Quick Takes on the News: When Everyone Else Won, These Members Lost

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Alex Clearfield
June 18, 2018, 8 p.m.

Members who didn't swim with the wave

The Cook Political Report rates more than three dozen House seats held by Republican incumbents as “Toss Up” or “Lean Republican.” On the Democrat side, however, only one member is in that much danger: Arizona freshman Tom O’Halleran, whose seat rates “Lean Democrat.” Although he is not expected to lose, a defeat would place him among a small but ignominious group of members who were shown the electoral door as their party gained seats. Neither party has successfully defended all their incumbents since 2006.

Only two incumbent Republicans lost in 2014 and only one Democrat in 2016, as their respective parties gained seats. Nebraska’s 2nd District, centered around Omaha, flipped twice as Democrat Brad Ashford defeated Republican Rep. Lee Terry in 2014 and subsequently lost to Don Bacon in 2016. In 2014, Florida’s Steve Southerland got outworked by Democrat Gwen Graham.

Four Democrats were bounced in 2012, even as the party gained eight seats overall. Ben Chandler of Kentucky, Larry Kissell of North Carolina, and Pennsylvania’s Mark Critz lost as their districts got redder. The fourth, Kathy Hochul, was a fluke special-election winner following Republican Chris Lee’s 2011 resignation for trying to pick up women on Craigslist.

The 2010 and 2008 cycles saw a similar mix of one-off special-election winners, such as Louisiana Democrat Don Cazayoux in 2008 and Hawaii Republican Charles Djou in 2010; victims of changing political winds, like centrist Texas Democrat Nick Lampson in 2008; and those who benefited from ethically challenged opponents, such as Louisiana Republican Ánh Cao, who succeeded the indicted Bill Jefferson, and Florida Democrat Tim Mahoney, who succeeded scandal-ridden Mark Foley.
—Alex Clearfield

Rep. Lee Terry, with wife Robyn by his side, concedes to Democratic challenger Brad Ashford on Nov. 5, 2014. AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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