These 8 midterm races in the West could decide who controls Congress
The most competitive races for U.S. House and Senate in the West are in just five states: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington
Control of Congress will hinge on a small number of competitive races in November’s midterms. In the West, the toss-ups can be counted on two hands.
Just eight U.S. House and Senate races in the West are expected to be competitive this year, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, and they’re in just five states: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington.
These eight races show how important the suburbs are in today’s political landscape. The two toss-up Senate races, in Arizona and Nevada, will hinge largely on swing voters in suburban Maricopa and Clark counties, respectively, while many of the House races up for grabs are in districts that include suburbs.
Here are the eight races to watch in the West:
Arizona U.S. Senate
Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., is facing his first reelection campaign. The state’s Republican primary isn’t until August, but a March poll of Arizona registered voters from OH Predictive Insights, an Arizona-based market search company, found a generic Republican at 39%, with a generic Democrat at 37% and 24% unsure.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey was considered to be a likely Republican front-runner until he announced in March he wouldn’t run. The crowded primary still includes Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, retired Maj. Gen. Mick McGuire, former Arizona National Guard adjutant general, and venture capitalist Blake Masters. Former President Donald Trump hasn’t yet endorsed a candidate in the race.
Kelly released his first campaign ad in February, a biographical ad about living paycheck to paycheck. A retired NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy captain, Kelly is the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz.. He won a special election in 2020 to serve out the remainder of the late Sen. John McCain’s term.
Kelly has an advantage among registered independents and self-described moderates, the poll found, but registered voters in Arizona suburbs narrowly prefer a Republican.
Nevada U.S. Senate
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who took office in 2017 to replace the late Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is up for reelection. The first Latina in the U.S. Senate, she is likely to face Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt. An OH Predictive Insights poll released in February found Cortez Masto leading with 44% support, ahead of 35% for Laxalt.
Laxalt’s campaign proudly touts endorsements from Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. In his campaign announcement video “Good Guys,” he compared Democrats to the Empire from “Star Wars” and called them “bad guys” that he wouldn’t let win.
One of Cortez Masto’s early ads, “Led the Fight,” is narrated by Gladis Blanco, a Nevada woman who worked in hospitality when the pandemic hit. Blanco praises Cortez Masto for supporting COVID-19 relief and legislation to help the state’s tourism and hospitality industries.
The race would pit two candidates with experience as attorney general against each other, and both speak in their ads about their work as Nevada’s top lawyer, including combatting human trafficking.
California’s 22nd Congressional District
This district south of Fresno in Central California is going from a safe Republican seat to a much more competitive one after redistricting. Previously represented by former Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., until he resigned in January to become CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, incumbent Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., is now running for the seat.
California’s 27th Congressional District
This district north of Los Angeles already leaned slightly left, and after redistricting, it leans even more left, according to analysis from FiveThirtyEight. Incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Garcia, who represents California’s current 25th Congressional District, is running for this seat.
California’s 45th Congressional District
Rep. Michelle Steel is a freshman Republican, and her leading competitor for the newly redrawn Orange County district is Democrat Jay Chen. Neither lives in the district, but Chen said he would move to it if he won, according to the Orange County Register, while Steel didn’t respond to a question from the Register.
Colorado’s 8th Congressional District
Colorado is one of six states that gained a seat in Congress following the 2020 census, and their new 8th Congressional District north of Denver was drawn by an independent redistricting commission. It’s expected to be one of the state’s most competitive. According to Colorado Public Radio, 44% of voters in the district are unaffiliated, 28% are Democratic and 25% are Republican.
New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District
When freshman Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell was elected in 2020, the 2nd Congressional District was a safe Republican seat, but after redistricting, it’s expected to be highly competitive. Herrell will face off with the winner of the state’s Democratic primary on June 7. Democrats Gabriel Vasquez, a Las Cruces city councilor, and physician Darshan Patel are facing off for the nomination.
Washington’s 8th Congressional District
This district includes the suburbs east of Seattle and Tacoma, and it’s been the state’s most competitive before and after redistricting. Pediatrician and two-term Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., became the first Democrat to represent the district in 2019, and she will face the winner of the Republican primary on Aug. 2. Republicans Jesse Jensen, Matt Larkin and King County Council member Reagan Dunn are among the candidates running.