THE COMPLETE 16 PERCENT: Who’s fired and who’s hired
The full rundown from our November 12th, 2020 newsletter.
Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)
Looking to Up His Game
Pete easily won his reelection bid with ⅔ of the vote over Republican challenger, Agnes Gibboney. When the new Congress convenes, Pete will run for the 6th ranking member of the House – the Vice Chairman of the Democratic House Caucus. This will be his fourth term and he’s beginning it on a positive note, reflecting on how difficult the past year has been but that “our future is bright and we’re going to keep fighting for each other.” If he can clinch that Vice Chairman position, his future is bright, indeed!
Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)
Coasts To A Win
With 70% of the vote, Brendan coasted to a victory in his Pennsylvania district, offering a stark contrast to the drama the state at-large posed for the presidential tally. With a stronghold on his district and a long resume in Pennsylvania politics (he served in the state House beforehand), Brendan could prove to be a difficult one to unseat in the years to come. This begs the question – what would the potential of Congressional term limits mean for shoe-ins like Brendan?
Joe Cunningham (D; SC-01)
A Southern Showdown
In a very narrow loss, Joe has conceded his seat to GOP Congresswoman-elect Nancy Mace. Nancy is 42-years-old, a businesswoman and former State Representative, helped run Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in South Carolina. Joe made his hope for the future known in his concession speech – “We need to end gerrymandering and break down the barriers that make it harder to vote. We have to build back our alliances around the world and be the global global leader that we have always been. We have to start talking to each other. And most importantly, we got to start listening to one another.”
Abby Finkenauer (D; IA-1)
A Peaceful Transition
Abby, who was the second youngest woman elected to Congress in 2018, conceded her race to Representative-elect Ashley Hinson. In her concession statement, Abby voiced her continued commitment to the people of her district and focused on helping the process of transitioning her seat to Hinson. After making waves with an impassioned speech about women’s health on the floor of the Iowa House of Representatives a few years ago, Abby emerged as a strong Democratic voice for the people of Iowa. We’ll see what’s next for her!
Jared Golden (D; ME-2)
After beating his GOP challenger last week, Jared credited his constituents with much of the hard work it takes to get reelected to Congress. He then called for positivity – “voters are hungry for a positive tone, positive leadership, and civility in our public space”. This message may resonate with the people in his district, but do you think it can be echoed throughout the country effectively?
Kendra Horn (D; OK-5)
Money Doesn’t Always Talk
Despite outspending her GOP opponent by almost 2-to-1, Kendra conceded her seat to Stephanie Bice. Kendra’s campaign raised $5.4 million to Stephanie’s $3 million. Outside groups also spent more on the Democratic candidate than the Republican. However, in a deeply red state in a presidential election year, the cards were stacked against Kendra. A look at these numbers continues to beg the question – how do we address the absurd amounts of money spent in political races?
Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)
Holding On For Dear Life
Andy’s district is a typically Republican stronghold. However, when he beat his GOP challenger last week, he became the first Democrat in decades to hold the seat for consecutive terms. This could be partially attributed to running in very-blue New Jersey in a presidential election year, increasing Democratic turnout. Andy of course, claims that his ability to deliver to his community and work across the aisle is what led him to this second win.
Grace Meng (D; NY-6)
Grace was reelected for her fifth term in Congress. Both she and her GOP opponent referenced her handling of the coronavirus in NY during their campaigns – her touting her support of federal relief packages and him claiming that she wasn’t paying attention to the needs of most of her constituents. In the end, her message won out, as it has four times prior. While it seems like Grace may be able to hang onto this seat for… a very long time… she is one of the politicians who will leave the Political Playlist platform come January based on age. We say goodbye to Grace, but you’ll have the opportunity to replace her with a newcomer or someone already in our pool. Sit tight!
Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)
Not Taking His Foot Off The Gas
In Joe’s first term in Congress he introduced 38 bills – the most of any freshman member. Now, after winning reelection, he will continue his push for progressive policies, specifically as they relate to climate change and healthcare. Joe also had a newborn baby when he took office and credits his wife, Andrea, for the continuing support during his first term and now what will be his second!
Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)
Flip Flop No More
Chris’s New Hampshire district has flipped between Republicans and Democrats five times in a row, but he put an end to that trend after winning reelection last week. In an interview about his win, Chris stressed the need for politicians to refocus on the people, not the process. “It’s about service. And I think that’s where we have to get back to in our political system. It shouldn’t just be about scoring points.” The full interview is worth a read – he speaks about his vision for how politicians should think about serving, regardless of party.
Darren Soto (D; FL-9)
After capturing a win for his third term in Congress, Darren emphasized his desire to address issues of particular importance to his district in his next term. Specifically, he spoke of infrastructure improvements, including an expansion of the Sun Rail route (the commuter system for the greater-Orlando area), and seeking funding to maintain the large amount of citrus groves in his neighborhood. We’ll see if he’s able to bring these issues to the table with Covid being the dominant topic of the day… for a while.
Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)
Swalwell X Swift
Before winning his own reelection bid last week, Eric made a call to a pretty famous voter – Taylor Swift. He had an idea for a video meant to drive voter turnout (especially among young people) in this election. He cold called the popstar with the idea and she liked the video so much she let him and the production company that produced the video use her song ‘Only The Young’ free of charge. The project was viewed and shared almost 10 million times and the song jumped back onto iTunes Top 20. If that’s not the mashup of the year we don’t know what is.
Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)
Don’t Call It A Comeback
With Lauren’s race being called in her favor a mere 5 minutes before writing this today, it was one of the nail-biters this cycle. She beat out state senator Jim Oberweis by just a few percentage points. On election night, Oberweis was in the lead and claimed victory, but Lauren and her team – knowing the trends in mail-in voting around the country – patiently let her numbers increase over the last week. In the end that patience paid off and Lauren, who made history by becoming the first African American to represent her district, came out on top despite representing a district that tends to lean Republican. Her victory is an interesting look into how some of the suburban demographics around the country might be shifting…
Jim Banks (R; IN-3)
The Future Is Conservative
That is, if Jim has anything to say about it. After a more than decisive win against his Democratic opponent (Jim won 76% of the vote), he stressed the importance of continuing to bring conservative values to Washington for his constituents. Jim announced that he will be running for chairman of the Republican Study Committee – the largest conservative caucus in Congress. Though Democrats still retain control of the House, they lose a few seats to Republicans, so we’ll see how Jim’s conservative vision fares in the years to come.
Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)
The New Party Line
Matt handily won his race against Democratic challenger, Phil Ehr, his deeply Republican district. While his win is unsurprising, what makes it most interesting is that Ehr had previously been a registered Republican before Donald Trump took office. Ehr’s moderate approach was a stark contrast from Gaetz’s now well-known defense of President Trump, and it’s clear which one voters in the district favored. The larger question that emerges from this, is exactly how the parties are shifting and who they’re leaving behind.
Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)
Lights, Camera, Action, Partisanship
Lance won his reelection bid last week (though he is still filing a lawsuit regarding Dallas county officials ballot counting process). He answered questions about the partisanship and gridlock in Washington, much of which he attributed to television. About his Democratic colleagues, Lance said, “Personally, they’re as friendly as can be, but when the cameras go on, it gets wild.” There’s been a lot of talk about the media’s part in shaping public opinion – do you think a Washington without cable news would be a different beast or are differences in policy and opinion enough to keep us divided?
Dusty Johnson (R; SD at Large)
Victorious And Frustrated
After coasting to victory with 82% of the vote for South Dakota’s only Congressional seat, Dusty recognized the Covid-related work still to be done. He was part of a group of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans who unveiled a plan to help keep kids in school by providing equipment and additional staff. However, despite this group’s best efforts, he voiced some real frustration that Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin could not reach an agreement for another relief bill. With the heavy reality that Covid is very much on our plates for the foreseeable future, Dusty will continue to have his work cut out for him.
Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)
Better Times Ahead
Not only did Markwayne win his reelection bid last week, but it marked a new chapter for him personally. This year, his son was injured in an accident and spent a prolonged time in the hospital. Markwayne noted how after the rough year both personally, and as a country, he is looking forward to what his next term has to bring. Markwayne has also, notably, been one of the fiercest voices defending Trump’s lawsuits to look into ballot counting in the presidential race.
Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)
Where Law And Order Wins
In Bryan’s acceptance speech after winning reelection, he was focused not only on getting his constituents back to work in the face of Covid, but also on his continued support for police in his district. Bryan represents Kenosha, where protests erupted after police shot and killed an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake. He cheered President Trump during Trump’s visit following the shooting and remained a strong advocate for the President.
Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)
Changing Tides Didn’t Change Enough
Lee won reelection last week in a fairly decisive victory over his Democratic opponent. Although this district has long been a pretty steady Republican area, there was speculation that due to many New York City residents re-registering their homes on Long Island as their primary residents, that there may have been a shift towards Democrats this time. Lee mostly disproved that theory with a strong showing. This brings up the larger question about demographic movement during and after Covid. Will Democrats escaping the cities begin to populate districts that have been continued Republican strongholds?
Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)
Put ‘Er There, Partner
In 2018, Kyrsten defeated GOP Senate candidate Martha McSally. This year, Kyrsten welcomes former astronaut and fellow Democrat Mark Kelly to join her in the Senate after he also defeated McSally last week. There is no doubt that Arizona’s demographics and, perhaps, priorities are shifting and the proof is in the pudding. This is the first time since 1953 that both Senators from Arizona will be Democrats.
Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA-44)
Tweeting Your Feelings…
Nanette Diaz Barragan (D) overwhelmingly defeated her opponent Analilia Joya, another Democrat, with 68.9% of the total vote. This will be Nanette’s third term as a Southern California congresswoman. She took to her twitter last week to condemn President Trump’s tweets saying “Counting votes is not finding votes, “Maybe you should learn how the election system works instead of lying/misleading by tweet all the time.” Tell us how you really feel!
Jason Crow (D; CO-6)
New Generation of Leadership… Preach!
Jason was elected to his second term as a Colorado congressman, defeating GOP candidate Steve House, a former chair of Colorado’s Republican Party. In 2018, Crow became the first Democrat to represent the 6th District by riding a wave of anti-Trump sentiment to defeat five-term Republican incumbent Mike Coffman. He was one of 15 Democrats in 2019 who did not vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House, saying, “I believe we need a new generation of leadership in our country.” He echoed this same sentiment in his acceptance speech last week.
Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)
Wait, Did I Win?
Antonio leads by 7,000 votes in his race to secure his 2nd term, but he has not officially been declared the winner against Republican candidate, Kyle Van De Water. Although Antonio has claimed victory, Kyle has not conceded the race (sound familiar?). While all in-person voting has been counted, there are still outstanding absentee ballots that need to be counted, which tend to lead Democrat. “The people of New York’s 19th Congressional District have made their voices heard and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve again,” Delgado said in an email. The results of this nail-biter should be finalized soon.
Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)
The President Is On Line One
Ruben overwhelmingly was reelected to a fourth term in Arizona with 77% of the vote against Republican opponent, Joshua Barnett. Ruben was a top campaigner for President Elect Joe Biden in Arizona as a member of Biden’s Latino Leadership Committee, and some had signaled before the election that he could potentially serve in Biden’s administration. This speculation caused Ruben to issue the following statement… “My first focus is that we turn Arizona blue and we win the presidency. I love being a member of Congress,” he said. “I’m going to serve my district, and if any other opportunities come up, I’ll consider them as they come. But all that matters is winning this election first.” Guess we’ll wait and see…
Josh Harder (D; CA-10)
The District Stays Blue For Now
Josh won his reelection for his second term with 57% of the vote against his Republican opponent, Ted Howze. Josh’s district was one of the more contested races this year after he flipped it blue in 2018. Republican money stopped funding Ted after his Twitter had offensive social media posts related to race and immigrants. Josh said the following, “We proved that we can get more done by finding common ground than fighting each other. I promise to build on the work we got done over the past two years to bring more water funding and good-paying jobs to the Valley and cut the costs of health care while protecting everyone’s access.” Now it’s time to hold Josh to that promise.
Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)
Will You Please Kindly Step Aside
Ro overwhelmingly won his third term as congressman with 72% of the vote against his Republican opponent, Ritesh Tandon. Most recently, Ro introduced legislation that would expand the Court and set term limits for new justices. He stressed the importance of leadership in the House and on the Court, saying, “Right now, the previous generation is making the laws for our generation. It is anti-democratic. We need term limits.” Do you agree with Ro?
Mike Levin (D; CA-49)
Phew… That Was a Close One
Mike won his second term with 53% of the vote against his Republican opponent, Brian Maryott. Once considered a safe GOP seat, Mike flipped the district two years ago to Democrat. Levin also had a significant funding advantage and has passed a number of bipartisan bills during his first term. Mike is looking forward to working on issues such as protecting immigrant communities, addressing the climate crisis and fighting for universal healthcare.
Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)
The Next Veteran Member of Congress
Stephanie won her third term by a close margin against her Republican opponent. In 2016, Stephanie upset 12-term Republican, John Mica, turning the seat from red to purple to, now, blue. She was a child when her family fled Vietnam and were rescued at sea by the U.S. Navy. In Congress, she has taken a leadership position in the moderate congressional Blue Dog Coalition and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. Some say she is poised to be a veteran member of Congress, with a long career ahead of her.
Illhan Omar (D; MN-5)
Squad Going Up!
Ilhan won her second term with 65% of the vote against her Republican opponent, Lacy Johnson. She is a member of the so-called “Squad” of four freshman progressive Democratic congresswomen that all won their reelection. She has frequently become a target of criticism and defamatory comments from President Trump and other Republicans. Ilhan is vocal in her opposition to other US-foreign allegiances, including the relationship with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With more progressive Democrats winning, will the Squad be accepting membership applications?
Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)
Won By A Hair
Elissa narrowly won her second term with 50.9% of the vote against her Republican opponent, Paul Junge. Elissa remained optimistic after tallies showed that Junge was initially leading. The race between Elissa and Junge, a Brighton former TV anchor and prosecutor, was expected to test whether Democrats can cement gains made in the 8th Congressional District in 2018, when Elissa flipped the district from red to blue. After being declared the winner, Elissa said, “We must figure out how we come back together as a nation.” Where do you suggest we start, Elissa?
Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)
That Was Close!
Haley narrowly won reelection to her second term with 50.2% of the vote against her Republican opponent, Eric Esshaki. Haley’s district had been reliably Republican until she won the seat over Republican, Lena Epstein, in 2018. They had battled for the open seat left by the retiring Republican congressman. “I intend to work with Republicans and Democrats alike to stand up for Michigan workers and small businesses and protect the health and safety of everyone to get our economy back on track.” Working together you say… we shall see.
Xochitl Torres Small (D; NM-2)
Make Sure to Turn Your Keycard In
Xochitl lost her rematch election to her Republican opponent, Yvette Herrell, who had 54% of the total vote. In 2018, Xochitl flipped the district and beat Yvette by ~3,400 votes. Xochitl district was considered among the top 10 most vulnerable House incumbents and this race was also one of the most expensive in the country. Energy policy in this oil and gas-rich southern part of the state was a major issue. Torres Small distanced herself from comments Biden made during the final presidential debate about the need to transition away from fossil fuels. We will miss you Xochitl, but perhaps we will see you again in 2022.
Kelly Armstrong (R; ND at Large)
Winning Since 2008
Kelly overwhelmingly won his second term with 69% of the vote against Democrat opponent, Zach Raknerud. A Democrat has not won the North Dakota at-large district since 2008. When Kelly won in 2018, he had over 80% of the vote. This time he said, “Every time you’re on the ballot, you’re just humbled to hear North Dakota say you’re doing a good enough job to do it again, so I’m really proud. I’ve said this before and I mean it, outside of my marriage and the birth of my two kids, this is the greatest privilege of my life.” We are glad you see it this way Kelly!
Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)
Let’s Take This Outside… I Mean To Twitter
Dan won his reelection for his second term with 56% of the vote against his Democrat opponent, Sima Ladjevardian, but what was even more exciting was Dan and Marjorie Taylor Greene, the newly elected Republican from Georgia and QAnon supporter, got in a Twitter battle over the President’s election results. Dan fired back at Marjorie “You’re a member of Congress now, Marjorie. Start acting like one.” The online tussle between Crenshaw and Greene is an example of the split in the GOP. Can these GOPers make nice as colleagues next year?
Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)
Staying True To Your Word
Anthony had a decisive win for a second term with 63% of the vote against Democrat opponent, Aaron Godfrey. Anthony played football for the Indianapolis Colts and was a college star at Ohio State. When he was elected to Congress, he pledged he would propose legislation for college athletes to receive compensation for their name, image and likeness. Anthony stayed true to his word and introduced Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act. We will all be keeping an eye out to see what other promises Anthony makes.
Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)
Four Strikes And You’re Out
Trey had a strong win for reelection to his third term. During his previous two terms, Hollingsworth introduced two separate bills proposing term limits for members of Congress. He has said he will only serve four terms in the House of Representatives. Trey said, “since you first elected me, we have worked together to make sure our voices are heard in Washington, to support policies that put American families first, and to expand opportunities for Hoosiers to succeed.” We wonder what Trey’s next move could be after his fourth term in a couple years.
Brian Mast (R; FL-18)
Water, National Security and Vets
Brian won reelection to his third term against his Democratic opponent. During his victory speech Brian said, “That what makes a community is the way that we come together to serve one another and serve those things that we believe and we find to be bigger than just ourselves.” Brian has focused his attention on improving water quality in Florida, strengthening national security and safety, and giving veterans better access to health care. You can expect more legislation from him related to military personnel as he has already done in his previous terms.
Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)
Celebrate Good Times…Come On!
Elise overwhelmingly won her reelection for her fourth term with 65% of the vote against her Democrat opponent, Tedra Cobb (who she also defeated in 2018). This year was even sweeter though – Elise not only won every county in her Congressional district, but she helped elect more Republican women to Congress. In 2018, only one new Republican woman was elected to Congress, so Elise started E-PAC to increase the number of Republican women in Congress. 13 of these women have won their races and another 6 are leading in races still to be called. Elise celebrated by saying, “We are now on track to double the number of GOP women in the House.” What effect will having more women on either side of the aisle have in our government?
William Timmons (R; SC-4)
Is Washington Still Broken?
William won his reelection for a second term with 62% of the vote against his Democrat opponent, Kim Nelson. Timmons has worked on trade with China, term limits and campaigned on a slogan “Washington is broken.” His priorities for the next term are stopping illegal immigration, rebuilding the military and cutting waste in government. You may remember William wrote to Elon Musk asking him to relocate to South Carolina after Musk said he would move Tesla. Whether Elon will take him up on his offer remains to be seen, but having young people in Congress at least starts these kinds of conversations!
Josh Hawley (R; MO)
State Uniformity in Future Elections
Josh was one of the few that did not have to deal with campaigning this year, as his Senate seat is secure through 2024, but he has been quite active on Twitter lately with comments related to the presidential election. Josh vowed to introduce legislation protecting election integrity and providing uniformity among a patchwork of state regulations on balloting. Do you agree with Josh that there should be more state uniformity with our elections?
Colin Allred (D; TX-32)
Giving Out The Heisman On Election Day
The battle for the 32nd district of Texas was a showdown between two former athletes: Colin, the 37 year old Democratic incumbent and the former NFL linebacker, and his 33 year old challenger Genevieve Collins, a Trump-aligned Republican and former division 1 rower. The most notable hot-button allegation was that Genevieve’s campaign darkened Colin’s skin coloring in campaign mailers as a not-so-subtle attempt at race-baiting. In the end, the voters spoke and Colin emerged victorious by winning almost 52% of the vote. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see an election between two competitors under 40.
Joe Kennedy (D; MA-4)
Go Big Or Go Home
That’s certainly what Joe did this past summer as he sacrificed his ability to run for congressional reelection by challenging longtime incumbent Democratic Senator Ed Markey in the Massachusetts primary. Joe ended up losing to Ed by roughly 150,000 votes, which cleared the way for an open race for the 4th district. Taking up the challenge were two veterans: Jake Auchincloss, the 32-year-old Democrat and former marine captain who served in Afghanistan, and Julie Hill, the 62-year-old Republican Air Force colonel who oversaw medical centers. Jake defeated Julie with about 60% of the vote, so Playlisters can look forward to Jake joining our ranks come January.
Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)
By The Skin Of His Teeth
Conor eked out a victory by about 9,000 votes in this hotly contested district outside Pittsburgh. Long seen as a rising star in the Democratic party, Conor ran as a moderate Democrat closely aligned with President-Elect Biden’s agenda and even outperformed him in some of his counties. However, his Republican challenger Sean Parnell, a closely aligned-Trump supporter has yet to concede, citing the same unsubstantiated voter irregularities the Trump campaign has. What’s especially interesting is that both these men are both military veterans below the age of 40 (Conor a former Marine Corps Judge Advocate and Sean a decorated Army Ranger). Young veterans running for congress is an ever-growing trend in our political landscape and regardless of party, we’re excited to bring attention to these servicemembers!
Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)
Second Time’s A Charm
As a freshman in congress, Seth notably did not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker, though eventually acquiesced with the assurance of an informal term-limit. That didn’t stop his Republican challenger John Paul Moran from attempting to paint him as a liberal socialist in their race. Known for his bipartisanship, Seth is far from socialist, but admits that Democrats need to strengthen their operations in order to withstand these specious attacks from Republicans. He believes that comes in the form of a unified Democratic front under President-elect Biden, and Speaker Pelosi, whom he says he will be supporting from the get-go of the upcoming 117th congress – quite a shift from his previous rhetoric about Madame Speaker. Seth retained his seat by garnering roughly 65% of the vote.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)
I’m Done Towing The Line
Republicans have long sought to weaponize the “socialist” ideology of some on the far left, which is precisely why AOC strategically maintained a disciplined message leading up to election day. She’s kept the fiery rhetoric to a minimum, downplayed the talk of green-new deals and free college, and fervently backed perhaps the most moderate of the democratic field running for president. But once they called the race for Joe, and after she handedly won her district by almost 70%, AOC let fly a barrage of hot takes, making it clear that gaping ideological divisions within the democratic party are alive and well. Whether it proves her point to double down on the progressive agenda or challenges it – moderate Democrats lost 8+ seats in the House.
Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)
Almost A Double Leg Takedown
…To borrow a term from her previous life as a mixed martial arts fighter. Sharice defeated her Republican challenger Amanda Adkin by almost ten points. Sharice’s district was one that flipped blue in the 2016 Presidential for Hillary Clinton but it wasn’t until Sharice defeated GOP incumbent in 2018 that the congressional seat flipped blue as well, making her the only congressional democrat in the state. Sharice outraised Amanda by more than double, and took advantage of her mostly suburban district’s dissatisfaction for the president as well Amanda’s close ties to the Kansas Republican establishment in her ‘double leg takedown’ to victory.
Lizzie Fletcher (D; TX-7)
The Hunt Is Over
After a narrowly close race, Lizzie defeated her Republican challenger by a narrow margin of just a few percentage points. Prior to her flipping this district blue in 2018, it had been in Republican hands since 1967 when the late George H. W. Bush held the seat as a young congressman! This historic win for Lizzie will also mark her last in the Political Playlist pool of leaders. Despite the youthful attitude we’re sure she harnessed to win this nail-biter, Lizzie is ‘aging out’, as we like to say. A new crop of young lawmakers joins the platform in January and you’ll have the opportunity to replace Lizzie with one of them or someone already on the site – stay tuned!
Josh Gottheimer (D; NJ-5)
“The Human Fundraising Machine”
Josh lived up to his nickname and out-raised his Republican opponent by nearly 4-1, successfully remaining the champ in Bergen county and northern New Jersey, a district long held by Republicans until Josh flipped it a few years ago. Josh is a member of several caucuses including the Problem Solvers Caucus, a dedicated group looking for bipartisan solutions. Josh earned key endorsements from police organizations in his district (despite the larger national rhetoric surrounding Democrats and police). Though we commend Josh on his win and his cash-raising abilities, he is aging out of the Political Playlist pool of leaders come January. You’ll stay up-to-date on him until then, when you’ll have a chance to replace Josh with a newly-elected or re-elected young leader from the platform!
Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)
You Can’t Handle The Truth!
Abigail narrowly held onto her seat by defeating Republican challenger Nick Freitas by less than one percentage point in a race that took days to call. On a recent call with fellow House Democrats, Abigail fumed over what she calls divisive and damaging rhetoric from the far-left of her party. She claimed that terms like “defund the police” only strengthen the arsenal of Republican challengers and she attributes this type of ill-conceived messaging to the very reason why so many incumbent House Democrats lost their seats. Naturally, she was met with some resistance by the likes of AOC, further illuminating the policy schism within the party. The question remains, can the Democrats keep winning with a one-size-fits-all message, or do they need to more carefully tailor it to their respective regions?
Justin Amash (I; MI-3)
Ahhh, The Hell With It!
After being ostracized for being the lone dissenting Republican congressman to vote yes for Trump’s impeachment, Justin left the party to become a Libertarian before finally deciding not to run for reelection. Having held his seat since 2010, Justin was one of the early founders of the House Freedom Caucus, along with notable Trump allies Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows. However, during Trump’s presidency, Justin began to split from this clique post-impeachment. Though it remains unclear why he forfeited another congressional run, that vacuum was quickly filled by Republican Peter Meijer defeating Democrat Hillary Scholten. Come January 2021, 32-year-old Meijer will join the roster of leaders featured on Political Playlist.
Michael Cloud (R; TX-27)
It’s Been A Fun Ride
As the saying goes, you never want to be the guy who’s graduated college but still coming back to all the parties. So it is in keeping with that wise wisdom that Political Playlist bids adieu to Michael Cloud, the 45-year-old Texas congressman, who is now aging out of our platform based on the parameters that guide our pool of young leaders. If Michael was a congressman on your Playlist then we join you in congratulating him on handedly defeating his Democratic challenger Ricardo De La Fuente to retain his seat.
Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)
Go Pack, Go!
Congressman Mike gets to retain his cheesehead—err, congressional seat after defeating challenger Amanda Stuck in what resembled something more like a Packer’s routing on the Frozen Tundra than a rural congressional race. These two made national headlines after Amanda tried to use Mike’s wife Anne, a Broadway actress, as a way to paint the military veteran as being out of touch with working people in the district. The voters blocked that field goal attempt and re-elected him by an almost 30-point margin. Unfortunately, the covid 6-foot distancing protocols will prevent Mike from a celebratory Lambeau leap, but he has pledged a renewed effort in the fight against covid, so here’s hoping!
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)
Second Time’s… Still Not A Charm
Jaime successfully fought off Democratic challenger Carolyn Long for the second consecutive time, having first defeated her in 2018. Entering her 6th term in congress, Jaime holds on to the last Republican seat among the collective 21 congressional districts that border the entire pacific coast of the United States. So it was no surprise Democrats poured in a ton of money to flip it. However, despite her support of Trump, Jaime touted herself as a center-right legislator willing to compromise – offering up a bipartisan record focused on the needs of her constituents. Jaime now heads back to Washington—err, Washington…you know where she’s headed. Back to Congress.
Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)
I Think I Will Keep My Seat
Said Adam Kinzinger resoundingly on election day as he managed to defeat his Democratic challenger Dani Brzozowski with over 65% of the vote. Like so many Republicans in 2016, Adam supported a different Presidential candidate than Trump, but as the administration took a firm foothold within the party, he’s had to amend his position, though he’s definitely not all-in. He believes the administration has underperformed in their role to fight Covid, that we should not outright repeal Obamacare and that we should re-engage in the TransPacific Partnership. Now that he’s held onto his seat, let’s see if he can follow through on that agenda.
Greg Steube (R; FL-17)
Like A Good Neighbor To Mar-A-Lago
Greg successfully battled back his young Democratic challenger Allen Ellison for the second time in consecutive election cycles (back in 2018, Allen, 39, was a last-minute replacement for the candidate who died just six days before the election… sad face). Neither time has the progressive-leaning Allen been any match for Greg, who ran as a staunch supporter of Trump and garnered almost 63 percent of the vote, with most of the counties going to Trump as well. Greg also benefited from a significant advantage in campaign funds. If anything has become clear in this election, it’s that strong public alliance with the President did not hurt Republican House members in the ways that Democrats had thought/hoped.
Tom Cotton (R; AR)
Easy, Breezy, Like Cotton
We all have that one great t-shirt in our closets; the one that’s so soft, and broken in, and reliable, that we wouldn’t dare get rid of it. And it turns out, Tom might just be that Senator for the folks of Arkansas as he handedly won reelection by over 350,000 votes! His Libertarian challenger was Ricky Harrington, a 35-year-old prison chaplain who’s never run before. Tom is one of the most vocally staunch Trump allies in the senate and Arkansas made no indications of wanting a wardrobe change as it decisively cloaked itself in deep-red fabric on election night. The question now remains, will Tom return to the Senate with more of an eye towards bipartisanship or will he retain his MAGA swag with renewed vigor?
Rashida Tlaib (D; MI-13)
Critics have spoken and Rashida will be returning to the squad for another two seasons! This polarizing incumbent handedly beat Republican challenger David Dudenhoefer but things didn’t always look so rosy back in the primary as she only narrowly bested a well-funded challenger, Brenda Jones. But now that the dust has settled, Rashida joins a post-election chorus of progressive liberals, lead by AOC, who are vocally denouncing what they feel is ideological suppression coming from the more moderate wing of the party. This clearly foreshadows two things seen during this election: the “squad” is in lock-step with each other, and there is some bitter democratic infighting looming on the horizon.
Max Rose (D; NY-11)
Who Will Get The Final Rose?
Elections can often feel like a popularity contest or a reality show, and the current president has certainly played right into that genre of politics. In this case, one of Trump’s allies, Nicole Malliotakis has just defeated Max for his seat. The data indicates that Staten Island, which went heavily for Trump, played a decisive role in this contest. However, regardless of your politics, we view young candidates challenging other young candidates as a great thing for our political system, and now that Nicole has pulled out this victory, we look forward to featuring her on our platform in the new year. What’s next for Max? Rumors of a place in the Biden administration are swirling…
Anthony Brindisi (D; NY-22)
They’re still counting ballots but in the meantime, both Anthony and his Republican challenger Claudia Tenney have sent in their legal teams to, well, impound the absentee ballots? Let’s back up. Anthony beat Claudia in 2018 but she’s now come back with a vengeance, leading him in the vote count by more than 29,000 votes. BUT, there are still more than 60,000 absentee ballots that haven’t been counted. So Claudia filed suit asking the judge to seize these ballots and provide a list of everyone who received an absentee ballot so as to cross reference for fraud or irregularities prior to the count. Anthony filed a similar suit asking they begin counting right away. Incidentally, Anthony needs to win remaining ballots at a 2-to-1 pace in order to retain his seat.
Guy Reschenthaler (D; PA-14)
Is The Band Still Playing?
When the Titanic was sinking, passengers had two choices: pile into a lifeboat to safety, or take a seat in a comfy armchair, light up a cigar, and count the minutes. Well, it’s unclear which of these escape plans Guy is acting upon, but one thing is for certain…he is standing by The Don. After a swift defeat of his democratic challenger Bill Marx, Guy has doubled-down on echoing the numerous claims of election fraud that the President has proclaimed. But at what point does Guy, and other Republicans, come to terms with election results?