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South Carolina’s Joe Cunningham, Texas’s Colin Allred and Lizzie Fletcher lead pack in 2020 contributions
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — The 10 Southern U.S. House Democrats who flipped Republican-held seats in 2018 all posted strong fundraising numbers for their re-election campaigns during the first quarter of 2019, as they try to build the war chests they will need to stave off GOP challengers next year.
Leading the pack was Joe Cunningham, representing the Low Country of South Carolina, who raised $663,500 during the first three months of the year, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
He raised more money than any other Southern House incumbent in either party, except for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, who raised $2.5 million.
Cunningham was followed by two Texans — Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in Houston, who raised $582,900, and Colin Allred in Dallas, who raised $530,400. In the Atlanta suburbs, Lucy McBath, who already has two Republicans actively campaigning against her for 2020, raised $482,000.
Among the three Democrats who won seats in Virginia in 2018, Jennifer Wexton, in the Washington D.C. suburbs, raised $424,200; Abigail Spanberger, in suburban Richmond, raised $415,300; and Elaine Luria, in Hampton Roads, took in $327,000.
Kendra Horn, who won a surprise victory last November in metro Oklahoma City, raised $377,600 during the quarter.
While all of these Democrats will have stout competition in 2020, no potential Republican challengers raised any significant money during the first quarter, except the two candidates running against McBath in Georgia. So as of now, all of these Democrats are out ahead financially of their challengers.
McBath raised more money than both of her Republican rivals combined. Karen Handel, who is gunning for a rematch with McBath after losing to her in 2018, raised $259,800, and State Senator Brandon Beach raised $123,800.
Historically, freshmen House members tend to be most vulnerable during their first re-election race, particularly in a wave year such as 2018, when large numbers of seats changed hands between parties.
Six of the 10 Southern Democrats who flipped seats won by 2 points or less in 2018, and, in 2020, President Donald Trump — who won or nearly won seven of these districts — will also be on the ballot.
Cunningham and Horn face perhaps the biggest hurdle. Both won their 2018 races by less than 2 points; Trump carried their districts by 13 points.
Trump won Spanberger’s district by 7 points in 2016, and she won it by 2 points in 2018. Trump narrowly won the districts represented by McBath and Luria; they each won by less than 2 points in 2018.
In Texas, Fletcher and Allred represent districts Trump narrowly lost, but their margins of victory in 2018 were slightly larger, 5 and 7 points respectively.
Wexton, Mucarsel-Powell, and Shalala would seem to have little to fear from a Trump effect in their districts, all of which Hillary Clinton carried handily. However, Mucarsel-Powell only won her 2018 race by 2 points, and her district, the 26th, has a history of swinging back and forth between the parties.
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Republicans make a net gain of four seats across the region
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ELECTION CENTRAL (CFP) — Four embattled Democratic incumbents who represent conservative U.S. House districts lost their seats in the November 4 midterm election, while the GOP lost a seat in the Florida Panhandle.
The four Democrats — Nick Rahall in West Virginia, John Barrow in Georgia, Joe Garcia in Florida and Pete Gallego in Texas — all represented districts that Mitt Romney carried in 2012. The GOP also took an open Democrat-held seat in North Carolina where Romney also won.
With those wins, the GOP will hold a 112-39 advantage in Southern U.S. House seats come January.
The Democrats’ only good news came in Florida’s Tallahassee-centered 2nd District, where Gwen Graham, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, narrowly defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland by a margin of 50 percent to 49 percent.
Democrats had also targeted five open seats in Arkansas, Virginia and West Virginia. Republicans held all five.
Barrow, who represents Georgia’s 12th District, had survived four previous attempts by Republicans to push him from Congress, which included having his district gerrymandered twice by the state legislature. But the fifth time proved the charm as he lost to Republican Rick Allen by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.
Despite 19 terms representing West Virginia in Congress, Rahall could not overcome President Obama’s marked unpopularity in the Mountaineer State, losing to State Senator Evan Jenkins in the 3rd District, by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. .
In Florida’s 26th District, Garcia lost to Republican Carlos Curbelo by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent. This Latino-majority district, which stretches from southwest Miami-Dade County to Key West, has now switched hands in the three straight elections.
The GOP also won in Texas’s 23rd District, a vast district that sprawls across more than 500 miles of southwest Texas, from the suburbs of San Antonio to the suburbs of El Paso.
Will Hurd, a former CIA agent who, uniquely, was a black candidate running in a majority Latino district, defeated Gallego by a margin of 50 percent to 48 percent. This closely divided district has now switched hands three times since 2006.
Republicans also picked up a seat in North Carolina’s 7th District, which opened up when Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre decided to retire. Former State Senator David Rouzer easily defeated New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield.