At the Races: Democrats Announce for Wide Swath of Congressional Races

Angie Craig, the Democratic Farmer Labor candidate in Minnesota's 2nd District in 2016, announced on Monday she's running again. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Angie Craig, the Democratic Farmer Labor candidate in Minnesota's 2nd District in 2016, announced on Monday she's running again. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted July 17, 2017 at 5:00pm

Democrats continued to announce their intentions for several congressional races on Monday, which ranged from tossup match-ups to crowded primary races to nearly hopeless cases in heavily Republican states. 

Angie Craig Back for Rematch Against Jason Lewis in Minnesota

Angie Craig lost last year’s open-seat race in Minnesota’s 2nd District by less than 2 points. On Monday, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate announced she’d try to unseat last year’s rival, freshman GOP Rep. Jason Lewis.

Craig, a former health care executive, plans to spend the summer on a listening tour of the district before officially kicking off her campaign in the fall. She’s already been active in the district this year, holding an “adopt a district” town hall in the 2nd District with 1st District Rep. Tim Walz.

Minnesota’s 2nd District had been safe Republican for years, but former Rep. John Kline’s retirement gave Democrats hope they could pick up the seat in 2016.

But Craig, like Hillary Clinton, fell short. President Donald Trump carried the district by 1 point. Former President Barack Obama carried the district in 2008 and again much more narrowly in 2012.

Democrats are targeting the seat again this year, going after Lewis for voting for the GOP health care plan earlier this year.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the seat a Tossup

— Simone Pathé

Salt Lake Democrat Announces Challenge to Orrin Hatch

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch has yet to make a final decision about whether he is running for re-election, but the Utah Republican now has another Democratic challenger.

Salt Lake County council member Jenny Wilson announced Monday that she is taking on Hatch, who would be running for his eighth Senate term. But Wilson’s bid would be an uphill battle in the deeply Republican Beehive State. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race as Solidly Republican.

The Democrat said she has raised nearly $140,000 while exploring a Senate bid. Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, raised just over $1 million during the second quarter ending June 30, finishing with more than $4 million in cash on hand, according to Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock.

While Hatch sent some signals that he is running for re-election, he has not made a final decision, keeping Utah Republicans in suspense.

Wilson said in an April interview that she was aware of how much money would be necessary for a run, citing her previous experience as a congressional staffer and chief of staff for former Utah Democratic Rep. Bill Orton.

As an at-large member of the Salt Lake County Council, Wilson represents one-third of the state’s population. She is also the daughter of Ted Wilson, a former Salt Lake City mayor.

Wilson is also a member of the Democratic National Committee’s transition team, which focuses on how the party should approach GOP-leaning states. 

Bridget Bowman

Lottery Winner to Challenge Royce in California

A former Navy officer and millionaire lottery winner announced he will challenge California Rep. Ed Royce as a Democrat.

Gil Cisneros was a Republican until 2008, but left the party because he said he felt the GOP had become too ideological. After his service in the Navy, he worked as a shipping and distribution manager at Frito Lay.

Cisneros touted his endorsement from VoteVets, a liberal veterans group, the Los Angeles Times reported.

He and his wife won $266 million in California’s state lottery in 2010 and started the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation, which funds scholarships for Latino students.

Royce won re-election in California’s 39th Congressional District by 14.5 points in 2016. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Royce’s district.

Inside Elections With Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Leans Republican.

Eric Garcia

Hurd Defends District Lines in Court

Rep. William Hurd said more districts should be drawn like his, defending Texas’ 23rd Congressional District ahead of a federal court decision on alleged racial gerrymandering that could impact the 2018 midterm elections.

“My district is competitive, and that’s a good thing … because it forces people to talk to a broader sense of the community,” Hurd said Saturday as the closing witness in a trial over whether the district lines should be redrawn.

Federal judges invalidated the 2011 district lines in March, finding that three congressional districts, including the 23rd District, violated the Voting Rights Act. The decision had no effect, however, because the state adopted a new interim map in 2013.

Civil rights groups and individuals argue that the new map is also discriminatory as it includes some of the original boundaries.

Federal judges said in March that the 23rd District lines from 2011 “denied Latino voters equal opportunity and had the intent and effect of diluting Latino voter opportunity.”

The two other districts found to be unlawful were the 35th District, represented by Democrat Lloyd Doggett, and the 27th District, represented by Republican Blake Farenthold.

Democrats are targeting Hurd’s seat, as former Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego considers challenging Hurd again. Hurd unseated the one-term Gallego in 2014 and the two faced off again in 2016.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 23rd District as Tossup.

— Kyle Stewart