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Most vulnerable House list runs through New York, California

Ongoing redistricting in some states could put more Democrats at risk

Members of both parties are looking to oust Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., as he faces investigations and ethics complaints.
Members of both parties are looking to oust Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., as he faces investigations and ethics complaints. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected 5:39 p.m. | He’s a Republican who represents a district President Joe Biden won by 8 percentage points. He’s been accused of lying about everything from his resume to his religion, and even members of his own party have called on him to step down.

So it’s no surprise that Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., tops CQ Roll Call’s initial list of next year’s most vulnerable House members.

But Santos isn’t the only blue-state Republican facing headwinds in 2024. Six other GOP incumbents, compared with just three Democrats, made the list. That’s partly because Democrats lost a net of nine seats when the House flipped in November, and only some of them are going to be among the most competitive races next year.  

Campaign insiders and election analysts said they believe New York and California will be key to determining which party will control the House. In New York, Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, who represents a district Biden won by 15 percentage points, along with fellow New York GOP freshmen Mike Lawler and Brandon Williams, are among the most endangered incumbents. California Republican Reps. John Duarte and Mike Garcia and Oregon Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer also make the list.

Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez, a freshman who edged out a Trump-backed Republican in a GOP-leaning district in Washington state, is the most vulnerable Democrat. Two other Democratic freshmen, Colorado’s Yadira Caraveo and New Mexico’s Gabe Vasquez, also made the list.

CQ Roll Call’s ranking will likely shift over the next 18 months, reflecting just how tumultuous the 2024 election cycle promises to be. At least three seats held by Democrats in North Carolina are likely to be in play after the Republican-controlled legislature redraws the district map after winning court permission to do so. Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur could face a similar fate. Colorado’s 3rd District, where Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert beat Democrat Adam Frisch by 546 votes in 2022, is also worth watching to see if Boebert is better prepared to take on Frisch in a rematch. And if Republicans figure out how to unify in a state that uses ranked-choice voting for the top four vote-getters, Alaska’s at-large representative, Democrat Mary Peltola, could also be at risk.

Because the list only includes vulnerable incumbents, it doesn’t take into account competitive races that could determine the majority in the House, such as California’s 47th District seat, currently held by Rep. Katie Porter, or Michigan’s 7th District, which is represented by Rep. Elissa Slotkin. Porter and Slotkin, both Democrats, are running for Senate.

1. George Santos, R-N.Y.

Santos takes the top spot because of his unique vulnerability in both a Republican primary and a general election. Before he was sworn in, several reports found that he had lied about his personal history, including his schooling and work history. He’s under investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, reportedly, by federal and state prosecutors. Santos already has a GOP primary challenger and a Democratic challenger, while top Republicans on Long Island have called for him to resign and top Republicans on Capitol Hill have not said whether they’ll support his reelection. His first-quarter fundraising report showed he raised just $5,333

2. Anthony D'Esposito, R-N.Y.

The fundamentals of D’Esposito’s district make this a tough seat for Republicans to defend. A former police detective and Hempstead town councilmember, D’Esposito will likely continue to focus on crime, a top issue in the state last year, and will draw on support from police groups. He had $590,000 on hand at the end of the first quarter, but at that time no Democrats had reported raising any money with the FEC. Patricia Maher, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in the 2nd District in 2014, filed to run last month. Former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, whom D’Esposito beat last year, could make another run.  

3. John Duarte, R-Calif.

In 2022, Duarte barely squeaked past Democrat Adam Gray, winning by less than 600 votes in what was the GOP’s closest margin of victory in a district that backed Biden in 2020. Duarte, a nursery owner and farmer from California’s Central Valley, has focused on agriculture and water issues in Congress. But Democrats say his support for Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s conservative agenda is out of step with the politics of the district, which became more Democratic after redistricting. No Democrat has formally entered the race, but Gray, a former state assembly member, is reportedly considering a rematch. Duarte raised almost $600,000 in the first quarter of 2023.

4. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Wash.

Gluesenkamp Pérez was the unexpected winner in a working-class southwest Washington district that leans Republican. She narrowly beat Joe Kent, a Trump-backed Republican, after GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler finished third in the all-party primary. The co-owner of an auto body repair shop, Gluesenkamp Pérez gained attention as a Democrat who can connect with rural voters and those lacking a bachelor’s degree. Kent already announced that he’ll seek a rematch, and other Republicans may also run. GOP operatives say Gluesenkamp Pérez flew under the radar in 2022, and they plan to mount a vigorous campaign to defeat her. She brought in more than $800,000 in the first quarter.  

5. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y.

Lawler gained nationwide attention in November by defeating Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Sean Patrick Maloney as part of a red wave in New York. He’ll be a top target of Democrats this year, but has taken steps to separate himself from the GOP, such as voting against a parental schools oversight bill earlier this year. He ended the last quarter with $739,000 on hand, bolstering GOP hopes for his reelection chances. On the Democratic side, a primary is brewing. Liz Whitmer Gereghty, the sister of Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, has said she is running, while former Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones could also get into the race. 

6. Brandon Williams, R-N.Y.

Williams will be defending yet another tricky district for Republicans in the Empire State. He won a hotly contested race last year by less than a point, and Democratic outside groups have already started spending in his district. Two Democratic candidates — Manlius Town Councilor Katelyn Kriesel and Dewitt Town Councilor Sarah Klee Hood — have filed with the FEC to run against Williams, but both reported raising far less than the $518,000 he brought in during the first quarter. Democrats have criticized Williams for living outside of the district. He has said he hasn’t yet moved into the district because of the potential for the state’s congressional lines to be redrawn.

7. Yadira Caraveo, D-Colo.

A pediatrician and former state representative, Caraveo notched a narrow win over Republican Barb Kirkmeyer to become the first Latina to represent Colorado in Congress. The newly created 8th District is in a fast-growing region north of Denver, where the oil and gas industry employs tens of thousands of people. The GOP plans to hit Caraveo for her vote against an energy bill championed by Republicans, but the Democratic freshman said the measure would roll back climate goals. Caraveo, who does not yet have a Republican opponent, raised $351,000 in the first three months of 2023.

8. Gabe Vasquez, D-N.M.

The New Mexico district has seesawed between Republicans and Democrats since 2018. Vasquez, a former field representative for Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., beat GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell in 2022, and the two may square off again next year. In a signal of how important Republicans view this race, McCarthy attended Herrell’s campaign kickoff last month. The district, which covers the southern half of the state, has traditionally leaned Republican but it became more Democratic in redistricting. Vasquez significantly outraised Herrell in the first quarter, bringing in about $365,000 to Herrell’s $21,000. The reporting deadline, however, came before Herrell officially launched her campaign and held a fundraiser with McCarthy.

9. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Ore.

Chavez-DeRemer flipped a redrawn battlefield district in Oregon that stretches from the Portland suburbs to rural areas in the southern and eastern parts of the state. A former mayor, Chavez-DeRemer emphasized crime and inflation when she defeated progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who had ousted Rep. Kurt Schrader in the Democratic primary. Chavez-DeRemer and Democratic Rep. Andrea Salinas are the first Latinas elected to Congress from Oregon, and the two freshmen have worked together on agriculture issues. Chavez-DeRemer raised about $635,000 in the first three months of 2023. No Democrat has officially jumped in, but the race to unseat her could get crowded.

10. Mike Garcia, R-Calif.

Garcia’s 2022 win, which was called eight days after the election, was symbolic for the GOP: It tipped the party into the House majority. It also marked the third time that Garcia, a former naval officer and first-generation American, defeated Democrat Christy Smith in the Los Angeles County district. Democrats say the district, once a GOP stronghold, is trending blue, and they hope George Whitesides, a wealthy former Virgin Galactic CEO, can accomplish what Smith could not. Garcia brought in more than $762,000 in the first quarter of 2023; Whitesides reported contributions of about $500,000 and lent his campaign $500,000. 

This report was revised to accurately reflect Rep. Chavez-DeRemer’s political career.

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