This third diary will cover House offense in NM and CO for 2014--I'm re-publishing now that I've updated with CO info.
In my last two diaries
I covered our current Congressional holdings in the West, and 14 GOP seats we should seriously pursue as part of an aggressive offensive strategy to take back and hold the House, as well as high level discussion of the 5 top races for offense in CA, and both GOP held seats in NV.
Here's the number of Dem-held seats in each state, and the number of total seats:
AK 0/1, HI 2/2, WA 6/10, OR 4/5, CA 38/53, AZ 5/9, NV 2/4, UT 1/4, ID 0/2, MT 0/1, WY 0/1, CO 3/7, NM 2/3, TX 2/2 (West tip only)=65/104 (27/51 ex-CA, 15/33 ex-PacRim states)
Here is an aggressive gain target:
AK+1, WA+2, CA+5, NV+2, MT+1, CO+2, NM+1=14 seat gain 79/104
See the first diary for a list of all specific seats and a discussion of CA seats. See the second diary for the 2 GOP held seats in NV (NV-02, NV-03). This diary will cover the GOP held seat in NM, and the top 2 of 4 GOP held seats in CO. Currently we have a credible candidate challenging in two of these three seats.
New Mexico 2nd district: One House seat of 3 in NM is GOP-held, the PVI R+5 NM-02 southern half of the state. Incumbent Stevan Pearce will likely face off against DCCC backed challenger Rocky Lara. Note: I am a Lara contributor.
New Mexico is a swing state which has been carried by Democrats at the presidential level since Clinton's first election in 1992, with the exception of GW Bush's 2004 re-election, when he carried NM by a margin of less than 1%. More recently, NM's 3 congressional seats have been trending Democratic. Currently the 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts have PVI ratings of D+7, R+5, and D+8 respectively. The 3rd district covering the northern portion of the state, including Santa Fe, has been Democratic since it was created for the 1982 election (with the exception of a portion of one term carried by a Republican at a special election). Both the 1st and 2nd districts turned blue in open seat elections in the 2008 election when the GOP incumbents quit to run for the open Senate seat. In the 2nd, however, Steve Pearce returned to run again in 2010 after losing by 23 points to Tom Udall in the Senate race, and retook the NM-02 seat. Pearce is now serving his 5th term in NM-02 in a 6 term timeframe.
New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanic population of any state at 46.3%, as well as the largest American Indian population (term exclusive of Alaskan and Hawaiian natives) proportion, meaning the Non-Hispanic white population is just 40.5%, despite very low Asian and black populations (3% combined). The NM-02 district has the highest Hispanic population of the 3 districts at 51.2%, but has the lowest Native American population, meaning this majority-Hispanic district is potentially actually demographically the most challenging for Democrats. The district is the second largest in the country not comprising an entire state, and borders 8 other districts as well as two Mexican states. It is the only GOP seat on the Mexican border, and 6 of the 8 bounding districts (AZ-01 and AZ-02 to the west, NM-01 and NM-03 to the north, and TX-16 and TX-23 to the south) are held by Democrats (the eastern edge of the district borders two deep red Texas panhandle districts). Mitt Romney won the district by less than 16,000 votes, and although Pearce outperformed that level, he faces a potentially stronger challenge in 2014.
Pearce is a 66 y.o. white former owner of a local oilfield services company, who grew up in the district, served as an officer in the Air Force (numerous defense related installations are in the district, including 2 AFB's, and Los Alamos, and White Sands, and Roswell), and is an alumnus (a B.A in economics and an MBA) of two of the state universities which are present in the district (NMSU and ENMU respectively). He has been well liked in the past, and turnout in this district is historically extremely low for midterms, but he is substantially right of the district politically, and has created controversy via his political statements on the shutdown (furloughed federal employees can just take payday loans), immigration, and healthcare. Pearce voted against the bill that ended the shutdown.
New Mexico (per Gallup) had the 2nd highest percentage of uninsured in 2009 at 25.6%, ahead only of Texas, however, the state has both expanded Medicaid and created an exchange. I expect this to create a positive effect for Dems in NM-02, particularly given Pearce's strident opposition to the ACA.
Roxanne "Rocky" Lara, the 38 y.o. DCCC backed challenger, was born and raised in the district (at least 2nd gen) and took her undergraduate degree at local NMSU (her J.D. is from Texas Tech). She has a private law practice and was chair of the county commission of Eddy County until 2012. She was runner-up in the state party chair election earlier this year. Her base in Eddy county represented over 1/3rd of Romney's margin in the district in 2012, despite comprising less than 9% of the two-party vote, which should significantly blunt Republican advantage in the district. Lara appears to be the first politically credible Hispanic candidate to face Pearce in the general in this majority Hispanic district, in his sixth election for the seat, this may help significantly with minority turnout in the midterm election.
Lara raised over $100K in the 3rd quarter (primarily from individuals in-state), and continues a strong fundraising performance (based on my observation that her donations on ActBlue have been stronger in the 4th quarter to date). She had as of 9/30 received PAC donations from PAC's affiliated with Sen. Martin Heinrich (Lobo Pac), NM-03 Rep Ben Ray Lujan (Turquise PAC), State Sen Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, Steve Israel, Nancy Pelosi, and state Rep. Gail Chasey. I also noted an individual contribution from CO-02 Rep. Jared Polis. Her primary opponent (Leslie Endean-Singh) has received zero such PAC donations, and has raised significantly less money overall, but as of 3rd quarter had loaned her campaign enough to keep pace with Lara's fundraising. Emily's List appears not to have yet endorsed either candidate.
Lara should be able to go head to head with Pearce to make this seat competitive this cycle, and if not a winner in 2014, should be the frontrunner for a successful 2016 challenge.
Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 12:35 AM PT: Colorado: The 7 seats Colorado has had since 2002 have varied in partisan composition from 2 Democrats in 2002 to 5 Democrats in 2008. Currently Democrats hold just 3 seats. The two seats that are now most Republican have PVI of R+11 (CO-04), and R+13 (CO-05) and are now held by Cory Gardner and Doug Lamborn respectively. The two seats that have stayed Democratic currently have PVI of D+18 (CO-01) and D+8 (CO-02) and are now held by Diana DeGette and Jared Polis respectively. The remaining three seats currently have PVI of R+5 (CO-03), D+1 (CO-06), and D+5 (CO-07). The 7th has stayed in Ed Perlmutter's Democratic hands since a 2006 open election, after Bob Beauprez narrowly claimed it for the GOP in the first two terms of its existence. The remaining two districts, CO-03 and CO-06, are our targets for 2014.
The 6th has actually been held by Republicans for the entire period since 2002, but was redistricted from a R+8 district in 2010 to a D+1 district today. Mike Coffman has a serious challenger in Andrew Romanoff, and this looks like one of the DCCC's better bets for 2014. In 2012, Obama won this district by 5 points but challenger Joe Miklosi couldn't put away a severely damaged Coffman and underperformed by 6 points. In truth, this was more of a recruiting problem than a candidate problem. Miklosi was Dem's 3rd choice for the district (after state legislative leaders Romanoff and Shaffer) and a bad fit for the seat. Note: I was a Miklosi donor. This cycle, Romanoff has thrown his hat in the ring, and outraised the incumbent in the 3Q ($1.3mil!), over a year before a midterm election. This is one of only two GOP incumbent held seats Charlie Cook rates at least a tossup for Dems (the other 3 are open or vacant seats). I am not a Romanoff contributor only because his campaign is too well funded to fit my model.
Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 12:48 AM PT: Colorado's PVI R+5 3rd district covers the western half of the state. Western Democrat John Salazar held this seat from 2004-2010. Salazar won a majority in a strongly contested 2004 open seat election, where the district was carried by Bush by more than 11 points. He eventually lost election to rancher Scott Tipton, in the 2010 wave election by a little more than 11,000 votes. He had defeated Tipton by almost 60,000 votes in the 2006 midterm election, with lower turnout. The partisan composition of the district has been basically unchanged by redistricting.
In 2012 Democrats made a serious push to take back this seat, but Tipton was able to gain 53.5% of the vote against former Salazar staffer, state legislator and state House Minority Leader Sal Pace. I was a Pace donor, and would have been ecstatic had he won, but never felt Pace had the right personal narrative for electoral success in the district. To win this district it helps to have a candidate like Salazar (older, deep roots in the district, big local family, farmer, service veteran, some history of nonpartisan public service, etc). Pace's birth in New England, and employment as a college instructor did not play well outside Pueblo. Pace was slightly overspent by Tipton, and also faced significant ~$1.5mil negative outside spending which was unmatched by Democrats. Tipton is vulnerable to a well funded candidate with the right personal profile, but to date no challenger has emerged for 2014.