The dust has mostly settled from last week’s primaries in eight states, clearing the air enough to update a few of CNN’s House Race Ratings.
Democrats managed to avoid getting blocked from the general election ballot in several key California races that could determine control of the House in November. The party also landed its top choices in four New Jersey contests, which could further help Democrats on their mission of flipping 23 seats to seize control of the House majority.
The lack of any major surprises leaves our ratings largely intact, although there are a few races where last Tuesday’s results warrant a move.
Of the seven races we are moving, four are in the direction of the Democrats, while three shift toward Republicans.
CA-10: Democrats avoided getting locked out in this Central Valley district with venture capitalist Josh Harder running a distant second behind incumbent GOP Rep. Jeff Denham. But in a potential warning sign for Denham, he received 38% of the primary vote – nine points below his share in the 2016 primary. The 10th District is majority-minority – including 42% Latino – and is one of a limited number of competitive House seats in California. Denham has been one of the Republicans leading the charge in the House to force a vote on immigration reform. The four-term lawmaker has more than $2 million in the bank as of mid-May, compared with $366,000 for Harden – though the Democrat demonstrated fundraising strength in the primary, hauling in $1.4 million since launching his bid. Denham won re-election by four points in 2016, when Hillary Clinton carried the district by three points. Barack Obama won the district by four points in 2012. Race moves from Lean Republican to Toss-Up.
CA-39: Democrat Gil Cisneros and Republican Young Kim are set to face off in what is expected to be one of the most closely-watched House races this fall. The path back to the majority for Democrats runs in large part through California, and the seven Republican-held seats that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. The 39th District, represented by retiring GOP Rep. Ed Royce, is among them. Clinton won here by eight points in 2016, a swing from Mitt Romney’s four-point edge here four years earlier. Latinos, Asian-Americans and whites each make up roughly a third of the district’s population. Cisneros, a Navy veteran and millionaire lottery winner, was the top choice of the DCCC. Kim, a Korean immigrant and former assemblywoman, could appeal to groups that typically favor Democrats. Race moves from Lean Democratic to Toss-Up.
CA-50: Embattled GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter will face public affairs consultant Ammar Campa-Najjar in this conservative district that backed Trump by 15 points and Romney by 22 points. The area is home to many veterans and military retirees, which had some Democrats thinking former Navy SEAL Josh Butner might have presented a tougher challenge to Hunter. Campa-Najjar, a former Obama administration official, is running on a progressive platform that includes tuition-free college and moving toward a Medicare-for-All health care system. At this point it seems the only thing stopping Hunter from re-election in November is if he is charged in the federal investigation into whether he misused campaign funds. Race moves from Likely Republican to Solid Republican.
NJ-11: Democrats are poised to flip this seat represented by retiring GOP Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen. Former federal prosecutor and Navy pilot Mikie Sherrill scored an overwhelming win in last week’s Democratic primary and has $1.8 million in the bank at last check. State Assemblyman Jay Webber claimed the Republican nomination – although there was lower turnout in the competitive GOP primary than there was on the Democratic side. His latest fundraising report showed about $225,000 cash on hand. In 2016, this Republican-leaning district backed President Trump over Hillary Clinton 48% to 47%. Mitt Romney won it with 53% four years earlier. Race moves from Toss-Up to Lean Democratic