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In race to control the House, three Agriculture Committee toss-ups

A relative handful of contests in the Nov. 8 general election — one month away — will decide whether Democrats or Republicans control the House in 2023. Three of those toss-up races are in farm-state districts with seats on the House Agriculture Committee.

There are only two dozen or so toss-up House races in the country, say experts. Most districts vote reliably Republican or Democratic. The GOP approaches the midterms with an advantage in safe seats and, according to political handicappers, is likely to gain a House majority. At present, there are 220 Democrats and 212 Republicans in the House, with three vacancies.

Democrats hold all three of the Agriculture Committee seats that are considered toss-ups.

Second-term Rep. Angie Craig is in a rematch with Republican Tyler Kistner, who she defeated by fewer than 10,000 votes in 2020 in a House district in southeastern Minnesota. The race could be the second-most expensive in the country, according to the head of the Republican National Committee. “We need five [seats for a majority], so the RNC is invested here,” said RNC chair Ronna McDaniel.

Kistner has emphasized pocketbook issues, while Craig has highlighted abortion rights, reported WCCO in Minneapolis.

In Kansas, Rep. Sharice Davids, who defeated a Republican incumbent in 2018, is being challenged for the second time by Amanda Adkins. Davids won the 2020 race by 10 percentage points, but during reapportionment, the Kansas legislature made the district more competitive.

Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, was one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Adkins has worked as a corporate executive and chaired the Kansas Republican Party from 2009 to 2013. Davids has focused on economic issues; Adkins says Davids and other Democrats are to blame for high inflation.

Esther Joy King, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Cheri Bustos in 2020, is again the Republican nominee in western Illinois, where she will face former TV weatherman Eric Sorensen, a Democrat who is running for office for the first time. Illinois lost a House seat following the 2020 Census and Bustos opted to retire. The redrawn district, shaped like a capital C, arcs westward from Rockford in northern Illinois to the Mississippi River at Moline and Rock Island and bends eastward toward Bloomington in central Illinois.

King, a lawyer who served in the military, has focused on inflation and said that, if elected, she would work on military issues. “I am committed to supporting our agricultural community in Congress,” she said. Sorenson said he would work to rebuild trust between Congress and citizens: “I’ll work to rebuild that trust by looking out for people.”

Six other Democrats on the Agriculture Committee were listed in races that “lean” Democratic, two Democrats were in races that “lean” Republican, and one Republican was in a “lean” Republican race, according to the handicapper Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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