DNC’s ‘Red to Blue’ List

News: US News
by Jim Ellis  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 30, 2024   

Candidates contesting GOP incumbents in pivotal districts

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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - On Monday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee revealed its initial list of 17 candidates for the "Red to Blue" program, an initiative aimed at flipping Republican-held seats in the House of Representatives.

These candidates are set to contest in pivotal districts that were fiercely competitive in the 2022 elections and are expected to be crucial in determining which party secures the majority in the upcoming November elections.

The list, dubbed "Red to Blue," intriguingly includes one district that is currently under Democratic control. While some of these districts were won by President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, this is not the case for all. This strategic move marks the onset of the Democrats' campaign to recapture the House this fall.

In alphabetical order by state, the list of 17 includes 16 Republican districts where the DCCC has endorsed a Democratic candidate:

Ariz. 6 Juan Ciscomani Kirsten Engel
Calif. 13 John Duarte Adam Gray
Calif. 22 David Valadao Rudy Salas
Calif. 27 Mike Garcia George Whitesides
Calif. 41 Ken Calvert Will Rollins
Colo. 3 OPEN Adam Frisch
Iowa 1 M. Miller-Meeks Christina Bohannon
Iowa 3 Zach Nunn  Lanon Baccam
Mich. 7 OPEN Curtis Hertel
Mont. 1 Ryan Zinke Monica Tranel
Neb. 2 Don Bacon Tony Vargas
N.Y. 17 Mike Lawler  Mondaire Jones
N.Y. 19 Marc Molinaro  Josh Riley
Ore. 5 L. Chavez-DeRemer Janelle Bynum
Texas 15 Monica de la Cruz Michelle Vallejo
Va. 2 Jen Kiggans  Missy Cotter Smasal

The Michigan district included in the table above is that of Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin. Because she is vying for a Senate seat, her House seat will be vacant. However, should the Democrats manage to secure a victory in this district in 2024, it would not contribute to an increase in the number of seats they hold since it is already under Democratic representation.

Among the 16 districts currently held by Republicans, only six are considered prime opportunities for the Democrats based on two criteria: President Biden won these districts, and the FiveThirtyEight data organization categorizes them as leaning Democratic. These six districts, predominantly in California and New York, are therefore seen as the most viable for Democratic gains. This highlights the pivotal role of these two states in the battle for control of the House majority.

Most of the endorsed Democratic candidates (vying for 12 of the 16 Republican-held seats) previously ran and lost their races in 2022. Ten unsuccessfully opposed the current GOP House incumbent, while two lost other races.

Curiously, some other vulnerable districts were excluded from this first release. Likely, this is due to one of three reasons: The DCCC has not yet endorsed a candidate; it does not see a sufficiently competitive challenger within the current field; it perceives the Republican incumbent as being too strong. The excluded districts were: 

AZ-1 David Schweikert
CA-40 Young Kim
CA-45 Michelle Steel
FL-13 Anna Paulina Luna
FL-27 Maria Elvira Salazar
MI-10 John James
NJ-7 Tom Kean Jr.
NY-4 Anthony D'Esposito
NY-22 Brandon Williams
PA-1 Brian Fitzpatrick
PA-10 Scott Perry
WI-1 Bryan Steil

The majority of the members in this specific group are expected to be featured in subsequent targeting lists. Notably, the absence of Rep. Bryan Steil's, R-Wis., name from the current "Red to Blue" list implies that there might not be a directive from the Wisconsin State Supreme Court to redraw the congressional districts in this cycle. If Steil's district remains unchanged, it's likely he wouldn't be motivated to pursue a statewide campaign against Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., since Steil's current congressional seat would be secure.

Currently, in the ongoing redistricting process, Republicans are projected to gain a net of one seat, though this doesn't account for potential changes from the upcoming redistricting in New York. The GOP is set to gain three seats in North Carolina, while Democrats are expected to add one seat each in Alabama and Louisiana. The electoral maps in Georgia and Florida are not anticipated to change significantly for the 2024 election, which is favorable for the Republicans. Similarly, the situation in New Mexico is looking positive for the Democrats.

Dan Hanlon, who previously served as chief of staff for Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., has officially declared his candidacy against his former employer in the upcoming Republican primary, confirming rumors that had been circulating for weeks.

Adding complexity to the race is an ongoing lawsuit alleging racial gerrymandering in this South Carolina district, which has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. A decision is pending, and if the court sides with the plaintiffs, it could mandate a redraw of the 1st District. However, given the April 1 deadline for candidate filing and the primary scheduled for June 11, it might be challenging to implement any mandated changes to the district's boundaries in time for the 2024 election cycle, even if the Supreme Court orders it.

Jim Ellis, creator of The Ellis Insight website and senior political analyst for the Business-Industry Political Action Committee, analyzes and reports on U.S. electoral politics. He has a background in political consulting, managing political campaigns and action committees. Ellis is a regular speaker and media contributor on electoral topics, appearing on various radio shows and TV programs. He hosts Church Militant's The Ellis Insight — a video podcast identifying emerging campaign and election trends.


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