Battle for the House: 9 races that will determine the majority

The battlefield for the House majority is starting to come into focus as more states hold primaries ahead of November.

California, which is certain to be key to both parties’ efforts to win the lower chamber, just held its primaries on Tuesday, while New York — another all-important battleground — will hold its House primaries in June.

With Republicans holding just a slim majority in the lower chamber, several races in these states are headed for contentious, close finishes.

Here are nine House races that will help determine who controls the majority in the lower chamber this fall:

California’s 13th Congressional District

In California’s 13th District, Republican Rep. John Duarte and Democrat Adam Gray are advancing to a rematch.

Duarte finished roughly 9 points ahead in this year’s primary — but he won the midterms by just a couple hundred votes, the first time in decades that a Republican had won the district. It was also the second closest congressional race in the country that year.

This year, Democrats are banking on Gray pulling ahead.

California’s 22nd Congressional District

In California’s 22nd Congressional District, Democrat Rudy Salas advanced to the general election with Republican Rep. David Valadao, setting up a rematch after they went toe-to-toe in a close midterm race.

Some were worried another Democrat in the running, Melissa Hurtado, would siphon votes from Salas on Super Tuesday and lead to two Republicans moving on to the general election.

Hurtado ultimately drew 15 percent of the primary vote in the 22nd Congressional District race, but Salas advanced with 28 percent to Valadao’s 34 percent, as of the latest counts from Decision Desk HQ. In the midterms, Valadao beat Salas by just 3 points.

Valadao, who was among the Republicans that voted to impeach Trump, was one of several California Republicans who succeeded in districts that voted for President Biden back in 2020.

California’s 47th Congressional District

In Orange County, Democrat Rep. Katie Porter left her House seat to lodge an unsuccessful bid for the state’s rare open Senate seat. Porter and fellow progressive Rep. Barbara Lee were boxed out of the top two in Super Tuesday’s Senate primary, with Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff and Republican Steve Garvey advancing for a partisan showdown.

Porter will now be out of Congress next year, leaving her seat in California’s 47th Congressional District up for grabs.

Democratic state Sen. Dave Min will go up against Republican Scott Baugh as the GOP tries to flip the seat previously held by the progressive lawmaker.

The district is rated “lean Democrat,” but Min finished the primary 7 points behind Baugh, with fellow Democrat candidate Joanna Weiss pulling in nearly 20 percent of the vote. Baugh lost to Porter back in 2022 by about 4 points.

Michigan’s 7th Congressional District

Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s (D-Mich.) decision to seek retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D) seat leaves her spot in the House up for grabs.

Republican Tom Barrett, who lost to Slotkin by around 5 points back in 2022, is running again for the seat, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has backed former Democratic state Sen. Curtis Hertel.

The midterms race was the most expensive House contest in the country, according to reporting from The Detroit News — and the 2024 race is set to be another competitive battle as both parties set their sights on the opening.

“The path to growing the Republican majority runs through seats like Elissa Slotkin’s,” said the GOP’s House campaign arm.

New York’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) is running in one of the most unpredictable toss-up races in the country this year. His district’s political makeup was generally unaffected by the state’s new congressional map that Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed into effect last month, but he still has a considerable challenge to overcome.

He pulled off a win against Democrat Laura Gillen by more than 3 points, despite Biden carrying the district by almost 15. It was one of the best performances in the country by a Republican in 2022 compared with former President Trump’s performance in the same district two years earlier.

Gillen is running again and could be poised for a rematch with D’Esposito. With Biden likely to easily carry New York in November, D’Esposito will have to rely on a relatively high amount of split-ticket voters as he did two years ago to win a second term.

New York’s 17th Congressional District

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) won a major surprise victory in 2022 when he defeated Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the then-chair of House Democrats’ campaign arm, by just over half a percentage point.

Lawler has sought to build up a reputation as a moderate member of the GOP conference and led the charge to expel Santos for the false claims he made about himself and the criminal charges he faces.

The win was symbolic and key to Republicans winning the House majority by just a few seats.

He seems likely to face former Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), who previously represented the district but lost a primary in a different district after the maps were redrawn. Jones’s candidacy will give Democrats a familiar face and someone with past fundraising experience.

The race may be just as tight again despite Biden’s 10-point win in the district in 2020.

New York’s 22nd Congressional District

Of all the potentially vulnerable New York House Republicans this fall, Rep. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.) may have the most significant uphill battle.

He won election to his House seat by a point and a half in a district Biden carried by 7 points, but his reelection bid just became a bit more difficult thanks to the updated map. Under the current lines of Williams’s district, Biden would have won it by 11 points, and Williams did not see the same amount of split-ticket voting that was critical in 2022 for D’Esposito in his own district.

Williams has also endorsed Trump for president in 2024, unlike a few of his fellow New York Republicans, which could give Democrats a clear line of attack in the blue state.

Ohio’s 9th Congressional District

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) has represented her state’s 9th Congressional District for four decades and had a reliable Democratic-leaning constituency throughout much of her career. But Ohio’s redistricting process after 2020 made her district a battleground.

She was comfortably reelected in 2022 with 56 percent of the vote against Republican JR Majewski, whose candidacy was consumed with controversy surrounding claims he made about his service record.

Kaptur will likely face an opponent with less baggage this time, which could make it her most difficult campaign yet.

The district also narrowly voted for Trump by a few points, and the state is very likely to back Trump again this year, so she will need to outpace Biden at the top of the ticket to hang on.

Winning the district would be a boost to Republicans looking to pad their majority and give themselves some breathing room with other tough battlegrounds in bluer states.

Oregon’s 5th Congressional District

Also on the West Coast, Democrats are looking to take back a seat that flipped into Republican hands for the first time in decades when Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer won Oregon’s 5th Congressional District in the midterms.

Chavez-DeRemer won by 2 points against Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner last cycle, becoming the first Republican woman to represent Oregon in Congress.

McLeod-Skinner is running again, teeing up a possible rematch ahead of Oregon’s May primary — but Democrats’ House campaign arm has put its backing behind Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum instead.

Bynum has already bested Chavez-DeRemer twice, in two previous races for seats in the Oregon Legislature — and the DCCC hopes the Democrat will “do it again in 2024,” while McLeod-Skinner has expressed frustration with the move.

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