Fall Forecast: GOP Will Bask in Bigger House Majority

Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 05:20 PM

By John Gizzi

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With 25 congressmen retiring or seeking another office in 2014, two top experts predict that Republicans will add to their majority in the House.

Nationally syndicated columnist Michael Barone sees "slight" gains for the Republicans, but veteran political analyst Dick Morris predicts another GOP "wave year" along the lines of 2010, when Republicans enjoyed their biggest gains in House elections since 1938.

"We need to look at each individual district, but in general, 2014 will be a big Republican year, and I expect the open House seats to largely trend Republican." Morris told Newsmax.

Morris, who was an early forecaster of the Republican "wave year" of 2010, said that given voter fury over problems with Obamacare, "I think '14 will be a repeat of '10 except that I think we may take the Senate."

Barone, principal author of "The Almanac of American Politics," is more cautious, predicting modest Republican gains as he assesses the races with open seats district by district.

"Given that there are two 'gimme' gains for Republicans, I see a slight edge for Republicans," Barone told Newsmax, referring to the seats of retiring Democratic Reps. Mike McIntyre in North Carolina's 7th District and Jim Matheson in Utah's 4th District.

The two congressmen, both considered "Blue Dog Democrats," survived the closest House races in the nation in 2012. McIntyre won his ninth term by just 654 votes over conservative state Sen. David Rouzer, while Matheson won by 768 votes over Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mayor Mia Love. With the Democratic incumbents retiring, Rouzer and Love are strong favorites to pick up their seats.

Barone rates three other seats being vacated by Democrats as "contestable." In Iowa's 1st District, Rep. Bruce Braley is leaving to run for the Senate. In Maine's 2nd District, Rep. Mike Michaud is running for governor. In New York's Fourth District, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy announced on Thursday that she would not run again for health reasons.

McCarthy's exodus from the seat on Long Island that she has held since 1997 is the most intriguing opportunity for Republicans, given the recent decline of GOP House members in the Northeast. Democrats are scrambling for a candidate, with the name of Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who lost a primary for attorney general in 2010, heard most often.

The early favorite to win the Republican nomination is lawyer Frank Scaturro, who made losing bids for the seat in 2010 and 2012. Scaturro appears certain to be on the ballot line of the Conservative Party, which is considered almost a must for any Republican nominee in the Empire State.

But Scaturro has never had a warm relationship with Nassau County GOP Chairman Joe Mondello, who reportedly wants the Republican nod to go to his executive assistant Tony Santino.

Before McCarthy took the district, it had been in Republican hands for 44 years.

Three other seats that are being vacated are good bets to remain in Democratic hands, conclude Barone and most other prognosticators.

They are Hawaii's 1st District, where Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is running for the Senate; Michigan's 13th District, where Rep. Gary Peters is making a Senate bid; and Pennsylvania's 13th District, where Rep. Allyson Schwartz is running for governor.

As for the 17 House seats in Republican hands that are open, Barone sees five that could flip to the Democrats: Arkansas' 2nd District and New Jersey's 3rd, where Reps. Tim Griffin and Jon Runyan are leaving after only two terms; and Iowa's 3rd, Pennsylvania's 6th, and Virginia's 10th, where veteran Reps. Tom Latham, Jim Gerlach, and Frank Wolf are retiring.

But in the other 12 districts being relinquished by Republican House members, other Republicans are solid bets to retain the seats for the GOP. These include the 1st, 10th, and 11th Districts in Georgia, where Reps. Jack Kingston, Paul Broun, and Phil Gingrey are all leaving to compete for the GOP Senate nod.

The other safe GOP districts where Republicans are relinquishing seats include Louisiana's 6th, where Rep. Bill Cassidy is running for the Senate; Montana-at-large, where Rep. Steve Daines is running for the Senate; Texas' 36th, where freshman Rep. Steve Stockman is leaving to challenge Republican Sen. John Cornyn; and West Virginia's 2nd, where Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is running for the Senate.

Four other strongly Republican seats are being vacated by lawmakers who are simply retiring: Reps. Spencer Bachus (Alabama's 6th), John Campbell (California's 45th), Michele Bachmann (Minnesota's 6th), and Howard Coble (North Carolina's 6th).

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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