Little drama in House races, but stakes high for Democrats

BOSTON (AP) — With an all-Democratic congressional delegation and only a handful of contested races, Massachusetts is hardly a battleground state when it comes to determining which party controls the U.S. House in the next Congress.

But that doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t high.

For several members of the delegation, a return to power for the Democrats could translate into influential committee chairmanships or powerful leadership posts on Capitol Hill. In some cases, that may also depend, however, on whether Nancy Pelosi remains the Democratic leader after January.

Democratic nominees are unopposed in four of the state’s nine congressional districts, and little-known Republicans face daunting challenges in trying to unseat incumbents in some others.

A district-by-district peek at the House races in Massachusetts:

1ST DISTRICT

Rep. Richard Neal, first elected to his western Massachusetts district in 1988, is unopposed Nov. 6 after turning back a Democratic primary challenge from Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Springfield attorney.

Neal perhaps has more to gain than any current member of the delegation should Democrats wrest control of the House from Republicans. As ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Neal would be in line to chair a panel that exerts enormous influence over tax policy, not to mention other key issues such as trade and Social Security.

2ND DISTRICT

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, a Worcester Democrat first elected to the House in 1996, is heavily favored in his race against Republican nominee Tracy Lovvorn, of Grafton.

Lovvorn, who runs a physical therapy practice, has positioned herself as a moderate and faults the incumbent Democrat as overly partisan.

As the ranking member of the Rules Committee, a panel that wields significant power over the flow of legislation in the House, McGovern also stands to gain considerable clout in a Democratic-controlled Congress if elevated to chairman of the committee.

3RD DISTRICT

With Democratic Rep. Niki Tsongas not seeking re-election, the race for the state’s only open House seat pits Republican Rick Green, of Pepperell, against Democrat Lori Trahan, of Lowell, with an independent candidate from Andover, Mike Mullen, also on the ballot.

Trahan narrowly won a 10-way Democratic primary that wasn’t settled until after a recount last month. She served as a top aide to former congressman and current University of Massachusetts president Marty Meehan.

Green co-owns an online auto parts company and was a founder of the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. He raised nearly $900,000 for his campaign through Oct. 1, according to Federal Election Commission records, allowing him to compete on a somewhat more level playing field with Trahan, who raised $1.7 million but spent a considerable chunk of it in the primary scramble.

4TH DISTRICT

U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy coasts into his fourth term in Congress without any Republican opposition in a district that stretches from the Boston suburbs to the Rhode Island border.

The grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is only 37, but already is so well-established in national Democratic circles that he’s been whispered as a potential future contender for House Speaker or even president. In January, he was chosen to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.

Kennedy’s clear path to re-election has freed him to spend time campaigning for Democrats in other states, most recently Wisconsin and Illinois.

5TH DISTRICT

Since winning a special election to the House in 2013, Rep. Katherine Clark has steadily been climbing the ranks within her party, currently serving as senior whip of the Democratic caucus.

In July, the Melrose Democrat announced she would seek the even more influential post of vice chair of the caucus.

Clark’s Republican opponent is John Hugo, a conservative from Woburn who touts endorsements from the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, and a prominent anti-abortion group.

6TH DISTRICT

Two-term Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, of Salem, faces Republican Joseph Schneider, a business executive from Beverly, and independent Mary Jean Charbonneau, of Rockport, in what’s been a low-key campaign to date.

If Moulton returns to a Democratic-controlled House in January, he’ll likely find himself a focus of attention but for a different reason than many of his colleagues.

Moulton has been among House Democrats pushing for a new leader to replace Pelosi, the former speaker who could regain the job if the party takes the House. Moulton says he’s not interested in the job for himself.

7TH DISTRICT

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley made national headlines by defeating incumbent Michael Capuano in the September primary.

With no one else on the ballot in the general election, Pressley has been able to focus on preparing to take over the seat while lending a hand to other Democratic candidates in Massachusetts. She’ll be the first black woman to serve in the state’s congressional delegation.

8TH DISTRICT

After fending off two Democrats in the primary, U.S. Rep. Steven Lynch, of South Boston, is unopposed in the general election as he seeks a ninth full term in the House.

Lynch could gain in stature in a Democratic-controlled House, as he is currently the ranking Democrat on the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

9TH DISTRICT

Marshfield Republican Peter Tedeschi, who formerly headed a convenience store chain founded by his family, is challenging four-term incumbent Democratic Rep. William Keating in southeastern Massachusetts district some view as possibly the state’s most competitive race.

Tedeschi has raised more than $700,000 for his campaign, compared to the $1.1 million Keating has raked in during the current election cycle.

Keating, who resides in Bourne, is the ranking Democrat on the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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