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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
Rep. Daniel Lipinski
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)
Small Business owner, Marketing executive, and Organizer of a nation anti-bullying non-profit
Age: 54 (April 13, 1964)
Independent Insurance Broker
Age: 70 (Jan. 1, 1948)
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.
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
State Sen. Andy Sanborn
Senator in the state's 9th District
Retired Chief of Police for South Hampton, Navy Veteran, Served as Chief of New Hampshire State Division of Liquor Enforcement
GOP counterterror expert; Executive Editor of ContrarianCommentary.com
Rep. Mindi Messmer
Current State Representative
Rep. Mark MacKenzie
Manchester State Representative
U.S. Marine, Iraq Veteran; Former Assistant Secretary of U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Strafford County Attorney, Veteran
Rochester City Attorney; Former state and federal prosecutor; Iraq War veteran
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.
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
Rep. Leonard Lance
Incumbent, elected in 2009 Age: 65
Product manager at the New York Post
Activist, attorney, comedian
Linda Weber Democrat Business executive Age:
Former assistant Secretary of State under Obama
Former attorney and current substitute teacher
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.
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
Former assistant U.S. attorney, Marine Corps captain and current reservist
Age: 33 (born June 27, 1984)
Pennsylvania state representative, former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence and special agent
Age: 59 (born February 14, 1958)
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.
March 13: Special election
Texan Democrats hope to flip 50 year GOP House seat in Harvey devastated area
BY RACHEL SCOTT
Rep. John Culberson
Age: 61 (August 24th, 1956)
Director of Development, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Attorney, Former Congressional Candidate Age: 51 (October 17, 1966)
Lizzie Pannill Fletcher
Age: 43 (February 13th, 1975)
Founder, Daily Action
Age: 40 (August 30, 1977)
Congressional Liaison, Entrepreneur
Age: 33 (March 31, 1984)
Director of Immigration and Economic Opportunity at BakerRipley (formerly Neighborhood Centers), nonprofit community development organization
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.
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
Rep. Mia Love
Age 42 (December 6, 1975)
Salt Lake county mayor
Author, IT manager
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.
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
Age: 58 (June 30, 1959)
Former Virginia Senate GOP candidate, publisher at Guiding Light Books.
Lindsey Davis Stover
Former Obama administration official
State Sen. Jennifer Wexton
Former State Department official who worked on anti-human trafficking efforts
Founder of Loudoun School for the Gifted
Retired Navy Captain, intelligence officer
Army veteran, Rhodes Scholar
Primary Filing Deadline: March 29 Primary Election: June 12th General Election: Nov. 6th
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
Ran to represent Washington’s 9th Congressional District in 2012
Former Microsoft Executive
Age: 56 (Jan. 5, 1962)
Dr. Shannon Hader
Former CDC official
Age: 49 (July 15, 1968)
Age: 36 (Aug. 16 1981)
Age: 30 (Dec. 11, 1987)
Former King County criminal prosecutor
Age: 33 (June 6, 1984)
Former state Senator, has run twice for governor and once for U.S. Senate.
Age: 58 (Oct. 15, 1959)
Dr. Kim Schrier
Age: 49 (Aug. 23, 1968)
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.
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.