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Steny Hoyer’s Election Night Watch List

Minority whip has a dozen races he says he will focus on for early hints

Steny Hoyer will be watching 12 races on election night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Steny Hoyer will be watching 12 races on election night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Steny H. Hoyer has high hopes that Democrats will take back control of the House in November and he’s trekked to 94 districts in 22 states and campaigned for 75 candidates and 37 incumbents this cycle to try and make it happen. And of those races, on Nov. 6th, there are 12 races he says he’ll be watching.

The House minority whip called five East Coast races in particular “bellwethers.” The returns will be in relatively early and they are just a few of the seats that Democrats are trying to snag from Republican control:

  • State Sen. Jennifer Wexton is running in Virginia’s 10th District against vulnerable incumbent Barbara Comstock. “I think she’s going to win pretty handedly,” said Hoyer Wednesday. He called Comstock a strong incumbent, but in a district that backed Hillary Clinton and Gov. Ralph Northam by double digits in 2016 and 2017, Roll Call has had Comstock in the vulnerable category for months.
  • Elaine Luria, the retired Naval officer running against Scott Taylor in Virginia’s 2nd District, could have an election scandal  work in her favor. “Taylor has a problem,” he said, referring to lingering questions about the Republican lawmaker’s role in a ballot signature scandal.
  • Former Allentown City Solicitor Susan Wild is running for Patrick Meehan’s seat in Pennsylvania’s 7th District. Hoyer says her chances are “more questionable,” but said a victory could be a big turning point. “If she wins, I think that’s going to be a real bellwether that Democrats are in fact doing very well in districts held by Republicans”
  • In longtime incumbent Rodney Frelinghuysen’s district, Mikie Sherrill is making a run to fill the outgoing Republican’s seat in New Jersey’s 11th District. Hoyer said Sherrill “raised good money.”
  • Hoyer also has his eye on Antonio Delgado, a one-time rapper and Rhodes scholar, in upstate New York’s 19th District.

The second tier on Hoyer’s watchlist includes tougher races that he thinks could tip blue. “Now, if we win these races, we’re going to have a big night,” he told reporters.

On the “big night” list are:

  • Tom McArthur challenger Andy Kim in New Jersey’s 3rd District,
  • Abigail Spanberger challenging Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th District,
  • Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s 6th district and
  • David Shapiro in Florida’s 16th district.

In New Jersey, Hoyer thinks the GOP tax bill could be the key issue. “The tax bill. It’s very unpopular in New Jersey. It hurt New Jersey and McArthur voted for it.”

If further down the list are two candidates in Florida who, if they pull out wins, Hoyer says “we’ll win really big time,” and move the Democrats much closer to taking control of the House: Nancy Soderberg in the 6th and Lauren Bayer in the 18th are the Floridian Democrats on Hoyer’s radar. 

“We could win five seats in New Jersey,” said Hoyer. He called the contest between Democrat Josh Welle and Republican Rep. Christopher H. Smith in the 4th district “a sleeper race” that he’ll be tuned into on election night to round out the dozen. 

Hoyer wouldn’t say what he’d like his title to be if Democrats win the House, but he’ll be glad to strip “minority” out of whatever role he takes. Asked where he’ll fit in a caucus that could call for fresh faces in leadership, he said “I’ll be fresh.” 

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