Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report released his latest ranking of the races to watch for the U.S. House in 2014.
Just nine out of the 435 districts are close enough to rate as “toss-ups,” which augurs for a mostly stand-pat election and little chance for the Dems to take over control of the House of Representatives. Even worse for the Dems, eight of the nine are currently held by Dems, which augurs for the Repubs to possibly improve upon their current 233-200 majority (there are also two current vacancies).
Minnesota’s eight districts do not provide any of the toss-ups, which suggests that — if Cook’s early overview is any guide — we are reasonably likely to end up without any House races attracting huge national attention and money and with the same representatives we currently have, with the exception of a new Republican member replacing the retiring Michele Bachmann in the Sixth District. If Don Shelby had decided to challenge Erik Paulsen in the Third District, that might well have put that race into play, but Shelby has today made public his final decision not to run.
Cook rates the Eighth District of Minnesota as only “lean Democratic,” which means he views the reelection of Democrat Rick Nolan as iffy and that is likely to be the Minnesota race that attracts the most attention. Stewart Mills of the Mills Fleet Farm company is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Nolan and likely will emphasize gun rights.
Two other Minnesota districts are rated as only “likely” to remain in their current partisan status. The Seventh District of Rep. Collin Peterson is rated as “likely Democratic” and the Second District of Rep. John Kline is rated “likely Republican,” which puts those races two ticks away from a toss-up but still on Cook’s radar screen in case they become more interesting. The other five Minnesota races are not rated at all, which means Cook considers them safe for the incumbents (or, in the case of the Sixth District, for the incumbent party).
Overall, Cook’s ratings contain even more good news for Republicans. In addition to having eight of the nine toss-up House races in districts currently controlled by Dems, Cook’s 27 “leaner” races are made up of 16 now held by Dems and 11 by Repubs.