Democrats are fielding candidates in almost every House race this year

Democrats are fielding candidates in almost every House race this year
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi CSPAN Screengrab

The last filing deadline for major-party candidates anywhere in the country passed on Friday when Louisiana, which always bring up the caboose, closed its books.


Candidates often enter races late in the Pelican State, and Democrats received a welcome surprise a couple of days before the deadline when Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins announced a bid against Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, giving the party a credible contender where before it had none.

There were no unexpected developments in the state's lone open House seat in the 5th Congressional District, where Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham decided to retire after an unsuccessful bid for governor last year. The best-funded candidate by a wide margin is Luke Letlow, a former Abraham chief of staff who has his old boss' endorsement, but two other notable Republicans are running: state Rep. Lance Harris and Ouachita Parish police juror Scotty Robinson. (In Louisiana, a parish police jury is similar to a county commission or board of supervisors.)

This dark-red district in the state's northeast is sure to stay in the GOP's hands, but there's a chance the race won't get resolved until a Dec. 5 runoff in the event that no one takes a majority in November. Challengers, meanwhile, filed to run against incumbents in every other Louisiana House seat, all of which are held by Republicans except the 2nd, which is represented by Democrat Cedric Richmond. Thanks to a GOP-drawn gerrymander, none of these districts will be competitive in the fall.

While some states will still allow independents to qualify for the general election, the roster of major candidates is now set. Both parties have left comparatively few seats uncontested. Republicans will not field anyone in 19 races, which is their lowest total since 2010, when they didn't contest just five seats and retook the House. Democrats, meanwhile, have failed to put up candidates in only eight districts, which follows on the extremely low three seats they left unchallenged last cycle—the fewest since the post-Watergate election of 1974, when the party tied its modern record by leaving only Ohio Rep. Charles Whalen without an opponent.

As you can see from our list of all 25 uncontested seats—which is reflected in the map at the top of this post—virtually all are in territory that is safe for one party or the other. There is one exception, though: Republican Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart is guaranteed a 10th term in Florida's 26th District, which Donald Trump carried by just a 50-48 margin four years ago. However, this area still often votes for Republicans downballot, and Díaz-Balart beat a credible challenger in 2018 60-40, despite the blue wave.

One final note: The number of districts without a Republican on the November ballot could tick up a bit after next week's primaries in Washington state. That's because Washington, like California, uses a top-two system, where all candidates from all parties run together in the primary, and the top two vote-getters regardless of party advance to the general election. That's already the case in half a dozen dark blue California districts this year, and it could happen again in the Evergreen State, mostly likely in the open 10th District.

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