2018 House Bottom Lines: Washington to Wyoming

This is the final in a series of race rundowns designed to give subscribers a quick snapshot of what's happening in each district in 2018. Throughout the cycle, watch for our detailed analysis of the most closely-fought races in our competitive race overviews. And, be sure to bookmark our ratings to keep track of the latest changes.


WA-01: Suzan DelBene (D) - Northwest: Redmond, Kirkland, Lake Stevens
Solid Democratic. DelBene, a former Microsoft executive, was once a Republican target. But the leftward shift of the Seattle suburbs has taken this district off the map. Hillary Clinton won 54 percent to 38 percent in 2016, and DelBene won't have any problems in 2018.

WA-02: Rick Larsen (D) - Puget Sound: Everett, Bellingham
Solid Democratic. Larsen once occupied a true swing district, but 2011 redistricting removed most of the Republican areas of the 2nd CD and centered it on liberal Everett. Larsen took 64 percent in 2016 and isn't in any danger this fall.

WA-03: Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) - Southwest: Vancouver, Longview, Centralia
Likely Republican. Herrera Beutler has generally been popular in this traditionally swingy district. She was the subject of favorable national coverage after her daughter was born without kidneys and survived the typically fatal condition in 2013. She also has a relatively moderate voting record, including voting against the GOP's healthcare bill last May. But she sits in a substantially suburban seat President Trump won just 50 percent to 43 percent in 2016.

She also hasn't faced a tough race since 2010. Democrats have struggled to recruit here, but WSU-Vancouver law professor Carolyn Long has corralled some grassroots support and raised $238,000 in the first quarter of 2018. Herrera Beutler ended March with $767,000 on hand. Democratic attorney David McDevitt is running as well but took just 10 percent in the 2016 open primary. This could develop into a real race in a Democratic wave scenario.

WA-04: Dan Newhouse (R) - Middle third: Yakima, Tri-Cities
Solid Republican. Newhouse owes his seat in Congress to Washington's top-two primary system. Newhouse, a moderate former state legislator, was once appointed the state's agriculture director by a Democratic governor. In 2014, he ran for this open seat and came in second in the all-party primary to Tea Party conservative/former NFL player Clint Didier. But under the state's rules, both advanced to November. Newhouse prevailed 51 percent to 49 percent.

Didier challenged Newhouse to a rematch in 2016, but with the advantage of incumbency, Newhouse prevailed by a more comfortable 58 percent to 42 percent. In 2018, Newhouse doesn't appear to have any GOP challengers. Democratic former local TV anchor Christine Brown is running, but this is the most heavily Republican seat in the state: it voted for President Trump by 23 points. 2018 should be Newhouse's most comfortable election yet.

WA-05: Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) - Eastern third: Spokane, Walla Walla
Lean Republican. In this political climate, problems for Republicans are popping up in surprising places. House GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the only female member of the House GOP leadership elite since 2012, has been a high-profile supporter of the party's agenda. But as that agenda's popularity has faded, her leadership status has turned into a liability and her political security back home in eastern Washington has eroded.

The 5th CD gave President Trump a 52 percent to 39 percent edge in 2016. Yet the depth of support for McMorris Rodgers after 13 years in office is a bit of a question mark. Eastern Washington has an anti-Washington, DC, streak: in the 1994 GOP wave, it threw out the sitting Democratic Speaker Tom Foley. And in 2016, McMorris Rodgers garnered a very weak 42 percent in the August open primary, while 15 percent went to fellow Republican Tom Horne, who railed against her as the "establishment."

This year, Democrats have a credible nominee in Lisa Brown, a former state legislator and university administrator who most recently helped get the Washington State University-Spokane health sciences campus off the ground. Brown, who was a state legislator between 1993 and 2013 (including as state senate majority leader), has also taught economics and leadership classes at Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University. She raised $837,000 on hand in March.

Polls conducted by both parties peg McMorris Rodgers under 50 percent and leading Brown by mid-single digits, a far cry from her 19 point win in 2016. The Congressional Leadership Fund, backed by Speaker Paul Ryan, opened up a field office in the 5th CD to shore up McMorris Rodgers. After a slow start, the incumbent ramped up her campaign operation significantly in late 2017 and now has $1.7 million on hand.

McMorris Rodgers's saving grace may be Brown. Unlike most Democrats lighting the grassroots ablaze this year, Brown is a longtime politician with a long political paper trail to attack. McMorris Rodgers allies will try to neutralize Brown's hits on the GOP tax bill by going after Brown's very liberal voting record in Olympia, including fighting to raise taxes and tuition hikes. Brown was also part of a state-organized fact-finding delegation to Cuba in 2016 and commented positively on Cuba's healthcare research programs.

After years of sleepy races, McMorris Rodgers is in for a contentious fight. Democrats will accuse her of having "gone DC" for having relocated her family to DC earlier this decade. And midterms are more often than not referenda on the party in power, which could complicate the incumbent's messaging. But Washington's system of all-mail elections should also help mitigate Democrats' enthusiasm advantage. McMorris Rodgers is still the narrow favorite.

WA-06: Derek Kilmer (D) - West/Olympic Peninsula: Bremerton
Solid Democratic. Kilmer, a Princeton graduate and former Marshall Scholar, has found success in a blue-collar district with lots of defense jobs. He downplayed his own resume and earned a reputation as a hard-working nerd as a state senator, allowing him to move up when longtime appropriator Rep. Norm Dicks retired in 2012. He took 62 percent in 2016 and is safe in 2018.

WA-07: Pramila Jayapal (D) - Seattle and north suburbs: Edmonds
Solid Democratic. Jayapal, who came to the United States at 16, is the first Indian-American in Congress. In 2016, she dominated a large field for this open seat by combining her base as a state senator with progressive credentials as a Bernie Sanders backer and endorsee. She should be able to hold this prohibitively Democratic Seattle seat as long as she wants.

WA-08: OPEN (Reichert) (R) - Cascades: Auburn, Ellensburg, Chelan
Toss Up. GOP Rep. Dave Reichert's retirement is one of the most valuable for Democrats in the country. Over seven terms, Democrats just couldn't crack the code against Reichert, whom voters knew as the King County sheriff, not even in the 2006 or 2008 waves. Now, Democrats have an excellent pickup opportunity in a district that mixes Seattle suburbs with rural counties east of the Cascades and voted for Hillary Clinton 48 percent to 45 percent.

President Trump's unpopularity should make Republicans the underdogs to hold the seat. But Republicans probably landed their strongest possible candidate in Dino Rossi, the commercial real estate businessman and former state senator who lost an infamous 2004 gubernatorial recount by 129 votes. Rossi also narrowly lost races for governor in 2008 and for Senate in 2010, but each time he carried the 8th CD as currently drawn.

Meanwhile, the Democratic field is divided between three lesser-known first-time candidates: pediatrician Kim Schrier, who has EMILY's List's endorsement, attorney and former prosecutor Jason Rittereiser and former Centers for Disease Control official Shannon Hader. It's a bit surprising a wealthy Seattle self-funder never jumped in, but some Democrats are upbeat about running a new face against a "career politician."

Rossi is universally known, had $1.5 million on hand at the end of March and is virtually certain to finish first in the August 14 all-party primary. For now, Schrier ($782,000 on hand) looks like the Democratic frontrunner. Schrier grew up in Los Angeles but has owned a pediatrics practice in the Seattle suburbs for 16 years and says Reichert's refusal to stand up to President Trump on healthcare inspired her to run.

Hader ($515,000 on hand, including a $300,000 personal loan) is billing herself as the true progressive. She'll highlight her experience as a top CDC global public health official combating HIV/AIDS, but her time in DC and late entry into the race could make it harder for her to keep up with Schrier. Rittereiser ($407,000 on hand) plays up his roots east of the Cascades and is hoping the two women divide support.

Rittereiser has been most aggressive in attacking Schrier, recently accusing her in public forums of failing to treat poor kids because her clinic doesn't accept four out of five state Medicaid plans. But it's doubtful the charges against Schrier will stick: Schrier has pointed out it's not up to her which Medicaid plans her health system accepts, and will argue she has treated plenty of low-income families.

It won't be surprising if Rossi starts out with a polling lead over the eventual Democratic nominee thanks to his universal name ID. But it's been 28 years since a president's party has defended an open House seat the president failed to carry two years earlier. Democrats are also optimistic they can cast the Club for Growth-backed Rossi as too far right for the 8th CD and shed new light on his real estate dealings. It's a Toss Up.

WA-09: Adam Smith (D) - Seattle suburbs: Bellevue, Renton, Kent
Solid Democratic. Smith is totally safe in this majority non-white district south of Seattle and would be in line to chair the Armed Services Committee should Democrats take back the majority.

WA-10: Denny Heck (D) - Southwest: Olympia, Tacoma suburbs
Solid Democratic. Heck lost his first race for Congress in 2010, but won two years later when Washington's redistricting commission created a much more favorable district centered on Olympia. Heck took 58 percent in 2016 and is focused on his role as the DCCC's recruitment chair, where his calming, grandfatherly demeanor is an asset.

West Virginia

WV-01: David McKinley (R) - North: Wheeling, Morgantown
Solid Republican. Some Democratic operatives were intrigued when Wheeling-based former Orrick law firm CEO Ralph Baxter got into the race and raised $429,000. But Baxter evidently took the primary for granted, and lost the nomination to WVU law professor Kendra Fershee, who had $8,000 in the bank in April. McKinley took 69 percent of the vote in 2016 and is in solid shape for a fifth term.

WV-02: Alex Mooney (R) - Central: Charleston, Eastern Panhandle
Solid Republican. Mooney, a former Maryland state senator, trekked across the Potomac River to run for this open seat in 2014, raised more money than all of his opponents, and won the GOP primary. Some voters still haven't gotten over his "adoption" of West Virginia. In 2014, he won 47 percent to 44 percent. In 2016, he beat underfunded state Del. Mark Hunt 58 percent to 42 percent, but that was less than half of Trump's 36 point margin here.

Democrats were initially interested when West Point graduate and Iraq veteran Aaron Scheinberg got into the 2018 race and raised $351,000. But Scheinberg lost the May primary to Talley Sergent, a former aide to Sen. Jay Rockefeller who served as Hillary Clinton's West Virginia state director in 2016. That resume line should be all Mooney needs to survive 2018 in a district where Clinton failed to crack 30 percent of the vote.

WV-03: OPEN (Jenkins) (R) - South: Hungtington, Beckley
Likely Republican. A district that voted 73 percent to 23 percent for President Trump is a strange place for Democrats to target. But this race could turn out be one of the wildest of the cycle. First, Democrats still retain a 50 percent to 27 percent voter registration edge in West Virginia's 3rd CD, which Rep. Evan Jenkins vacated to run unsuccessfully for Senate. Second, popular Sen. Joe Manchin will be topping the Democratic ticket in 2018, not Hillary Clinton.

Most importantly, Democrats may have a uniquely appealing candidate in Trump-voting state Sen. Richard Ojeda, a retired Army paratrooper who saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and became a folk hero during this year's teacher strike. The tattooed Ojeda's charisma and tenacity in coal country has become the stuff of legend and an extensive POLITICO profile, and former MSNBC host Krystal Ball has made his race something of a personal mission.

Ojeda first ran against 28-year Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall in 2014, taking 34 percent in the primary after spending virtually no money. In 2016, he was viciously beaten at a campaign picnic for a state senate race in an attack he believes was politically motivated, but went on to win the seat with 59 percent at the same time Trump carried the district with 78 percent (and Ojeda's vote). This year, Ojeda beat three opponents in the Democratic primary with 52 percent.

In the May GOP primary, state Del. Carol Miller defeated six other GOP candidates with 24 percent. Miller is a bison farmer and 12-year legislator from Huntington whose family owns the well-known Dutch Miller auto dealership chain (and her father, Samuel Devine, served in Congress from Ohio). She loaned her campaign $200,000 to run ads playing up her sponsorship of a bill to make the Bible the state book and her pledge to "cut the bull" in DC.

Ojeda won't run a traditional campaign and filed with just $78,000 on hand in late April. He received three times as many primary votes as Miller, but that's mainly because so many reliably GOP voters are still registered Democrats. Democrats are hoping to make this race a personality contest, while Republicans hope it reverts to a more partisan frame. Miller should have the resources to dominate the airwaves, but don't be surprised if polls show a close race.


WI-01: OPEN (Ryan) (R) - Southeast corner: Racine, Kenosha
Lean Republican. Most of DC is obsessed with who will succeed outgoing Rep. Paul Ryan as House Speaker, but plenty of people in Wisconsin are more concerned with who will replace him after 20 years in office. Democrats now have a much more legitimate shot at winning this suburban Milwaukee seat and have a big financial head start. But at the June 1 filing deadline, the GOP field has finally taken shape.

Democratic Army veteran and former ironworker Randy Bryce, perhaps better known as the "Iron Stache," has been a national phenomenon on MSNBC and in left-leaning online fundraising circles for months. He ended March with $2.3 million on hand and is the favorite over pro-impeachment Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers in the August 14 primary. But he also sports serious personal liabilities, including late child support payments.

On the GOP side, UW Board of Regents member Bryan Steil looks like the frontrunner after several high-profile Republicans, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, took a pass. Steil, a former Ryan staffer, is a 37-year-old attorney for manufacturing companies and hails from a prominent Janesville political family. Most Wisconsin insiders expect Ryan will endorse and raise money for Steil at some point before the August primary.

Steil won't have the GOP field to himself. Army veteran Nick Polce and psychologist/conservative activist Brad Boivin are running as well. A handful of Republicans fear that a divided field could give an opening to anti-Semitic/anti-globalist activist Paul Nehlen, but Nehlen took just 16 percent of the vote against Ryan in the 2016 GOP primary, so that worst-case scenario for Republicans looks unlikely for now.

Running against Ryan allowed Bryce to gain a national following and a $2.3 million head start over the GOP field. But the 1st CD might not be the blue-collar bastion Bryce's profile might imply: most voters here are Republican suburbanites who were happy voting for Ryan for years, and Steil's profile could be a good fit. President Trump carried the seat 52 percent to 42 percent in 2016. For now, this race is in the Lean Republican column.

WI-02: Mark Pocan (D) - South: Madison
Solid Democratic. Pocan has held this very liberal Madison seat comfortably since 2012, and that won't change in 2018.

WI-03: Ron Kind (D) - West central: Eau Claire, La Crosse
Solid Democratic. Initially, Republicans were excited about targeting Kind in 2018. After all, Kind went unopposed in 2016 while Donald Trump carried this rural western Wisconsin district 49 percent to 44 percent, a surprising result because Republicans had redrawn this seat in 2011 to include as many Democratic towns as possible. But that enthusiasm has subsided with the prospect of a Democratic wave.

Republicans are poised to nominate retired Army Colonel Steve Toft, who had $103,000 in the bank to Kind's $2.9 million at the end of March. Toft criticizes Kind's response to the Tomah VA hospital scandal as insufficient and might make a strong opponent to Kind in a better year for Republicans, but probably not in 2018. Kind's brand as a self-styled moderate "New Democrat" has played well here since 1996 and helped him survive the 2010 wave.

WI-04: Gwen Moore (D) - Southeast: Milwaukee
Solid Democratic. Moore is safely entrenched in this Milwaukee district that voted for Hillary Clinton by 52 points in 2016.

WI-05: Jim Sensenbrenner (R) - Southeast: Milwaukee suburbs
Solid Republican. Sensenbrenner, the second longest-serving member of the House, put to rest retirement rumors when he announced he would run for a 21st term in March. This is the safest Republican seat in the state.

WI-06: Glenn Grothman (R) - East central: Oshkosh, Fond du Lac
Likely Republican. Grothman was one of the most outspoken and incendiary conservatives in the state senate prior to his elevation to Congress in 2014, but Democrats have never truly had the resources to define him. That won't be the case in 2018. Democrat Dan Kohl, a former Milwaukee Bucks Assistant General Manager and the nephew of former Sen. Herb Kohl, is running and has outraised Grothman $1.2 million to $968,000 so far this cycle.

Still, this is the kind of seat that would only come into play in a Democratic tidal wave. Despite the 6th CD's middle-of-the-road tradition - it narrowly voted for Obama in 2008 - Trump carried it by a massive 55 percent to 38 percent margin in 2016. Republicans also note that Kohl served on Hillary Clinton's national finance committee and lost a bid for state assembly in 2008. And, this contest could be overshadowed by the race to fill Speaker Paul Ryan's seat down the road.

WI-07: Sean Duffy (R) - Northwest: Wausau, Superior
Solid Republican. A former Real World cast member, Duffy was perhaps the original reality TV star-turned politician, arriving in Congress eight years before President Trump was elected. He passed on a Seante bid in 2018. Trump carried this rural northern Wisconsin seat 57 percent to 37 percent in 2016, but it has a Democratic heritage and in April, left-of-center state Supreme Court justice-elect Rebecca Dallet came within a point of carrying it.

Some Democrats were excited when Bon Iver band manager Kyle Frenette decided to challenge Duffy and raised $186,000. But a week before the filing deadline, Frenette dropped out due to "unforeseen circumstances." Now, the Democratic primary is likely to come down to Army veteran Margaret Engebretson ($14,000 raised) and physician Brian Ewert ($63,000). We're moving the rating back to Solid Republican until one of them demonstrates viability.

WI-08: Mike Gallagher (R) - Northeast: Green Bay, Appleton
Solid Republican. Traditionally, this Green Bay district has blown with the national winds, flipping to Democrats in 2006 and Republicans in 2010. In 2016, when GOP Rep. Reid Ribble retired, Democrats had a very credible candidate in Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson. But Gallagher, a Marine and Iraq veteran who advised Gov. Scott Walker, clobbered Nelson by 25 points. It helped that President Trump won this seat by 17 points.

Gallagher's close alliance with Paul Ryan helps him raise all the money he needs and his wide margin of victory has helped scare off top Democratic recruits, even in 2018. Democrats' leading contender is Green Bay assistant prosecutor and Beau Liegeois, who also serves as an attorney in the Army National Guard. After eight months in the race, Liegeois had only $32,000 on hand to Gallagher's $1.2 million.


WY-AL: Liz Cheney (R) – Entire state
Solid Republican. Cheney followed in her famous father's footsteps by winning Wyoming's At Large House seat in 2016, but the road wasn't smooth. A State Department appointee during the Bush years, Cheney moved her family from Virginia to Wyoming in 2012 and challenged GOP Sen. Mike Enzi in the 2014 primary. In the process, she alienated plenty of longtime state GOP officials and abandoned her bid before the primary.

In 2016, she had the dual advantages of running for an open House seat and two more years of Wyoming residency to mend fences. She massively outspent the field and won with 40 percent of the primary vote. In the general, she took 62 percent, significantly below President Trump's 68 percent. She's not in any electoral danger, but she still has work to do to become as popular as a Republican in Wyoming should be.