Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

The Top 5 House Race Rematches… Are Gone

So much for the year of the rematch.

Almost a year ago, CQ Roll Call declared “The Top 5 House Rematches to Watch (So Far)” as re-do races in California, Utah, North Carolina and Minnesota.

Thanks mostly to House retirements, none of the five rematches listed in that piece are happening in 2014. That’s how much the midterm map has shifted in a year.

To be sure, there are still several competitive House rematch races this cycle, including a few featuring former members of Congress and a potential top-tier race in Massachusetts’ 6th District.

But over the last year, the top rematch to watch in the country — in Utah’s 4th District — fell off the map when Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson announced his retirement. Matheson would have faced former Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love in this district, which is currently the most conservative district in the country represented by a Democrat.

Not for long. With Matheson out, Love is much closer to becoming the first black Republican woman elected to Congress. Her biggest hurdle is defeating Republican businessman Bob Fuehr in an April 26 convention, and possibly a June 24 primary.

There’s no longer a rematch in North Carolina’s 7th District, either, following the retirement of Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat. McIntyre, who squeaked out a win in 2012 by less than 700 votes, was set to face former state Rep. David Rouzer again in 2014. Rouzer doesn’t have a free shot at the seat in November, however. He now faces primary opposition from attorney Woody White.

In Minnesota, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann’s surprise retirement announcement in the fall busted yet another high-profile rematch. Bachmann would have faced businessman Jim Graves in November. But when Bachmann announced her retirement, Graves also dropped his bid in the 6th District, which will likely elect another Republican this November.

Finally, in California, two more rematches fell off the map this year.

GOP Rep. Gary G. Miller’s retirement in California’s 31st District brings good news for Democrats, who are now on track to pick up that seat. After failing to advance in a top-two primary against Miller in 2012, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar is back again to challenge Miller in 2014. Now with Miller’s retirement, Aguilar now is competing against three other Democrats for the seat, including attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes and former Rep. Joe Baca.

After losing a race for California’s 26th District in 2012, former state Sen. Tony Strickland, a Republican, initially announced a rematch with freshman Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley.

But when GOP Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon announced his retirement from the neighboring 25th District, Strickland moved over to run there instead. California’s 25th District is more favorable than the 26th District to Republicans.

  • Thomas Smith

    Just to be accurate, Strickland announced the move before McKeon announced his retirement.

  • nathanlgonzales

    Actually, just to be accurate, Strickland announced his move on Jan. 21 after McKeon announced his retirement on Jan. 16. McKeon’s likely retirement was rumored for nearly a year and Strickland’s likely move not much less than that. But Emily’s phrasing of the announcements is accurate.

    McKeon Jan. 16 announcement:

    Strickland Jan. 21 announcement:

  • terjeanderson

    In terms of formal announcements, yes, Strickland waited until January 21st.

    But he filed notice of the change in districts with the FEC back in November – officially telegraphing his intentions. That’s part of why McKeon’s retirement was the worst kept secret in DC and CA.

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  • Guest

    Matheson is positioning himself to run for governor or the open senate seat if Hatch retires. He’d have a better shot at governor.

  • teapartyidiots

    Matheson wants to run against Mike Lee in 2016.

  • mabramso

    He doesn’t have a prayer in that one. The only time a Democrats wins statewide in Utah is when the seat is open.

  • teapartyidiots

    Lee might be a shot – he has very low approval ratings, and Matheson’s were sky high.

  • mabramso

    Lee’s approval ratings may be momentarily low because of the government shutdown, but that is very unlikely to translate into a Democrat victory. It’s about the same as Obama currently having only a 45% approval rate in Connecticut. If Hillary has the same rating there in March of 2016, do you think the GOP would have a chance there in November. No way. In fact, here is a prediction for you. The non-partisan prognosticators, Cook, Rothenberg, and Sabato (and I will even throw in Silver, who works for Democrats), will not even move Mike Lee out of their “Safe Republican” category at any time between now and the 2016 elections.

  • teapartyidiots

    Your probably right. Rothenberg felt he’d have a legit shot at governor.

  • mabramso

    Well, Matheson’s father was the last Democrat governor of the state, and he was very well liked. But that was a long time ago — over 25 years, I think. Still, if any Democrat can win the governorship in Utah, it would be Matheson. But it would take a very well run campaign to pull it off in a state that is definitely in the top 5 most conservative states in the nation.

  • teapartyidiots

    100% agreed, I think Rothenberg felt at the governorship he’d have a 50/50 shot.

  • mabramso

    Actually, I doubt Rothenberg would predict even that. In the case of a state like Utah (and having observed Rothenberg for many years), the Utah governorship would start out as Safe GOP and might move to Likely GOP if Matheson entered the race. Then as the election got closer, Matheson would move into the Leans GOP column if his polling held up, and perhaps in the Tossup category the week before the election. An analogous campaign would be Scott Brown when he won in MA. Also, Matheson would need the wind at his back. Typically, that would require a Republican in the White House (so the voters in Utah are not royally ticked off at the President — there was a great example of this in 1996 there with Rep. Orton).

  • teapartyidiots

    I think a Republican in the White House is highly unlikely unless they get a center-right candidate and Hillary does not run.

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