Four states to feature primaries with two incumbents in 2022

Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux
Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The decennial redistricting process often produces awkward results for House members who find themselves drawn into districts with another incumbent in their own party.

This year will be no different.

While some lawmakers have chosen to retire rather than square off against an ally, at least five districts - in Georgia, Illinois, Michigan and West Virginia - will feature primaries with two incumbents.

Here's what to watch for in each.

Georgia's 7th Congressional District

Georgia's 7th Congressional District will feature a battle between two Democratic rising stars in the Atlanta suburbs.

Rep. Lucy McBath, who first won her seat in 2018, and Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, who was the only Democrat to flip a GOP-held House seat in 2020, will face off against each other in what is anticipated to be an expensive primary fight.

The grouping was an effective way for Republicans - who completely control the state government - to knock off one Democrat in redistricting.

McBath has massive name recognition and a compelling story as a breast cancer survivor and gun control advocate who lost her son in a shooting. Bourdeaux, while newer to the House, currently represents a far bigger swath of the new district than McBath.

Early battle lines have been drawn, with McBath painting herself as an effective foe to Republicans.

"It is no mystery why Republicans and the NRA have decided I'm their top target. As a Black woman, activist, and mother on a mission - they would like nothing more than to stop me from speaking truth to power about the gun lobby and Republican Party in Congress," McBath said in a statement in November. "So let me make something very clear: I refuse to stand down."

Bourdeaux, meanwhile, has touted her ties to the district, tacitly knocking McBath for representing Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb counties but not Gwinnett County, which makes up much of the new district.

"I am the Gwinnett representative in the race for a predominantly Gwinnett district," she said last month. "The people of the 7th deserve a representative that understands and cares about their needs and has a record of fighting for them in Washington."

Illinois's 6th Congressional District

Democrats held total control over the map-drawing process, looking to increase their share of the state's congressional districts to 14 of 17 from 13 of 18. But to get their desired map, they had to lump Rep. Marie Newman (D) into the district of either Rep. Sean Casten (D) or Rep. Jesús Garcia (D).

Newman opted to battle Casten in the 6th Congressional District, avoiding a messy primary with the ideologically aligned Garcia, who is only the second Hispanic member of Congress ever elected from Illinois.

Newman lives just four blocks outside the newly drawn 6th District, though a substantial amount of the district she currently represents overlaps with the new seat she will run for. Casten, meanwhile, lives in the newly drawn district, but it has less overlap with his current seat.

The primary will be a microcosm of the ongoing battle between progressives and centrists in the Democratic Party.

Newman, a vocal progressive, unseated an anti-abortion Democrat in the 2020 House primary, while Casten, who is more aligned with moderates, beat a Republican incumbent in the 2018 midterms.

Newman has sought to tout her progressive bona fides since entering the race while also noting that she was raised in Chicago - an implicit knock on Casten, who moved to the city as an adult.

"As someone born and raised on Chicago's Southwest Side and a lifelong resident of its surrounding suburbs, fighting for workers, small businesses, and the middle-class in these communities is in my DNA, and that fight is not going to stop now," Newman said in a statement announcing her campaign. "From Elmhurst to Orland Park, I'm looking forward to working with everyone to build a stronger, more equitable future for our residents of the new IL-06."

Casten too has touted his efforts to push issues such as climate change and infrastructure, though he lamented in October that he "never wanted to see friends run against friends."

There's also a chance that neither could ultimately hold the seat after a general election, however, given the wave year Republicans are expected to enjoy. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) would have won the newly drawn district by only 5 points in his election in 2018.

West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District

While Republicans in West Virginia have total control of state government and the redistricting process, the state will see its congressional delegation shrink from three GOP-held seats to two in 2023, forcing Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney to run against each other.

The flip side of the battle for the Illinois seat, the House race for the new 2nd Congressional District, located in the north of the state, will represent a fight between two factions of the GOP.

McKinley, a 74-year-old seventh-generation West Virginian, is a staunch centrist, recently casting votes to approve the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the formation of a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Mooney is a hard-line member of the House Freedom Caucus. He recently moved to West Virginia from Maryland, where he was a state senator and chairman of the state Republican Party, though he is running with former President Trump's endorsement in a state Trump won by sprawling margins in 2016 and 2020.

McKinley has sought to cast himself as a deep-rooted West Virginian who puts state over party, while Mooney has pushed an image of himself as a fighter against the left.

"As a seventh-generation West Virginian, I care deeply about the people who live here and have worked hard to give them a brighter future. From serving in Congress and the West Virginia Legislature to building the Republican Party as Chairman of the WVGOP to growing a business from scratch, creating thousands of jobs and investing in our community - I've always put West Virginia first," McKinley said in an October statement.

"Our nation now more than ever needs fighters who will stand toe to toe with the radical left who are attempting to turn America into a socialist nation," Mooney said in his own statement. "As a proud member of the freedom caucus, unwavering supporter of President Trump and the son of [a] Cuban refugee, I will not back down in this fight for the future of America."

In a sign McKinley may think Mooney has an edge in a deep-red district, he had advocated for a map that would have put Mooney and Rep. Carol Miller (R) in the same district and left him to run by himself. Instead, Miller will have a seat in the south all to herself.

However, the ultimate loser of the primary will have a shot to return to politics in 2024, when Sen. Joe Manchin (D) will be up for reelection.

Michigan's 11th Congressional District

Michigan's new congressional map, drawn by an independent commission, was lauded by outside observers as a victory against partisan gerrymandering. However, it forces Reps. Andy Levin (D) and Haley Stevens (D) into the same seat, the newly drawn 11th Congressional District.

Both lawmakers won their seats in the 2018 midterms and have touted their ties to the new district, a safe blue seat north of Detroit.

Levin currently lives in the district, while Stevens's current district includes much of the new one she's running in.

"Now that we have final mapping configurations, I am excited to announce that I will continue representing my home, Oakland County and will be filing to run for re-election in the new Michigan's 11th," Stevens tweeted shortly after the maps were finalized.

"Working families are seeing Washington deliver at long last, and we must keep up this incredible momentum and meet this moment. That's why today, I am announcing that I will run for reelection where I grew up and where I live, in Michigan's newly-drawn Eleventh District in 2022," Levin said just more than 30 minutes later.

It's still unclear what ideological divides will emerge between the two in the primary. However, their choices were between a bitter primary or rolling the dice in the newly drawn 10th Congressional District, which is far more competitive in a general election.

Illinois's 15th Congressional District

Democrats used their total control of the redistricting process in Illinois to leave Rep. Mary Miller (R) without a clear seat to run for and a choice of whether to challenge incumbent GOP Rep. Rodney Davis in the new 15th Congressional District or incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Bost in the new 12th Congressional District.

Miller announced Saturday that she would run against Davis in the primary next year, also unveiling an endorsement from former President Trump.

"I am blessed to start out 2022 by receiving President Donald Trump's endorsement for my re-election in IL-15," she tweeted. "I promise to always be a fighter for the America First Agenda. This will be the year we take our country back."

The fight against Davis will be no easy feat, and the primary will likely hinge on the two incumbents' loyalty to Trump.

Miller has tied herself closely to the former president and is a member of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus. She became a top target of Illinois Democrats in early January 2021 after comments critics said praised Adolf Hitler.

Miller cautioned that Republicans would lose unless "we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, 'Whoever has the youth has the future.'"

She later apologized for the remarks.

Davis, meanwhile, lives in the new district, as opposed to Miller, and has been a Trump supporter. However, he has broken with Trump and House GOP leadership at times, including when he voted for the formation of a bipartisan committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Davis has a beefy campaign bank account and widespread support in the GOP, rolling out in November endorsements from 31 of the 35 GOP county chairmen in the new district, as well as Bost and Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).

Should the GOP win the House this year, as anticipated, and Davis win his race, he would be set up to chair the House Administration Committee and helm the House Transportation and Infrastructure Highway and Transit Subcommittee.