GOP Poised to Flip PA-14 in Game of Congressional District Musical Chairs

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Republicans are poised to flip one Pennsylvania seat now held by a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives this November.

Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District is one of three seats currently held by Democrats that Republicans must flip in November while holding onto 61 seats currently represented by Republicans if the GOP is to maintain its majority in the U.S. House of Representatives when the 116th Congress convenes in January 2019.

The district is currently represented by Rep. Michael Doyle (D-PA-14). Due to the redrawing of Pennsylvania congressional district boundaries by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court in February, the new 14th Congressional District–which is currently rated as “Likely Republican” by the Cook Political Report and has no incumbent from either party running in the November election– is dramatically different in its geographic composition than the old 14th Congressional District.

Doyle is now running for re-election in the new 18th Congressional District, which is only slightly less Democratic than his old 14th Congressional District, which Hillary Clinton won by 35 points in 2016. In the new 18th Congressional District, Clinton won by 27 points, so Doyle’s race this November is not considered competitive.

The potential GOP pickup in the new 14th  Congressional District, however, is more a consequence of the game of congressional district musical chairs created by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court’s redistricting decision than it is an indication of the strength or weakness of any particular candidate.

Ballotpedia reports that the new 14th Congressional District is comprised primarily of the old 18th Congressional District, which voted for Donald Trump by a margin of 20 points in 2016 and is currently represented by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA-18). The new 14th Congressional District voted for Trump by a margin of 29 points in 2016.

Lamb is squaring off this November against Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12) in the newly created 17th Congressional District, one of the few districts in the country where two incumbents from opposing parties find themselves competing in a general election. The Cook Political Report currently rates that race as “Lean Democrat.”

The most recent poll shows Lamb with a 12 point lead over Rothfus, as Breitbart News reported last month. the Monmouth University Polling Institute said in a statement released with the poll:

Lamb has 51% support and Rothfus has 39% support among all potential voters – that is voters who have participated in an election since 2010 or have newly registered to vote (a group that represents about 88% of all registered voters in the district). Another 9% are undecided. A historical midterm model for likely voters shows the race at 53% for Lamb and 40% for Rothfus, while a model that includes a turnout surge in Democratic precincts gives Lamb a slightly larger 54% to 39% edge. Lamb’s lead is outside the sampling margin of error in all three poll scenarios

Republican Rick Saccone, who lost the March 2018 special election for the old 18th Congressional District to Lamb, was defeated two months later in the May 2018 GOP primary election for the new 14th Congressional District by State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, 55 percent to 45 percent.

Reschenthaler faces Democratic nominee Bibiana Boerio in the November election.

Last month the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee named Reschenthaler to “its Young Guns ‘Vanguard’ program, which aims to help candidates in GOP-leaning seats,” as Politico reported.

Boerio is a former executive with the Jaguar division of the Ford Motor Company and former chief of staff for former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

Despite her extensive resume, Boerio has raised only $205,142 for her campaign as of June 30, according to Federal Election Commission records. More than a quarter of that amount–$52,500–came in the form of a loan she provided to her own campaign.

Reschenthaler, in contrast, has raised $436,698 as of June 30, according to Federal Election Commission records.

In terms of cash-on-hand, however, the campaigns are evenly matched. Boerio had $83,870 cash-on-hand as of June 30, while Reschenthaler had $56,578 cash-on-hand.

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