Ohio’s 16th District

Opponents: Incumbent Rep. Jim Renacci (R) v. Incumbent Rep. Betty Sutton (D)

■ Redistricting: New congressional redistricting plans spawned from the 2010 census were approved by the Ohio State Senate last September, and Ohio’s 16th district was rezoned. Newly drawn lines were imposed onto Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton’s former 13th district territory, pitting her against fellow incumbent, Republican Jim Renacci. The Renacci v. Sutton race in Ohio’s 16th district is one of only two in the country where two incumbents will vie against one another on Nov. 6. The new lines place Sutton in a traditionally Republican district that includes approximately half of Renacci’s former constituents and around 20 percent of Sutton’s.

Though the scales appear to tip toward Renacci’s camp, many political raters, including those at the New York Times, expect the race to be a close one. The Washington Post reports that the Ohio congressional races are pivotal in determining whether or not Republicans will maintain a House majority in 2013.

■ Debate Fiasco: In late August, Renacci and Sutton publically argued over debate locations. Renacci suggested Wooster, Ohio, a site that Sutton quickly rejected because the event would be sponsored by the local Chamber of Congress, an increasingly partisan group with evident right-wing sentiments.

■ Polar Opposite Stances: Though Renacci and Sutton agree on the key issues that need to be addressed and remedied in the 113th Congress—managing the national budget, growing jobs, finding solutions to health care dilemmas—their tactics to manage the problems could not be more polarizing.

Political strategists expect that Ohio’s 16th district’s congressional seat will be largely dependent on which presidential candidate can best communicate his vision to voters. If Romney is able to convince voters that he is a better fit to lead the country, then Ohio voters will be more apt to pull the lever for Renacci on Nov. 6. However, if Obama is able to maintain his base from 2008, Ohioan supporters are more likely to elect Sutton.

■ Significance: Ohio lost two House seats after the 2010 census due to low population growth, making the Renacci v. Sutton race especially influential. A win for the Renacci camp could help solidify the Republican majority in the House in 2013, while a Sutton win could prove fatal for conservatives.

Iowa’s 4th District

Opponents: Incumbent Rep. Tom Latham (R) v. Incumbent Rep. Leonard Boswell (D)

■ Redistricting: Similar to Ohio, Iowa will lose one congressional district this year due to low population growth, as reported in the 2012 census, bringing its total number of districts down to four. As a result of rezoning efforts, fellow Republican Rep. Steve King was placed into Latham’s 4th district. In order to avoid challenging a same-party member, Latham opted to relocate to the 3rd district to face off against incumbent Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell. The Latham v. Boswell race is the second race where incumbents will face off.

Both candidates were highly regarded and well-supported in their original districts, and political raters expect a competitive race. As in Ohio, the race for Iowa’s 4th District House seat is one that will be essential in determining whether or not Republicans will retain House majority in 2013.

■ Key Allies: As Iowa’s sole representative of the House Appropriations Committee, Latham counts House Speaker John Boehner as one of his close friends. Boehner has actively campaigned in favor of Latham, and his efforts have garnered success and resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars of funds for Latham’s camp. Boswell also has friends in high places; he counts House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi among his closest supporters and political confidants. Pelosi has led lucrative campaign fundraisers for Boswell, including one held earlier this year just over Iowa’s state line in Omaha, Neb.

■ Campaign Funds: There exists a notable difference regarding campaign funds between Latham and Boswell. As of June 30, Latham’s campaign finance reports reflected $2.14 million on hand; Boswell’s campaign finance reports showed $472,249. The majority of Latham’s campaign funds were contributed by Altria Group, a tobacco company, and Berkshire Hathaway, in addition to large checks cut from Boehner’s Freedom Fund. Contributions to Boswell’s campaign came mostly from private donations and PAC to the Future, which is closely affiliated with Pelosi.

■ Significance: Iowa’s loss of a congressional district makes this race an important one to watch. Though Latham has a considerable financial advantage over Boswell, both men were extremely popular in their former precincts and will show a strong contest in November.

Sarah Langmead