Ten Congressional Races You Should Be Watching

U.S. Senate, Utah

Mike Lee may not be as boisterous as his partner-in-crime turned presidential-contender Ted Cruz, but that doesn’t mean his conservative influence in the Senate is any less impactful. Yes, his re-election is fairly secure against the unimpressive Jonathan Swinton, his Democrat challenger, but this is a seat we can’t take for granted, fellow conservatives.

Florida D2
U.S. House of Representatives, Florida-02

Florida’s 2nd Congressional District is the definition of an ideological battleground, with a near even split of Democrats and Republicans duking it out at the polls every few years. 2016 is gearing up to be no different, as DNC darling Gwen Graham seeks to maintain her precarious incumbency against two solid Republican challengers: Mary Thomas, General Counsel at the Department of Elder Affairs and Neal Dunn, a veteran and local physician. Thomas has a compelling personal story; born to immigrant parents, she would be the first Indian-American woman to serve in Congress. Her solid tenure in Governor Rick Scott’s administration has earned her the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth. Meanwhile, Dunn’s service and conservative advocacy as a private citizen has earned him support from many in the Florida State Legislature, including former state Senate president Don Gaetz and two former state House Speakers. So, no matter who wins the Republican primary in this District, FL-2 is gearing up to be a conservative success story. The best part? There’s nothing sweeter than unseating a Democrat incumbent.

North Carolina D2
U.S. House of Representatives, North Carolina-02

The race to be the Republican nominee of North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District is shaping up to be interesting one. Incumbent Renee Ellmers angered constituents when she single-handedly sabotaged a pro-life bill set to pass the House in 2015. Coupled with a voting record that is hardly one of conservative fortitude (she’s voted with President Obama on issues like immigration and trade), Ellmers faces a crowded primary field that includes current Rep. George Holding of the 13th District, thanks to some redistricting shenanigans at the federal level. Also in the running is Tea Party activist Jim Duncan, a successful businessman whose served in the National Guard. Considered a conservative foil to the moderate Ellmers, he has already been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund. And thanks to years of local grassroots organization, it’s safe to say Duncan is bringing a solid fight to the Establishment as North Carolina’s primary fast approaches. Another moderate to conservative turnover come November? Go Jim, go!

U.S. Senate, Nevada

Harry Reid is retiring. No sweeter words have ever been written, wouldn’t you agree? And in honor of the shameless Minority Leader finally singing his swan song, we at Conservative Intel would love to add some well-deserved insult to injury. And no, that wasn’t a joke about about Reid’s infamous “treadmill accident” of 2015. Rather, our idea of a befitting sendoff would be a victory for Republican nominee Joe Heck, a U.S. Congressman from Nevada’s 3rd District who is being challenged by former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. And this just in: Reid’s former challenger Sharron Angle, the Tea Party darling of 2010, has now thrown her hat in the ring as well. Heck and Angle certainly embody the ‘establishment versus conservative’ narrative dominating this election cycle, making both the primary and general election in Nevada one to keep your eye on.

New Jersey D5
U.S. House of Representatives, New Jersey-05

A bonafide conservative from New England? That’s certainly a rare breed around here. And that’s exactly why conservatives must protect Rep. Scott Garrett from extinction this November. First elected in 2002, this Republican incumbent has been a consistent and principled advocate of smaller government, low tax burdens and a strong national defense. As a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, he’s used to protecting your interests against the Establishment of both political parties-and that certainly hasn’t made him many friends on Capitol Hill. Now, the Democrat Congressional Committee is using this opportunity to throw tons of weight behind opponent Josh Gottheimer, a former Clintonite who’s already roped in tons of cash from the donor class. This one is pretty clear to us: we can’t afford to lose the only true conservative the northeast has going for it, especially to a Clinton crony. We’ve got your back, Scott, and we’re keeping our eyes on NJ-05.

Iowa D1
U.S. House of Representatives, Iowa-01

Iowa’s 1st Congressional District is the stuff battlegrounds are made of, after Republicans pulled off a narrow victory for the seat in 2014. Now, incumbent Rod Blum is seeking to extend his tenure a second term, while the Democrat Congressional Committee is spending a ton of money to ensure just the opposite. The Dems are pushing two liberal candidates on the people of Iowa: Monica Vernon and Patrick Murphy, both of whom subscribe to the big-spending, big-government principles we’ve come to expect from the Left. In contrast, Republican Rep. Blum has used his short time on Capitol Hill to reign in the gratuitous spending of DC’s political class: he’s organized a caucus for lawmakers who support term limits, sponsored legislation that ends congressional access to first-class travel and luxury car leases, and has introduced a bill that places a lifetime ban on ex-lawmakers ever becoming lobbyists. So, yep, he’s not that popular with the Establishment on either side of the aisle, which is why he’s counting on conservatives like us to push him past the finish line. We’re with you, Rod; keep fighting the good fight.

U.S. Senate, Iowa

Yes, we conservatives have a volatile relationship with the sometimes-Establishment Senator Chuck Grassley. And yes, his long voting record on tax cuts and entitlement reforms is a mixed bag. But Grassley is consistently right on social issues, and has grown more fiscally conservative in recent years, ever since his rise to Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee. Not to be ignored, he is leading the fight against Obama’s nominee to replace the irreplaceable Justice Scalia. And that’s enough in our book. Besides, presumed Democrat nominee Patty Judge was hand-picked by the DNC and feted by beltway insiders just last week. If there’s anything a conservative loves, its taking on DC elites; so by all means, bring it on Patty.

Indiana D3
U.S. House of Representatives, Indiana-03

Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District is solidly Republican, and with incumbent Marlin Stutzman making a bid for U.S. Senate, the race to fill his conservative shoes has more than one solid contender. Candidates Kip Tom, Pam Galloway and Jim Banks are all members of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program, meaning any of the three would be a fine representation of small-government principles. But its State Senator Jim Banks who’s really carrying the conservative torch, scoring endorsements from Club for Growth, Tea Party Express and the Senate Conservatives Fund. Banks, an Afghanistan veteran, is widely regarded as the most conservative member of Indiana’s upper chamber. Young, charismatic and conservative: that’s the kind of triple threat we here at Conservative Intel can get really behind.

U.S. Senate, Kentucky

Sure, his Presidential run didn’t quite live up to some early expectations, but make no mistake: we need Rand Paul in the United States Senate. Running for his second term, Paul is being challenged by Lexington mayor Jim Gray, who, unlike Alison Grimes before him, does not shy away from his progressive agenda and voting history. Democrats are hoping that Gray’s personal story (he’s the state’s first openly gay mayor), as well as his ability to partially fund his own campaign, will be enough to mobilize Kentucky’s disheartened liberal conglomerate. But don’t go planning that victory party quite yet, Mayor Gray. There’s still plenty of conservatives who don’t just #StandWithRand, they vote for him too.