The 2016 election cycle has been one of the most electric in memory. Lost in the coverage of the presidential election has been the possibility that Democrats can make significant gains in the House. For Democrats to gain the majority they would need to win 31 seats from Republicans who hold their largest majority since 1929. Here are the top five House races for the tech industry.
Darrell Issa vs Doug Applegate (CA-49)
As Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on IP and the Internet, Darrell Issa has been a key leader in Congress on tech issues. The former CEA chairman most recently supported Apple in their encryption battle with the FBI and has long supported legislation to update the H1-B visa process. Issa has yet to face a strong challenge since winning the seat in 2001, receiving at least 58 percent of the vote each time. This year is different than any other election, however, and his challenger, Doug Applegate, has been polling very well. Mr. Issa is unlikely to have been helped by his support for Donald Trump and President Obama’s recent involvement in the race.
Will Hurd vs Pete Gallego (TX-23)
Former CIA intelligence officer Will Hurd has distinguished himself on tech issues as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on IT. From this post, he has been a leading voice on data security and cybersecurity issues facing Congress. Despite receiving early accolades, Hurd’s Hispanic-majority district is one of many contested Republican seats facing steep challenges due to his party’s presidential nominee. A loss here would mean one fewer Member of Congress with a computer science degree. And those skills are as hard to find in Congress as they are in the marketplace.
Robert Dold vs Brad Schneider (IL-10)
Brad Schneider and Robert Dold have faced off in two previous elections for the IL-10 seat and square off for a third time this year. Dold came out on top in 2010 and 2014, but Schneider emerged as the winner in 2012, leading to a close race this time around. The good news for tech is that both men have been allies to the startup community. During his term, Schneider introduced a bill to help startups by increased funding for small business incubators. Congressman Dold also introduced legislation supporting the startup community through the creation of a visa program for STEM students, an increase in the H1-B cap, and tax incentives for startups.
Scott Garrett vs Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05)
Incumbent Scott Garrett is in a very tight race with his opponent, Josh Gottheimer. Garrett has had to battle mistakes of his own making, most notably slamming the NRCC for recruiting gay candidates. Gottheimer’s polling has since surged in a district stretching through the New York City suburbs. While Garrett does not have a high profile in the tech community, Gottheimer served in the FCC and as a corporate executive at Microsoft.
Mike Honda vs Ro Khanna (CA-17)
The 17th district of California has been represented for the past 16 years by Rep. Mike Honda, a leading voice in Congress for the Asian-American community. With California’s open primary elections, he once again faces the same challenger in the general election that he faced in the primary. Ro Khanna has received support from many Silicon Valley leaders and is seen as an ally to innovation and STEM/STEAM education. Honda has long worked on nanotechnology issues during his tenure in Congress.