House races to watch on energy, environment

By George Cahlink | 10/19/2020 06:55 AM EDT

Despite an ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty, energy and environmental issues remain significant factors in more than three dozen competitive House races that will likely help decide the size and makeup of the expected Democratic majority in the next Congress.

(Clockwise) Reps. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), T.J. Cox (D-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) are all in races where energy and environmental issues are playing a significant role.

(Clockwise) Reps. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), T.J. Cox (D-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) are all in races where energy and environmental issues are playing a significant role. Francis Chung/E&E News (Cox, Rouda and Fletcher); U.S. House/Wikipedia (Torres Small, Fitzpatrick); @repdonyoung/Twitter

Despite an ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty, energy and environmental issues remain significant factors in more than three dozen competitive House races that will likely help decide the size and makeup of the expected Democratic majority in the next Congress.

E&E News has identified 37 House races — 17 Republican, 20 Democratic seats — where issues such as climate science denial, energy jobs and toxic cleanups could become major points of contention for incumbents, their challengers or open-seat aspirants.

The total amount is a six-seat increase from E&E News’ first list of 2020 cycle competitive House races published last year, which was similarly split between the parties (E&E Daily, Sept. 17, 2019).


House Democrats hold a 34-seat majority and will likely retain that edge — perhaps even grow it — if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is a decisive winner.

If voters go out to reelect President Trump, they may also reduce the Democratic majority but not reverse it, according to most analysts.

Democrats are in a strong position because of significant financial advantage. A review of the most recent fundraising reports for the third quarter, filed last week, showed that, in most cases, Democrats outraised their GOP opponents and have more money available to spend in the final days of the races.

Campaign spending numbers are based on Federal Election Commission reports and data published by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Democratic hopefuls are also helped by limited retirements of veteran incumbents and the president’s unpopularity.

On the E&E News list, more than half of the competitive races, 22, feature first-term lawmakers hoping to return, and the bulk of those are Democrats.

While lawmakers are often most vulnerable in their first reelection bid, Democratic freshmen are in a better position than those in the past. That’s because of the money advantage.

Texas is the largest battleground on the list, with seven competitive races in the nation’s leading energy state, including three seats where GOP members are retiring and four with freshmen lawmakers seeking reelection.

California and Pennsylvania are next with four seats each in play. The list also includes four rematches from 2018.

Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) during a hearing yesterday. | Francis Chung/E&E News

Alaska at large

Environmental advocates have long had their sights on Rep. Don Young (R), the longest-serving House Republican in American history. They are hoping 2020, and a potential blue wave, will do the trick and send him to retirement.

Young, 87, is the former chairman of both the Natural Resources and Transportation and Infrastructure committees.

During his decadeslong tenure, he has shepherded Alaskan priorities through Congress, including efforts to open drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He’s also been exceedingly candid about how poorly he views federal land management as well as some conservation efforts.

Alaska is both unpredictable and stable. Young has held office since 1973. The late Sen. Ted Stevens (R) ranks No. 9 on the all-time list of senators to serve longest.

On the flip side, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is only the second senator in history to win her seat via write-in efforts, and Stevens didn’t leave office because of death or retirement. He was defeated in the polls. In other words, anything is possible.

Republicans say Young will benefit from having Trump atop the ticket in a state that has not backed a Democrat for president since 1964.

Furthermore, they believe Young will stay in the House for as long as he wants because of the premium Alaskan voters put on seniority.

Alyse Galvin, an independent aligned with the Democratic Party, has ran a strong campaign against him in 2018. This go around she has out-raised Young by more than $2 million.

She is opposed to the Pebble mine and believes the state is "ground zero for the negative effects of this climate crisis," according to her campaign website. She agrees with Young on other resource issues, including Arctic drilling, according to a recent debate (E&E Daily, Oct. 16).

Galvin has highlighted Young’s initial dismissal of the coronavirus pandemic as the "beer virus," a comment he has since walked back.

Galvin says she believes the Last Frontier State can lead the way when it comes to climate technology. She supports state regulators taking over where she believes the federal government has failed with regards to environmental protections.

Galvin could be helped by a more competitive than expected race for Senate, pitting incumbent Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) against independent Dr. Al Gross, who enjoys support from Democrats (E&E Daily, Sept. 25).

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Galvin — $638,647, Young — $376,277
  • Total fundraising: Galvin — $3,907,727, Young — $1,717,013
  • Cash on hand: Galvin — $1,117,982, Young — $536,807
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 51%, Clinton 37%
  • 2018 election result: Young +6

Arizona 1st District

The vast district covers a large portion of the eastern sections of the state, including the Grand Canyon, making natural resources a key concern for voters in the area.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, a moderate Democrat in his second term, joined the Energy and Commerce Committee this Congress and is expected to showcase legislation, H.R. 1373, aimed at blocking new mining on 1 million acres that surround the Grand Canyon National Park.

O’Halleran will face farmer and lawyer Tiffany Shedd, after fending off a progressive primary challenge. Shedd’s positions are closely aligned with Trump, and she has said one of her priorities would be to "stop Democrats from passing the Green New Deal."

O’Halleran has focused on energy education for Native American tribes as well as increasing the size of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (E&E Daily, July 13).

O’Halleran held a substantial fundraising edge over Shedd. She has been named to House Republicans’ Young Guns program — a designation reserved for top recruits — that could help her raise money and turn out votes.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: O’Halleran — $855,398, Shedd — $604,519
  • Campaign total: O’Halleran — $2,898,414, Shedd — $1,259,867
  • Cash on hand: O’Halleran — $1,353,565, Shedd — $290,103
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 47%, Clinton 46%
  • 2018 election result: O’Halleran +8

California 4th District

Rep. Tom McClintock (R), a senior Natural Resources Committee member, is facing another competitive race for a district that covers California’s Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada.

Democrat Brynne Kennedy is a software technology company founder who is making her first run for office. Democrats believe McClintock is vulnerable after winning last cycle with less than 55% of the vote in the mostly rural district.

McClintock, a conservative in the mix to be the top Republican on the Natural Resources Committee next year, blames forest management practices that limit timber removal for the ongoing California wildfires.

He also opposed the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund earlier this year, arguing it would allow the federal government to buy land it does not need.

Kennedy, who casts herself as a moderate Democrat, has touted better forest management to lessen the threat of wildfires too. She also has called for combating climate change by ending tax breaks for traditional energy sources.

Kennedy had raised nearly $1 million more overall than McClintock, although he has a more than $400,000 advantage with cash on hand.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Kennedy — $836,016, McClintock — $494,523
  • Campaign total: Kennedy — $2,239,331, McClintock — $1,355,687
  • Cash on hand: McClintock — $646,213, Kennedy — $203,623
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 53%, Clinton 39%
  • 2018 election result: McClintock +6

California 21st District

This race may be one of the top contests nationwide, and it comes down to a rematch from 2018, where the winner won by less than 1 percentage point. The Central Valley district is rural and majority Hispanic.

Freshman Rep. T.J. Cox (D), chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, faces off against former GOP Rep. David Valadao. Cox beat Valadao by less than 1,000 votes in 2018. This was the final race decided in the blue-wave year that returned Democrats to power in the House.

Republicans are attacking Cox over ethics issues, including recent charges that he used his political clout to get passes for a family trip to Yosemite National Park, which are handed out by lottery (E&E Daily, Aug. 4).

Democrats are going after Valadao’s recent support for Trump, an endorsement the GOP lawmaker withheld in 2016. Also last year, Valadao, who has touted being a farmer-lawmaker, filed for bankruptcy protection for his family farm.

Water is perhaps the key issue in the race. But despite strong differences between Democrats and Republicans on drought issues, Cox and Valadao are not always far apart (E&E Daily, Oct. 1).

Cox has also used his perch on the Natural Resources Committee to criticize the proposed Interior Department reorganization and has pressed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for action on climate change.

Cox has out-raised Valadao, but the Republican does have more money to spend down the stretch. Additionally, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was planning to spend at least $400,000 via his leadership political action committee on TV ads in the district.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Cox — $1,637,074, Valadao — $1,056,210
  • Campaign total: Cox — $4,448,716, Valadao — $3,501,552
  • Cash on hand: Valadao — $1,586,569, Cox — $1,104,613
  • 2016 presidential vote: Clinton 55%, Trump 39%
  • 2018 election result: Cox +0.8

California 48th District

Environmentalists were thrilled when political newcomer Harley Rouda ousted veteran conservative Dana Rohrabacher, a vocal climate science denier, in 2018.

As he seeks a second term, Rouda will face a stronger GOP opponent in Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel, a Korean-American immigrant.

Rouda serves as chairman of the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment and has held hearings highlighting the connection between the global pandemic and climate change (E&E Daily, July 8).

He warns of economic costs for failing to address climate change, favors more clean energy technology investments and has led bipartisan hearings into per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) linked to cancer.

Republicans are trying to call into question the moderate image Rouda has tried to cultivate, notably by tying him to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the author of the Green New Deal.

Rouda, however, unlike most other California Democrats, is not on board with the progressive plan to help the environment.

Rouda has lent about $1.2 million to his campaign to keep pace with Steel, one of the strongest fundraisers of any GOP challenger this cycle. Both have raised just over $5 million, although Rouda has nearly a $400,000 cash-on-hand advantage.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Steel — $1,753,022, Rouda — $1,435,750
  • Campaign total: Steel — $5,130,246, Rouda — $5,072,960
  • Cash on hand: Rouda — $2,368,991, Steel — $1,989,476
  • 2016 presidential vote: Clinton 48%, Trump 46%
  • 2018 election result: Rouda +8

California 49th District

In 2018, freshman Rep. Mike Levin (D) won his seat, which has trended Democratic in recent years, fairly easily.

Clean energy solutions and climate change are key issues in the southern coastal district and have garnered most of his attention.

The freshman was one of just three new members to land a spot on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. He also serves on the Natural Resources Committee.

Levin was a clean energy attorney before coming to Congress. He supports the Green New Deal but also has focused on modest, bipartisan energy legislation such as putting more electric car chargers on public lands.

Republicans, who were fractured in 2018 for a myriad of reasons, this time are united behind former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott, who will try to paint Levin as too liberal for the district.

Maryott has signed onto the conservative American Climate Contract, which acknowledges man-made climate change and calls for market-oriented approaches to combat it.

Levin, who is interested in a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, will benefit from a more than $1 million financial edge, in an expensive media market.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Levin — $618,495, Maryott — $525,420
  • Campaign total: Levin — $3,519,346, Maryott — $2,212,189
  • Cash on hand: Levin — $1,998,405, Maryott — $223,543
  • 2016 presidential vote: Clinton 50%, Trump 43%
  • 2018 election result: Levin +8

Colorado 3rd District

A stunning loss by incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton in the primary is drawing attention to this race to represent a mostly rural Western Slope district.

Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state legislator who lost to Tipton in 2018, is running again as a "pragmatic progressive."

She supports some, but not all, of the ideas in the Green New Deal and argues it does not make sense to relocate the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction, which is in the district.

Her opponent is Lauren Boebert, a telegenic, conservative, gun rights activist who owns a restaurant, Shooters Grill, where servers openly carry guns.

Nearly 40 years younger than Bush, Boebert, 33, adamantly opposes the Green New Deal and has expressed support for debunked, far-right QAnon conspiracy theories (E&E Daily, July 1).

Boebert was seen as having an edge in this conservative district, but an impressive $2.5 million in fundraising in the third quarter for Bush has given her a $1.6 million advantage and made the race a close one.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Bush — $2,562,820, Boebert — $1,943,672
  • Campaign total: Bush — $3,642,301, Boebert — $2,095,647
  • Cash on hand: Bush — $962,693, Boebert — $606,883
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 52%, Clinton 40%
  • 2018 election result: Tipton +8

Florida 16th District

Democrats believe the key to flipping this Gulf Coast seat lies in highlighting the Trump administration’s environmental policies.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) is vying for an eighth-term in this central Florida district. But Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good, who already faced off against a Buchanan — the incumbent’s son — and defeated him for the state seat in 2018, is considered a top recruit for Democrats.

She’s been vocal in her criticism of the congressman’s low lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters (22%) to appeal to voters in a district hit hard by red tides.

But she has had a bumpy road at points during the race, notably parting with her campaign manager earlier this year.

Buchanan has highlighted his willingness to break from Trump, including his long-standing opposition to offshore drilling. Trump announced earlier last month, however, he was reversing course and was opposed to drilling offshore as well (E&E News PM, Sept. 8).

He’s also one of the few members of his caucus who have favored keeping the United States in the Paris climate accord.

Republicans are quick to note Trump won the district easily in 2016, and Buchanan is a proven vote-getter.

The congressman had about a $600,000 edge in cash over Good, in part because of personal loans he’s made to his campaign.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Buchanan — $229,941, Good — $975,025
  • Campaign total: Buchanan — $3,342,662, Good — $2,747,401
  • Cash on hand: Buchanan — $1,670,142, Good — $170,059
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 53%, Clinton 43%
  • 2018 election result: Buchanan +10

Florida 26th District

The race to represent portions of low-lying Miami and the Florida Keys is one of the most competitive contests nationwide and green issues are the top focus for both contenders.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will face Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez, a top GOP recruit and Cuban-American immigrant. He has been mayor since 2011 and is term limited from the post.

Mucarsel-Powell serves as vice chairwoman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. She has worked in a bipartisan fashion to protect coral reefs and supports the Green New Deal.

She also says there is a direct link between a healthy Everglades and ending toxic algae blooms along the Florida coast.

Giménez, as mayor, has issued warnings about sea rise and has been forced to confront red tides. But greens say his actions are often insufficient and he hasn’t done enough to protect the Everglades.

Mucarsel-Powell, an Ecuadorian immigrant, has a $4 million financial edge, although Republicans believe that could be offset by Giménez’s widespread name recognition and spending by outside groups.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Mucarsel-Powell — $1,955,490, Giménez — $547,397
  • Campaign total: Mucarsel-Powell — $5,814,851, Giménez — $1,739,266
  • Cash on hand: Mucarsel-Powell — $1,044,092, Giménez — $642,404
  • 2016 presidential vote: Clinton 56%, Trump 40%
  • 2018 election result: Mucarsel-Powell +2

Illinois 6th District

Rep. Sean Casten (D) won his race in 2018 by promising to be a centrist, and he is hoping his thus-far middle-of-the-road approach will continue to win over voters in what has been historically a GOP-leaning seat.

Casten’s Republican opponent is former state Rep. Jeanne Ives, a conservative who challenged incumbent GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner in a 2018 primary and lost.

Democrats, and even some Republicans, argue Ives’ social views are out of touch with the suburban district. The former head of the state GOP party has endorsed Casten.

The freshman, who started and then sold his own energy company before coming to Congress, has not jumped on the bandwagon of the Green New Deal, put forward by his fellow first-termer Ocasio-Cortez. He favors a carbon tax approach, a position held by other moderate Democrats.

Casten has spent much of his first term focusing on climate, an issue he ran extensively on in 2018. He sits on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and co-chairs of the New Democrat Coalition’s Climate Change Task Force (E&E Daily, June 5).

The race is seen as favoring Casten, who has a nearly $2.5 million financial edge over Ives. He could be helped in 2020 by moderate Chicagoland voters who voted for Clinton over Trump in 2016.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Casten — $1,146,452, Ives — $1,114,340
  • Campaign total: Casten — $5,028,035, Ives — $2,665,831
  • Cash on hand: Casten — $1,994,951, Ives — $494,213
  • 2016 presidential vote: Clinton 49%, Trump 42%
  • 2018 election result: Casten +8

Iowa 3rd District

It’s Iowa, so look for ethanol to play a key role in the rematch between incumbent Rep. Cindy Axne (D) and the man she defeated in 2018, then-Rep. David Young (R).

In a debate earlier this month, the two took turns slamming EPA for greenlighting the ability of certain petroleum refineries to avoid biofuel mandates but otherwise diverged on a host of hot-button issues facing the district (E&E Daily, Oct. 13).

Axne won the Des Moines-centered district by nearly 7,700 votes last go-round and both parties are expecting a similarly razor-thin margin this time around.

The freshman sits on the Agriculture Committee. With Trump on the ballot, the incumbent could be helped by her district’s large agriculture community, which has been frustrated by the tariffs from Trump’s ongoing trade war. She also tried unsuccessfully to get COVID-19 relief measures to include biofuels in the various measures.

Axne has tried to craft a moderate path, so much so she was one of the more than two dozen Democrats the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed (Greenwire, Sept. 2).

The candidates are taking different approaches to handling the pandemic. Axne has done virtual events, including a recent one with former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Young, who won his 2016 race by a wide margin, is going door to door. Young is working to tie the freshman to national Democrats and said recently he would be more effective for the district, especially if he gets his old seat on the House Appropriations Committee back.

Axne holds a nearly 2 to 1 cash advantage.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Axne — $1,525,766, Young — $801,775
  • Campaign total: Axne — $5,379,746, Young — $2,791,702
  • Cash on hand: Axne — $1,627,262, Young — $1,056,251
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 48%, Clinton 45%
  • 2018 election result: Axne +2

Kentucky 6th District

Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr, who pressed the author of the Green New Deal to visit his state’s coal region, is facing another competitive race for his Lexington-based seat.

Barr is being challenged by Democrat Josh Hicks, a Lexington lawyer and Marines Corp veteran, who is arguing that, after four terms in the House, the incumbent has lost touch with the district. Democrats see the seat as one of the few swing districts in the otherwise conservative commonwealth.

Last year, Barr famously invited Ocasio-Cortez, the lead House sponsor of the Green New Deal, to Kentucky to show her the importance of the coal industry firsthand. The trip fell apart amid political squabbling, but it allowed Barr to highlight his support for coal (E&E News PM, May 19, 2019).

Like Barr, Hicks has talked of the need to shore up coal miners’ pensions and protect their disability payments. He also has stressed the need to conserve Kentucky’s open spaces for hunting and fishing and to ensure Kentuckians have clean air and water.

Barr is favored. He has held off tough Democratic challenges in the past and the state favors Republicans.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Barr — $1,034,143, Hicks — $1,051,281
  • Campaign total: Barr — $3,885,352, Hicks — $2,388,372
  • Cash on hand: Barr — $1,517,558, Hicks — $447,944
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 55%, Clinton 39%
  • 2018 election result: Barr +3

Maine 2nd District

Freshman Democratic Rep. Jared Golden is expected to tout major conservation legislation he helped pass this year as he seeks reelection in a mostly rural district, which also happens to be the largest district east of the Mississippi River.

Golden will square off against Republican Dale Crafts, a former state legislator and small business owner aligned with Trump, who remains relatively popular among rural Mainers.

Golden co-sponsored a law permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, known as the Great American Outdoors Act, that he says will help his district’s Acadia National Park address a $66 million maintenance backlog.

An Armed Services Committee member, Golden also helped pass a bill that would make national parks free for the immediate families of military members killed on duty.

Crafts backs an all-of-the-above energy strategy favored by many Republicans, saying he favors the lowest priced energy source. He’s stressed the need to preserve Maine’s outdoor heritage, which he has linked to gun rights.

Golden is increasingly seen as the favorite as he has out-raised Crafts by almost $4 million and forced the challenger to loan his campaign $148,000.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Golden — $1,861,479, Crafts — $634,676
  • Campaign total: Golden — $4,867,536, Crafts — $1,007,940
  • Cash on hand: Golden — $495,836, Crafts — $165,123
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 51%, Clinton 41%
  • 2018 election result: Golden +1

Michigan 6th District

Former Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R) faces another competitive race this cycle after having his closest race in decades in 2018.

Democrats are confident state Rep. Jon Hoadley can do what others who have gone before him have failed to do: Defeat the veteran lawmaker.

Hoadley, 37, has run on a message of generational change. He is a backer of the Green New Deal.

Upton, 67, has focused on bipartisan issues, like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) cleanup, and led GOP efforts to push technology rather than regulations to address climate change.

The 17-term lawmaker has repeatedly bucked the president and has worked to appeal to voters in a state that is seen as increasingly moving away from the GOP. Upton did not endorse Trump in 2016 and has yet to say whether he’s backing the president for reelection.

Upton retains a sizeable cash-on-hand advantage, but Hoadley narrowly out-raised him in the third quarter — a sign the race will be tight.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Upton — $980,390, Hoadley — $1,058,257
  • Campaign total: Upton — $3,028,491, Hoadley — $2,425,505
  • Cash on hand: Upton — $1,448,187, Hoadley — $442,571
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 51%, Clinton 43%
  • 2018 election result: Upton +4

Michigan 11th District

Freshman Rep. Haley Stevens (D) has focused on helping the auto industry and cleaning up PFAS contamination in her suburban Detroit district.

Stevens is touting both issues in the campaign to keep her seat, which is a top target for Republicans, who note Trump bested Clinton here in 2016.

Her opponent is Eric Esshaki, a lawyer and former nurse who emerged from a crowded GOP primary field in August.

He favors more regulatory rollbacks to spark the economy and will try to tie Stevens to the Green New Deal, although she has declined to back it.

Stevens has stressed her bipartisan work on legislation to federally regulate PFAS and increase aid to clean up chemical sites (Greenwire, Aug. 14).

And she’s expected to tout her efforts on the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology, where she has promoted bipartisan federal clean vehicle innovation (E&E Daily, April 10, 2019).

Stevens has been an aggressive fundraiser, with an almost $4 million cash advantage over Esshaki who lent his campaign $100,000. With Trump struggling in Michigan, Stevens is increasingly seen as the favorite.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Stevens — $1,097,589, Esshaki — $579,092
  • Campaign total: Stevens — 4,946,891, Esshaki — $996,841
  • Cash on hand: Stevens — $504,323, Esshaki — $214,798
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 49%, Clinton 45%
  • 2018 election result: Stevens +7

Minnesota 7th District

Another election, another Republican push to take out Democratic Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson.

Peterson faces Michelle Fischbach, both a former Minnesota Senate president and lieutenant governor, who is a top Republican recruit this cycle.

The GOP is eager to paint Peterson as a poor fit for a rural, farming district where Trump remains very popular.

But Peterson, a conservative Democrat now in his 15th term, has endured by focusing on rural and agriculture issues important to western Minnesota.

He has often broken ranks with his party by calling for streamlining or limiting environmental regulations that he views as harmful to his district’s farmers.

Peterson has one of the lowest ratings of any House Democrat from the League of Conservation Voters. Environmental groups are not likely to get involved in the race.

Peterson has a cash-on-hand advantage, but that deficit could be covered by outside GOP-aligned groups who are prioritizing this race. Fischbach has shown momentum by outraising Peterson in the third quarter.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Peterson — $870,689, Fischbach — $929,482
  • Campaign total: Peterson — $2,142,028, Fischbach — $1,979,780
  • Cash on hand: Peterson — $1,524,391, Fischbach — $713,456
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 61%, Clinton 31%
  • 2018 election result: Peterson +4

Montana at large

Public lands are an issue in this open-seat race, in a state where a third of the land is owned by the federal government and outdoor tourism drives the economy (E&E Daily, Oct. 9).

The seat became open when incumbent Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, an Energy and Commerce Committee member, decided to run for governor.

Former Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Williams, who lost to Gianforte last cycle by 5 points, is making another run and will face Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale, who narrowly lost a Senate race last year against Sen. Jon Tester (D). Both candidates say they oppose any transfer of federal lands.

Democrats are hammering Rosendale for past support of public land transfers when he worked as a developer, while the GOP is trying to paint Williams as an ally of national Democrats in a state where Trump remains popular.

Williams has set Democratic House fundraising records for the state and holds a nearly $1 million cash-on-hand edge. However, outside groups are spending heavily here, among them are the conservative Club for Growth, which could spend millions to help Rosendale.

Both sides say they could be helped by turnout from the state’s high-profile, Senate race featuring term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock (D) challenging GOP Sen. Steve Daines.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Williams — $2,337,666, Rosendale — $1,267,670
  • Campaign total: Williams — $4,768,574, Rosendale — $3,053,461
  • Cash on hand: Williams — $1,520,812, Rosendale — $608,247
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 56%, Clinton 36%
  • 2018 election result: Gianforte +5

Nevada 4th District

Competing visions for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository are an issue in this district that would house the proposed facility.

Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford, who is serving his second nonconsecutive term, will face former state lawmaker and tech company executive Jim Marchant for a seat, covering part of Las Vegas and much of rural, central Nevada.

Like many Silver State politicians. Horsford has stressed his opposition to nuclear waste, leading calls last year for then-Energy Secretary Rick Perry to resign after DOE shipped low-grade nuclear material into the state.

Horsford has warned about the risk of earthquakes at Yucca and joined congressional delegation visits to the site to explain his opposition.

Marchant, however, has said that while he opposes making Yucca a permanent nuclear waste storage facility, he is open to turning it into a nuclear waste recycling center that could pay dividends to the state. Democrats have hammered him on the position, saying most Nevadans oppose any nuclear activity at Yucca.

Marchant has sought to link Horsford to national Democrats and called for a bipartisan investigation over a long-running affair Horsford had with a former Senate intern, which became public this spring.

Horsford had a nearly $2 million cash advantage over Marchant and is favored in a state seen as increasingly tilting Democratic. Marchant has loaned his campaign $110,000.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Horsford — $692,759, Marchant — $492,641
  • Campaign total: Horsford — $3,068,282, Marchant — $1,092,150
  • Cash on hand: Horsford — $1,557,543, Marchant — $229,9630
  • 2016 presidential vote: Clinton 50%, Trump 45%
  • 2018 election result: Horsford +8

New Jersey 2nd District

A race pitting a Democrat-turned-Republican against a member of the famed Kennedy political clan is no longer splitting environmentalists in the Garden State.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.), who won the seat in 2018 as a Democrat, is being challenged by Democrat Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), in a district that stretches from the Philadelphia suburbs across rural farmland to Atlantic City.

Some of Van Drew’s staffers, once he left the party, went to go work for the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (E&E Daily, Jan. 22).

The Sierra Club had initially endorsed Van Drew but recently withdrew that support, citing anti-environment votes in the House. During a recent debate he said the Green New Deal was a reason he switched parties (E&E Daily, Oct. 9).

The League of Conservation Voters, which never endorsed Van Drew in 2018, backs Kennedy, saying she is committed to fighting for climate action, coastal resiliency and other environmental protections.

Van Drew has a 93% rating from LCV for 2019, but that score is certain to dip. He remains strongly opposed to drilling off the New Jersey coast.

Kennedy has a slight fundraising edge, due partly to a $500,000 loan she had made to her campaign, a move Van Drew has sought to highlight to tie her to the Massachusetts political dynasty.

Both parties see the race as a likely referendum on Trump for whom Van Drew gave a full-throated endorsement in a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention last month.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Kennedy — $2,273,216, Van Drew — $1,054,626
  • Campaign total: Kennedy — $3,765,377, Van Drew — $3,596,047
  • Cash on hand: Van Drew — $1,268,124, Kennedy — $300,917
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 50%, Clinton 46%
  • 2018 election result: Van Drew +8

New Mexico 2nd District

The impact of the coronavirus on the New Mexico energy industry is emerging as a major issue in a district that covers the natural resources-rich bottom half of the state and hosts one of the most competitive rematches this cycle.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small has sought to carve out a moderate record by eschewing the Green New Deal and focusing on more narrow water issues important to her constituents. She was a former water attorney.

While her fellow freshman Ocasio-Cortez has advocated for a fracking ban, Torres Small has said she would oppose these efforts (Greenwire, Sept. 4).

She faces a rematch against former state Rep. Yvette Herrell, a conservative who she defeated last cycle by less than 4,000 votes.

Torres Small has been more receptive than other Democrats to energy production and has argued congressional pandemic relief has helped energy workers who have lost their jobs.

Herrell has aligned herself with Trump’s deregulatory agenda, saying it has helped the energy industry and warned restrictive Democratic COVID-19 policies are hurting the state’s economy.

Trump won the district by double digits in 2016, and national Republicans see it as a top pick-up opportunity.

Torres Small has a close to $5 million fundraising edge, after Herrell spent heavily to win the GOP primary. But outside Republican-aligned groups could narrow the gap for Herrell.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Torres Small — $2,442,488, Herrell — $1,088,368
  • Campaign total: Torres Small — $7,093,268, Herrell — $2,339,800
  • Cash on hand: Torres Small — $1,869,189, Herrell — $516,207
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 50%, Clinton 40%
  • 2018 election result: Torres Small +2

New York 1st District

New York Republican Lee Zeldin, one of Trump’s most vocal defenders, is facing off against college chemistry professor Nancy Goroff, who has made scientific truth the center of her campaign.

Zeldin, first elected in 2014, is running a law and order campaign and betting his support for Trump will appeal to voters in this suburban Long Island district that the president carried easily.

He has occasionally broken with his party on environmental issues, including backing a ban on drilling off the Atlantic coast.

Goroff, who is backed by the pro-science political action committee 314 Action, has been running ads touting herself as a "scientist" who looks at problems differently than politicians such as Zeldin. The group is expected to spend at least $1.7 million on her behalf.

She has argued for "evidence-based" solutions to climate change and touted Energy Department grants she helped win for Stony Brook University tied to battery storage.

Both parties expect a close race in this district, with Trump’s popularity waning in an area President Obama carried twice (E&E Daily, Oct. 13).

Zeldin has a close to $1.8 million fundraising edge after an expensive Democratic primary, but Goroff backers believe she can close that gap with enthusiasm from moderates, who are frustrated with the incumbent for his ardent Trump defense during the impeachment trial.

One sign Goroff may be gaining is she out-raised Zeldin by about $500,000 in the third quarter, one of many female House Democratic candidates who saw a surge in donations after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Zeldin — $2,264,531, Goroff — $2,770,390
  • Campaign total: Zeldin — $7,144,754, Goroff — $5,400,156
  • Cash on hand: Zeldin — $2,772,355: Goroff — $1,007,510
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 54%, Clinton 42%
  • 2018 election result: Zeldin +4

Oklahoma 5th District

One of the surprise election night winners in 2018 is one of the biggest targets for Republicans this year in the middle of the oil patch.

Democrat Rep. Kendra Horn, who caught many off guard by winning an Oklahoma City district that Trump carried handily, will face Republican state Sen. Stephanie Bice, a fiscal and social conservative.

Horn has a 93% rating from the League of Conservation Voters but has not been endorsed by the group. She has broken with many Democrats by opposing a ban on fracking and has introduced legislation amid the pandemic to allow the Energy Department to spend $3 billion on domestic oil to top off the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Bice has begun to blast Horn over her opposition to offshore drilling and support for limits on methane emissions.

Horn has a nearly $2.5 million advantage over Bice, who was forced to spend heavily in an August primary runoff. But GOP-aligned groups will help make up the shortfall in a district they believe they can flip.

Horn enjoys an endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which angered Republicans and caused concern within the group (E&E Daily, Sept. 30).

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Horn — $1,470,513, Bice — $1,264,395
  • Campaign total: Horn — $5,263,618, Bice — $2,761,427
  • Cash on hand: Horn — $1,403,526, Bice — $882,256
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 53%, Clinton 40%
  • 2018 election result: Horn +1.4

Oregon 4th District

Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D) is facing perhaps the toughest challenge of his decadeslong career from a decorated military veteran who is hoping to capitalize on rural anger over the demise of the timber industry.

DeFazio, 73, who was first elected 1986, will square off against Alek Skarlatos, 27, a political newcomer. Skarlotos is best known for a 2015 incident, when as a member of the Army National Guard he helped stop an attack by a gunman on a Paris-bound train.

Skarlatos argues that DeFazio has not done enough to help the timber industry, which has been in decline for decades. He said DeFazio has favored preserving the state forests at the expense of timber jobs (E&E Daily, May 22).

DeFazio counters that he has balanced economic needs with preserving habitat and old-growth forests. He’s sought to paint Skarlatos as aligned with conservatives in the state Legislature who walked out to defeat climate legislation.

The coastal district with large, rural areas is still seen as favoring Democrats, but the GOP says Trump’s near win in 2016 coupled with DeFazio’s failure to get more than 60% of the vote in any election during the past decade shows he is vulnerable.

Skalartos out-raised DeFazio in the third quarter and has raised about $700,000 more than the Democrat this cycle.

DeFazio does have a $1 million cash-on-hand advantage that he’s betting, when combined with high name recognition, will allow him to hold on to the seat.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Skalartos — $2,581,008, DeFazio — $1,381,765
  • Campaign total: Skalartos — $3,916,529, DeFazio — $3,216,745
  • Cash on hand: DeFazio — $2,126,163, Skalartos — $1,156,888
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 46%, Clinton 46.1%
  • 2018 election result: DeFazio +16

Pennsylvania 1st District

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, one of the House GOP’s most committed climate hawks, hopes his calls for curbing emissions will help win votes in this suburban Philadelphia district.

Fitzpatrick will face Democrat Christina Finello, a county health and human services official.

He’s one of only two House GOP incumbents running for reelection this cycle in a district carried by Clinton in 2016 and only narrowly held it in 2018, making the race a priority for both parties.

Fitzpatrick will play up his independent streak in a suburban district filled with educated, swing voters by stressing where he has broken with the Trump administration on environmental issues.

The second-term lawmaker is the rare Republican to be endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters. He has a 86% lifetime rating from the group (Greenwire, April 2).

Finello will attempt to link Fitzpatrick to the president, especially regarding his handling of the pandemic.

Fitzpatrick has been one of the best GOP fundraisers in a Clinton-won district this cycle. He’s holding a more than $2 million edge over Finello, a difference that could be decisive in the expensive Philadelphia media market.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Fitzpatrick — $944,040, Finello — $555,027
  • Campaign total: Fitzpatrick — $3,780,911, Finello — $1,425,176
  • Cash on hand: Fitzpatrick — $1,389,314, Finello — $555,028
  • 2016 presidential vote: Clinton 49%, Trump 47%
  • 2018 election result: Fitzpatrick +2

Pennsylvania 8th District

Veteran Democrat Matt Cartwright is once again a target in this hard-scrabble, northeastern Pennsylvania district that was once a major coal producer.

Cartwright is squaring off against political newcomer Jim Bognet, who previously worked as a top communications official for the Export-Import Bank and has embraced Trump.

The president has already campaigned in the district he hopes to win perhaps more than most; it includes Biden’s hometown of Scranton.

Since Pennsylvania’s court-ordered redrawing of its congressional districts in 2018, Republicans have targeted Cartwright in a constituency more favorable to them. Trump would have won it by almost 10 points in 2016.

Cartwright, however, won the last cycle by that same margin without the president on the ballot to help drive GOP turnout.

An appropriator, Cartwright also sits on the Natural Resources Committee and has been a strong backer of legislation to clean up abandoned coal mines (E&E Daily, July 17).

While he has touted his seat on Appropriations as a way to deliver dollars to his district, Bognet has charged him with pork barrel spending.

On the campaign funding front, Cartwright had a more than $2 million edge over his Republican rival in a race that is increasingly seen as favoring Democrats as Trump struggles in Pennsylvania.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Cartwright — $833,525, Bognet — $545,607
  • Campaign total: Cartwright — $3,335,535, Bognet — $1,100,662
  • Cash on hand: Cartwright — $1,234,410, Bognet — $426,339
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 53% , Clinton 44%
  • 2018 election result: Cartwright +10

Pennsylvania 10th District

Democrats believe GOP Rep. Scott Perry is too conservative for a central Pennsylvania district that was redrawn in 2018. They’re pointing at his environmental record to make their case.

Perry is being challenged by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, whom greens say has prioritized environmental issues as the commonwealth’s chief financial officer.

He published a report last year that warned climate change was already costing the Keystone State hundreds of millions of dollars annually. And, as a state lawmaker, he wrote legislation to expand alternative energy production.

A fourth-term lawmaker, Perry narrowly hung onto his job in 2018 against a weak opponent, during a cycle in which Democrats captured three GOP seats in the state.

Perry, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, has pushed for expanded hydropower and is a frequent critic of EPA regulations.

Both candidates have raised over $3 million, a sign of just how competitive the race has become. Perry though has close to $500,000 more to spend in the final weeks of the contest.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: DePasquale — $1,688,444, Perry — $1,338,437
  • Campaign total: DePasquale — $3,345,492, Perry — $3,237,416
  • Cash on hand: Perry — $1,042,040, DePasquale — $569,676
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 52%, Clinton 43%
  • 2018 election result: Perry +2

Pennsylvania 17th District

A push by national Democrats to ban hydraulic fracturing is a major issue in the contest for a western Keystone State district that is home to a chunk of the Marcellus Shale.

Freshman Rep. Conor Lamb (D), a moderate, opposes a ban on fracking. He will face GOP Army veteran Scott Parnell, a Trump ally and Fox News regular, who has sought to link Lamb to Democratic leaders that oppose the drilling technique.

Lamb pressed House Democratic leaders earlier this year not to take up a fracking ban, although Democrats did block a GOP push to consider a resolution opposing a moratorium on fracking. Lamb has argued any drawbacks to fracking could be dealt with through better regulations and enforcement.

Parnell, however, has hammered Lamb for not doing enough to promote fracking. The Republican has said a ban could cost the district 100,000 jobs.

The parties expect a competitive race as evidenced by both candidates getting speaking slots at their parties’ national conventions.

Lamb holds a cash-on-hand advantage, but Parnell out-raised Lamb in the third quarter of the year, benefiting from a national conservative base.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Lamb — $1,224,367, Parnell — $1,627,451
  • Campaign total: Lamb — $3,322,100, Parnell — $2,846,431
  • Cash on hand: Lamb — $1,381,977, Parnell — $956,949
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 54%, Clinton 43%
  • 2018 election result: Lamb +13

South Carolina 1st District

This Charleston-centric district has been one of the closest watched nationally. And a Senate race that is turning out to be more competitive than expected in the Palmetto State could play a role in who ultimately wins.

Freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) won his race in 2018 in large part because of his opposition to offshore drilling.

His Republican opponent, who had bested incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford (R) in the primary and flip-flopped on the issue, handed the Democrats a seat that wasn’t on their radar before Sanford’s loss.

This go-around the GOP believes Cunningham is the wrong fit for a rapidly changing district that Trump won by 14 points; the party is squarely behind state Rep. Nancy Mace.

Cunningham, an ocean engineer, has emphasized his opposition to offshore drilling or even seismic testing, a stance that appeals to voters from both parties.

He was the lead sponsor of a House-passed bill barring expanded offshore leasing off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

Mace argues she has been consistently against offshore drilling, while supporting much of what she calls the rest of Trump’s "America First" energy strategy that includes regulatory rollbacks and increased energy exports.

The political action committee 314 Action, which is dedicated to electing scientists to Congress and spent some $500,000 for Cunningham last cycle, is already up with more ads this time.

The ads say Mace supported "toothless" offshore bans as a state legislator while taking tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the energy industry. During a recent debate she skirted a question on climate change (E&E Daily, Sept. 29).

Cunningham, a member of the Natural Resources Committee, has a more than $1.5 million edge over Mace, who did out-raise him last quarter. But increasingly Cunningham is seen as the favorite in a suburban district that has soured on Trump.

Additionally, an unexpectedly competitive race between incumbent Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and his challenger, Democrat Jaime Harrison, could boost Democratic turnout in a traditionally Republican state.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Cunningham — $1,797,390, Mace — $2,484,061
  • Campaign total: Cunningham — $5,970,912, Mace — $4,383,105
  • Cash on hand: Cunningham — $1,718,408, Mace — $1,215,681
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 54%, Clinton 40%
  • 2018 election result: Cunningham +2

Texas 2nd District

First-term GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a fundraising powerhouse and media savvy lawmaker, is one of several incumbent Texas Republicans that Democrats hope to knock off this election cycle.

Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who wears a patch over his right eye as the result of a war injury, is being challenged by Sima Ladjevardian, an Iranian-born lawyer, for this Houston area seat.

Crenshaw, who could land on the Energy and Commerce Committee if reelected, has sought to reposition the GOP on climate by calling for the party to embrace an "environmental moonshot" that would focus on clean energy technology investments to curb emissions.

Like most Texas Democrats, Ladjevardian takes a far more centrist approach on energy policy than the party’s top leaders.

She does not oppose fracking but backs strong regulation and says natural gas production can be a bridge to other clean energy.

Crenshaw is favored given his astronomical fundraising of nearly $15 million — a close to 5-to-1 advantage over Ladjevardian. But Democrats believe the district is trending purple, and a backlash to Trump could spark an upset.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Crenshaw — $5,553,311, Ladjevardian — $1,428,201
  • Campaign total: Crenshaw — $14,791,983, Ladjevardian — $3,051,885
  • Cash on hand: Crenshaw — $3,659,380; Ladjevardian — $729,282
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 52%, Clinton 43%
  • 2018 election result: Crenshaw +7

Texas 7th District

Energy jobs are a top issue in this Houston-based district that is headquarters to some of the world’s largest oil and natural gas producers.

First-term Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, one of the House’s few pro-energy Democrats, is facing Army veteran Wesley Hunt in the contest for a seat once held by former President George H.W. Bush.

Fletcher won two years ago by capturing moderate Republicans and independent voters unhappy with Trump.

Fletcher has sought to play up efforts to preserve jobs during the pandemic, highlighting efforts to secure federal relief for energy firms in congressional aid packages in her first campaign ad. She also has opposed a ban on fracking.

Hunt, too, has stressed the need for a strong energy economy in Texas and has sought to link Fletcher to national Democrats and the Green New Deal, which she has said she does not support.

Both Fletcher and Hunt have been strong fundraisers, although the incumbent increasingly is favored in a suburban district that is seen as likely to reject Trump and her moderate record has proven popular.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Hunt — $2,790,984, Fletcher — $1,289,120
  • Campaign total: Hunt — $5,911,147, Fletcher — $5,552,586
  • Cash on hand: Fletcher — $1,599,644, Hunt — $1,357,550
  • 2016 presidential vote: Clinton 48%, Trump 47%
  • 2018 election result: Fletcher +6

Texas 10th District

Veteran Republican Rep. Michael McCaul faces a rematch with an ardent backer of the Green New Deal in this increasingly suburban district stretching from Houston to Austin.

Attorney Mike Siegel (D) lost to McCaul by 4 points last cycle in a race that was not expected to be close. Democrats believe an influx of new voters have made this a swing district, while the GOP says Siegel is far too liberal for the area.

Siegel is one of the only Democrats in a competitive House race in the Lone Star State supporting the Green New Deal. He has touted the benefits of alternative energy and related jobs, while warning of more pollution and extreme weather if emissions are not curbed.

McCaul does not deny climate change science and favors some clean energy research, but warns the Green New Deal would cost thousands of energy jobs in the district.

Still, Siegel says not enough is being done to fight climate change. He has tried to link McCaul to Republicans who are weak on the issue, notably in a recent ad.

Siegel has also called for closing down the district’s coal-fired Fayette power plant, which the Democrat has tied to cancer clusters.

McCaul has a close to $1 million cash-on-hand advantage over Siegel, who is betting he can close that gap and turn out votes with aid from progressive groups and labor unions. One sign of enthusiasm for Siegal: He outraised McCaul in the third quarter.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: McCaul — $876,742, Siegel — $1,076,840
  • Campaign total: McCaul — $3,334,483, Siegel — $1,953,616
  • Cash on hand: McCaul — $1,170,369, Siegel — $285,369
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 52%, Clinton 43%
  • 2018 election result: McCaul +4

Texas 21st District

Conservative freshman Rep. Chip Roy, an ally of former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, is also being targeted in the rapidly growing and increasingly diverse northern suburbs of San Antonio and parts of Austin.

Roy’s opponent is former state lawmaker Wendy Davis, who lost a spirited 2014 gubernatorial race to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott by 20 points.

Democrats believe her views are more in line with a district that’s increasingly seen as younger, higher educated and less conservative than before.

Roy, a strong supporter of Trump’s deregulatory push to promote energy independence, is eager to tie Davis with national party leaders, who favor the Green New Deal and fracking bans. He said Democratic policies would devastate the state’s energy economy and increase prices for consumers.

Davis, however, has not signed on to the Green New Deal or a fracking ban. She does support returning the United States to the Paris climate accord.

Davis is increasingly seen as having the edge, in large part because of her fundraising, which has seen her take in close to $8 million, nearly double the incumbent. Roy will need help from outside conservative groups to make up that gap.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Davis — $3,450,287, Roy — $1,631,857
  • Campaign total: Davis — $7,911,962, Roy — $4,186,407
  • Cash on hand: Roy — $2,401,633, Davis — $1,881,649
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 52.5%, Clinton 42.5%
  • 2018 election result: Roy +2

Texas 22nd District

A southern Houston-based district being vacated by GOP Energy and Commerce member Pete Olson is a battleground this cycle.

Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni, who narrowly lost to Olson in 2018, will be facing Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls in a district filled with energy companies and home to the Johnson Space Center.

Kulkarni, a former foreign service officer, is trying to position himself as a moderate by avoiding progressive proposals such as the Green New Deal and talks about bringing more renewable energy jobs to Texas.

He also has spoken about how extreme weather in Houston briefly forced his family out of their home and cost them a car.

Nehls, the sheriff of the largest county in the district, is running a law and order campaign. The Republican says he would protect energy jobs and warns that Democrats favor ending energy incentives that would cost Texas.

Both campaigns say the district is one of the most diverse and has become far more of a swing district since when it was represented by Tom DeLay (R), a member of the GOP House leadership, more than a decade ago.

Kulkarni had a more than $1.4 million cash advantage after a primary runoff left Nehls low on cash and he has not proven a strong fundraiser. Outside spending could narrow that gap, although Kulkarni is increasingly seen as the better fit for the district.

  • Third-quarter fundrasiing: Kulkarni — $2,132,316, Nehls — $504,164
  • Campaign total: Kulkarni — $4,671,339, Nehls — $1,343,215
  • Cash on hand: Kulkarni — $1,749,310, Nehls — $359,978
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 52%, Clinton 44%
  • 2018 election result: Olson +4

Texas 23rd District

Democrats’ best pickup opportunity in the Lone Star State is in a vast Rio Grande Valley district, where Trump’s border wall is very unpopular.

Retiring GOP Rep. Will Hurd, the party’s only Black lawmaker in the House, held the seat by largely opposing Trump’s immigration policies, including warning about the wall’s adverse impact on local property owners and protected habitats.

Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who lost to Hurd by less than 1,000 votes in the last cycle, is running again and will face Republican Tony Gonzales, a former master chief petty officer in the Navy.

Jones opposes a border wall and has argued Republican rollbacks of environmental rules have created more pollution that disproportionally affects the district’s Latinos. She also has talked about creating alternative energy jobs along the economically distressed border.

Gonzales has focused largely on conservative economic growth policies, including deregulation and supports some border wall construction.

Jones holds a more than $4.5 million cash-on-hand advantage over Gonzales who got a late start in fundraising after a lengthy, GOP runoff.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Ortiz Jones — $1,759,815, Gonzales — $956,204
  • Campaign total: Ortiz Jones — $5,754,382, Gonzales — $1,160,880
  • Cash on hand: Ortiz Jones — $2,107,566, Gonzales — $390,928
  • 2016 presidential vote: Clinton 50%, Trump 46%
  • 2018 election result: Hurd less than 1 percentage point

Texas 24th District

Another highly competitive race is expected in the Fort Worth-Dallas suburbs with the retirement of GOP Rep. Kenny Marchant, who has used his Ways and Means Committee seat to look out for the Lone Star State’s fossil fuel interests.

Former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, a Republican, will face off against Democratic candidate Candace Valenzuela, a former school board member who is bidding to become the first Black Latina in Congress.

Van Duyne is running as a business-oriented Republican who aims to keep energy jobs in Texas, while Valenzuela is running on a more progressive platform for action on climate that stops just short of backing the Green New Deal.

Both parties see the race as winnable in a district that has seen an influx of more diverse and younger voters.

Valenzuela may have the momentum, after overcoming an early deficit to out-raise Van Duyne this cycle, leaving the Democrat with a $500,000 cash-on-hand advantage.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Valenzuela — $1,592,841, Van Duyne — $910,362
  • Campaign total: Valenzuela — $2,601,580, Van Duyne — $1,431,965
  • Cash on hand: Valenzuela — $987,715, Van Duyne — $483,332
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 50%, Clinton 44%
  • 2018 election result: Marchant +3

Virginia 2nd District

Rep. Elaine Luria (D) faces a rematch with former GOP Rep. Scott Taylor. She ousted him in 2018 in a coastal Virginia district that has seen significant flooding due to climate change.

Luria, a former naval officer who serves on the Armed Services Committee, has sought to highlight the national security impacts of global warming on military bases around the world.

She also co-chairs the New Democrat Coalition’s Climate Change Task Force, which favors less ambitious, more centrist approaches to reducing carbon emissions than the Green New Deal.

Taylor, also a Navy veteran, linked climate impacts to military readiness during his one House term. Both candidates argue they appeal to military-minded voters in a district with eight military installations.

Taylor’s team sees those voters as more conservative than Luria and notes Trump won the district in 2016. Democrats, however, say the district is increasingly a swing one.

Luria has repeatedly hammered Taylor over campaign fraud, after three of his former staffers have been charged with filing false petitions related to the 2018 campaign. Taylor has not been charged, but his entire 2018 campaign staff remains under investigation.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Luria — $1,847,310, Taylor — $1,134,473
  • Campaign total: Luria — $5,618,023, Taylor — $2,042,600
  • Cash on hand: Luria — $1,467,641, Taylor — $509,023
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 48%, Clinton 45%
  • 2018 election result: Luria +2

Virginia 7th District

First-term Rep. Abigail Spanberger, one of the Democrats’ top recruits in 2018 who narrowly won a once solidly conservative district in the Richmond suburbs by knocking off a Trump ally, faces another Republican this cycle who’s aligned with the president.

Spanberger, a former CIA officer, is squaring off against state lawmaker Nick Freitas, a libertarian-leaning Republican who is a former Army Green Beret.

Spanberger won the seat by running as a moderate who appealed to suburban voters, while Freitas is seeking to tarnish her image by tying her to national Democrats on issues such as health care and impeachment.

On environmental issues, Spanberger has shown a willingness to work across party lines, including co-authoring a bill, H.R. 7393, aimed at making it easier for farmers to use their land for carbon capture projects (E&E Daily, June 25).

She also has co-authored legislation, H.R. 6119, requiring the Pentagon to report on the strategic threats posed by climate change (E&E Daily, March 10).

While Republicans see an opening to take a seat that had been in GOP hands for 50 years prior to 2018, Spanberger has about a $4.5 million fundraising edge.

The Environmental Defense Fund has also announced ads against Freitas, saying he favors "special interests" and "won’t do what’s right" on issues like air pollution.

  • Third-quarter fundraising: Spanberger — $2,449,198, Freitas — $1,810,899
  • Campaign total: Spanberger — $7,278,905, Freitas — $2,844,107
  • Cash on hand: Spanberger — $2,516,659, Freitas — $778,328
  • 2016 presidential vote: Trump 50%, Clinton 44%
  • 2018 election result: Spanberger +1.9

Reporter Mary M. Shaffrey contributed.