Battle for the House: Deep Blue Seats Could Flip Red in Midterm Elections

Many Republican candidates across the country have a good shot of winning positions long-held by Democrats in solidly blue states. GOP congressional nominee Allan Fung is aiming to claim the House election in Rhode Island for the first time in more than 30 years since a Republican won. The Second Congressional District covers the western half of the smallest state in the nation. 

Fung aims to break the Democrat streak with a win in November’s midterm elections. “I’ve proven over 12 years as mayor of our state’s second-largest city…that I can lead, I can win,” said Fung. Fung is the former longtime mayor of Cranston who made history as the first mayor of Chinese ancestry in Rhode Island. He was also the Republican nominee for governor in both 2014 and 2018. He touted he governed “by working across the aisle, doing the right thing, bringing common sense solutions, and that’s the same type of attitude that I’ll bring down to Washington, D.C.”

Fung, who describes himself as a fiscally conservative, moderate Republican, is running against Democrat State Treasurer Seth Magaziner in a tight race to succeed retiring Democrat Representative Jim Langevin, who held the position for over two decades.

The GOP aims to win back the House majority it lost in 2018 and is counting on races besides Rhode Island. In Oregon, long-considered a guaranteed blue state, it’s been over 25 years since a Republican last won an election in the 5th Congressional District. Republican nominee Lori Chavez-DeRemer is in a close race to succeed longtime Democrat Representative Kurt Schrader, who Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeated in the party primary.  

Competitive races across the country

There are other competitive races in the state, including Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, where Democrat Peter DeFazio is retiring after 35 years in the House. There is also big competition for the newly-formed 6th Congressional District.

Further south, in California’s 49th Congressional District, Democrat Representative Mike Levin has served for two terms. He faces a difficult rematch for re-election with former mayor of San Juan Capistrano, Republican nominee Brian Maryott. 

In New York’s 17th Congressional District, no Republican has won in 40 years. Republican challenger Michael Lawler is putting up a strong fight against Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee chair. 

“Anything that Biden won certainly by 10 points or less and even 15 points or less in the right circumstances is going to be competitive this year if only because the president is significantly underwater, and voters are upset with the country’s direction. That is the overarching theme that puts all of these districts into play,” said Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst for the nonpartisan Inside Elections, a political handicapper. “If you’re a Democrat in a district that voted for Biden by single digits, you have a real race on your hands.”

He continued, “It then becomes incumbent on Republicans to not just make those real races, but those races that they can win. What you see in some of the most competitive of those places is really strong Republican candidates.”

Michael McAdams, National Republican Congressional Committee communications director, emphasized that the “Democrats’ damaging economic agenda and pro-criminal policies have put traditionally blue seats squarely in play. House Republicans have the candidates, message, and resources to win here and all over the country.”

House races aren’t the only ones that are proving competitive. In Oregon, gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan has a chance to become the first Republican in four decades to win the election. According to Rubashkin, regardless of the long losing streak, Republican contenders “always come kind of close” because “Oregon has competitive gubernatorial races.” 

This time, a bid from former Democratic, now Independent candidate Senator Betsy Johnson may take enough votes away from former state House Speaker, Democrat nominee Tina Kotek and give former state House minority leader, Drazan, the victory.