The re-election chances of Republican U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler have been downgraded -- McMorris Rodgers' for a second time -- by the Cook Political Report, the tout sheet of American politics.
Cook has moved McMorris Rodgers, a member of the House Republican leadership, from "Likely Republican" to "Leans Republican" in her Eastern Washington district. She had earlier been moved from "Safe Republican" to "Likely Republican."
Herrera Beutler, the lowest-profile member of Washington's congressional delegation, has been shifted from "Safe Republican" to "Likely Republican" in her Southwest Washington district.
Part of the reason: Democrats have fielded promising challengers.
Former Washington State University-Spokane chancellor Lisa Brown has raised more than $1 million, drawn nearly 5,7000 donors and signed up more than 2,000 volunteers for her challenge to McMorris Rodgers.
McMorris Rodgers has not been caught napping. She has held four town meetings, re-election kickoff events, and a forum on high school safety during Congress' Easter Recess. She has also defended taking thousands of dollars in donations from the National Rifle Association.
"We're confident families here will vote for Cathy's leadership to cut taxes, help veterans, improve health care access and protect Fairchild (Air Force Base) and reject what the Cook Political Report said was Lisa's 'very liberal voting record in Olympia, including fighting to raise taxes and tuition hikes,'" Ashley Stubbs of McMorris Rodgers' campaign said in a statement.
Brown was State Senate Majority Leader in the Washington Legislature during the depths of the Great Recession.
The surprise is in the 3rd District, where Herrera Beutler finds herself pressed by another WSU Cougar.
Carolyn Long, a political science professor at Washington State University-Vancouver, has raised $275,000 in the past four months and won endorsements from ex-U.S. Reps. Don Bonker and Brian Baird, who held the 3rd District seat from 1999 to 2011.
Long has drawn 1,300 donors, more than 83 percent of them from within the 3rd District.
The support and enthusiasm for her candidacy was strong last Saturday when Pacific County Democrats held their 93rd annual crab feed. She eschewed the usual partisan talking points of such occasions, stressing bipartisanship toward getting a productive Congress.
"Just this past weekend (before the crab feed) over 400 people attended our events in Vancouver and Longview," Long said in a statement.
The Cook Political Report has listed 55 House races as competitive, meaning toss-ups: "Leans Republican" or "Leans Democratic."
Fifty of those seats are held by Republicans, including McMorris Rodgers and the 8th District of retiring (and lately seldom-heard-from) GOP Rep. Dave Reichert. Democrats need to capture 23 GOP seats to win back control of the House of Representatives.
The Washington State Democratic Party has been revitalized by new chair Tina Podlodowski. The party is also reestablishing roots outside of Seattle, in places where it took a bath in 2016. It has held "flip the 5th" events in Cathy McMorris Rodgers' district, with one in Spokane drawing more than 450 people.
The party is bringing in Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison for "flip the 8th" events tonight at the University of Washington's Kane Hall and Saturday afternoon at Liberty High School in Renton.
"Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her protege, Jaime Herrera Beutler, are in for a fight this year," said Podlodowski. (Herrera Beutler is a onetime aide to McMorris Rodgers.)
A test will come in Southwest Washington, an historically Democratic part of the state. The state's "rust belt" was snubbed by the party in 2016. Grays Harbor, Cowlitz and Pacific Counties gave big majorities to President Trump and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant. A longtime Democratic legislative seat in the 19th District flipped to Republican.
Carolyn Long will be a key to the Democrats' revival.