Campaign Spotlight: House Candidates in Tight Races

October 26, 2016

New York’s 19th District

Our endorsee: Zephyr Teachout

teachout-spotlightZephyr Teachout is in a fiercely competitive race for the House seat vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Chris Gibson. A law professor and activist who has been a major advocate for campaign finance reform, she is a rising star in progressive politics. Her race has been one of the most expensive of the cycle, with Republican groups pouring millions of dollars into their effort to retain the seat. Last week, Teachout received the endorsement of President Obama, who called her “the kind of reform-minded leader we need to build on all of the progress we’ve made over the last eight years.”

Teachout recognizes the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security and believes both people have a right to self-determination. She supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has also backed the Iran nuclear deal.

Key quote

The reason that I support the Iran deal is that we cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, it is too much of a threat. It’s a year in and it has been successful…We’re farther away from a nuclear Iran then we were a year ago and that is incredibly important.

The opponent: John Faso

faso-spotlightJohn Faso is a veteran politician in New York state, having served as Minority Leader of the State Assembly from 1998-2002 and run unsuccessfully for Governor in 2006. Faso opposes the Iran nuclear deal and has ignored the agreement’s many accomplishments. The National Republican Congressional Committee has backed his campaign with ads attacking Teachout over her support for the agreement.

The race

The Cook Political Report currently lists the race as a toss-up. A poll released by the DCCC on September 20 showed Teachout with a 5-point lead, while a Time Warner Cable News/Siena College from late September showed the candidates in a virtual tie.

Minnesota’s 8th District

Our endorsee: Rep. Rick Nolan

nolan-spotlightRep. Nolan is a two-term incumbent, having previously served three terms in Congress as the Representative of Minnesota’s 8th district from 1975-1981. As a Democrat in a largely rural district that also includes the city of Duluth, his seat is considered one of the only vulnerable Democratic seats in 2016 and has been heavily targeted by Republicans.

Rep. Nolan has lived and worked in the Middle East and many of his colleagues consider him a leader on issues of Middle East policy. He has been an advocate for the two-state solution and a strong supporter of diplomacy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, signing pro-diplomacy legislative vehicles and backing the nuclear agreement.

Key quote

What the agreement did was prevent Iran from adding nuclear weapons to its arsenal. If they choose to fund terrorists, we have the ability to impose tough sanctions on Iran, and we will do so….If they cheat, we will catch them.

The opponent: Stewart Mills

mills-spotlightMills also ran for Nolan’s seat in 2014, losing an extremely close race by just 3,700 votes. Mills is hoping excitement for Donald Trump among local Republicans could drive high enough turn out to push him over the top this time, and he’s been supported by millions of dollars from Republican groups hoping to swing the seat into the red column.

Mills has attacked Nolan over his support for the Iran agreement, alleging that by supporting the agreement Rep. Nolan “voted to fund terrorist organizations.” The NRCC has backed up these attacks with their own ads attempting to portray Nolan as weak on national security.

The race

The Cook Political Report currently lists the race as a toss-up. A mid-October poll by Clarity Campaign Labs shows Nolan with an 8 percent lead.