10 Under-the-Radar Congressional Races to Watch
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9. PA-03: Democrat Missa Eaton vs Republican Mike Kelly
Missa Eaton is one of many educators running as a Democrat in a time of reduced funding for schools and universities. The daughter of a union bus driver, the assistant professor of psychology is challenging super-rich incumbent Mike Kelly and mentions the student debt crisis as one of her issues to tackle. She's also no slouch on trade policy, an issue that might not be sexy but is deeply important in the era of outsourcing.
Eaton's getting union support in her blue-collar western Pennsylvania district (represented, before Kelly, by Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper) and won the “Keystone Challenge” from the state Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, Mike Kelly compared the health insurance mandate to cover contraception to Pearl Harbor and September 11. No, really.
10. TX-16: Democrat Beto O'Rourke vs Republican Barbara Carrasco
Beto O'Rourke's already won one rough race this year—his primary, where he knocked off conservative Democrat Silvestre Reyes, in part in a battle over drug policy. O'Rourke favors marijuana legalization and bluntly calls the drug war a “failure.” The El Paso city representative argued that marijuana prohibition only fuels the cartels and stokes violence just over the border. It didn't hurt that Reyes had other problems--$600,000 in campaign funds steered to himself and family members, say, or a vote to defund Planned Parenthood. Tim Murphy at Mother Jones notes that try as Reyes might have to make drugs an issue in the campaign, the race was really won on the economy.
O'Rourke's also pushed for benefits for same-sex partners and is pro-choice, pro-contraception, and pro-health care. The district remains largely Democratic even after redistricting, but O'Rourke still has to go through Barbara Carrasco, a Republican whose website pledges that she'll “FIGHT for America's Free-Market Economy” and “PROTECT our Children – Born and Unborn.”