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Political Note #326   House Members who could elect a President

2020                            General election

Nine delegations can decide the presidency.

The presidential election could be decided in the House of Representatives.  To elect a President, the Electoral College must achieve an absolute majority. The 538 electors could fail to achieve an absolute majority of 270 if there were a 269 vote tie or if one or more electors’ votes or slates of votes are rejected at the mandatory joint session of the newly elected Congress that counts the votes.

If a failure to achieve an absolute majority occurs, the newly elected House of Representatives chooses a President from the three candidates who received the most votes for President and the newly elected Senate chooses a Vice President from the two candidates who received the most votes for Vice President.  In the House of Representatives, votes for President are counted by state delegation, not individual members.

Consider the current Congress.  There are 50 state delegations. Republicans have a majority in 26 delegations.  Democrats have a majority in 23 delegations.  Pennsylvania is tied – 9 Republican and 9 Democratic Members of Congress.

The following delegations are crucial (Optimal delegation change in parentheses).  Decisions about the Congressional races to consider is based pundit rankings of races and, to the extent they are available, polls.

  1. Alaska: Democrats could gain a delegation by defeating Alaska’s Republican Member of Congress. (+1)
  2. Florida: Democrats could gain a delegation by fending off a challenge in one vulnerable district and winning an open Republican seat in this 14-13 Republican delegation. (+1)
  3. Iowa: Democrats need to protect three vulnerable Democratic seats in this four-seat delegation. (no change)
  4. Michigan: Democrats need to win the seat currently held by a Libertarian to avoid having Michigan neutralized in this 18 seat delegation. (no change)
  5. Minnesota: Democrats need to protect their 5-3 delegation. (no change)
  6. Montana: Democrats could gain a delegation by electing a Democrat for Montana’s open Republican seat. (+1)
  7. North Carolina. Democrats will win two seats to reduce North Carolina’s 9-3 lead in seats. Democrats may win the vacant seat.  If that happens, a victory in one of the two remaining contestable seats would give North Carolina a Democratic delegation. (+1)
  8. Pennsylvania: Democrats could break the 9-9 tie in Pennsylvania by winning one contestable seat. (+1 v. being neutralized)
  9. Texas: Democrats could neutralize Texas’s 21-13 delegation by winning four toss-up seats. One more victory would make Texas a Democratic delegation.  (neutralized; not optimal, but the very best we could hope for)
  10. Virginia: Democrats need to protect their 7-4 delegation. Virginia would become a Republican delegation if both endangered Democrats lost and Democrats could not flip the targeted Republican seat.  (no change)
  11. If the optimal results were achieved, Democrats would control 28 delegations, Republicans 21, and one delegation would be neutral.

Alaska has a one-person delegation.  Currently, that person is a Republican whose defeat would create a Democratic delegation.

  1. Democrat Alyse Galvin is an education reformer. She ran and lost a close race in 2018 for this seat. The incumbent is 87 year old Don Young who was initially elected to Congress in 1973, Alyse Galvin was leading Young 43-41 in September in the only poll so far.  She began August with $1.4 million.  He began August with half that. See Political Note #224 in

Florida has a 27-person delegation.  14 are Republicans.  13 are Democrats. If Democrats flip one Republican seat and avoid losing any seats, they will flip the Florida delegation.  FL 26 is a Democratic seat in danger.  FL 15 is a Republican seat that could be flipped,

  1. Incumbent Democrat Deborah Mucarsel-Powell worked in development. She was born in Ecuador, immigrated to California with her mother, was educated at Pitzer, and moved to Miami. She is good at raising money.  Her Republican challenger is Carlos Gimenez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County and the child of Cuban immigrants.  The only poll available is from July.  That poll showed Gimenez leading 47-42.  At the beginning of August, Deborah Mucarsel-Powell had $2.8 million available.  Gimenez had $900,000. See Note #201 in
  2. Alan Cohn, is a prize winning television anchor, journalist, and investigative reporter. He had most recently been working in the Tampa area – FL 15. He is running for what has become an open Republican seat.  His opponent is City Commissioner and insurance executive Scott Franklin who ousted a one term, ineptly corrupt Republican Congressman in the Republican primary.  There are no polls available.  At the beginning of August, after each candidate had spent more than $400,000 to win his primary, each of them was left with a little more than $100,000

Iowa has a four-person Congressional delegation.  One seat is safe Republican, IA 01 and 03 have Democratic incumbents elected for the first time in 2018.  The long-term Democratic incumbent in IA 02 is retiring.  All three Democratic seats are toss-ups. If Democrats lost one of those seats, it would neutralize Iowa in a House presidential vote. If Democrats lost more than one seat, that would flip the Iowa delegation to be a vote for a Republican president.

  1. Democrat Abby Finkenauer’s IA 01 is in the state’s northeast quadrant. Next to AOC, she is the youngest member of Congress, elected after having served as a very young member of the Iowa House. In Congress, she has joined groups like the Blue Collar Caucus and the Rural Education Caucus, avoiding the ideological groups.  Her challenger, Ashley Hinson, is a state representative and a former local television personality.  A late September poll showed the two candidates tied 45-45.  Late August polls showed Abby Finkenauer leading by 10 to 12 points.  Abby Finkenauer had $2.7 million at the beginning of July.  Hinson had $1.6 million at the same time.  See Note #257 in
  2. Three term Democratic State Senator Rita Hart was a near-unanimous choice among Democrats to replace IA 02’s retiring Democratic Member of Congress, a district that is in Iowa’s southeast quadrant. An English teacher in small, rural high schools and a popular singer at weddings and Iowa events, she has bipartisan support. Her opponent, State Senator Marionette Miller-Meeks is an ophthalmologist who retired from the army reserves as a Lt. Colonel.  She ran and lost three times for Congress against retiring Member of Congress David Loebsack. An August poll showed a 41-41 tie between the two candidates.  Another August poll showed Miller-Meeks leading by 3 or 4 points.  Rita Hart had $1.4 million at the beginning of July. Miller-Meeks had $500,000.  See Note #240 in
  3. Long-time back of the house staffer for various Iowa state departments, Democrat Cynthia Axne was elected in 2018 to IA 03 which is in the southwest quadrant of the state. She is Iowa’s only member of the House Agriculture Committee and is a member of the moderate Democratic caucus. Her opponent is David Young, the two term Republican Member of Congress she ousted in 2018 by 49 to 47.5 percent.   In mid-July, two polls found the candidates tied or nearly tied.  An early August poll showed Cynthia Axne leading 48-42.  At the beginning of July, Cynthia Axne had $3.1 million on hand.  David Young had $1.35 million.  See Note #226 in

Michigan has 7 Democratic seats, 6 Republican seats, and one Libertarian seat.  Justin Amash, unhappy with the direction of the Trump administration, left the Republican Party to become a Libertarian and is not running for reelection to MI 03.  A Republican victory in MI 03 would neutralize this delegation should the Presidential election be decided in the House of Representatives.

  1. Democrat Hillary Scholten is an enormously appealing candidate. Her candidacy and her life are grounded in a religious belief in public service.  As an attorney, she has represented the homeless and LGBQ+ people subject to housing discrimination.  Her Republican opponent, Peter Meijer, the scion of a supermarket chain family, is a veteran and an analyst for investors. His campaign has been funded by the DeVos and Van Andel families.  One September poll showed Hillary Scholten leading 44-42.  The other showed Meijer leading 48-41.  Mejier’s mid-July available funds was a deceptively small $400,000.  Hillary Scholten’s $570,000 is what she’s got. See Note #282 in

Minnesota has 5 Democratic Members of Congress and 3 Republicans.  Three races are relevant.  Lose one of the Democratic seats and Minnesota is neutralized unless the Republican seat is flipped, Lose two, unless the Republican seat is flipped,  Minnesota becomes a Republican vote for President in the House. MN 01 has a Republican incumbent.  MN 02 and MN 07 have Democratic incumbents. The possibility of a delay in filling MN 02 adds some confusion.

  1. Democrat, veteran, teacher, and Defense Department official Dan Feehan ran and lost the race for MN 01 in 2018 to the now incumbent Jim Hagedorn. This district covers much of the southern tier of the state.  Dan Feehan taught in Gary, Indiana with Teach for American, had a White House Internship which eventually morphed into his position as Assistant Secretary of Defense.  Incumbent Jim Hagedorn is a mini Donald Trump.  He was a birther, made a derogatory reference to a wheel chair bound veteran, and, in 2018,  claimed Feehan was “owned” by George Soros.  A mid-August poll saw Hagedorn up 41-38.  A mid-September poll saw the two candidates tied at 41. Toward the end of July, Dan Feehan had $1.8 million available for the balance of the campaign.  Hagedorn had $1 million. See Note #244 in
  2. Incumbent Democrat Angie Craig is a former heath care executive elected in 2018 to represent MN 02, a district that stretches south from St. Paul to just north of Rochester. Born in Arkansas in a trailer park, attended college in Tennessee where she became a journalist, she and her female partner left after a lawsuit which attempted to prevent them from adopting a child.  Her challenger is Tyler Kistner, a veteran of the Marine Raiders, the Marine Special Ops service.  The only poll for the district was in July.  Angie Craig led 45-38.   Angie Craig comes to the election financially well prepared.  Toward the end of July, she had $2.6 million available while Kistner had $500,000. A complication is that, because of the death of a third-party candidate, the election may be postponed to February 9.  See Note #121 in
  3. Incumbent Democrat Collin Peterson was first elected to Congress in 1990. After some early challenges, reelection was almost automatic until recently. Throughout, he has been among the most conservative Democrats in the House – on social issues, on military issues, on climate issues. His challenger, former Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach was the State Senate President. She was elevated to Lt. Governor when Tina Smith, the Lt. Governor was appointed US Senator.  Forced to leave the state Senate, she has turned to the US Congress.  I could find no polls for MN 07.  Toward the end of July, Colin Peterson had $1.3 million available while Fischbach had $300,000. See Note #258 in

Montana has a one-person delegation.  Currently, that person is a Republican who decided to run for Governor.  The Democratic candidate is in a position to defeat her Republican opponent.

  1. Democrat Kathleen Williams, a former state legislator is an outdoorswoman, gun owner, water expert, and conservationist who ran for and lost a close race for this seat in 2018. Her opponent is Matt Rosendale, the State Auditor. Kathleen Williams was leading in polls at the end of August and in Mid-September, 51-48 and 44-41.  At the beginning of July, she had $1.6 million in cash to Rosendale’s $1.2 million. See Note #286 in

North Carolina currently has 3 Democratic Members of Congress, 9 Republican Members, and one vacancy.  In the settlement of the gerrymandering dispute, North Carolina Republican legislators redrew district maps giving up NC 02 and NC 06 to the Democrats – leaving the probable configuration of the currently filled seats to be 5-7.  Democrats are making a serious contest of the vacant seat, NC 11.  A win there would make the delegation 6-7.  NC 08 and NC 09 are Republican seats where Democrats have a chance to win.  A win in either district could make NC a Democratic vote for President if the House winds up making that decision.

  1. Democrat Pat Timmons-Goodson is a former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, an elected office as are the lower court judge positions she had filled. The voters of NC 08, which stretches from north of Charlotte to Fayetteville, are familiar with her. If elected, she would join the growing number of African Americans representing majority white districts. The incumbent, Richard Hudson, was a Republican Party operative until he ran for Congress, defeating a Democratic incumbent in 2012. He was a birther and has otherwise taken standard Republican positions such as opposition to the ACA.   In the two available polls, Hudson has led 43-41 and 44-42, At the beginning of July, Pat Timmons-Goodson had $600,000 for her campaign.  The incumbent had $1.7 million.   See Note #315
  2. Democrat Cynthia Wallace, in NC 09 is running in a Charlotte-based district that attracted a lot of money and interest and notoriety in 2018. Absentee ballot fraud by the Republicans led the Board of Elections to refuse to certify the election of the Republican candidate. The race has attracted less attention in 2020. Cynthia Wallace, a banker and risk analyst and a descendent of an African American family active in local civil rights efforts is running against the incumbent Republican elected in the special election of 2019.  Dan Bishop was a state legislator who takes credit for North Carolina’s controversial anti-transgender “bathroom bill”.  There have been no polls of this race.   Bishop had $450,000 at the beginning of July.  Cynthia Wallace had $150,000.  See Note #289 of
  3. Democrat Moe Davis is a great candidate at the right time for NC 11, Triump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows old seat, Moe Davis is a courageous man. Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo, he refused to use evidence obtained through torture. His opponent, Madison Cawthorn is 25 and, but for being confined in a wheelchair after an automobile accident when he was nineteen, would be the definition of a callow youth. Now twenty-five, he cannot escape accusations of sexual harassment and a few other embarrassments. By late September, Moe Davis was leading 46-42 in polls. Neither candidate had much money at the beginning of July.  Moe Davis had $265,000, Cawthorn had $165,000.  See note #319 in

Pennsylvania has 18 Members of Congress.  9 are Democrats.  9 are Republicans.  PA 10, currently held by a Republican, could flip to the Democrats,  If that district flipped, Democrats would have another delegation in the House voting for a Democrat.

  1. The Democratic State Auditor General Eugene DePasqsuale is trying to oust incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Perry in PA 10, a rural district that includes Hershey, Harrisburg, and York. Eugene DePasquale is committed to health care and to rehabilitation – a product of a brother rejected for insurance because of a preexisting condition and a father with a drug problem who became sober after a conviction sent him to jail. Scott Perry’s even harsher childhood led him to the National Guard, college, eventual retirement from the military as a Brigadier General, the creation of a construction service business that made him wealthy, and deeply conservative views.  Eugene DePasquale has led in recent polls – 46-44 and 50-46.    Both candidates entered July with just under $1 million available.   See Note #283 in 

Texas has 21 Republican Members of Congress and 13 Democratic Members.  Texas has several closely contested Congressional seats.  Among them are TX 03, TX 10, TX 21, 22, 23, and 24 – all Republican seats that could be flipped.  If four Republican seats were flipped, Texas would be neutral if there be a Presidential vote in the House.   There are several slightly vulnerable Republican seats which I won’t write about. A Democratic upset of a Republican Member of Congress is possible in TX 02, 06, 25, and 31. Think of that.

  1. Democrat Lulu Seikaly is running in TX 03 against first term Congressman Van Taylor, a veteran and a descendent of the founders of Humble Oil, The district is between Fort Worth and Dallas and was once represented by GHW Bush. Lulu Seikaly, a politically active lawyer, graduate of a Catholic High School and Southern Methodist, is the daughter of middle-class escapees from Lebanon. She would be Texas’s first Arab American Member of Congress.  Polls from July and August showed Taylor with substantial leads, but a mid-September poll had Taylor ahead 44-43.  At the beginning of July Taylor had money and Lulu Seikaly did not.  He had $1 million.  She had $40,000. See Note #318 in
  2. Democrat Mike Siegel, candidate for TX 10, is assistant city attorney in Austin. Originally from Oakland, California, he taught there and joined his very left-wing father’s law firm. In law school, he met his veterinary student wife from Texas, which brought him to Austin.  He is running against the incumbent Mike McCaul, a national security focused Member of Congress and, as a result of gifts from his wife’s family which owns hundreds of radio stations through what was called Clear Channel, is one of the wealthiest Members of Congress.  A September poll showed McCaul leading 45-43.  Earlier polls gave him larger leads.  At the beginning of July, the incumbent had $1.2 million available and, of course, more if he needed it.   Mike Siegel had only $160,000, having used most of his resources in the primary, See Note #314 in
  3. Democrat Wendy Davis , who was once a near-cult candidate for Texas Governor after a one-woman filibuster against an abortion bill, is back in politics. She is running against Ted Cruz favorite, incumbent Chip Roy, to flip TX 21, a district that runs between Austin and San Antonio. Two polls in July showed a tie or Roy ahead by a point. Wendy Davis is leading in the financial race.  Funds available at the beginning of July.  Wendy Davis – $2.9 million, Chip Roy – $1.7 million.  See Note #267
  4. Democrat Sri Preston Kulkari is a former diplomat planning to flip TX 22, a Houston-based district. Appropriately, Sri Preston Kulkari is a distant relative, on his mother’s side, of Sam Houston. He grew up in Houston where his mother worked in the oil industry.  His father was a novelist and academic.  Preston Sri Kulkari’s specialty as a diplomat was solving complicated problems like finding events through which Israelis and Palestinians could achieve some mutual understanding.  His opponent is County Sheriff Troy Nehls.  Ex-military, he retired from the army reserves as a Major after tours of duty in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  A poll at the beginning of August showed the two candidates tied.  Sri Preston Kulkari is winning the money race.  At the beginning of July he had $1.2 million on hand to Nehls $30,000. See Note #277 from
  5. Gina Ortiz Jones ran and lost by 1150 votes in the 2018 election for TX 23, a district along the Texas – Mexico border which pundits describe as Lean D. She has served as a senior advisor to the Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and she reviewed investments for national security implications for the US Trade Representative in Barack Obama’s White House. She is a young, gay woman whose mother emigrated to the US from the Philippines and cleaned houses until she could find a school district that would hire her as a teacher. Gina Ortiz Jones’ opponent is 20-year navy veteran Tony Gonzalez.  He describes himself as conservative and emphasizes his support of the second amendment.  Polls in May and August showed Gina Ortiz Jones narrowly ahead – 45-43 and 41-40.  She is well ahead in resources.  She began July with $3 million.  Gonzalez began July with $400,000.  See Note #326 in
  6. School Board Member Candace Valenzuela is trying to capture the open seat TX 24 which encompasses the northern suburbs between Fort Worth and Dallas. The District is or is about to become majority minority. The child of a Latina mother and Black father whose retirement from the military was difficult. Candace Valenzuela’s mother and her children left and found themselves homeless for a time.  Candace Valenzuela was saved by her fiercely protective mother and by her schools.  A good student she went to Claremont McKenna in California, met another Texan, and returned with him to work in education in Texas.  Her opponent, Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, made a name for herself urging support for banning the use of Sharia Law and for praising the police when they arrested a Muslim 14 year old for bringing a home-made clock to school.  Two of the three available polls, all from June and July, showed Candace Valenzuela leading by 6 or 7 points.  One other poll showed the race tied.  Both candidates spent a lot of their money on primaries.  At the beginning of July, Van Duyne had $500,000, Candace Valenzuela had $100,000.  See Note #310 on

Virginia has 7 Democratic Seats and 4 Republican seats.  Democratic held VA 02 and 07 are toss ups,  If Democrats lose both of those seats and do not flip Republican-held VA 05,  the Virginia delegation would become Republican.

  1. Democratic incumbent Elaine Luria was elected to the coastal Virginia district VA 02. The district has navy towns and tourist towns – Williamsburg and Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Elaine Luria comes from the navy.  She was a Commander.  In Congress, she joined moderate and conservative Democrats in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.  Her opponent is former Navy Seal Scott Taylor, the Member of Congress she narrowly defeated in 2018.  His campaign is handicapped by the 2018 scandal. His campaign staff forged signatures to get an independent on the ballot in order to draw votes away from Elaine Luria. A poll in July showed the two candidates tied 48-48.  As of the beginning of July, Elaine Luria had $2.9 million available.  Scott Taylor had $300,000.  See Note #202 in
  2. Democratic doctor and lawyer Cameron Webb would be the first African American ever and the first Democrat in 10 years to represent VA 05 which is largely based along the North Carolina border, but stretches up to northern Virginia. He is on the faculty of the University of Virginia and has been head of an organization seeking to end health disparities. His opponent, Bob Good, was the head of development for Liberty University’s athletic program.  Most polls have shown Good with a one or two point lead.  At the beginning f July, Cameron Webb had $450,000 available for his campaign.  Bob Good had $70,000.  See Note #303 in
  3. Abigail Spanberger , a former member of the CIA and a former member of the postal office inspection service, was elected in 2018 to VA 07 which extends from west of Washington DC to south of Richmond. In Congress, she has been a member of the Conservative Blue Dog Democrats.  Her opponent in 2020 is Nick Freitas, a retired Green Beret, who served two terms in Virginia’s House of Delegates.  There are no polls, though many pundits see this race as a toss-up.  At the beginning of July, Abigail Spanberger had $4 million available for her campaign, Freitas had $350,000.  See Note #224 in

Expect a Len’s Letter with more information about the circumstances that could lead to the House of Representatives selecting a President.  While you wait, consider providing support to these candidates who could actually decide who is President of the United States of America.