In 2016, Gottheimer flipped a longtime GOP district in northern New Jersey. Since then -- on a range of issues including the US-backed Saudi war on Yemen and predatory banking practices -- he has maneuvered to undermine efforts by progressive Democrats in the House. A prodigious big-check fundraiser, he entered this year's second quarter with almost $5 million in his campaign coffers.
JIM HIMES (CT-4)
Himes hails from Goldman Sachs, where he worked in its Latin America division and eventually became a vice president. His ties to finance run deep: in 2008, while the industry pillaged low-income and middle-class homes, bankers made sure to steer funding to their ex-colleague's congressional campaign. That election cycle, Himes raised $500,000 from the finance sector, including $150,000 from his old cohorts at Goldman Sachs.
That's proven to be a sound investment. Upon arriving in Washington in 2009, Himes promptly joined the aggressively pro-business, light-regulation New Democrat Coalition, where he served on its "Financial Services Task Force." Himes remains Chair Emeritus of the NDC.
Mercifully, that bill died in the Senate. But Himes had more allies when he took his next big swing at financial regulations in 2018, with Trump in the White House and a Republican-controlled Congress. This time, Himes was one of 33 House Democrats who joined Trump's GOP in loosening a host of regulations that included "reporting requirements used to counter racial discrimination in lending practices."
Connecticut's 4th district -- largely middle class in the southwestern corner of the state -- is strongly Democratic and unfriendly to Trump collaboration. Clinton won the district by 23 points in 2016. A savvy challenger could spotlight Himes' subservience to corporate interests and the 29 percent of the time that he voted in line with Trump's positions in 2017-18.
STENY HOYER (MD-5)
Consummate power broker Steny Hoyer has long served as the number-two Democrat in the House, often using leverage for policy agendas that are unpopular with the party's base but popular with Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. In late 2002, he was among the minority of House Democrats voting to authorize war on Iraq. In 2008, he angered civil-liberties advocates when he helped draft a "compromise bill" with Republicans that expanded government surveillance power and immunized telecom firms for privacy abuses. (Senator Russ Feingold called it "a capitulation.") In 2012, he urged a "grand bargain " budget deal that would cut entitlement programs.
And Hoyer's heavy hand extends well beyond Capitol Hill. Last year, as heard on secretly recorded audio, he overtly pressured a progressive candidate to bow out of a Denver-area congressional primary in deference to an opponent anointed by party leaders.
At age 80, Hoyer represents a southern Maryland district that is two-fifths people of color. For nearly four decades, he has routinely coasted to re-election while lavishly funded by corporate interests. Next year he'll face at least one primary challenger.