While most of the half-hearted attention being given to the 2014 mid-term elections is being given to the Senate, there are still some interesting races that are not getting the coverage that they should outside of state or local news. Since gaining back the House has been mostly written off as an exercise in futility this time around, the Senate has captured most of the attention of the press as Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to hold on.
Here in Louisiana, Mary Landrieu is facing two Republican challengers for one of the few Democrat-held Senate seats in the South. She’s in a fight for her political life as polls show the race as either a tossup or a slight edge being given to Congressman Bill Cassidy, while Tea Party candidate Rob Maness barely grabs double-digit support.
To our north, Senator Mark Pryor is facing a tough battle in Arkansas with a small lead being given to Republican challenger Congressman Tom Cotton. The loss of these two seats in the 2014 mid-term elections could flip the Senate to Republican control for the remainder of President Obama’s time in office and completely gridlock Washington.
However, there are some interesting House races going on that are worth paying attention to – especially if you are a politics nerd like myself. While Democrats will almost certainly not win back control of Congress, there are some openings to do some damage to Republicans and possibly pick up some seats here and there. Here are five races that I am watching closely:
5. Tom Poetter (OH): Tom Poetter is running in Ohio’s 8th congressional district against House Speaker John Boehner. Like many other races that aren’t considered competitive due to gerrymandering, this one is expected to go easily for the Speaker, who has been rumored to be contemplating retirement in the near future. Poetter could pull this one off if Republicans fail to turn out on Election Day and Democrats get out the vote.
4. Jack Trammell (VA): Jack Trammell is facing off against Dave Brat, a fellow professor from Randolph Macon College, who pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in primary history by defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. This race would have been an easy re-election for Eric Cantor had he won the primary, but now Virginia’s 7th District is a little more competitive as two relatively unknown college professors from the same school face off for Cantor’s seat. While the district is pretty solidly Republican by design, you still never know what could happen.
3. Will Hammer (VA): Republican Bob Goodlatte has represented Virginia’s 6th congressional district since he was elected in 1992 and has often run unopposed. This year, he faces two challengers, Will Hammer (Libertarian Party) and Green Party candidate Elaine Hildebrandt. Will Hammer is from my hometown of Staunton and Elaine Hildebrandt is from Roanoke. While the race has been deemed “Safe Republican” by Roll Call, you still never know what could happen, as we saw with Cantor’s upset in the primaries.
2. Mia Love (UT): Incumbent Jim Matheson has decided not to seek another term in office, leaving his seat up for grabs. As the districts have been heavily gerrymandered to favor Republicans, Mia Love has a big lead and is likely to beat her challenger, Doug Owens. The interesting part is the fact that she would be the first black female ever elected to Congress as a Republican.
1. Edwin Edwards (LA): There are a plethora of candidates running to take the place of Bill Cassidy in Louisiana’s 6th congressional district, including our own Palin-esque climate change denier and spouter of cliché conservative “you betcha” talking points, Lenar Whitney. However, the most interesting one is 86-year-old former governor Edwin Edwards, who is unable to run for state office due to criminal convictions in 2002 for bribery and extortion (whether or not he was innocent is still a hot topic in Louisiana), but is eligible for federal office. While he hasn’t been in Congress since the early 1970s, Democrat Edwin Edwards is still loved (and reviled) by many Louisiana residents, regardless of party affiliation.
This race is a long shot for Edwards, who insists he is not running to redeem himself, but it is a very interesting story to watch regardless. Louisiana politics are always quite entertaining and often frustrating, and Edwin Edwards has been the main attraction off and on for many decades. While my friend Robert Mann strongly disagrees with Edwin Edwards running for Congress and says he’s made Louisiana a “national laughingstock,” I’m pretty sure any of the Republican candidates (especially Lenar Whitney who thinks a child can disprove climate change with a thermometer) will likely do the same.
With the mid-term elections rapidly approaching, we here at Forward Progressives would like to remind you to be sure you are registered to vote and know where your polling place is. We also encourage you to reach out to friends, family and neighbors and get them to the polls. Remember, if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.
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