From Candidacy to Congress Pt. 2

The following candidates have won congressional primaries this year in districts where their party is largely in control. These party nominees almost certainly will win election in November and become House Members in the 116th Congress, which will convene in January 2019. Additional names will be added to the list following primaries in other states, which will extend until September. These bios are an initial version of the profiles that will appear in the 2020 Almanac of American Politics, which will be published by Columbia Books.


Jim Baird won the Republican primary in a competitive contest with six other candidates. In an outcome that many local Republicans said was a surprise, he led runner-up Steve Braun, 36-30 percent; Braun’s brother Mike won the Republican nomination for the Senate in another close campaign in the May 8 primary. In the mostly rural district northwest of Indianapolis, Baird is almost certain to succeed Rep. Todd Rokita, who ran unsuccessfully in that Senate primary.

Steve Braun was endorsed by the state Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau. He raised more than twice as much campaign money as Baird, who benefited from a superior grass-roots appeal. The closing days of the campaign were marked by negative advertising campaigns by several outside political action committees. A late ad attacked Baird’s vote to increase the state’s gasoline tax and said that he had cost Hoosiers “an arm and a leg.” Given his war injuries, that generated a sympathetic response for Baird.*


Madeleine Dean was the convincing winner of the May 15 Democratic primary for the open House seat in the Philadelphia suburbs. She won 74 percent of the vote against two other candidates, including former Rep. Joe Hoeffel, who served three terms before he ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2004. The once-competitive Montgomery County battleground has become solidly Democratic.

In 2012, Dean was elected to the Pennsylvania state House. She is vice-chair of the Finance Committee and has co-chaired the PA Safe Caucus, a coalition that has sought to curb gun violence through action and awareness; she has filed legislation to eliminate bump stocks on firearms. She has served on the Governor’s Commission for Women, which has advised on policies that promote equality issues ranging from sexual assault to business initiatives. In 2017, she announced her campaign for Lieutenant Governor, but changed her plans when the state Supreme Court early this year approved a new congressional redistricting map. Dean was endorsed by labor unions and EMILY’s List, the Democratic abortion-rights group. She likely will be one of at least three Democratic women from southeast Pennsylvania to join what had been the state’s all-male congressional delegation.*


Brad Fulcher easily won on May 15 the Republican nomination for an open House seat in Idaho, with 43 percent of the vote against six other candidates. The runner-up with 17 percent was David Leroy, who was the state’s attorney general and lieutenant governor more than 30 years ago and lost a Republican primary for Congress in 1994. Fulcher will likely succeed Rep. Raul Labrador, who ran unsuccessfully in the GOP primary for governor, in the district that stretches along the western edge of Idaho from Canada to the Wyoming border.

Fulcher was endorsed by numerous conservative activists and interest groups, including the Club for Growth, which spent more than $500,000 on his behalf. Labrador said that Fulcher would continue his “fight for liberty.” Like Labrador, Fulcher is an outspoken conservative. He challenged Gov. Butch Otter in the 2014 primary on a pledge to protect Idaho’s “true conservative ideals,” and lost, 51%-44%. He served 10 years in the state Senate, where he was the leader of the Senate Republican Caucus.*

*These profiles were prepared with the assistance of biographical and campaign information from the Ballotpedia website and Ballotpedia editor, Geoff Pallay.

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