No. 53

By Barton James posted 02-08-2018 07:52 AM

As of February 6, we have 53 open seats in the House, and that number continues to grow.  Last week veteran New Jersey Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Morristown), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, announced that he will not seek a 13th term later this year. Despite averaging 65.3% of the vote during his twelve successful elections and even winning with a healthy 58-39% victory margin in 2016, Rep. Frelinghuysen was considered vulnerable for 2018.  Democrats have recruited at least two candidates who are pulling in strong financial resources in order to stock a large campaign war chest for a presumed political battle in what is always a very expensive state.

Democrats feel this district is changing because Hillary Clinton came within one percentage point of carrying it (49-38%) in the 2016 presidential campaign.  Still, her performance here pales in comparison to a 55-41% Garden State win, and even though the district became close in the presidential contest, it has yet to fall to a Democratic candidate.
The Frelinghuysen retirement brings the total House number of incumbents who will not stand for re-election to a robust 53, keeping in mind that we have passed candidate filing deadlines in only two states.  Late retirements tend to pop in conjunction with the state's candidate filing period, so we could see more coming in the ensuing weeks.
According to our House 2018 election grid, eight open seats, including NJ-11, are in the toss-up category but both parties risk four of those districts:
Republican Open Toss-ups:
AZ-2 - Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)
CA-39 - Rep. Ed Royce (R-Yorba Linda/Fullerton)
CA-49 - Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista)
NJ-11 - Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Morristown)
Democratic Open Toss-ups:
MN-1 - Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato)
NH-1 - Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-Rochester)
NV-3 - Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson)
NH-4 - Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas)
Now with 53 of 435 (11.7%) House seats incumbent-less for their the next election - either regular or special election cycle - it is expected that the open seat number will grow even higher as the various state candidate filing deadlines begin to approach.