Surprising House Retirement in Iowa

April 19, 2019

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Key Takeaways

  • President: Sanders leading Biden 29-24% in Emerson poll
  • CO-Sen: Sen. Cory Gardner (R) draws more opponents
  • IA-2: Rep. David Loebsack (D) to retire
  • NJ-7: Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R) to run and will likely face freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D)
  • NC-9: Realtors' PAC in big for realtor Leigh Thomas Brown in GOP primary
  • KY-Gov: Dem poll gives Attorney General Andy Beshear big lead in primary


Emerson Poll:  The new Emerson College poll (4/11-14; 356 Democratic likely primary voters) is getting some media attention because it projects Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) overtaking former Vice President Joe Biden for the national lead by a 29-24% count. Following in third place is newly announced presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend (IN), with 9% support. Ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) are next with 8% apiece, just ahead of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who posts 7% preference. All others record 3% or less.

But, the result analysis is overblown. Because the Democratic sample comes from a national general election poll universe, the segmented cell is much too small to accurately gauge candidate support throughout the nation. While a sample of 356 individuals is quite adequate for a congressional district, it is barely one-third the size necessary to provide relevant national data. Therefore, further verifying evidence of an enhanced Sanders positive trend is required before suggesting that the Senator may be pulling away from the candidate field.


Colorado:  While the Democratic field to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R) appears weak after former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) decided to run for President instead of Senate, two potentially stronger individuals declared their candidacies this week.

Former Obama Administration diplomat Dan Baer, who in 2018 began running for what appeared to be an open 7th District congressional office when incumbent Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) declared for Governor but then withdrew when the Congressman decided to seek re-election, is one of the new candidates. Immediately after the Baer announcement, former US Attorney John Walsh also joined the fray. Until these two men entered the race, the leading candidates appeared to be former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who has lost races for both the US House and Senate, and ex-state Sen. Mike Johnston who placed third in last year's Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Maine:  Earlier, we commented that Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/Portland) was giving no indication that she would challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R) next year, and now we have more tangible evidence to support such a conclusion.

Complying with yesterday's campaign finance disclosure deadline, Rep. Pingree reports only raising $26,000 for the first quarter of this year and holding $232,000 in her campaign account. These are hardly numbers one would expect from a serious potential Senate candidate, especially when Sen. Collins holds $3.8 million in her campaign account.

North Carolina:  Former state Senator Eric Mansfield (D-Cape Fear), a physician, announced that he is forming a US Senate exploratory committee as a prelude to entering the 2020 campaign. Dr. Mansfield served one term in the NC Senate, risking his seat in 2012 to run for Lt. Governor. He failed to secure the statewide Democratic nomination.

Already in the Democratic primary are state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston) and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller. The winner will challenge first-term incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R). So far, North Carolina candidate recruitment has disappointed Democratic Party leaders since no statewide figure has come forward to enter the race.


CA-15:  Northern California Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin/ Hayward) has announced his presidential campaign, but he hasn't completely ruled out returning to the House if his long shot national effort comes up empty. The Congressman left the door open to changing course before the California candidate filing deadline on December 6th of this year in order to seek re-election.

At least one political player, however, isn't waiting for Rep. Swalwell to make his decision. Hayward City Councilwoman Aisha Wahab announced her congressional campaign late last week, and there was no mention of departing the race if the four-term Representative ultimately decides to seek re-election. Additionally, state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) confirms that he, too, is preparing to soon file a congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.

IA-2:  Seven-term Iowa Congressman David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) announced that he will not seek re-election next year. Mr. Loebsack, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, originally defeated then-Rep. Jim Leach (R) in 2006. Rep. Loebsack's surprising retirement announcement has changed the southeastern Iowa political equation. Thus, no one has immediately come forward to run for the House.

Yesterday, however, state Sen. Kevin Kinney (D-Oxford) confirmed that he is considering entering what is now an open seat race. Same for Iowa City local business owner Veronica Tessler (D) who has already filed a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission. The eventual Democratic nominee will be favored here, but we can expect crowded and competitive primaries in both parties.

NJ-7:  As promised, state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), the son of former Governor Tom Kean, Sr. and a former US House and Senate candidate, formerly announced his campaign for the 7th Congressional District. Looking like a consensus Republican candidate, Sen. Kean will very likely face freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) in the general election. Mr. Kean in the Republicans top choice to run here, and the nature of this CD suggests we will again see a highly competitive battle next year.

NY-10:  Former Cuomo Administration economic advisor Lindsey Boylan, who said earlier in the year she is considering challenging House Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) in the 2020 Democratic primary, yesterday took a step closer to launching her campaign. Ms. Boylan filed a congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, which is the prelude to becoming an official candidate.

NY-15:  New York City Councilman and self-proclaimed "conservative Democrat" Ruben Diaz, Sr. announced that he will run in the open 15th District Democratic primary for the right to succeed retiring Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx). Mr. Diaz hopes to appeal to moderate and right of center Democratic voters, a small group in this district, which is the most Democratic in the entire nation at least based upon the 2016 presidential results.

NY-21:  Former St. Lawrence County local legislator Tedra Cobb (D), who challenged three-term Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville/ Watertown) last year but lost by a substantial 56-42% margin, announced that she will return for a rerun contest next year. The area now comprising the 21st District had been in Democratic hands until Ms. Stefanik succeeded retiring Congressman Bill Owens in the 2014 election. At this early point in the cycle, Rep. Stefanik, who at the time she was elected was the youngest female ever to win a US House seat (30 years of age), begins the 2020 race as a strong favorite for re-election.

NY-24:  This week 2018 Democratic congressional nominee Dana Balter announced that she will return to run for Congress again next year. Ms. Balter, who drew mixed reviews as a candidate despite holding Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) to a 52-46% re-election victory, will have company in the Democratic primary. In addition to Navy veteran Roger Misso (D), who previously joined the congressional campaign, a new military veteran, Francis Conole, the grandson of former Onondaga County Sheriff Patrick Conole, yesterday announced his intention to run.

NC-9:  The National Association of Realtors PAC is playing big in North Carolina's 9th District special election, and for one of their own. RPAC filed an independent expenditure declaration that they intend to spend $868,000 between now and the May 14th primary to help nominate realtor Leigh Thomas Brown in the Republican primary.

If successful, she will face 2018 Democratic nominee Dan McCready, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. To be nominated, a contender must receive at least 30% of the vote in the party primary. If no candidate reaches this threshold, a special runoff election will be held on September 10th between the top two primary finishers. The special general would then be held on November 5th.

UT-4:  Freshman Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Salt Lake City) unseating former Rep. Mia Love (R) by 694 votes in November means he can expect a major re-election battle in what should be a safely Republican seat. Yesterday, two Republican legislators signaled that they are beginning to take steps toward entering the congressional race. State Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton) and state Rep. Kim Coleman (R-West Jordan) both say they are considering becoming candidates. This district figures to be in the top five of Republican conversion targets in 2020.

VA-5:  One freshman congressional district that won't feature the 2018 candidates is Virginia's 5th CD. This week, Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn, who secured 47% of the vote against businessman Denver Riggleman (R), says she will not return for another campaign. Remaining in the Democratic primary is Marine Corps veteran Roger Dean Huffstetler, who finished second in the 2018 Democratic contest. Without another strong contender entering, Mr. Huffstetler will likely have the inside track to winning the party nomination and then facing Rep. Riggleman late next year.


Kentucky:  The May 21st Democratic gubernatorial primary is fast approaching, and former state Auditor Adam Edelen just released his campaign's Anzalone Liszt Grove Research survey (released 4/18; 500 KY likely Democratic primary voters). According to the results, Attorney General Andy Beshear, son of former Governor Steve Beshear, leads the field with 43% of the vote. Mr. Edelen is second with 23%, and Mr. Adkins follows closely with 22%.

It is clear that AG Beshear is the man to beat and even his opponent's data suggests that his primary lead may be too much for any of his challengers to overcome. The winner will do battle with Gov. Matt Bevin (R) in what will be a competitive 2019 general election.

Mississippi:  What was once thought to be a walk for Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in the Republican gubernatorial primary may turn into more of a challenge. This week, four former Mississippi Republican Party ex-chairmen jointly endorsed Republican retired state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller, Jr. over Mr. Reeves. If Judge Waller can prove an adept fundraiser, this early August primary may be more of a race than originally perceived.

Montana:  In 2016, businessman Greg Gianforte (R) came within four points of unseating Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who is now apparently preparing to enter the Democratic presidential campaign. Ever since, speculation has continued that Mr. Gianforte would return to the Governor's race in 2020. Since then, he won a special and regular election for the state's at-large House seat, and one of the promises he gave the party leaders in that original congressional race was not to quickly leave the seat to again run for Governor.

This week, a Gianforte staff member confirmed, however, that the Congressman is considering the Governor's campaign and has not yet ruled out joining the open seat race, a contest that already features Attorney General Tim Fox (R) and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R). Should Gianforte make the leap back into the Governor's race, we can also expect a major open seat battle for the congressional seat.