Democrats remained in control of the House, but there will be several GOP newcomers in some key ag districts. Voters elected new representatives in Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Texas and other states with Republican challengers defeating incumbent Democrats who flipped Trump districts in 2018 and knocking off House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson.
Also among the newcomers are Congressman-elect Randy Feenstra of Iowa’s fourth Congressional District, who defeated Rep. Steve King in the state's Republican primary and August Pfluger, who replaces House Ag Committee Ranking Member Mike Conaway. Results were updated as of 11:00am EST Thursday.
Minnesota 7 — (No. 6 in U.S. ag sales) House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson did not hold on to his congressional seat that represents most of the western part of Minnesota. He lost to former Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach, who had the backing of President Donald Trump. GOP officials were hoping to win the support of farmers who were longtime Peterson supporters.
Virginia 7 — (No. 190 in U.S. ag sales) Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer who chairs the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry declared victory over Republican state legislator Nick Freitas as she took the lead Wednesday. While the 7th District includes a large rural area of central Virginia, much of its population lies in the suburbs of Richmond. Spanberger defeated Rep. David Brat by two percentage points in 2018. She framed herself as a moderate, prioritizing rural issues like access to high-speed internet and improving conservation. Freitas pushed for eliminating regulations and supporting a limited government.
Minnesota 1 — (No. 10 in ag sales): First-term GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, was leading Democrat Dan Feehan by 49% to 45% with about 88% of the vote counted. During the campaign, Feehan attempted to pin Hagedorn to Trump’s “failed” trade policies while Hagedorn blasted Feehan, saying he would support a radical climate agenda if elected. This race was a rematch from 2018, when Gov. Tim Walz left the southern Minnesota seat to run for his current office.
Iowa 1 — (No. 12 in ag sales): Ashley Hinson, a state representative and former TV anchor, defeated first-term Democrat Abby Finkenauer. The northeast Iowa race included a debate about the size of another COVID stimulus package. Hinson suggested relief should be targeted and Finkenauer suggested hazard pay to essential workers and funding for state and local governments should be a priority. Finkenauer unseated Republican Rep. Rod Blum in 2018.
Iowa 2 — (No. 18 in ag sales): In the southeast Iowa district, Democrat Rita Hart and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks were running neck and neck to succeed the retiring Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack. Hart wants to increase the use of conservation programs to help farmers expand the use of environmentally-friendly practices. But some farmers questioned Hart after she told the Iowa Farmers Union, she would consider a bill proposed by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., that would impose a moratorium on large animal feeding operations and tighten regulations on meat processors. Miller-Meeks had the backing of 114 farm leaders, including Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.
Iowa 3 — (No. 33 in ag sales) In a rematch from 2018, first-term Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne defeated former GOP Rep. David Young in Iowa’s 3rd District, which includes metropolitan Des Moines as well as the southwest portion of the state. During the campaign, Axne and Young sparred on tax relief and health care. Biofuels was another issue; Young had to tread lightly around the Trump’s EPA’s handling of small refinery exemptions but argued the agency should be held accountable.
Iowa 4 — (No. 2 in ag sales) Newcomer Randy Feenstra, who unseated incumbent Rep. Steve King in the Republican primary, defeated Democrat J.D. Scholten., a former minor league baseball player. The district sprawls across northwest and north central Iowa.
California 21 — (No. 4 in ag sales) — Former Republican Rep. David Valadao, who was trying to reclaim the Central Valley seat he lost in 2018, was ahead in the vote count against first-term Democratic Rep. T.J. Cox, who beat him in 2018. Valadao’s involvement in his family’s dairy farm has a top subject of the campaign. He was alleged to have contributed to its bankruptcy but argued that happened when he was serving in Congress and had recused himself.
California 22 — (No. 27 in ag sales) Democratic challenger Phil Arballo, a Fresno financial services businessman, hoped to oust longtime incumbent Republican and former dairy farmer Devin Nunes, but lost by 53% to 46%. Nunes is well known for his role as ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee during the Russia investigations. The district covers the San Joaquin Valley including parts of Fresno and Tulare counties.
Illinois 17 — (No. 34 in ag sales) Rep. Cheri Bustos, who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, beat Republican lawyer Esther Joy King. The district includes the Mississippi River cities of Rock Island and Moline as well as parts of the cities of Peoria and Rockford.
Illinois 15 — (No. 19 in ag sales) Republican Mary Miller, who co-manages a farm with her husband, beat Democrat Erika Weaver and maintained a seat previously held by longtime Republican Rep. John Shimkus. Throughout her campaign, Miller praised Trump for renegotiating trade deals like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and others.
Illinois 13 — (No. 55 in ag sales): Incumbent Rodney Davis defeated Betsy Londrigan again this year. Davis beat Londrigran by only 2,000 votes in 2018. The district is heavily agricultural but also includes the university towns of Champaign and Urbana. Davis’ campaign focused in large part on his work on farm policy, while Londrigan promised to expand health care coverage if elected. Davis, first elected in 2012, served on the House Ag Committee during the 2014 and 2018 farm bills.
Montana — (No. 24 in ag sales) Republican state auditor and legislator Matt Rosendale won the race against Democrat state legislator Kathleen Williams in a bid to represent the state of Montana in the House. Incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte didn't run for reelection and instead ran for governor. Rosendale had the backing of the Montana Stock Growers and Montana Farm Bureau. Williams, who served on Montana’s nonpartisan Environmental Quality Council, had an ag platform centered on keeping farmers and ranchers on their land.
New Mexico 2 — (No. 69 in ag sales): Republican challenger Yvette Herrell won her rematch against first-term incumbent Democrat Xochitl Torres Small. Torres Small defeated Herrell in 2018 by only two percentage points. The district, which has a significant dairy industry, covers the southern half of the state. Torres Small joined the House Agriculture Committee in February when Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched parties. During the campaign, Herrell pushed for protecting agricultural producers from efforts to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Torres Small tried to distance herself from Joe Biden’s energy policy.
Kansas 1 — (No. 3 in ag sales) Tracey Mann, a former Kansas lieutenant governor who has a degree in agricultural economics, won the state’s 1st District seat, which is being vacated by GOP Rep. Roger Marshall, who was elected to the Senate. The 'Big First" district, which covers western and much of central Kansas, ranks third nationally in agricultural production.
Texas 13 — (No. 7 in ag sales) In Texas, Ronny Jackson, a former White House physician, easily won the sprawling 13th District, which stretches from the Texas Panhandle nearly to Fort Worth. He will replace the retiring Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. Jackson won a bitterly contested runoff for the GOP nomination against cattle industry lobbyist Josh Winegarner, who had been backed by the Texas Farm Bureau and other farm groups.
Texas 11 — (No. 87 in ag sales) August Pfluger, a former Air Force pilot who comes from a long line of Texas ranchers, won the state’s 11th District seat being vacated by the retiring Mike Conaway, the ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee. Conaway chaired the committee during work on the 2018 farm bill.
Oregon 2 — (No. 39 in ag sales) Republican cattle rancher Cliff Bentz defeated Democrat Alex Spenser to replace retiring Republican Rep. Greg Walden, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The district covers almost two-thirds of the state.
Michigan 10 — (No. 81 in ag sales) Republican businesswoman Lisa McClain won her race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Paul Mitchell in the state’s 10th District. Mitchell announced his retirement earlier this year. McClain ran against Democrat Kimberley Bizon, who centered her campaign on improving Michigan’s shoreline and addressing climate change.
Alabama 2 — (No. 72 in ag sales) Republican state legislator Barry Moore will be heading to Washington after defeating Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall to replace the retiring GOP Rep. Martha Roby, a House Ag Committee member.
New York 27 — (No. 93 in ag sales) Incumbent Republican Christopher Jacobs beat Nate McMurry, a Democrat who also ran against him in a June special election to fill the seat vacated by GOP Rep. Chris Collins, who pleaded guilty to federal insider trading.
Georgia 14 — (No. 99 in ag sales) GOP businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was already heavily favored to win the seat after Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal dropped out of the race in September. Incumbent Rep. Tom Graves did not seek reelection. Greene drew national media attention for expressing support for the QAnon movement, which espouses numerous conspiracy theories.
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