10 House seats that could flip due to Republican retirements

Democrats searching for the 24 seats they need to flip to win control of the House in the 2018 midterms are increasin...

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 9:29 AM
Updated: Jan 10, 2018 9:29 AM

Democrats searching for the 24 seats they need to flip to win control of the House in the 2018 midterms are increasingly seeing openings in districts where tough-to-beat Republicans are retiring.

So far, 31 House Republicans are either retiring or running for other offices. That's more than double the 15 Democrats who are not running for re-election.

Several Democratic retirements have given Republicans big openings

But in a wave election, the GOP seats will be among the most hotly contested

Rep. Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined the list of retirees this week. Rep. Martha McSally is set to become the 32nd departure when she launches her Senate campaign Friday.

Why do retirements matter so much? Because it's much harder for the challenging party - in 2018's case, the Democrats - to beat an incumbent than to win an open seat. The Cook Political Report has useful data that lays this out.

There are several Democratic retirements that have given Republicans big openings, too: Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz's departure could allow the GOP to take a district that President Donald Trump won by 15 points in 2016. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter's New Hampshire district has a long history of switching hands. And Rep. Jacky Rosen's decision to run for the Senate in Nevada opens up a competitive seat there, as well.

But in a wave election - the kind that crashed the 1994, 2006 and 2010 midterms and could be building amid a backlash to Trump's presidency - the Republican-held seats will be among the most hotly contested in the country.

Here are the 10 biggest Republican retirements so far, ranked in order of how significantly they shook up the House battleground map:

1. Rep. Ed Royce -- California 39th

Welcome to Orange County, the most important region on the 2018 House map, with five Republican-held seats in the area that Democrats are targeting.

Royce cruised to re-election by 14 percentage points in 2016 despite Democrat Hillary Clinton winning his district by 9 points.

So the announcement Monday that Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will retire means Democrats suddenly have a huge opportunity to capitalize on this educated, diverse, suburban region's rapid move leftward over recent elections.

Not having to face the $3.5 million Royce had in the bank makes it even better news for Democrats. Republicans have several options here with local and state-level experience. But six Democrats are in the race, including Gil Cisneros, a $266 million lottery winner, and Andy Thornburn, a health insurance executive who has loaned his own campaign $2 million.

2. Rep. Dave Reichert -- Washington 8th

Another tough-to-beat Republican incumbent is leaving a seat where Democrats have had a recent advantage.

Clinton won Reichert's suburban Seattle district by 3 points and former President Barack Obama bested Mitt Romney here by 2 points in 2012.

Republican interim state senator and perennial candidate Dino Rossi will try to hold the seat against one of the nine Democratic candidates currently running.

3. Rep. Frank LoBiondo -- New Jersey 2nd

LoBiondo won his seat in the 1994 wave election and rarely slipped below 60% in his re-election campaigns.

So even though his district went for Trump by 5 points in 2016, his retirement is a major opportunity for Democrats -- particularly since Obama carried the district by 8 points in 2012.

The leading Democratic candidate is one of the party's top recruits in the nation: state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who is likely too conservative for many progressives but is well-known in the district.

4. Rep. Martha McSally -- Arizona 2nd

McSally faced a difficult race against Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who ran for the Senate against John McCain in 2016, in a Tucson-based district Clinton won by 5 points. So she opted for a run for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake's seat instead.

McSally is set to announce her candidacy Friday, Republicans familiar with her plans told CNN.

Republicans are optimistic about Lea M-rquez-Peterson, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president. But with McSally yet to make her plans official, the field might not yet have fully developed.

5. Rep. Iliana Ros-Lehtinen -- Florida 27th

This is a huge opportunity for Democrats to pick off a district that already ought to be in their column: Clinton won it by 20 points - even as the popular Ros-Lehtinen was re-elected by 10 points - and Obama won by 7 points in 2012.

In what looks increasingly like a wave election, the math suggests this Miami-area district should be among the first to flip, no matter who emerges from both parties' crowded primary fields.

6. Rep. Dave Trott -- Michigan 11th

This district - which loops awkwardly around Detroit in a prime example of gerrymandering - is Republican-leaning, but not by much. Trump won here by 4 points in 2016 and Romney won by 5 points in 2012.

Among the five Democratic candidates, technology executive Suneel Gupta raised $500,000 in the last quarter and state Rep. Tim Greimel is also running.

Former Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, who lost his seat to Trott in a 2014 primary, is among the Republicans running now that Trott is retiring.

7. Rep. Charlie Dent -- Pennsylvania 15th

Dent's Lehigh Valley clearly leans rightward, thanks to the presence of Democratic voters who are more conservative than most nationally: Trump won it by 8 points, and Romney won it by 3 points.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli joined the Democratic field of six other candidates this week. Five Republicans are also in the race, including state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie.

8. Rep. Lynn Jenkins -- Kansas 2nd

Why is a district that Trump won by 18 points on this list? Mostly because of the presence of former state House Minority Leader Paul Davis as the leading Democrat in the race.

State Sens. Caryn Tyson and Steve Fitzgerald and state Rep. Kevin Jones are among the Republican candidates.

9. Rep. Steve Pearce -- New Mexico 2nd

Pearce's decision to run for governor gives Democrats an opportunity in the southern half of New Mexico, where Trump won by 10 points and Romney won by 7 points in 2012.

This district belongs firmly in the "wave watch" category. If it flips, then Democrats have probably taken the House -- and it's probably not that close.

(Another fit in this category is the Florida 6th, where Rep. Ron DeSantis is running for governor and Democrats are high on Nancy Soderberg, a former ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser under President Bill Clinton.)

10. Rep. Timothy Murphy, Pennsylvania 18th

This is a special election set for March 18. It's a heavily Republican district that Trump won by 20 points -- but Murphy resigned in disgrace amid allegations that he had an extramarital affair with a woman who he then encouraged to have an abortion.

Democratic 33-year-old former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb takes on Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone. Lamb has said he wouldn't support Rep. Nancy Pelosi for House speaker.

Are Republicans worried? The Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC has opened two offices in the district.

This one -- like a spate of House special elections in 2017 -- looks like it could break optimistic Democrats' hearts. But a Lamb win would send the national GOP into panic mode.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7143160
DeSoto559460
Harrison388374
Jackson350570
Madison331089
Rankin330679
Lee273670
Forrest248973
Jones248779
Washington225977
Lafayette219139
Lauderdale2059125
Bolivar184566
Oktibbeha179952
Lamar171635
Lowndes158058
Neshoba1579104
Panola149930
Sunflower147146
Leflore141081
Warren140750
Pontotoc127816
Pike124051
Monroe123568
Copiah119133
Scott117627
Coahoma116329
Marshall110617
Lincoln110253
Holmes109859
Grenada109036
Yazoo106230
Simpson104646
Tate100437
Union99824
Leake96038
Adams94137
Wayne90421
Pearl River89253
Marion86535
Prentiss86217
Covington82722
Itawamba82621
Alcorn82011
George78013
Tallahatchie77321
Newton77224
Winston74219
Tishomingo69038
Chickasaw68424
Tippah67117
Attala66725
Walthall60126
Clarke60046
Clay59518
Hancock58722
Jasper57515
Noxubee55116
Smith53415
Calhoun52112
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46420
Yalobusha43514
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38817
Humphreys37715
Quitman3775
Stone37412
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll31912
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2273
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19676351
Mobile13373292
Montgomery8834184
Tuscaloosa8621118
Madison788178
Shelby597849
Lee589760
Baldwin547750
Marshall394343
Calhoun351544
Etowah349045
Morgan329228
Houston290321
Elmore266748
DeKalb241621
St. Clair232235
Walker231684
Talladega216629
Limestone210120
Cullman189920
Dallas179026
Franklin177129
Autauga176425
Russell17603
Lauderdale171333
Colbert164626
Blount161115
Escambia160824
Chilton158530
Jackson157511
Covington140127
Dale138644
Coffee13486
Pike119810
Chambers116442
Tallapoosa116085
Clarke109116
Marion96429
Butler91239
Barbour8827
Winston74412
Marengo72020
Pickens66214
Bibb65410
Lowndes65327
Randolph64713
Hale63528
Geneva6254
Lawrence62023
Cherokee60813
Bullock60414
Monroe5898
Clay5858
Washington55713
Perry5416
Crenshaw53732
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry5055
Macon48018
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Sumter43819
Cleburne3805
Lamar3672
Choctaw34712
Greene30315
Coosa1713
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