WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2016 - Although a couple of U.S. Senate races are still up in the air, if you were an incumbent legislator on an agriculturally important committee heading into Election Day, chances are you won’t be job hunting any time soon.
Agri-Pulse tracked the races of members of the House and Senate agriculture committees as well as the ag appropriations subcommittees of both chambers. Of the 58 incumbents seeking reelection, 54 will hold onto their seat as of press time. That success rate among incumbents was a bipartisan effort.
Here’s a breakdown of the results:
• In the Senate, Missouri Republican Roy Blunt ran a close race, but still ultimately prevailed over Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander by a 49-46 percent margin. Aside from Blunt, the rest of the Senate races involving ag lawmakers were easy incumbent victories. Ag committee Democrats Michael Bennet of Colorado and Patrick Leahy of Vermont both cruised to reelection as did Republicans John Boozman of Arkansas, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Hoeven of North Dakota and John Thune of South Dakota. Ag appropriations subcommittee chair Jerry Moran, R-Kan., also secured another term. Still undecided: the New Hampshire race for U.S. Senate with incumbent Kelly Ayotte holding about a 1,500 vote lead over Democrat Maggie Hassan with 93 percent of the votes reported. And in Louisiana, Democrat Foster Campbell and Republican John Kennedy are set to square off on Dec. 10, after neither secured over 50 percent of the vote.
• In the House, ag committee chair Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will both hold on to their positions to write the next farm bill.
• Of the 64 races that Agri-Pulse followed none have officially gone against the incumbent, although a number of them remain uncalled.
• A pair of Minnesota Democrats survived tough races. Tim Walz and Rick Nolan were both locked near 50 percent against their respective challengers but pulled it out later in the night. Nolan’s race is a rematch of his 2014 campaign against Republican Stewart Mills and was expected to be tight, but Walz’ race comes as a bit of a surprise.
• Nebraska Democrat Brad Ashford was in a race that was neck and neck with challenger Don Bacon for most of the night but Bacon eventually prevailed by about 4,000 votes.
• California Democrat Pete Aguilar’s beat GOP challenger Paul Chabot for the second time.
• California Republican Jeff Denham won re-election with 52 percent of the vote.
• Three House members went into Election Day facing no opposition: Democrats David Scott of Georgia and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and ag appropriations subcommittee chair Robert Aderholt, R-Ala. Three other members we monitored had opponents, but not from the Democratic Party: Conaway and Republicans Rick Crawford of Arkansas and John Moolenaar of Michigan.
• Only one seat vacated by a retiring committee member flipped party orientation. Florida Democrat Gwen Graham cited redistricting as a reason she decided not to seek reelection, and instead consider a potential run for governor. That redistricting played a role in the election of Republican Neal Dunn. Otherwise, Arizona’s first district and California’s 20th District both held their Democratic orientation. Michigan’s first district, New York’s 19th district, and the 19th district of Texas all remain in Republican hands.
• California’s 20th district was claimed by Democrat Jimmy Panetta, whose father once served on the House ag committee as a member of Congress.
• Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick abandoned her seat in an unsuccessful Senate bid against incumbent John McCain, but fellow Democrat Tom O’Halleran captured her former seat with 50 percent of the vote.
• Kansas’ “Big First” District garnered a good deal of attention from ag groups seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Tim Huelskamp. They did just that in the primary, and Physician Roger Marshall cruised to an easy victory in the general election. Look for Marshall to make a play for a seat on the ag committee
For a breakdown of all 64 races monitored by Agri-Pulse, click here.
For more news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com