For all the talk of a blue wave sweeping Democrats back into the House majority this fall, their efforts could be thwarted in one of the nation’s bluest states.
Voters in the sprawling farm country south of Minneapolis and in the economically struggling Iron Range along the Canadian border give Republicans in those two congressional districts perhaps their best chance anywhere for flipping Democratic seats. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats in November to retake the House, but the odds grow long if they lose districts they currently hold.
Democratic incumbents in both Minnesota districts are leaving office, and the races to replace them are widely rated as tossups. President Donald Trump carried both by about 15 points in 2016.
“Minnesota is going to be ground zero for control of the House,” said Corry Bliss, director of the Conservative Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Former U.S. Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who served four years as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, agreed.
“It will go a long way to maintaining Republican control of the House, picking up those two seats,” Israel said. “Both sides know that. And that’s why you’re going to see millions of dollars being spent on all those races.”
The GOP is also eying two seats in Nevada and single seats in Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania as possible flips.