Seven close races that could decide control of the House

·8 min read

The battle for control of the House is heating up as more and more general election match-ups are set.

Republicans are favored to win back the majority in the lower chamber given both the national mood and historical precedent of a first-term president’s party losing seats in the midterm elections.

However, a Morning Consult-Politico poll released this week found that Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked on the generic congressional ballot at 42 percent support each.

With redistricting steadily decreasing the number of true swing districts, the battle for the majority could come down to a relatively small number of districts deemed toss-ups.

Here are seven to watch:

Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District 

Last month, state Sen. Jen Kiggans defeated three other Republicans in the party’s primary to take on Rep. Elaine Luria (D) in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.

The 2nd District includes Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight County, Southampton County and the Eastern Shore, and it has a sizeable military population given its proximity to Naval Station Norfolk. Luria and Kiggans both served in the Navy. Luria was first elected to Congress in 2018, defeating Rep. Scott Taylor (R) and flipping the district to Democrats.

Republicans view the district as a major pickup opportunity, and it was redistricted in a way that could favor the GOP. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has rated the race as a toss-up, while FiveThirtyEight has moved the district even more in Republicans’ favor.

In the primary, Kiggans received the endorsement of the Congressional Leadership Fund and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik’s (N.Y.) E-Pac. Additionally, the GOP group Winning for Women Action Fund launched a six-figure radio and television ad buy for Kiggans last week.

Virginia’s 7th Congressional District 

Further north, in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) also got an official general election challenger a few weeks ago.

Former police officer and Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega defeated five other Republicans in the primary. Vega garnered endorsements from notable conservative figures, including Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Like Luria, Spanberger was part of the 2018 blue wave that flipped Congress during former President Trump’s first term. Spanberger defeated Rep. Dave Brat (R) that year.

While Vega served in public safety, Spanberger has a background in national security, previously serving as a CIA officer. Vega leaned heavily into her law enforcement background during the campaign, echoing national Republican messaging on crime. Spanberger has been a more moderate voice in the Democratic Party on crime and has been vocally opposed to progressive calls to “defund” the police.

Unlike Luria’s district, redistricting made Spanberger’s district slightly more favorable to Democrats. Prior to redistricting, the district was farther away from Washington and closer to central Virginia. However, the latest congressional map moved her district closer to Washington. FiveThirtyEight moved the district from the Republican column to one the slightly favors Democrats after the redistricting process. However, the race will still be competitive. The Cook Political Report has it classified as a toss-up.

Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District 

Last month, real estate attorney April Becker easily won the Republican nomination to take on Rep. Susie Lee (D) in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District. The district has been competitive in recent years, playing a deciding role in presidential elections going back to 2004. Trump won the district by a point in 2016, while President Biden carried it by less than a point in 2020. The last Republican to represent the seat was former Rep. Joe Heck, who was ousted by now-Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) in 2016.

The 2020 redistricting process added Democrats to the district, but Republicans are still expressing optimism given Biden’s low approval ratings and the national mood. Polling has been scarce in the district, but a survey conducted by GOP pollster Dave Sackett on behalf of Becker’s campaign and the National Republican Congressional Committee showed Lee trailing Becker 46 percent to 44 percent. However, the poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. The poll was reported by the Washington Examiner.

Lee and Democrats are leaning into the fallout over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in hopes of attracting voters. On Monday, Lee’s campaign rolled out a television ad hitting Becker over the issue.

The Cook Political Report rates the race as a toss-up.

Texas’s 28th Congressional District

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) is facing a competitive general election battle after narrowly winning his Democratic primary battle against progressive Jessica Cisneros by only 289 votes. During the intraparty battle, Cuellar’s Texas home and campaign offices were raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into U.S. businessmen and their ties to Azerbaijan. Cuellar and his team have maintained that no wrongdoing was found on his part. Additionally, Cuellar, known as the most conservative Democrat in the House, grappled with attacks from Cisneros on many of his stances, including on abortion access.

Cuellar, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of centrist Democrats, kept his focus on issues like the economy and the flow of migrants over the U.S. southern border, taking a more conservative stance than Cisneros. However, Cuellar is now facing Republican Cassy Garcia, a former staffer to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is zeroing on those same issues as the national mood continues to favor Republicans.

Garcia is one of three Republican Latinas running in South Texas House districts this cycle, including Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas), who won the special election for Texas’s 34th Congressional District last month. Republicans argue that Flores’s win is evidence that the GOP continues to gain traction in districts along the U.S. southern border.

The Cook Political Report rates the district as a toss-up.

Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District 

Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District is up for grabs after Rep. Conor Lamb (D) left his seat to run for Senate in the state, ultimately losing the Democratic primary to Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

Now, voting rights attorney and Iraq War veteran Chris Deluzio, a Democrat, is going head-to-head with Republican Jeremy Shaffer, a former Ross Township commissioner. Both easily won their respective primaries.

Deluzio has campaigned on his pro-abortion rights stance and his support for labor unions and fighting against big corporate power, among other issues. Shaffer zeroed in on issues like election integrity, border security, his anti-abortion stance and his support for gun rights.

Shaffer is a part of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Gun” list, which offers campaign support for candidates. Deluzio, likewise, has been included in the House Democrats’ campaign arm’s “Red to Blue” program, demonstrating how both political parties are channeling resources in a bid over the competitive House seat.

The Cook Political Report rates the seat as a toss-up for November; the data website FiveThirtyEight notes the partisan lean as slightly Democrat in the 17th District.

Ohio’s 13th Congressional District

The Ohio House seat is sure to be a test of Trump’s influence. He endorsed conservative political commentator and attorney Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, who also notched high-profile endorsements from Stefanik, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Gilbert has also received support from Winning for Women PAC.

Gilbert takes on Ohio state Rep. Emilia Sykes (D), who ran unopposed in her primary and who has served in the state legislature since 2014. She served more recently as the state House minority leader, holding several other high-profile positions with the state legislature, including minority whip and assistant whip.

Both her parents, Barbara and Vernon Sykes, had previously held the same state House seat she has.

The data website FiveThirtyEight notes that under Ohio’s new congressional map, the 13th District has a partisan lean toward Republicans, and the Cook Political Report rates the seat as a toss-up for November.

Oregon’s 5th Congressional District 

In Oregon, Progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner made headlines in late May after she won her Democratic primary against seven-term incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader.

Schrader, who had received Biden’s endorsement, drew ire from progressives after initially voting against a nearly $2 million coronavirus relief package in the lower chamber and after he and two other moderate Democrats voted against legislation in September that would have allowed drug prices to be negotiated by the secretary of Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile, McLeod-Skinner notched endorsements from groups like the Working Families Party and Progressive Democrats of America in addition to Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

McLeod-Skinner now takes on former Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R), who has been endorsed by Stefanik. Chavez-DeRemer has focused her campaign platform on advocating for parents’ involvement in school curriculum, opposition to critical race theory and inflation, among others.

FiveThirtyEight gives the 5th Congressional District a partisan toward Democrats, and the Cook Political Report rates the seat as a toss-up.

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