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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Gluesenkamp Perez among House members whose seat is seen at risk

By Mary Ellen McIntire and Daniela Altimari, CQ-Roll Call
Published: November 11, 2023, 6:34am

WASHINGTON — New York Rep. George Santos survived a recent expulsion vote, but the events that led his home-state colleagues to push for that vote make him Roll Call’s most vulnerable House incumbent once again with a year to go until Election Day 2024.

Santos, who faces 23 federal charges, gained notoriety before he was even sworn in for his first term for fabricating much of his life story while campaigning. A long list of candidates from both parties are running for his 3rd District seat next year.

But Santos isn’t the only New York Republican on the list. Three of his fellow freshmen from the Empire State, who helped clinch the House GOP majority a year ago, are also among the most vulnerable incumbents. Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler and Brandon Williams all represent districts that Joe Biden would have won in 2020 and are expected to run in some of the most competitive races nationwide next year.

Others returning to the list this month are California Rep. John Duarte, a Republican who lands at No. 5, and Washington Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, a Democrat who comes in at No. 6.

Joining the list this time are Ohio Reps. Marcy Kaptur, who is running in a district that Donald Trump would have won, and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, who is facing a rematch with a Democrat who nearly beat her last year and is far outpacing her in fundraising.

Redistricting is reshaping not just congressional districts in some states, but it’s also reshaping this list. After Republicans in the North Carolina Legislature finalized new maps last month, Democratic Reps. Wiley Nickel and Kathy Manning take spots Nos. 2 and 3 because the new map drawn by Republicans leaves them in districts that would have backed Trump by double digits. Rep. Jeff Jackson, a freshman Democrat whose seat was also redrawn, has already said he’ll run for state attorney general instead. And Rep. Don Davis, another freshman Democrat, will have a competitive race for the state’s only toss-up seat that could find him on this list next year.

Also not on this list but now running in a competitive primary are Alabama Reps. Jerry Carl and Barry Moore, who will face off in a member-on-member primary in March, leaving one of them out of Congress in 2025. The state has a new map after the Supreme Court ruled the current configuration violated the Voting Rights Act. Next year’s race in the 2nd District, which Moore currently represents, is rated Likely Democratic by Inside Elections, and Moore’s hometown was drawn into the new 1st District, currently represented by Carl.

More states may still be affected by redistricting ahead of next year’s elections, which could make more members vulnerable next year. A federal judge in Georgia last month ordered a new map ahead of 2024, which could give Democrats the opportunity to pick up at least one new district in the state. In Louisiana, a redistricting case is tied up in appeals and it’s not clear whether it will be finalized in time for next year’s elections. A Democratic effort to redraw lines in New York is also before state courts and could make some GOP members even more vulnerable.

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With 18 Republicans representing districts that Biden would have won in 2020 and five Democrats in districts Trump would have won, there are plenty of members who are also vulnerable next year and could join a future version of this list as the campaign picks up in the new year and primary results further shape these contests. California Rep. Mike Garcia is set to face a new Democratic opponent for the first time since he was elected in a 2020 special election. George Whitesides has loaned his campaign $800,000 and had $1.7 million on hand at the end of the third quarter, compared with Garcia’s $1.6 million.

Similarly, Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola could be vulnerable in Alaska if Republicans can better utilize the state’s ranked choice voting system next year.

GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Democratic Reps. Yadiro Caraveo and Gabe Vasquez, who all made the top 10 in May, remain in toss-up races that are expected to be competitive. The battle for control of the House will also include open seats, such as in Michigan’s 7th District, which both parties expect will be competitive.

Santos survived an expulsion vote, but it would be a steep climb for him to survive the 2024 election cycle. The freshman lawmaker is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, which has said it plans to release an update on his case later this month, and faces nearly two dozen federal charges as of this fall. The House could vote to expel him again after the Ethics panel’s update, but Santos recently told CNN he would run again for the 3rd District if so. While a Republican primary field is taking shape, former Rep. Tom Suozzi recently joined the crowded Democratic field.

In 2022, auto body shop owner Gluesenkamp Pérez flipped a middle-class Wouthwest Washington district that leans Republican by emphasizing blue-collar issues. She was one of two Democrats to break with her party and vote to overturn Biden’s student loan relief plan. Joe Kent, a Trump-backed Republican who rejected the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 win and narrowly lost to Gluesenkamp Pérez in 2022, is running again. Kent has support from the state Republican Party, but he must first get past fellow Republican Leslie Lewallen of Camas, a former prosecutor. Gluesenkamp Pérez had about $1.6 million on hand on Sept. 30, to Kent’s $198,000 and Lewallen’s $144,000.

Nickel joins the list because of a new North Carolina map that makes the 13th District significantly more Republican leaning. He’s loudly pushed back against the new map, saying in a statement when it was finalized last month that, “It’s time to sue the bastards.” While a lawsuit is expected, it’s not clear whether litigation will be finalized ahead of the March primary. A first-term House member, Nickel had $933,000 on hand at the end of the third quarter. He’ll need to make a decision about whether to run for reelection by the Dec. 15 filing deadline.

Manning announced her reelection campaign about a week before North Carolina’s new map was finalized late last month. Like Nickel, she called the maps “an extreme partisan gerrymander.” But Manning, a Democrat in her second term, would have a difficult time winning the 6th District as newly drawn. Former GOP Rep. Mark Walker, who lost a bid for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2022, dropped his bid for governor to run for the seat. Manning had $628,000 on hand at the end of the third quarter.

D’Esposito will have a tough time defending this seat, but he’s preparing for a competitive campaign. He had over $1.1 million on hand at the end of the third quarter, outraising his potential Democratic opponents. A former New York City police detective, D’Esposito is likely to make crime a focal point of the campaign. Along with two other Long Island Republicans, D’Esposito sought to extract concessions from House speaker candidates, most notably Rep. Jim Jordan, as Republicans spent most of last month seeking a new party leader. He faces a potential rematch with Democrat Lauren Gillen, a former Hempstead town supervisor, whom he defeated in 2022.

A rematch is brewing in the San Joaquin Valley, where Duarte, a first-term Republican from Modesto, is once again facing Democrat Adam Gray, a former state Assemblyman. Duarte won by less than 600 votes in 2022, the GOP’s closest margin of victory in a district Biden won in 2020. A nursery owner and farmer, Duarte has focused on agriculture and water issues in Congress. But look for Democrats to paint Duarte as a Republican hard-liner. In the third quarter, Duarte raised $455,000 and had $1.2 million on hand, outpacing Gray, who raised $223,000 and had $197,000 on hand.

Lawler moves down two spots since May’s list, but he’ll still face a competitive race after ousting then-DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney in a high-profile win last year. The former political operative is amassing a war chest and reported having $2 million on hand at the end of September. Lawler is likely to tout a compliment from Biden, who said during a visit to the district in May that Lawler was like Republicans he used to work with in the Senate. Former Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones is running here and raised over $1 million in the third quarter. But Jones first must win a primary, where he’s facing Liz Whitmer Gereghty, the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Williams’ district around Utica, N.Y., is a true Toss-up. Williams had $861,000 on hand at the end of September, a more modest amount than some colleagues but funds that could go farther because television ads upstate are cheaper. Democrats have signaled they’ll target Williams for voting for an appropriations bill to fund the Food and Drug Administration that would limit access to Mifepristone, an abortion drug. The Democratic primary here between Sarah Klee Hood, a DeWitt town councilor, and state Sen. John Mannion is taking shape and the two are so far similarly matched for cash.

First elected in 1982, Kaptur is the longest-serving woman in congressional history. The district grew more Republican, due to an earlier round of redistricting. And in a presidential year, Ohio is likely to remain a bastion of support for Trump, which could hurt Kaptur. But Democrats expressed confidence that her personal brand and widespread name recognition will mute the impact the top of the ticket could exert on the race. J.R. Majewski, an election denier who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, is running again; Kaptur beat him by more than 13 percentage points in 2022. Two other Republicans — former state Rep. Craig Riedel and Steve Lankenau, a former mayor — are also running.

On paper, Colorado’s 3rd District favors Republicans and Boebert is a nationally known firebrand. But she barely won reelection in 2022, and that was before she was ejected from a theater for creating a public disturbance while on a date. Republicans say Boebert has redoubled her effort to connect with voters. She faces a potential rematch with Democrat Adam Frisch, who raised $3.4 million in the third quarter to Boebert’s $854,000. But first she has to get past Republican Jeff Hurd, a lawyer who has the backing of several prominent Colorado Republicans. Frisch also faces a primary against Anna Stout, the Democratic mayor of Grand Junction.