Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Cook Makes Its Moves

The folks at the Cook Political Report keep a close eye on all of the Congressional races, both House and Senate. And they are pretty cautious when it comes to moving things from one column to another. So, anytime Cook releases an update of their race evaluations, it's worth taking a look, as any shifts likely speak to a fairly significant change in dynamics. Their latest is out, and it has two districts moving in a Republican direction and three moving in a Democratic direction.

The good news for the Republicans comes in CA-09 and TX-34. In the former, which is D+5, Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA) has drawn a stiff challenger in the person of Mayor Kevin Lincoln (R-Stockton). Lincoln is both Black and Latino, is a veteran, is a pastor, and is conservative without being looney tunes. Plus, CA-09 is basically just Stockton plus a handful of small, outlying towns like Lodi and Manteca. That said, Harder's a good politician, and the district is pretty blue outside of Stockton, so Cook still has it as "likely Democrat," moving from its previous "solid Democrat."

TX-34, meanwhile, is the D+9 district that Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) jumped to when his previous district (TX-15) was drawn to be much redder. Cook moved it from "likely Democrat" to "leans Democrat" because former representative Mayra Flores announced that she's back for a rematch, after having lost to Gonzalez in 2022. Republicans really, really want her to win, since she gives them a twofer in terms of diversifying the House Republican Conference: a woman and a Latina. So, they are going to lavish money upon Flores. That said, the district is pretty blue (and, in fact, would have been won by Joe Biden by 16 points), Gonzalez has won election four times, and he is one of the best fundraisers in the House, having collected more than $700,000 in Q2. So, while we pass along Cook's opinion, we actually think they might be jumping the gun in moving the race Republican-ward.

The three races that moved in the Democrats' direction are CA-41, OH-01 and CO-03. Starting in the Golden State, that R+3 seat is currently held by Rep. Ken Calvert (R), and covers a rather large, mostly desert-y area centered on Palm Springs. If ever there's a contest for which member of Congress has the largest number of Joshua trees in their district, Calvert will win in a walk. It's a very purple district (remember that R+2 equates to "evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans"), Calvert is strongly anti-choice (which isn't a wildly popular position in California), and he's just gotten a pretty strong opponent in former federal prosecutor Will Rollins, who is also gay. We mention Rollins' sexual orientation because there are definitely folks in that district who like the idea of breaking various glass ceilings, and that's one of those ceilings. Cook previously had the race as "leans Republican," but with Rollins getting in, it's now "toss up."

OH-01, meanwhile, went from "toss up" to "leans Democrat." It's a D+2 district currently occupied by Rep. Greg Landsman (D-OH). In contrast to the other four races discussed here, this move has nothing to do with Landsman's opponent, as the only one he's drawn so far is an unknown. No, Cook is making a prediction that Ohio will indeed be compelled to redraw its district maps, and that OH-01, which Landsman won by 5 points against an incumbent (Steve Chabot, R) in 2022, is going to get bluer.

And finally, C0-03 is the R+7 district currently represented by Lauren Boebert (R), and it went from "leans Republican" to "toss up." This shift was made for two reasons. The first is that Boebert keeps making unforced errors, whether it's high-profile feuds with her colleagues, or appearing to be dismissive of the children who died in the Uvalde shootings, or any of a dozen other missteps. The second is that the fellow who nearly dethroned Boebert in 2022, Democrat Adam Frisch, is going to take a second shot at it. This time, he'll be regarded as a serious candidate for the entire cycle, he'll have the benefit of lessons learned the first time around, and he'll likely have presidential coattails. Oh, and as we have noted, he's raising more money than any other House candidate, Democrat or Republican, incumbent or challenger, with $2.6 million in receipts in Q2.

We don't always get to take a close look at House races, since there are roughly 400 of them (not all seats are contested), and more like 650 of them if you count primaries. So, piggybacking off of Cook allows us to at least examine the most interesting contests. (Z)

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