Several prominent House candidates from both parties are using the start of the final fundraising quarter of 2023 to announce their bids in closely watched seats across the nation.
We'll begin our coast-to-coast roundup in California's 45th District where consumer rights attorney Derek Tran has announced that he'll run in the March top-two primary to face Rep. Michelle Steel, a Republican who represents a western Orange County constituency that backed Joe Biden 52-46 in 2020. Several fellow Democrats had previously launched campaigns against Steel in this diverse district, but none of them had more than $130,000 in the bank at the end of June. (Updated campaign finance reports are due Oct. 15.)
Tran, who is a U.S. Army veteran, does not appear to have run for office before, but HuffPost writes that the Consumer Attorneys of California board member has access to donors. Tran's background of military service and as the son of Vietnamese refugees could also be an asset against Steel, who ran ads last year accusing her Democratic opponent of being linked to communists, a tactic that local Republicans had long used in areas with large Vietnamese American electorates like this one.
Over in Connecticut's 5th District, former GOP state Sen. George Logan has launched his long-anticipated rematch campaign against Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes, who fended him off 50.4-49.6 after an expensive 2022 contest. That close call came two years after Biden carried this seat, which is located in the northwestern part of the state, 55-44. But Logan, who is seeking to become the first Republican to represent this area since now-Sen. Chris Murphy unseated GOP Rep. Nancy Johnson in 2006, may not have the field to himself this time.
Daily Ructions reported last month that unnamed Republicans were trying to recruit former ESPN broadcaster Sage Steele, who apologized in 2021 after saying of women sports reporters, "So when you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you’re putting that outfit on, too." Steele—who also questioned two years ago former President Barack Obama's decision to identify himself as Black, and has denounced corporate vaccine mandates—did not rule anything out when the Indianapolis Star asked about her interest in running.
Next, in northwestern Indiana, Lake County Councilman Randy Niemeyer, a trucking company owner who also leads the county GOP, declared that he'd take on Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan in the 1st District. Last cycle, the incumbent fended off GOP foe Jennifer-Ruth Green 53-47 two years after Biden carried his seat 53-45, and Green endorsed Niemeyer on Monday. The new candidate currently faces no serious intraparty opposition.
Meanwhile, back on the East Coast, businesswoman Hollie Noveletsky has launched a campaign for the GOP nod to take on New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas, who holds the historically competitive 1st District in the eastern half of the state. Pappas' party has done better here in recent years, though: Biden prevailed 52-46, while the congressman won by a larger 54-46 last year.
Noveletsky, the CEO of a steel-fabrication business, joined the Republican nomination contest about two months after former Executive Councilor Russell Prescott kicked off his campaign. Prescott is a veteran Granite State politician, but he took a weak fourth place in last year's primary to face Pappas.
In Nevada, a familiar name reemerged as former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, who spent years as a conservative Democratic state senator, will seek the Republican nomination to go up against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in the 4th District. Lee joined the GOP in 2021 just before he announced a bid for governor, but his new party rewarded him with a weak fourth-place showing. Air Force veteran David Flippo is already campaigning for this 53-45 Biden seat in the northern Las Vegas area.
One Republican campaign announcement in Ohio brought joy to Democrats nationwide: J.R. Majewski, a QAnon ally who was one of his party's very worst nominees for any office in 2022, has restarted his rematch effort against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the 9th District. The GOP establishment, by contrast, was relieved back in May when Majewski dropped out following his mother’s recent surgery, but he said Saturday that he was back in now that she's recovered.
Prominent Republicans like House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and far-right Rep. Jim Jordan are supporting former state Rep. Craig Riedel for this seat in the Toledo area and northwestern Ohio, a constituency that supported Donald Trump 51-48 under the GOP's gerrymandered map. Majewski beat Riedel 36-31 before losing to Kaptur in a 57-43 landslide, and the 2022 nominee tweeted Monday, "The GOP Establishment is having a meltdown because I’m back in the race. That tells me I’m on the right track." The field also includes real estate broker Steve Lankenau; a fourth Republican, former Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski, dropped out in late July.
Over to the east, another Ohio Republican, former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin, announced his campaign against Democratic Rep. Emilia Sykes in the 13th District. Coughlin, who has been out of office since early 2011, is campaigning for a seat in the Akron and Canton areas that favored Biden 51-48. The GOP field already includes Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg, who publicized an endorsement from Sen. J.D. Vance.
Finally, in Pennsylvania, Edgewood Borough Council member Bhavini Patel has announced that she'll take on freshman Rep. Summer Lee in the Democratic primary for the reliably blue 12th District. Patel, who would be the first Indian American to represent the state in Congress, did not mention any policy disagreements with the incumbent but instead implied that the prominent progressive was neglecting local concerns in her Pittsburgh-based seat. "We need a member of Congress in touch and laser-focused on helping real people in this district," said the challenger, adding, "We need a leader who wants to bring people together to get things done, not divide us."
Lee has long had a bad relationship with the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, and the group spent heavily against her in both the 2022 primary and general elections. An AIPAC spokesperson tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette it has not decided if it will be taking action here again this cycle.