Tough going, but potential great rewards

There are 94 Congressional seats in the Midwest.  After a review of the Northeastern and Southeastern States a Democratic needed ten more seats.  In the Midwest, there is only one Republican seat we can be confident of winning — Finkenauer in IA 01.  We may lose the Open D seat in MN 08.  Radinovich is behind in polls. No gains here.

More simplistic calculations.  538 calculates seven seats have a better than 50% likelihood of winning in the Midwest.  Deduct a second Open D seat that 538 does not see a 50% chance of winning.   A net of six seats with a better than 50% of winning.  Anticipate flipping six Republican seats in the Midwest, we are only four away from a Congressional majority.

What are the strategies for giving here?Strategy 1:  Support those that are leadingAngie Craig in MN 02, Dean Phillips in MN 03, and Haley Stevens in MI 11Strategy 2: Support the Toss ups.  Here is the greatest uncertainty, the greatest need for help.Cindy Axne in IA 03, Paul Davis in KS 02, ShariceDavids in KS 03, ElissaSlotkin in MI 08, Dan Feehan in MN 01, and Sean Castin in IL 06Strategy 3: Support those who need to catch up and canBrendan Kelly in IL 12, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan in IL 13, Laura Underwood in IL 14, Joe Radinovich in MN 08, Kara Eastman in NE 02, AftabPurewalin OH 01, and Danny O’Connor in OH 12.Strategy 4:  Mix and match.  Focus on some states.  Do what makes sense to you. Support candidates you like, or love.

Tilt D1. Democratic Challenger Health Care Executive Angie Craig for Minnesota’s 2nd District  538 calculates that she has an 85% chance of winning election.In 2016, Craig, a health care executive, lost to Jason Lewis, one of the more distasteful Republican candidates.  This is a culture war clash she should win.  Now the incumbent, Republican Lewis was a radio talk show jock who disparaged women, who, in the name of Libertarianism, supported the concept of slavery.  Craig’s personal contribution to the culture war is that she is a Lesbian.  Adopting a child, with her partner, in her native South became a cause.  She is a business oriented, moderate Democrat who ran a smarter campaign this time.  She defeated a more left oriented opponent in a caucus, approaching the process effectively enough so that he declined to continue on to the primary.

Angie Craig won 53 – 47.

2. Democratic Challenger Businessman and Philanthropist Dean Phillips for Minnesota’s 3rd District 538 calculates that he has an 85% chance of winning election.Son of a widow who married into a wealthy Minnesota family, a family that included Penelope Phillips (Dear Abby).   Phillips has been a Minnesota civic figure.  He has been a businessman, philanthropist, and Democrat (except for a brief moment as a child when his advice columnist grandmother advised him away from his initial presidential favorite independent John Anderson).  The child is the father to the man, Phillips is a business oriented, moderate Democrat who supports public services and is likely to win. 

Dean Phillips won 56 – 44.

3. Democratic Challenger Former Treasury Department Officer Haley Stevens for Michigan’s 11th District 538 calculates that she has an 84% chance of winning election.If anyone has earned a Michigan Congressional seat, it is Haley Stevens.  She defeated a half dozen primary opponents. She could point to her role as coordinator of the automobile bailout after the 2007/8 financial crisis.  Unlike the Republicans who imagine that cutting taxes creates jobs, Stevens was in the business of saving and creating Michigan jobs.  It is no small irony that the Republican incumbent David Trott’s family law firm made its money through mortgage foreclosures.

Haley Stevens won 52 – 45.

Toss ups4. Democratic Challenger Former state level Administrator Cindy Axne for Iowa’s 3rd District.  538 calculates that she has a 59% chance of winning election.Axnewas an administrator for two different Iowa agencies under Democratic administrations, was fired from a third agency by a Republican administration.  She describes herself as having sharp elbows. Axne has focused on two weaknesses of the Republican incumbent — his votes in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act and his status as the third highest recipient of funds from the NRA.  The Republican incumbent’s efforts to sound moderate because he supports funding Planned Parenthood under limited circumstances and is willing to allow immigrants in the US so long as they don’t become citizens are lame.

Cynthia Axne won 49 – 47.

5. Democratic Challenger Attorney Sharice Davids for Kansas’s 3rd District  538 calculates that she has a 56% chance of winning election.Davids is a phenomenon.  Her brief experience as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter has shaped her image. Note the following.  She is a Native American.  She overcame a hardscrabble life including low hourly wage jobs as she moved from part-time work to an urban college to work encouraging tribal financial success to an Ivy League Law School to a job with an enormous, international law firm. She didn’t like the legal work.  She quit the firm to try Mixed Martial Arts. She quit the firm to create a fund to support Native American entrepreneurs.  She was after something meaningful.  She is another Democrat who defeated a candidate to her left in the primary.  She is another intriguing Democrat who has caught on.  The Republican incumbent is on the defensive.  Proud that he has earned Congressional civility awards, he is attacking Davidsfor not having Kansas values.  Not because she is Native American or because she supports entrepreneurs or because she supports the Affordable Care Act. As best analysts can tell, he claims she does not have Kansas values because she is gay.

Sharice Davids won 53 – 44.

6. Democratic Challenger Former State House Minority Leader Paul Davis for Kansas’ 2nd District.  538 calculates that he has a 54% chance of winning election.Davis is a former wunderkind, now grown up.  Defeat did that.  He lost a run for governor.  He lost to one of the least popular governors in the country.  He lost in a very Republican state.  He lost because of a last minute campaign onslaught about his being discovered during a raid in a strip joint.  A junior associate, he had been taken there by a senior partner in the law firm representing the strip joint.  Davis was not consulting with the owner at the time of the raid.  Despite the loss, Davis carried the 2nd District in his governor’s race. The raid is old news now.  Davis should carry the 2nd District again and win this Open, formerly Republican seat.

Paul Davis lost 48 – 47.

7. Democratic Challenger Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Elissa Slotkin for MIchigan’s 8th District.  538 calculates that she has a 53% chance of winning election.Sam Slotkin sold hotdogs at Briggs Field, where the Tigers used to play.  Not personally.  Sam’s farm was responsible for the hot dogs and the sales.  Sam’s granddaughter Elissa went to agricultural school. Cornell. An Ivy League agricultural school.  9/11 changed things.  She did not go back to the farm.  She joined the CIA, instead.  She worked for Bush.  She worked for Obama.  She focused on Iraq.  Now she is back on the farm.  It is a base for her run for Congress.  She can’t be attacked on national security.  Her issue is health care.  The Republican incumbent voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  His issue is that Slotkin has not been living in the District.  Some issue.  She was in the CIA.

Elissa Slotkin won 51 – 47.

8. Democratic Candidate Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Dan Feehan for Minnesota’s Open Democratic 1st District.  538 calculates that he has a 49% chance of winning election.He touches a lot of bases.  A Paul Wellstone fan.  Military service in Iraq.  Teach for American in Gary, Indiana.  Assistant Secretary of Defense in Washington.  This is an Open Seat.  It runs along Minnesota’s southern border — rural and suburban.  Vacated by Democrat Tim Walz, likely to be Minnesota’s next governor, the district leans Republican.  Trump carried the district by 15 points.  The Republican candidate, Jim Hagedorn, is the son of a Congressman.  He attacks Feehan for being from the party that wants to impeachTrump, that wants to make Minnesota a sanctuary state.  He attacks Feehan for not living in Minnesota recently.  Feehan was away from Minnesota.  He was in the army, in Teach for America, in Washington working for the Defense Department. Feehan is from Red Earth Minnesota; as Minnesotan as Hagedorn, who is from Blue Wing, Minnesota.

Dan Feehan lost 50 – 50 (1,315 votes)

9. Democratic Challenger Scientist and Entrepreneur Sean Casten for Illinois’ 6th District.  538 calculates that he has a 36% chance of winning election.Scientist, environmentalist, clean energy specialist, entrepreneur, advocate, suburbanite, politician.  Sean Castenis all of these.  On his core issue, if his business were something other than building and installing clean heat and power plants, Republicans might like him. He is an entrepreneur. They don’t like him.  His complaints about regulations do not bring them around. He complains that energy regulations that don’t focus on outcomes discourage investment.  Republicans don’t like him because:  He insists there is no need to choose between protecting the planet and saving jobs.  He has gun safety proposals, proposals to deal more effectively with immigration, proposals to support women’s rights. He supports same sex marriage.  The incumbent, Republican Peter Roskam has little interest in clean energy or gun safety.  He demonizes immigrants, opposes abortions under all circumstances, opposes laws to ensure equal pay for women, and has lobbied fellow Republicans to continue opposing same sex marriage. 

Sean Casten won 53 – 47.

Tilt R10. Democratic Challenger Prosecutor Brendon Kelly for Illinois’ 12th District.  538 calculates that he has a 41% chance of winning election.Kelly is a blue collar guy, grandson of a cop and an electrician, nephew of a firefighter, brother and brother in law of Navy officers, and husband of a nurse.  He is a graduate of Catholic schools — Notre Dame, St. Louis University Law School.  As a prosecutor, he sued banks for fraudulent and secretive mortgage records.  He was the first State’s Attorney in Illinois to sue big pharmaceutical companies for deceiving patients about the dangers of prescription opioids.   The incumbent, Republican Mike Bost refused to hold public hearings about health care, saying hearings were too combative.  He explained: “You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them? That’s not what we need.”  He got national notoriety for that comment and apologized for his poor choice of words.  He should apologize for more.

Brendan Kelly lost 52 – 45.

11. Democratic Challenger Clerk of Courts AftabPurewal for Ohio’s 1st District.  538 calculates that he has a 23% chance of winning election.Son of a Tibetan refugee who escaped to India and an Indian father, Purewalis not exotic.  He is charming, likable. He runs an efficient office. His political positions are progressive.  Not like the Republican incumbent Steve Chabot who has been in Congress for more than twenty years.  Chabot has been a figure in the culture wars.  He introduced a bill to prohibit late term abortions.  He has been a leader in an anti-tax group.  He is skeptical about man made climate change and described “cap and trade” proposals as extreme.  He proposed confiscating cameras when people attempt to film police behavior. 

Aftab Purewal lost 52 – 46.

Lean R12. Democratic Challenger Non-Profit Executive Kara Eastman for Nebraska’s 2nd District. 538 calculates that she has a 35% chance of winning election.Kate Eastman defeated a former Democratic Congressman in the primary. She made the DCCC unhappy.  They thought the conservative Democrat would have a better chance of winning and attempted to make that thought a self-supporting prophecy.  The DCCC took a long time to move her onto the Red to Blue list.  That move did not materialize into resources to speak of.  Eastman had been head of a non-profit that focused on the problem of lead poisoning children.  That led to concerns about dangerous homes and about landlord tenant relationships.   That led to a campaign for Congress.  Republicans claim she is extreme.  The Republican incumbent Don Bacon is a former Brigadier General.  He responds to questions about war with nuance, about immigration with a measure of nuance. The rest is extreme. He opposes abortion, believes tax cuts will generate prosperity, supports construction of a wall along the border.  He’s not likely to do anything about lead paint poisoning.

Kara Eastman lost 52 –– 48.

13. Democratic Challenger Former Health and Human Services Department Official Lauren Underwood for Illinois’ 14th District.  538 calculates that she has a 34% chance of winning electionLauren Underwood became a nurse as a consequence of a childhood illness.  She became a member of a the Obama administration as a consequence of a high school internship with him as Senatorand her Johns Hopkins degree in health policy.  She became a candidate for Congress in response to the incumbent Randy Hultgren’s false promise.  He said he would take no votes to weaken the commitment to protecting people with preexisting health conditions.  She has a chance to be one of the growing number of African Americans representing predominantly white constituencies.

Lauren Underwood won 52 – 48.

14. Democratic Challenger County Recorder Danny O’Connor for Ohio’s 12th Distrct.  538 calculates that he has a 33% chance of winning electionCounty Official O’Connor came within a point in the special election.  Can he overcome that tiny deficit?  Don’t underestimate Danny.  He is a tough campaigner, a shameless pleader for resources.  His political positions can be summed up in his description of his work in the County Prosecutor’s office and his office as County Recorder:  Help the needy, prosecute the criminals.  Run an efficient office.  His former and current opponent, Republican former state Senator, now incumbent Congressman has just a few weeks to demonstrate whether he can meet that standard.

Danny O’Connor lost 52 – 47.

15. Democratic Challenger Businesswoman Betsy Dirksen Londrigan for Illinois’ 13th District. 638 calculates that she has a 26% chance of winning election.A political and non-profit fundraiser in the deeply political city of Springfield, Illinois.   Londriganis another Democrat moved to run by the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Now she has list of issues:  gun safety, tax relief for the middle class instead of the wealthy, equality for women.  Her target is the Republican incumbent Rodney Davis.  He is not among the worst Republican Congressmen. He has taken several votes we would not want him to have taken. He voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  He voted to support the Tax Cuts for the Wealthy, expressing confidence that the cuts would not affect the deficit.  He has opposed abortion.   He would protect religious institution from having to offer insurance that covered contraception.  He supports construction of the border wall and opposed extension of DACA without wall funding.  He has taken a few votes that make him a tiny bid moderate. He was the deciding vote allowing DREAMers to join the military as a faster way to citizenship.  He expressed reservations about Trump’s tariffs. He voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.  And he has supported the availability of medical marijuana.  Is that moderate enough to escape Londrigan and a Democratic wave?

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan lost 51 – 49.

17. Democratic Candidate Former State Representative Joe Radinovich for Minnesota’s Open Democratic 8th District  538 calculates that he has a 20% chance of winning election.Radinovich, after a very tough childhood, made a life as a political operative and candidate.  He has been a particular supporter of unions.  A particular supporter of teachers unions.  Teachers came to his support after a murder and suicides in his family.  He has taken positions that took political courage.  Won one election as a result of refusal to bow out to a more experienced candidate.  Lost another because of his support for same sex marriage.  For this Open D seat, which Trump carried by double digits, he has a particularly tough opponent — a local hockey hero who made good professionally.  He will need resources and some good luck to make this a win.

Joe Radinovich lost 51 – 45.