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Downballot Races Complicate Women’s Softball Roster

A lot more than House and Senate control rides on the results of tonight’s election returns. How Americans vote tonight will have major implications for the next roster of the Women’s Congressional Softball team.

Most Member players are a safe bet to return to the yearly game that pits female Members against female members of the Capitol Hill press corps. The game is a source of much contention between the two camps, especially because the Members suffered at the hands of the merciless reporter team last June.

A glut of female candidates on both sides of the aisle means that Member captains Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) will likely be working the phones tonight to recruit new teammates.

After calls to Democratic and Republican sources around the country, loads of biographical research and personal interviews with candidates, this political reporter/press team co-captain is greatly concerned about how this election will affect the Member lineup.

Here is what to watch for after the polls close:

Potential Lineup Losses

  • Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) will likely be the most obvious headline for those monitoring the future softball lineup. Richardson is not expected to survive her Member-vs.-Member race against fellow Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn. Richardson has consistently been the best hitter in the entire league. If she loses, it will be an enormous hit to Team Congress.
  • Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) was redistricted into a tough seat for any Democrat. She still has a shot at returning to Congress, but Roll Call rates this race as Leans Republican. Her softball record is that of a feisty, happy warrior.
  • Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) will not be coming back to the team. She lost her primary to podiatrist Brad Wenstrup, but it is worth noting she was named Most Improved Player on the Member team last summer.

Potential New Team Members

  • Former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) is in tossup race for Senate against Rep. Rick Berg (R). A fall Heitkamp ad created hysteria within the press team.
  • Former Arizona state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) is in a tough open-seat tossup race. A source in the Sinema camp was unsure of her interest in the team but noted that “she is a marathoner and a reasonably serious hiker … she has a lot of fight in her.”
  • Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love’s (R-Utah) name surfaced among several GOP sources. She is thought to have the edge to unseat Rep. Jim Matheson (D). There is not a great deal of documentation that she has played softball, but this Web video is of concern:
  • Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) is in a hot tossup race. She played on the team in her previous Congressional stint.
  • East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos is the Democratic nominee in a tossup race to unseat Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.) One Democratic operative happily supplied the information that she is an Illinois College Sports Hall of Fame 1994 inductee.
  • Democrat Tulsi Gabbard is fierce and a safe bet to come to join the Hawaii House delegation. “She looks like she could kick my butt,” a Democratic operative told Roll Call.

Less Than Likely To Come To Congress…But Terrifying Recruits 

  • Odds are not with former Orlando police chief Val Demings (D) to beat Rep. Daniel Webster (R), but the race is competitive. More importantly, her name has come up over and over as a game-changer on the softball diamond. Not much is known about Demings and her history with organized sports, but who really wants to pitch against this home plate walk up?
  • Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) is the underdog against Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D). One GOP source tipped us off that she played with the boys in the Congressional Baseball Game. Yipes.
  • Even Arizona Republicans are beginning to concede that retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally (R) has an uphill fight against Rep. Ron Barber (D). Her campaign ads feature her hiking and jogging. Oh, and she was a female combat fighter pilot. She also once indicated an interest in kicking former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum “in the jimmy.”
  • Speaking of jimmy kicks, Connecticut Senate Republican nominee Linda McMahon’s name came up as a possibly fierce ballplayer in the context of her previous work at the WWE.

‘Til next season, there is this thought:

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
— Rogers Hornsby

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