Dems, GOP stretch for hard-to-get districts in House races

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — In a rustic Virginia district that bounced its Republican congressman after he officiated a same-sex wedding, the battle to replace him pits a self-described “biblical conservative” backed by President Donald Trump against a Black doctor who worked in Barack Obama’s White House.



FILE - In this June 14, 2020, file photo 5th Congressional District Republican candidate Bob Good leaves Lynchburg's Tree of Life Ministries, in Lynchburg, Va. Good is running against Democrat Cameron Webb. (Amy Friedenberger/The Roanoke Times via AP, File)


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FILE – In this June 14, 2020, file photo 5th Congressional District Republican candidate Bob Good leaves Lynchburg’s Tree of Life Ministries, in Lynchburg, Va. Good is running against Democrat Cameron Webb. (Amy Friedenberger/The Roanoke Times via AP, File)

The district, which stretches from Washington’s far suburbs to the North Carolina line, has elected just one Democrat for a single two-year term this century. Trump carried it by 11 percentage points in 2016. Yet Democrats are spending money to go after it.

The contest between Republican Bob Good and Democrat Cameron Webb will answer whether a Black candidate with an expertise in health care can prevail in a traditionally conservative area during a pandemic and a time of racial reckoning. It’s also an example of how both parties are pursuing a handful of districts that might seem a reach.

Democrats are contesting over a dozen seats from New York’s Long Island to Alaska where Trump won by at least 10 percentage points, usually a daunting margin. Republicans have fewer viable targets but are spending serious money in places like South Florida and central California where Trump lost badly four years ago.

Marking the efforts’ seriousness, at least one side’s outside groups are spending $1 million or more in most of these races. The expenditures come during an election when the question isn’t whether Democrats will keep their House majority but how large it will be.

Democrats have more opportunities because of the suburbs’ continuing flight from Trump, GOP retirements and primaries that produced some weaker candidates, and a fundraising edge that lets them spend amply.

“The political environment is tough, so it’s forcing us to shore up key defensive seats,” said Dan Conston, president of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a big-spending political committee aligned with House GOP leaders. But he said strong candidate recruitment “has created great pick-up opportunities for us to win back seats in surprising places.”

The paramount factor is Trump, whose unpopularity is wounding numerous GOP congressional contenders. Trump compounded his problems with his fuming debate performance against Democratic rival Joe Biden, his COVID-19 diagnosis and his scoffing at the perils of a virus that’s killed over 215,000 Americans.

“Strategists on both sides see a very real potential for a total blood bath on Election Day for Republicans, for the president,” said Brendan Buck, who advised former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., explaining Democrats’ spending in difficult races. “If there’s a wave, you don’t want to leave any opportunity behind.”

“We’re on offense this cycle, and we didn’t get here by accident,” said Lucinda Guinn, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s House political arm.

In Virginia, Good snatched the GOP nomination from

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Veteran House incumbents fight for their seats as districts evolve

WASHINGTON — As he logs another campaign season piloting his single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza around his vast, crimson-red Minnesota district, voters greet Rep. Collin Peterson by name. But something else is hauntingly familiar as the Democrat seeks a 16th term in Congress.

“There are so many Trump signs out here you wouldn’t believe it,” Peterson, 76, said recently.

Much of the focus in this year’s fight for House control will be on dozens of freshmen Democrats who gave the party its majority in 2018 by capturing Republican-held seats. But there’s a smaller category of lawmakers like Peterson and GOP Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio who also merit attention: long-term incumbents of both parties fighting to preserve their careers.

Like their newer, more vulnerable colleagues, these congressional veterans are at the mercy of the country’s growing partisan fragmentation. This trend, which President Donald Trump has intensified, has seen conservative rural districts turn increasingly Republican while suburban voters exhausted by his discord-driven presidency flee the GOP in droves.

“These days for many voters, just seeing an ‘R’ or ‘D’ next to a name, that’s enough,” said Gary Jacobson, political science professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego.

Trump carried Peterson’s district by 31 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, his biggest margin in any of the 29 House seats Democrats hold.

Over 90% of House incumbents are usually reelected, thanks to name recognition and campaign fundraising advantages. But they’re not immune to defeat. In the 2018 Democratic wave, 30 representatives seeking reelection — all Republicans — were defeated, including seven who’d served at least a decade. One, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., was in the House for 30 years.

This year, around a dozen representatives who’ve served at least five two-year terms have potentially competitive contests. Most are Republicans, whose numbers in this category would be higher if eight others who faced difficult races in states including Georgia, North Carolina and Texas had sought reelection rather than retiring.

Rep. Don Young of Alaska, 87, first elected in a 1973 special election and the longest serving Republican in House history, is favored but faces a well-financed opponent. Other GOP representatives eyeing tough races include David Schweikert of Arizona, reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee for campaign finance violations; Mike McCaul, whose Texas district includes suburbs of Houston and Austin; and Jaime Herrera Beutler of southwest Washington state.

Other close races for long-serving Republicans may loom in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Texas.

Among Democrats, Reps. Ron Kind, a 12-term Wisconsin veteran, and Peter DeFazio, who’s served 17 terms from Oregon, are seeking reelection in closely divided districts but seem likely to win.

In a western Minnesota district stretching from the Canadian border to the Minneapolis exurbs, Peterson faces former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, one of his most serious GOP challengers yet.

“Collin has been there a very long time,” the Trump-endorsed Fischbach, 54, said in an interview. To

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Veteran House incumbents cling to seats as districts evolve

WASHINGTON (AP) — As he logs another campaign season piloting his single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza around his vast, crimson-red Minnesota district, voters greet Rep. Collin Peterson by name. But something else is hauntingly familiar as the Democrat seeks a 16th term in Congress.

“There are so many Trump signs out here you wouldn’t believe it,” Peterson, 76, said recently.

Much of the focus in this year’s fight for House control will be on dozens of freshmen Democrats who gave the party its majority in 2018 by capturing Republican-held seats. But there’s a smaller category of lawmakers like Peterson and GOP Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio who also merit attention: long-term incumbents of both parties fighting to preserve their careers.

Like their newer, more vulnerable colleagues, these congressional veterans are confronting the country’s growing partisan fragmentation. This trend, which President Donald Trump has intensified, has seen conservative rural districts turn increasingly Republican while suburban voters exhausted by his discord-driven presidency flee the GOP in droves.

Peterson represents a district Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election by 31 percentage points, his biggest margin in any of the 29 House seats Democrats hold.

“These days for many voters, just seeing an ‘R’ or ‘D’ next to a name, that’s enough,” said Gary Jacobson, political science professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego.

Over 90% of House incumbents are usually reelected, thanks to name recognition and campaign fundraising advantages. But they’re not immune to defeat. In the 2018 Democratic wave, 30 representatives seeking reelection — all Republicans — were defeated, including seven who’d served at least five terms. One, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., had served for 30 years.

This year, around a dozen House members who’ve served at least a decade, or five terms, have potentially competitive contests. Most are Republicans, whose numbers in this category would be higher if eight others who faced difficult races in states including Georgia, North Carolina and Texas had sought reelection rather than retiring.

Rep. Don Young of Alaska, 87, first elected in a 1973 special election and the longest serving Republican in House history, is favored but faces a well-financed opponent. Other GOP representatives eyeing close races include David Schweikert of Arizona, reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee for campaign finance violations; Mike McCaul, whose Texas district includes suburbs of Houston and Austin; and Jaime Herrera Beutler of southwest Washington state.

Other close races for long-serving Republicans may loom in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Texas.

Among Democrats, Reps. Ron Kind, a 12-term Wisconsin veteran, and Peter DeFazio, who’s served 17 terms from Oregon, are seeking reelection in closely divided districts but seem likely to win.

In Peterson’s western Minnesota district, which stretches from the Canadian border to the Minneapolis exurbs, he faces former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, one of his most serious GOP challengers yet.

“Collin has been there a very long time,” the Trump-endorsed Fischbach, 54, said in an interview. To paint him as out of touch with voters, she’s employing the widely used

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