Two U.S. House Races to Watch: New Hampshire’s 1st and New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional Districts

The campaigns for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District and New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District are two races that are important to the GOP’s chances at taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH-01) and Teresa Leger-Fernández (D-NM-03) are two incumbents that could find themselves out of a job in November if their Republican challengers have their way.

New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District has long been considered a swing district. Just in the last 12 years, Democrats and Republicans have swapped control of the seat back and forth four times. Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight gives the current district lines, which will be changed when the redistricting process is complete, a partisan rating of R+1.

Republicans in the New Hampshire state legislature are trying to make make NH-1 much redder by removing a significant number of Democrat voters from the 1st district and giving them to the 2nd district. If this plan, which has already passed New Hampshire’s state House and a key elections committee in their state Senate, is enacted into law, then NH-1’s R+1 partisan rating would move to an R+9. Democrat incumbent Pappas, would then face long odds in his campaign for reelection as U.S. representative.

The four prominent candidates in the GOP primary, which is scheduled for September 13, are former Trump administration State Department official Matt Mowers, former Trump administration Assistant Press Secretary under Kayleigh McEnany, Karoline Leavitt, journalist and wife of former U.S. Senator Scott Brown Gail Huff Brown, and New Hampshire State Representative Tim Baxter.

Mowers leads the financial race amongst the GOP candidates as of the December 31, 2021 deadline. According to FEC records, Mowers has raised $840,840.73 and has $577,426.90 in the bank. The fundraising contest is very competitive, however. Leavitt, Brown, and Baxter have $425,545.14, $418,758.95, and $367,359.09 in the bank, respectively. All four candidates in the Republican primary have attained On the Radar status in the NRCC’s Young Guns program. More candidates may emerge as the filing deadline is June 10, 2022.

FEC records show that Pappas, the Democrat incumbent, holds the significant financial edge over all possible opponents with $1,416,307.21 cash on hand. NRCC resources after the nomination, along with help from other interested PACs will likely be important given that Pappas has no significant Democrat opposition.

New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District is another race to watch as it is shaping up to be a rematch of the 2020 House election, but under a new map that is far less Democrat in partisan makeup than the previous incarnation. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Leger-Fernández has represented the district since 2021.

District 3 is thought to be a competitive race due to redistricting and the current national environment. Prior to redistricting, Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight gave the district a partisan rating of D+14. It is now rated a D+5.

Fernandez believes that love will defeat Putin in Ukraine, something she said at the Democratic pre-primary nominating convention that took place earlier in March.

“I believe that love is what we will use to repel that repellent Putin and his vicious war on a democratic and free Ukraine.” said Fernandez. “I believe that President Biden is operating from a sense of love to unite a country and a world, not to build walls that divide us but to build the bridges that unite us. That is the only way that democracy fights tyranny abroad and at home. We gotta fight it everywhere.”

It is currently unclear how love can strategically be used to triangulate Putin’s ambitions in Ukraine.

Engineer and mom Alexis Martinez Johnson is effectively the Republican nominee for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, having achieved over 87 percent of the vote at the recent 3rd-district GOP pre-primary convention.

In a release her campaign distributed after the convention, Martinez Johnson touted the energy Republicans have moving forward. “Republicans are energized and ready to take back New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Now more than ever, we need a change of leadership in Washington. Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi’s failed, radical policies have led to a record 40-year-high in inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, failing schools, and a growing Communist Russia on the horizon.” she said. “I’m honored to have the support of the overwhelming majority of Republican delegates, and look forward to flipping this seat red in November.”

Outside district resources are likely to be important to the outcome of this race. Martinez Johnson declared after the December 31, 2021 FEC finance reporting deadline so her fundraising status is unknown. The NRCC added NM-3 to its target list in November 2021. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Fernandez is one of 16 Democrat incumbents being targeted for defeat by former Vice President Mike Pence’s new PAC, Advancing American Freedom.

The Star News Network also covering more than 30 key U.S. House races around the United States, the vast majority of which are currently held by a Democrat incumbent. Some are open seats. These races include but are not limited to: AZ-1, AZ-2, CT-2, CT-5, FL-7, FL-13, GA-6, IA-3, ME-2, MI-8, MI-11, MN-2, MN-3, NC-2, NH-1, OH-13, PA-7, PA-8, PA-17, VA-2, VA-7, WI-3, NM-3. Races will be added and subtracted as the 2022 elections cycle continues to move forward.

Under the current makeup of the House, Republicans need to win seven seats to attain a majority of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, they’d likely need more than that to have an effective majority.

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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected] Follow Aaron on GETTR.
Photo “Teresa Leger-Fernández” by Franmarie Metzler. Photo “Chris Pappas” by United States Congress. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol Building” by GPA Photo Archive.

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