, middle-aged and middle-class population. Seven Democrats, three Republicans and one Libertarian are all vying to fill the seat.

A key issue for the candidates will be how they can help address the opioid crisis that has become a national public health crisis. New Hampshire has begun to tackle ways to combat the problem with with new laws, regulations, and kits to avoid the rapidly increasing overdose deaths.

State Sen. Andy Sanborn has been in that legislative chamber since 2010 and has held a state Senate seat in multiple districts.

Eddie Edwards sits on the board of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Hampshire and is the chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice.

State Rep. Mark MacKenzie is also focused on helping address the opioid crisis as well as jobs, infrastructure, affordable childcare and paid family leave.

KEY DATES

Candidate Filing Period: June 6-15

Primary Election: Sept. 11

General Election: Nov. 6

Moderate GOP incumbent who opposed Trump’s legislative agenda seeks sixth term

By MICHAEL DEL MORO

THE PLAYERS

Rep. Leonard Lance

Republican

Incumbent, elected in 2009 Age: 65

Lindsay Brown

Republican

Product manager at the New York Post

Age: 28

Peter Jacob

Democrat

Community organizer

Age: N/A

Goutam Jois

Democrat

Activist, attorney, comedian

Age: 35

Linda Weber Democrat Business executive Age:

Tom Malinowski

Democrat

Former assistant Secretary of State under Obama

Age: 52

Lisa Mandelblatt

Democrat

Former attorney and current substitute teacher

Age: 53

David Pringle

Democrat

Environmental advocate

Age: 51

Scott Salmon

Democrat

Attorney

Age: N/A

THE STAKES

PHOTO: Constituents show their disagreement as Rep. Leonard Lance answers a question during his town hall meeting at the Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, New Jersey, Feb. 22, 2017.Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
Constituents show their disagreement as Rep. Leonard Lance answers a question during his town hall meeting at the Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, New Jersey, Feb. 22, 2017.

There are 23 congressional districts in the country held by Republicans but won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

One of them is New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District where GOP incumbent Leonard Lance faces his toughest reelection fight since he was first elected in 2008. Lance is hoping his votes against both the failed repeal of Obamacare and the GOP tax reform bill, which is particularly unpopular in the highly taxed state, can help him stave off challenges from a field of Democrats, and even a primary challenge from a moderate Republican.

Clinton’s 2016 win in NJ-7 was by just a percentage point, and Lance defeated his Democratic opponent Peter Jacob — a community organizer who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders and is also running for the seat in 2018—by more than 10 points. The district is a wide cross-section of the central part of the state made up of mostly affluent, well-educated suburban areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Lindsay Brown, a product manager inspired to launch her campaign by the Women’s March that took place in Washington D.C. last year, is planning to challenge Lance as a Republican in the primary.

There are seven Democrats seeking a primary win. All are focused on making the election about President Donald Trump.

Among the candidates: Peter Jacob who lost to Lance in 2016; former assistant Secretary of State under Obama Tom Malinowski; Lisa Mandelblatt, a lawyer turned teacher who currently leads the field in fundraising; Linda Weber, a senior vice president at IDB Bank who has secured party endorsements in two counties; Scott Salmon, an attorney from Scotch Plains; Goutam Jois an activist, attorney, and comedian; and David Pringle, a chief strategist for NJ Clean Water Action.

KEY DATES

April 2: Democrat and Republican candidate petition filing deadline June 5: Democrat and Republican primary Nov. 6: general election

Pennsylvania special election is latest barometer of parties' strength in Trump age

By ADAM KELSEY

THE PLAYERS

Conor Lamb

Democrat

Former assistant U.S. attorney, Marine Corps captain and current reservist

Age: 33 (born June 27, 1984)

Rick Saccone

Republican

Pennsylvania state representative, former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence and special agent

Age: 59 (born February 14, 1958)

THE STAKES

PHOTO: Republican Pennsylvania congressional candidate Rick Saccone and Vice President Mike Pence acknowledge the audience during a campaign event at the Bethel Park Community Center, Febru 2, 2018 in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.Pete Marovich/Getty Images
Republican Pennsylvania congressional candidate Rick Saccone and Vice President Mike Pence acknowledge the audience during a campaign event at the Bethel Park Community Center, Febru 2, 2018 in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.

In 2017 there was Montana, Georgia, Virginia and Alabama. Now, a congressional special election in southwest Pennsylvania is poised to become the latest referendum on President Donald Trump's presidency and the resiliency of the Democratic party.

After running in two consecutive uncontested races, Republican Rep. Tim Murphy resigned from his seat representing the 18th Congressional District in October amid a sex scandal. Despite Trump's nearly 20-point margin of victory in the district in 2016, Democrats see it as a flip opportunity after last year's blue wave led to a few upsets in previously non-competitive areas.

Democrat Conor Lamb has distanced himself from his party's establishment in order to attract voters in the deep-red region. Lamb has already announced he won't support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to lead congressional Democrats if he is elected, and campaign advertisements pledge bipartisanship while noting his military background and affinity for guns.

Republican Rick Saccone has not shied away from tying his candidacy to the president, once calling himself "Trump before Trump was Trump." The White House has taken an interest as well, with Trump formally endorsing Saccone in January and Vice President Mike Pence travelling to the district on Friday to fundraise and campaign for the ardent conservative.

Complicating matters after the March special election is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that could lead to new district boundaries come November. Voters will likely be focused on the candidates' plans to address the opioid epidemic, which has wreaked havoc in Appalachia, and on jobs, infrastructure and energy in the region, formerly a hub of the coal industry.

KEY DATES

March 13: Special election

Texan Democrats hope to flip 50 year GOP House seat in Harvey devastated area

BY RACHEL SCOTT

THE PLAYERS

Rep. John Culberson

Republican

Incumbent

Age: 61 (August 24th, 1956)

Josh Butler

Democrat

Director of Development, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

James Cargas

Democrat

Attorney, Former Congressional Candidate Age: 51 (October 17, 1966)

Lizzie Pannill Fletcher

Democrat

Lawyer

Age: 43 (February 13th, 1975)

Laura Moser

Democrat

Founder, Daily Action

Former Journalist

Age: 40 (August 30, 1977)

Ivan Sanchez

Democrat

Congressional Liaison, Entrepreneur

Alex Triantaphyllis

Age: 33 (March 31, 1984)

Democrat

Director of Immigration and Economic Opportunity at BakerRipley (formerly Neighborhood Centers), nonprofit community development organization

Jason Westin

Democrat

Oncologist

Age: N/A

THE STAKES

PHOTO: Carlos Zamora shows a voter registration card from a pile placed on the counter of the Tierra Caliente taco truck in this Sept. 29, 2016 image in Houston.John L. Mone/AP Photo
Carlos Zamora shows a voter registration card from a pile placed on the counter of the Tierra Caliente taco truck in this Sept. 29, 2016 image in Houston.

Progressive energy is flowing deeply into the Houston suburbs, an area at the crossroads of immigration, changing demographics, hurricane reconstruction and rising as a top target for Democrats in 2018.

There is a push to flip this long standing red district blue. Nine-term GOP incumbent Rep. John Culberson has represented Texas-07 since 2001, but he could be facing his toughest reelection yet.

Although a Republican has held the seat for 50 years, Clinton carried the district in the 2016 election -– a major shift in a district that voted for presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. The 7th Congressional District in Texas is predominately white but about 31 percent identify as Hispanic.

Culberson has spoken in support of President Trump’s controversial travel ban calling it a “necessary pause in the refugee program” until adequate background checks are created. He also supports a bipartisan solution to the debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that is “compassionate” to those brought into the country as children.

Immigration is a pressing issue in this district but there is one name that is still on the forefront of voters' minds -– Harvey. Many families are still rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey devastated this area and elected officials are hoping Congress can pass more funding to help Texans rebuild. Democrats think Republicans are falling short.

Among Culberson’s challengers are several Democrats including Laura Moser, a former journalist and the mother of the child whose photo went viral after she threw a tantrum at President Obama’s feet in the Oval Office; lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, endorsed by EMILY’s List, Colombian immigrant Ivan Sanchez and oncologist Dr. Jason Westin.

KEY DATES

March 6: primary election

Nov. 6: General Election

Utah’s Mia Love is first line of defense in GOP’s quest to defend House majority

By JOHN PARKINSON

THE PLAYERS

Rep. Mia Love

Republican

Incumbent

Age 42 (December 6, 1975)

Ben McAdams

Democrat

Salt Lake county mayor

Age: N/A

Adam Homer

Democrat

Software engineer

Age: N/A

Darlene McDonald

Democrat

Author, IT manager

Age: N/A

Tom Taylor

Democrat

Robotics engineer

Age: N/A

THE STAKES

PHOTO: Congresswoman-Elect (R-UT) Mia Love on This WeekABC News
Congresswoman-Elect (R-UT) Mia Love on 'This Week'

Seizing the House majority would require Democrats to turn 24 seats from red to blue, and none are perhaps more critical than this lean-Republican district.

President Donald Trump is historically unpopular in Republican-heavy Utah. The Democratic mayor of Salt Lake County is outpacing his Democratic primary rivals in a quest to challenge incumbent GOP Rep. Mia Love, the first and only black female Republican elected to Congress, in a state where former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is also expected to run for Senate.

Love, a converted Mormon who is Haitian-American, is seeking a third term in the House after winning the seat in 2014. The district was previously held by Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, but when the Blue Dog decided not to seek reelection in 2014, Love swept in to claim the seat. She successfully defended the seat by 12.5 points in 2016, defeating Doug Owens by more than 34,000 votes.

If Romney enters the Senate race, his candidacy could help neutralize Trump’s impact on Love’s prospects.

McAdams enters the race with the weight of Washington Democrats behind him, as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named him to its “Red to Blue” program, affording him the benefit of its resources, data and staff. Despite having to advance through a primary before facing Love, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer already made a campaign stop on Friday, Jan. 27 for McAdams, further demonstrating the national Democrats’ attention to Utah’s 4th Congressional district.

KEY DATES

Candidate filing deadline: March 15

Primary election: June 26

General election: Nov. 6

Republican candidate trying to outpace blue wave in Virginia's suburbs

By BENJAMIN SIEGEL

Rep. Barbara Comstock

Republican

Incumbent

Age: 58 (June 30, 1959)

Shak Hill

Republican

Former Virginia Senate GOP candidate, publisher at Guiding Light Books.

Age: N/A

Lindsey Davis Stover

Democrat

Former Obama administration official

Age: N/A

State Sen. Jennifer Wexton

Democrat

Age: N/A

Alison Friedman

Democrat

Former State Department official who worked on anti-human trafficking efforts

Age: N/A

Deep Sran

Democrat

Founder of Loudoun School for the Gifted

Age: N/A

David Hanson

Democrat

Retired Navy Captain, intelligence officer

Age: N/A

Dan Helmer

Democrat

Army veteran, Rhodes Scholar

Age: N/A

Key Dates

Primary Filing Deadline: March 29 Primary Election: June 12th General Election: Nov. 6th

THE STAKES

PHOTO: Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., participates in the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force news conference on the release of the 2018 legislative agenda for the 115th Congress, Jan. 10, 2018.Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., participates in the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force news conference on the release of the 2018 legislative agenda for the 115th Congress, Jan. 10, 2018.

Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Virginia, survived her district’s flip for Hillary Clinton in 2016. After another strong showing by Democrats in her district in 2017, when Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, carried the district and several Republican state lawmakers in her district lost their seats, she’s hoping to defy political gravity yet again and ride what analysts believe will be a strong Democratic wave against President Donald Trump and GOP control of Congress.

Comstock, who worked in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush and first won her seat in 2014, ran ahead of Trump in 2016 by criticizing the president -– and, at one point, called on him to step aside in the presidential race after the release of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape.

She’s taken public stands against Trump in the first year of his administration -– most notably during the rollout of his administration’s first travel ban -– while voting with the president’s agenda 96.9 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

A handful of Democrats are jockeying to take on Comstock in November, including former Obama administration official Lindsey Davis Stover, and State Sen. Jennifer Wexton.

Comstock’s district in Northern Virginia includes wealthy suburban enclaves outside of the nation’s capital -– the types of highly-educated, well-heeled communities through which Democrats hope they can retake the House.

In Washington state, progressive political hopefuls running in a district with a solid Republican history

By ESTHER CASTILLEJO

THE PLAYERS

Thomas Cramer

Democrat

Ran to represent Washington’s 9th Congressional District in 2012

Age: N/A

Bill Grassie

Independent

Former Microsoft Executive

Age: 56 (Jan. 5, 1962)

Dr. Shannon Hader

Democrat

Former CDC official

Age: 49 (July 15, 1968)

Robert Hunziker

Democrat

IT consultant

Age: 36 (Aug. 16 1981)

Brian Kostenko

Democrat

Age: N/A

Brayden Olson

Democrat

Entrepreneur

Age: 30 (Dec. 11, 1987)

Jason Rittereiser

Democrat

Former King County criminal prosecutor

Age: 33 (June 6, 1984)

Dino Rossi

Republican

Former state Senator, has run twice for governor and once for U.S. Senate.

Age: 58 (Oct. 15, 1959)

Dr. Kim Schrier

Democrat

Pediatrician

Age: 49 (Aug. 23, 1968)

THE STAKES

PHOTO: Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi speaks at Laurel Graphics Digital and Screen Printing facility, Oct. 28, 2010 in Kent, Wash. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images, FILE
Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi speaks at Laurel Graphics Digital and Screen Printing facility, Oct. 28, 2010 in Kent, Wash.

The 8th Congressional District in Washington State has not sent a Democrat to Congress since it was formed in the 1980s.

But this year a rare vacant seat has an army of Democrats running to flip the Republican district.

This sets up a potential clash between progressive political hopefuls running in a district with a solid Republican history. The race for the seat vacated by Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., will be watched alongside the 22 other Republican congressional districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Reichert, who has represented the district since 2005, has earned a reputation as a moderate, often distancing himself from Trump’s rhetoric on issues such as trade and immigration. Reichert announced his retirement last September -— part of a wave of Republican lawmakers stepping down in the Trump era.

For most of the seven Democrats running for the seat, this marks their first foray into politics.

Leading the Democratic pack is Dr. Kim Schrier, a pediatrician, who has gained endorsements from national progressive women’s group EMILY’s List and several local unions, raising more than half a million dollars.

Another Democrat, Tom Cramer, has not shied away from those who consider him the district’s own Bernie Sanders.

The lone Republican candidate, Dino Rossi, is a former state senator who has run for statewide office three times unsuccessfully and is best known for being on the losing end of one of the closest statewide elections in the country’s history.

Rossi has, so far, outraised all candidates in the Democratic field combined, and gotten the endorsements of the wealthy, militantly conservative Club for Growth PAC, and of Reichert, who handedly won the seat in 2016.

The 8th Congressional District is the only Republican bastion west of Mt. Rainier — a largely white, middle class area that’s home to both the farming communities that make up the Republican base in the state, and parts of the industrial, high-tech suburbs of Seattle and Tacoma that Democrats are trying to stir.

KEY DATES

Filing deadline: May 18

Primary: Aug. 7 It’s a top-two primary — the two candidates with the most votes, regardless of party, will move on to the general election.

General Election: Nov. 6

18 For 18’ is ABC News’ powerhouse political coverage of the 2018 midterm elections. Coverage kicks off Sunday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” featuring a report on the 2018 midterms and the special House of Representatives election taking place next month in Pennsylvania. Coverage continues on “Nightline” on Monday. To stay up to date, visit ABCNews.com and the ABC News app, and follow our midterm elections alerts.

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