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House Democrats face possible primary headaches

Josh Kraushaar Democrats Axios Article July 2023
Thought Leader: Josh Kraushaar
July 9, 2023
Source: Axios
Written by: Josh Kraushaar

While Democrats hold a fighting chance to win back the House majority in 2024, the emergence of problematic candidates and messy primaries in several key races could complicate their path.

Why it matters: The Democrats’ House campaign committee doesn’t plan on getting involved in contested primaries, according to officials familiar with its strategy. That runs the risk that weaker candidates could emerge in must-win races — a dynamic that Republicans are very familiar with.

Driving the news: Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a progressive attorney who lost an Oregon district that Biden carried by nine points in 2022, is planning to seek a rematch against Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.).

What we’re watching: Democrats are also facing a potential primary headache involving the suburban northern New Jersey seat of Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-N.J.) — a true bellwether district.

Between the lines: In one of the marquee House Democratic primaries, two candidates with solid political pedigrees are squaring off.

The other side: Republicans have a few primary red flags of their own. Joe Kent, the right-wing candidate who lost to Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.) in a district Trump carried, is running again for Congress.

What they’re saying: “Candidate choices in the key districts are going to matter — and if primary voters make a poor choice or two, it could have a major impact on the overall landscape,” said Kyle Kondik, the managing editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

The bottom line: With primary voters often preferring ideologically-driven candidates, an urgent task for both parties is ensuring electable nominees emerge in battleground races.

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