Aug 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House members' shaky political ladder

Primary election statuses of retiring U.S. House members seeking higher office
Data: Axios research; Chart: Nicki Camberg/Axios

Service in the House of Representatives is often a springboard for statewide office, but House members who retired this cycle to run for higher office have so far met mixed results.

Driving the news: Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) finished a distant third in the primary for Hawaii governor on Saturday, garnering just 15% of the vote to Lt. Gov. Josh Green's 63% and former Hawaii first lady Vicky Cayetano's 21%.

  • Kahele drew headlines this year for voting by proxy more than most of his colleagues and working part time in his old job as a Hawaiian Airlines pilot.

The big picture: Several other House members have faced similarly bruising losses this year.

Yes, but: Some retiring members have also romped to victory.

  • Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) beat Andrew Giuliani, son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in the Republican primary to challenge Hochul.

What we're watching: While Welch is all but certain to win in November and Zeldin is an underdog, Ryan and Budd both face highly competitive general elections. Several other primaries will be determined in the coming weeks:

  • Reps. Val Demings (D-Fla.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) are favored to win their respective Senate primaries.
  • Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) is in a bruising primary with Florida Secretary of Agriculture Nikki Fried to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) is facing a November showdown for Los Angeles mayor with Republican-turned-Democrat Rick Caruso.
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