Many of the House retirements or resignations over the last 8 weeks have come in strongly Democratic leaning districts. Some races already have likely replacements lined up, including long serving members, George Miller (CA-31) and John Dingell (MI-12) (State Senator Mark DeSaulnier in California and Rep. Dingell's wife, Debbie Dingell, in Michigan). Most open seats already have crowded competitive primaries where the business community should engage to elect the most pro-business candidate possible. These include Rob Andrews (NJ-1), Mel Watt (NC-12), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4), Jim Moran (VA-8), Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35), Ed Pastor (AZ-7), and Henry Waxman (CA-33). None of these seats are likely to switch to Republicans, but several have pro-business Democrats running who can shift the temperament in Congress. In NJ 1, state Sen. Donald Norcross has gathered support from Rep. Andrews, along with other top ranking state Democrats, but faces a primary challenge from Mayor Frank Minor. Both NC-12 and NJ-12 have a large field of Democratic candidates, including several state representatives and senators. Expect both primaries to be competitive. In McCarthy's open seat, Democrats seem to be rallying around Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, though others are still considering getting into the race, including Nassau Legislative Minority Leader Kevin Abrahams. Moran's open seat in Virginia is another district with an extremely crowded primary. The early frontrunner is former Lieutenant Governor and car dealership owner Don Beyer, a pro-business candidate to watch. The race for McLeod's open seat is just shaping up, but state Senator Norma Torres has already announced her bid. Pastor's open seat in Arizona has gained several candidates, and it is even rumored that Congresswoman Sinema (AZ-9) may switch to the solidly Democratic 7th seat to run in 2014. In CA-33, 2 frontrunners have emerged from the crowded race, former Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel and state Senator Ted Lieu. Ted Lieu has the early backing of the California business community.
In addition, there have been a handful of recently announced retirements (and one resignation) in solidly Republican districts including Trey Radel (FL-19), Cory Gardner (CO-4) and Buck McKeon (CA-25). Radel's Florida seat will be filled by special election, where several candidates have announced, including state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto who has a long record of working effectively with the business community. The race to replace Gardner, who is running for Senate, is still in the early stages, though Ken Buck who was running for Senate, has dropped his bid and will now run for Gardner's seat. McKeon is retiring from Congress and former state Sen. Tony Strickland (R) is running for his seat in this Republican favored district.
In the Senate, a few races have changed dramatically over the past few weeks. Senator Pat Roberts' challenge from physician and Tea Party candidate Milton Wolf became more competitive than expected, though revelations about Wolf mocking autopsy photos on Facebook have kept the race in Roberts' favor. In Mississippi, the Club for Growth, who endorsed state Senator Chris McDaniel, has officially started going after Cochran in the race. This is one of the most competitive Republican primaries to watch for 2014. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner's (R) announcement that he will challenge Sen. Udall (D) made that race suddenly competitive and one that should be followed closely by the business community. The Virginia Senate race is one that also may move into the competitive category as Republican Ed Gillespie's campaign continues to take shape.
While the broad strokes remain the same - the Republicans have a reasonable shot at taking the Senate majority and are expected to hold the House or possibly extend their majority - the details of who will be sitting in Congress have been shaken up over the past 8 weeks. This shake up presents the business community a number of crowded and competitive primaries in which they can play an important role in shaping the tenor of the next Congress. BIPAC looks forward to working with you to maximize your engagement in any of these races that may be most important to you.