With just a week until Appalachians make their way to the polls, and early voting happening in many states in the region, the Appalachian midterms are garnering more and more attention. That is especially true in the districts where Pres. Donald Trump has, and continues to, stumped for members of his party.

With a marginal majority of 51 to 49 votes in the Senate, continued control of the chamber is pivotal for the GOP, but the stakes are even higher on the Democratic side, which currently lacks control of any branch of the federal government.

The primary challenge for the Democrats will be to preserve the status quo, which allows for a minimal check on GOP’s agenda. Any seat gains are unlikely, but would be a major boost to the party’s ability to block the Trump administration’s progress toward any number of policy goals. 

Before Appalachians make their way to the polls next week, below is a quick guide to the most impactful races in the region.

Here, we focus primarily on races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Appalachian Congressional Districts, highlighting candidates who, if elected, could affect Congress’ math and change the current balance of power.


Alabama’s Appalachian Districts are considered reliably Republican and expected to remain in majority under GOP’s control.

U.S. House Governor
GOP D2–Martha Roby (incumbent)

D3–Mike Rogers (incumbent)

D4–Robert Aderholt (incumbent)

D5–Mo Brooks (incumbent)

D6–Gary Palmer (incumbent)

D7– ——-

Kay Ivey (incumbent)
DEM D2–Tabitha Isner

D3–Mallory Hagan

D4–Lee Auman

D5–Peter Joffrion

D6–Danner Kline

D7–Terri Sewell (incumbent)

Walter Maddox



In Georgia’s Appalachian Congressional 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 14th districts, all of the GOP candidates on the ballot are incumbents, so any loss in the Republican Party could show how the region’s shifting political ideologies can impact the national stage.

In the Governor’s race, Democrat Stacey Abrams will face the GOP’s Brian Kemp. Kemp, Georgia’s Secretary of State, is facing lawsuits over alleged voter suppression in the state. Abrams could be the first African-American woman elected governor in the history of the United States.


U.S. House Governor
GOP D3–Drew Ferguson (incumbent)

D6–Karen Handel (incumbent)

D7–Rob Woodall (incumbent)

D9–Doug Collins (incumbent)

D10–Jody Hice (incumbent)

D11–Barry Loudermilk (incumbent)

D14–Tom Graves (incumbent)

Brian Kemp
DEM D3–Chuck Enderlin

D6–Lucy McBath

D7–Carolyn Bourdeaux

D9–Josh McCall

D10–Tabitha Johnson-Green

D11–Flynn Broady Jr.

D14–Steven Foster

Stacey Abrams



All of the five Appalachian districts in Kentucky are, for the most part, red, but one with a history of occasionally voting blue is the 6th.

There, Amy McGrath, the Democratic candidate who defeated the national party-backed opponent in the primaries, is trying to ride the wave of “outsider” appeal in order to capture some of the Republican votes in the region.


U.S. House
GOP D1–James Comer (incumbent)

D2–Brett Guthrie (incumbent)

D4–Thomas Massie (incumbent)

D5–Hal Rogers (incumbent)

D6–Andy Barr (incumbent)

DEM D1–Paul Walker

D2–Hank Linderman

D4–Seth Hall

D5–Kenneth Stepp

D6–Amy McGrath



Maryland is another state in which a crucial Senate general election will take place on November 6. Maryland, however, is considered a safe blue state. The last time the state elected a Republican Senator was 1987.

Maryland’s District 6 primary field was crowded and interesting on the Democratic side. The party’s incumbent, John Delaney, did not run for re-election as he focuses on his bid for the White House in 2020.

Delaney’s decision not to run left the doors open for eight other Democratic candidates, with David Trone taking the nomination.

U.S. Senate U.S. House Governor
GOP Tony Campbell D6–Amie Hoeber Larry Hogan (incumbent)
DEM Ben Cardin (incumbent) D6–David Trone Ben Jealous



Come this November, Mississippi will pick both Senators instead of just one. Besides the scheduled general election race where the GOP incumbent, Sen. Roger Wicker, will fight for reelection, the state will hold a nonpartisan special Senate election, in which voters will pick a replacement for Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who retired due to health issues earlier this year.

The special election will take the form of nonpartisan blanket primary, which means that the top two candidates from the pool of candidates from all parties, as well as independents, move on to the final race the same month.


U.S. Senate U.S. House
GOP Roger Wicker (incumbent) D1–Trent Kelly (incumbent)

D2– ———

D3–Michael Guest

DEM David Baria D1–Randy Wadkins

D2–Bennie Thompson (incumbent)

D3–Michael Evans


New York

The GOP currently hold all three of the New York seats in Congress that lie in Appalachia. The Republican incumbents — John Faso in District 19, Claudia Tenney in District 22 and Tom Reed in District 23 — all ran unopposed in the primaries.

On the Senate side in New York, current Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will face the GOP’s Chele Farley, who ran unopposed in the primary. Farley is a New York Republican operative with background in the finance industry with Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs.

Although not an Appalachian district, the primary in which Democratic incumbent Joseph Crowley lost the primary to 28-year-old newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed to the trend of new kind of candidate coming into play on the Democratic side. Cortez is an absolute outsider, who focused her campaign on her local community and managed an upset. Cortez’s district is reliably Democratic, giving her a slight edge in the race, but it will be interesting to see if a similar type of candidates will be successful in rural and more conservative parts of Appalachian states.

Andrew Cuomo is looking to secure his third term as governor in New York. His opponent, Marcus Molinari, is a former New York Assembly member and the Dutchess County Executive.


U.S. Senate U.S. House Governor
GOP Chele Farley D19–John Faso (incumbent)

D22–Claudia Tenney (incumbent)

D23–Tom Reed (incumbent)

Marcus Molinaro
DEM Kirsten Gillibrand (incumbent) D19–Antonio Delgado

D22–Anthony Brindisi

D23–Tracy Mitrano

Andrew Cuomo


North Carolina

With a state divided between the two major parties, the Appalachian districts in North Carolina might be crucial for the Democratic attempts to regain the control of the U.S. House of the Representatives.

What makes the races there particularly interesting is the possibility of “last minute” redrawing of the districts, ordered by the U.S. District court there, which, according to various political prognosticators, could support Democratic chances of winning more seats in the state.


U.S. House
GOP D5–Virginia Foxx (incumbent)

D10–Patrick McHenry (incumbent)

D11–Mark Meadows (incumbent)

D13–Ted Budd (incumbent)

DEM D5–Denise Adams

D10–David Wilson Brown

D11–Phillip Price

D13–Kathy Manning



Five out of the six Appalachian Ohio Congressional Districts are currently in the hands of the GOP. Ohio will be another battleground crucial for the Democrats to regain a majority in the House.

The task might be difficult as Ohio is a reliably red state when it comes to Congressional elections.

Democrats will be also defending their Senate seat, currently occupied by Sherrod Brown.


U.S. Senate U.S. House Governor
GOP Jim Renacci D2–Brad Wenstrup (incumbent)

D6–Bill Johnson (incumbent)

D7–Bob Gibbs (incumbent)

D13–Christopher DePizzo

D14–David Joyce (incumbent)

D15–Steve Stivers (incumbent)

Mike DeWine
DEM Sherrod Brown (incumbent) D2–Jill Schiller

D6–Shawna Roberts

D7–Ken Harbaugh

D13–Tim Ryan (incumbent)

D14–Betsy Rader

D15–Rick Neal

Richard Cordray



Gov. Tom Wolf speaks at a campaign rally for Pennsylvania candidates in Philadelphia, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. Photo: Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Primaries in Pennsylvania took place after highly controversial Supreme Court ruling in January of this year that ordered a redrawing of the state’s 18 Congressional Districts.

The new districts, previously shaped by Republican gerrymandering efforts, were intended to result in more balanced races. (Here’s the New York Times detailed map of the new districts)

Democrats’ hopes were somewhat restored following a blow during the March special elections in Pennsylvania’s 17th District, where Democrat Conor Lamb defeated Rick Saccone.

Republican candidate to the U.S. Senate, Lou Barletta, was endorsed early on by the President Trump, as well as many of his fellow Republicans running for Congress in the state, although not all of the GOP candidates are latching on to the president’s coattails in the hopes of a win.


U.S. Senate U.S. House Governor
GOP Lou Barletta D7–Marty Nothstein

D8–John Chrin

D9–Dan Meuser

D10– Scott Perry (incumbent)

D12–Tom Marino (incumbent)

D13–John Joyce

D14–Guy Reschenthaler

D15–Glen Thompson (incumbent)

D16–Mike Kelly (incumbent)

D17–Keith Rothfus (incumbent)

D18– ——–

Scott Wagner
DEM Bob Casey Jr. (incumbent) D7–Susan Wild

D8–Matt Cartwright (incumbent)

D9–Denny Wolff

D10–George Scott

D12–Marc Friedenberg

D13–Brent Ottaway

D14–Bibiana Boerio

D15–Susan Boser

D16–Ronald DiNicola

D17–Conor Lamb (incumbent 18th District)

D18–Michael Doyle (incumbent)

Tom Wolf (incumbent)


South Carolina

The race for Congress in the South Carolina first has been deemed a battleground race. There, state Republican Rep. Katie Arrington faces off against attorney and engineer Joe Cunningham. Arrington beat incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford in the primary in the district that is solidly Republican, and political pundits predict the seat will stay red in the general.

In the governor’s race, current Gov. Henry McMaster took office in 2017 after Niki Haley’s resignation to join the Trump administration. The solidly red state has voted for Republican presidential candidates in the past five races and the executive office there is expected to remain in the hands of the GOP.

U.S. House Governor
GOP D1–Katie Arrington

D2–Joe Wilson (incumbent)

D3–Jeff Duncan (incumbent)

Henry McMaster (incumbent)
DEM D1–Joe Cunningham

D2–Sean Carrigan

D3–Mary Geren

James Smith



Tennessee’s Congressional Districts 1, 2, 3  and 7 are comprised entirely of Appalachian counties. Districts 4 and 6 fall partially in the region.

All of the six Appalachian Congressional Districts in Tennessee are in firm Republican grip, but in the case of Districts 2, 6 and 7, GOP incumbents decided not to seek reelection, creating more competitive races. That includes Marsha Blackburn, who currently represents the 7th.

Blackburn has instead decided to enter the race for U.S. Senate, where she’s taking on Democrat Phil Bredesen. That Senate seat is currently held by Republican Bob Corker, who announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking reelection. It will be one of the most closely watched in the nation come November, as Democrats seek an upset in traditionally Republican stronghold states.

The governor’s race will be another one of the closely anticipated attempts to undermine the Republican supremacy in Tennessee. According to Vox, the gubernatorial race has already cost over $50 million.

Democrats picked former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. He will face off with Bill Lee, a businessman from south of Nashville.

U.S. Senate U.S. House Governor
GOP Marsha Blackburn D1–Phil Roe (incumbent)

D2–Tim Burchett

D3–Charles J. Fleischmann (incumbent)

D4–Scott DesJarlais (incumbent)

D6–John Rose

D7–Mark Green

Bill Lee
DEM Phil Bredesen D1–Marty Olsen

D2–Renee Hoyos

D3–Danielle Mitchell

D4–Maria Phillips

D6–Dawn Barlow

D7–Justin Kanew

Karl Dean



Democratic incumbent, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential running mate in 2016, Sen. Tim Kaine secured his spot on the U.S. Senate ballot, running uncontested in the primaries, while GOP voters picked Corey Stewart, a Prince William County supervisor as their candidate.

Virginia went for Clinton in the previous presidential rave, and there is currently only one GOP incumbent among the three Appalachian Congressional Districts in the state.


U.S. Senate U.S. House
GOP Corey Stewart D5–Denver Riggleman

D6–Ben Cline

D9–Morgan Griffith (incumbent)

DEM Tim Kaine (incumbent) D5–Leslie Cockburn

D6–Jennifer Lewis

D9–Anthony Flaccavento


West Virginia

West Virginia’s Senate race is one of the most closely watched this midterms season. The most “Republican” Democrat in the Senate, Joe Manchin, is walking a thin line of representing a party that was vocally rejected by the voters in 2016.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Photo: AP Photo

Manchin will face the current WV’s General Attorney, Patrick Morrisey, who enjoys full support and endorsement of President Trump. Trump is making yet another stop in the state this week to stump for Morrisey.

Another closely watched race is for the U.S. House seat from the 3rd District. Richard Ojeda, a Democrat and an army veteran who says he voted for President Trump, has become a champion of striking teachers and union workers across his District and the state. An unlikely Democratic candidate, certainly an outsider, is now poised to become a new kind of Democrat, harking back to some of the populist traditions, one with real chances even in deeply red states.


U.S. Senate U.S. House
GOP Patrick Morrisey D1–David McKinley (incumbent)

D2–Alexander Mooney (incumbent)

D3–Carol Miller

DEM Joe Manchin III (incumbent) D1–Kendra Fershee

D2–Talley Sergent

D3–Richard Ojeda


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This article was originally published by 100 Days in Appalachia, a nonprofit, collaborative newsroom telling the complex stories of the region that deserve to be heard. Sign up for their weekly newsletter here.