6 Close House and Senate Races That Hurricane Michael Could Hit

Hurricane projections meet 2018 congressional election handicapping

Scott Brazer and his dog Franklin take shelter in a parking garage as Hurricane Michael passes through the area on October 10, 2018, in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Hurricane Michael made landfall along the Florida panhandle Wednesday and is expected to wreak havoc on many states and congressional districts as it winds up the east coast of the southern United States.

The Category 4 storm, which President Donald Trump dubbed a “massive tornado” Wednesday (note: the storm is not a tornado), will test the commitment of campaign volunteers in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, where incumbents and newcomers are locked in tight races with the 2018 midterm elections less than four weeks away.

Here are six neck-and-neck races that Hurricane Michael could affect.

Florida Senate

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson faces GOP Gov. Rick Scott in a race that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates a Tossup. Though Hurricane Michael is expected to shred portions of his state, the storm could be a political boon for Scott, who as governor will almost certainly be seen on TV marching through floodwaters, shelters, wreckage and first responder stations in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Nelson’s senatorial obligations will keep him in Washington, D.C. — voting down presidential appointments.

Virginia, 2nd District

In addition to fending off an investigation into ballot petition fraud by at least four of his campaign staffers, GOP Rep. Scott Taylor is also fending off a Democratic challenge from Navy veteran Elaine Luria. Taylor’s district, rated Tilts Republican by Inside Elections, includes oceanside Virginia Beach, an area prone to severe flooding.

Virginia, 7th District

GOP Rep. Dave Brat, a staunch conservative who just two cycles ago pulled off an improbable primary upset over House speaker hopeful Eric Cantor, is neck-and-neck with Democrat and former CIA counter-terror agent Abigail Spanberger in a race that Inside Elections rates a Tossup.

Virginia, 5th District

With GOP Rep. Tom Garrett retiring after just one term to recover from alcoholism, Virginia’s 5th District will have a new representative in 2019. Air Force veteran and businessman Denver Riggleman is the GOP nominee in the race rated Likely Republican by Inside Elections. Former journalist Leslie Cockburn is opposing Riggleman on the Democratic side.

North Carolina, 2nd District

Outside money got involved this week for both incumbent GOP Rep. George Holding and Democratic challenger Linda Coleman. Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, and WOMEN VOTE!, the independent spending arm of the pro-choice group EMILY’s List, have each released ads in the district attacking the opposing candidate. Inside Elections rates the race for North Carolina’s 2nd District Tilts Republican.

North Carolina, 9th District

State lawmaker and former Baptist minister Mark Harris defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger in the 9th District’s GOP primary in May to become the first challenger to defeat an incumbent in the 2018 cycle. That opened the door for Democrat Dan McCready to make some noise in a race that Inside Elections rates Tilt Republican.

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