Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball
http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2008/house/view/
Export date: Sun Nov 19 3:06:12 2017 / +0000 GMT

View All Races


House Outlook for 2008


Will the GOP Swing the Pendulum Back?




















































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Alaska (0)



Outlook: Leans Democratic









November 18, 2008 Update:

Republican incumbent Don Young held on to his seat after the toughest fight in his political career, defeating his rival Ethan Berkowitz 51% to 45%. Young returned to office despite being mired in an investigation linking him to a corruption scandal.




November 14, 2008 Update:

Alaska is still counting absentee and questioned ballots cast, but Republican Don Young leads with 140,269 votes over his opponent, Democrat Ethan Berkowitz who has 125,184 votes. Some sources have already declared Young the winner.




November 7, 2008 Update:

Republican Don Young leads by 16,887 votes with 99% of precincts reporting and 70,000 ballots outstanding. Final election results will not be announced until a few days because thousands of votes have yet to be counted.




September 16, 2008 Update:


Governor Sarah Palin?s surprise nomination as John McCain?s running mate may have been the only positive storyline for Alaska Republicans in 2008. After the convictions of multiple state legislators and the indictment of Senator Ted Stevens, embattled Representative Don Young?s 239 vote primary victory over Sean Parnell was the icing on the cake for a miserable summer for the GOP.


Young?s victory was not so much due to the incumbent?s popularity (between 50 and 60 percent of Alaskans view him unfavorably), but rather the lackluster campaign of the Lieutenant Governor. Over the course of the primary campaign Parnell?s polling lead continued to shrink when he should have been capitalizing on a drumbeat of corruption allegations against the GOP establishment. Even the endorsement of an uber-popular governor could not save Parnell, and in the end, the challenger failed to overcome the perception that he was just another ?empty suit.?


Young?s comeback victory virtually eliminates any chance for Republicans to hold the lone House seat in the Last Frontier State. Despite Governor Palin?s elevation to the Republican ticket, polls show Democrat Ethan Berkowitz leading the incumbent by a nigh-insurmountable seventeen point margin (54-37). The GOP?s only hope is that Young, like indicted Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) in 2006, withdraws from the election and allows the party to name a replacement. Given Young?s public pronouncements to the contrary, his withdrawal seems unlikely, and we may be witnessing the last act for the Don of Alaska.



June 13, 2008 Update:


A poll taken in early May and released in early June, shows former state house minority leader Ethan Berkowitz leading 2006 nominee Diane Benson 42-30 in the Democratic primary, slated to take place on August 26. In the GOP primary, Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell leads Rep. Don Young, but well within the margin of error.



This poll confirms that Berkowitz is the definite favorite on the Democratic side, but also shows that the GOP primary is going to come down to the wire. The poll, which was sponsored by a Republican lobbyist and not any of the candidates, went on to predict a 58-38 win for Berkowitz if Young is nominated, while showing a statistical dead heat in a hypothetical Berkowitz-Parnell matchup. Young, whose unfavorable rating was at 52% in this poll, is looking increasingly unlikely to be the congressman from Alaska next term, but a primary victory by Parnell could improve the chances for the GOP.




May 19, 2008 Update:


This race keeps heating up and incumbent Republican Don Young so far seems unable to put ethics troubles behind him and pull ahead. A recent poll showed likely Democratic nominee Ethan Berkowitz with a 50-40 advantage and Young?s unfavorable rating approaching 60 percent. This is certainly bad general election news for Young, but he still has quite a fight left before guaranteeing his name will appear on the ballot this November. While Berkowitz's major primary opponent, former state Democratic Party chair Jake Metcalfe recently dropped out, Young has a fierce primary battle looming. The most recent poll showed Young besting primary opponent and current Alaskan Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell by only three points. A tough road lies ahead for the twelve term veteran legislator, but don?t discount the power of incumbency.





April 16, 2008 Update:


The winds of change are blowing in the Alaskan Republican party. For decades, the party was dominated by its two headliners?Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young?each of whom parlayed seniority and powerful committee seats into a veritable pipeline of earmarks to benefit the Alaskan economy. With the election of Governor Sarah Palin over incumbent Republican Frank Murkowski and the ongoing VECO bribery scandal, it seems that stateside Alaska Republicans are less willing to respect their federal elders.



The latest evidence of this GOP trend is Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell?s surprise challenge to Representative Young. Flouting ?protect-the-incumbent? conventions everywhere, Governor Palin has enthusiastically endorsed Parnell, creating a schism between the old guard and young guns of the Alaska GOP. Given Young?s inverted approval rating (40/55) and ongoing legal woes (he spent over $1M on legal fees so far), Parnell makes a credible challenge. If Young retires or Parnell defeats the incumbent, Republicans have a strong chance at keeping the seat. If Young prevails in the primary and goes on to face former minority leader Ethan Berkowitz or ex-Democratic chair Jay Metcalfe in the general, the outcome is anyone?s guess.









Background



The key in the Alaska 1st is the legal troubles of Republican incumbent Don Young. Young, a 34-year veteran in Washington, is currently under federal investigation for numerous instances of allegedly taking bribes. Top officials of VECO Corporation, the company which has allegedly been giving Young illegal contributions, have already pleaded guilty to bribing state legislators.



Young's major opponent is Democrat Ethan Berkowitz, who Alaskans will probably remember from his bid for the governorship in 2006. Berkowitz served for eight years as the Democratic leader in the Alaska House of Representatives, experience which should serve him well in his campaign to unseat Young. No Republicans have announced yet, but if Young should get indicted on bribery charges, look to see this field get much more crowded. If he avoids indictment, then Young should get reelected, as Alaska still sits very firmly in the Red State column.






Candidates




Don Young (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 2




Diane Benson - Democrat - 2006 Democratic nominee

Website 3




Ethan Berkowitz - Democrat -
Democratic leader of Alaska House of Representatives from 1998-2006, Democratic candidate for Governor and Lt. Governor in 2006
Website 4




Sean Parnell - Republican - Lieutenant Governor

Website 5









Alabama (02) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up










November 18, 2008 Update:

Democrat and Montgomery mayor Bobby Bright edged Republican state Rep. Jay Love to clinch the district's House seat. Bright, who won by less than 1,800 votes, is the first Democrat since 1962 to occupy the seat. He will remain as mayor until January.




July 21, 2008 Update:


Republican state legislator Jay Love escaped from a narrower than expected primary runoff on July 15 to advance to the general election. In doing so, he racked up $650,000 in debt and begins with a fundraising disadvantage to Montgomery mayor Bobby Bright who will be his Democratic foe in November. Don't expect that fundraising deficit to persist for long, as Love, who is personally wealthy, has committed to spending $1 million in the general election phase of the campaign.



As for Bright, he has already begun television advertising, giving voters and pundits a sneak peek at his message. Bright's first ad does not contain the word Democrat, neither written nor spoken, an interesting strategy in a pro-Democratic year but a necessary one in a congressional district that went 2 to 1 for Bush in 2004. Instead, Bright's ad has the words "conservative," "pro-life," and "pro-gun" splashed across the screen in quick succession. Bright's hoping to become the latest in a series of conservative Southern Democrats elected to Congress, following in the footsteps of Travis Childers and Don Cazayoux. Bright has shown he is fully committed to their playbook, while Democrats hope it can carry them to victory once more.




June 4, 2008 Update:


While Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright cruised to victory in the Democratic primary, Alabama Republicans will have to go to polls again to choose their nominee. As a result of state representative Jay Love's 35% finish, he will meet state senator Harri Anne Smith, who received 22% of the vote yesterday, in the primary runoff on July 15. Love is the frontrunner in that runoff, since he has been willing to commit much of his own money to the race and since he was the top vote-getter in the primary. The longer it takes the GOP to unify against Bright, the better for Democrats' chances in this normally Red district.




May 19, 2008 Update:


The race for this seat, left open as a result of Republican Rep. Terry Everett's retirement, is a jumbled mess. With the primary date set for June 3, a total of nine candidates, three Democrats and six Republicans, are vying for the position. The Democratic picture is pretty much settled, with Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright seemingly with a lock on the nomination.



The GOP side of things is where the real action lies. Three state legislators, representatives Jay Love and David Grimes and senator Harri Anne Smith, are in the race as are wealthy businessmen Craig Schmidtke and David Woods. Schimdtke and Woods have each contributed over $200,000 of their own money to the race, while Love and Smith have both accumulated donations roughly equaling that total. By virtue of a $350,000 personal loan to his campaign, Love has a wide fundraising lead, but the race is still wide open with just two weeks left until primary day









Background


In 2006, a vast Democratic wave crashed upon the nation, sweeping away Republican incumbents from California to New Hampshire. Perhaps the only region kept dry was the South, where outside of Florida, Missouri, and Virginia the GOP suffered no losses. This cycle, however, a rash of open seats across the South could reverse 2006 trends.



One such district is Alabama?s Second, where Representative Terry Everett announced his retirement at the end of his eighth term. On paper, this would seem to be an easy Republican hold. The district has a Cook Political Report Partisan Voting Index of R+13 and delivered a 34 point Bush win in 2004. However, Democratic hopes are placed entirely in Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright.



By law, Montgomery?s chief executive office is a non-partisan position, and both parties vigorously courted the popular pro-life, pro-gun mayor. As the Republican nominee, Bright could have waltzed to Capitol Hill, so his decision to don the Democratic moniker comes as a major surprise. Perhaps Bright wanted to avoid a potentially contentious GOP primary between state senator Harri Anne Smith, state representative Jay Love, and others where his urban record would do little to win over downstate conservative voters. Despite the mayor's entrance, Democratic prospects remain far from, well, ''bright,'' and Republicans should hold the seat in November, albeit with a fight.









Candidates




Bobby Bright - Democrat -
mayor of Montgomery

Website 6




Jay Love - Republican -
state representative

Website 7




Chris Gorman - Republican - trucking company executive

Website 85 8




John Fleming - Republican - physician

Website 9









Alabama (05) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up





November 18, 2008 Update:

State Senator Parker Griffith narrowly clinched the district's seat by defeating Republican Wayne Parker by less than 10,000 votes (52% to 48%). This is the third time Parker has lost a bid for the seat.




July 21, 2008 Update:


As was widely expected, Republican businessman Wayne Parker took care of unfinished business and defeated his last GOP opponent in a runoff, earning 79% of the vote. Still, the few extra weeks of primary campaigning came with a cost, as he was forced to endure further attacks on his lobbying past and spend more money that could have been dedicated to his general election opponent, Democratic state senator Parker Griffith.



While Griffith now has a cash-on-hand advantage of $350,000 to Parker's $73,000, the GOP is still very optimistic about their chances in a district that gave George W. Bush a 21% margin of victory in 2004. It will be up to Griffith to prove that he has the conservative credentials to follow the winning strategy of Democratic special election candidates Travis Childers in neighboring Mississippi and Don Cazayoux in Louisiana. Both were conservative Democrats who pulled off upsets in congressional districts that gave Bush roughly 60% of the vote in 2004. This race in Alabama's 5th district certainly fits the profile, but will the result also match?





June 4, 2008 Update:


Republicans came within one percent of avoiding a primary runoff, but ultimately businessman Wayne Parker came up just short, earning 49% of the vote. Parker will face Cheryl Baswell Guthrie on July 15 in the GOP runoff to decide who will challenge Democratic nominee Parker Griffith, who easily avoided a runoff, winning with 90% of the vote. Parker is well-positioned to win the runoff, with $130,000 on hand to Guthrie's $12,000, and only needing to pick up a few more votes than he garnered in yesterday's primary to clinch the nomination.



Unfortunately for Republicans, Parker's inability to earn those votes before yesterday means the groundhog has seen his shadow and the GOP will have to endure six more weeks of primary season. In advance of yesterday's election, Guthrie had been running negative ads focusing on Parker's lobbyist history, and every dollar she spends to make that charge is one Griffith doesn't have to.




May 19, 2008 Update:


The race in Alabama's 5th district has taken on even more meaning in the past few weeks. With Democratic victories in a number of special election races in Southern districts where Republicans usually prevail, most notably MS-1 and LA-6, Democrats are suddenly feeling their oats in all kinds of Dixie districts. Democratic state senator Parker Griffith has yet to officially clinch the nomination, but a combination of political experience (limited, but useful nonetheless) and deep pockets practically assures him the nomination.



Republicans, on the other hand, have a six-person race that won't be decided until June 3. The two leading candidates appear to be businessman Wayne Parker, who lost campaigns for the very same seat in 1994 (by one percent) and again in 1996, and attorney Cheryl Baswell Guthrie, who raised $200,000 in the first month after announcing her candidacy in April.










Background


After the Republican revolution of 1994, political observers professed it was only a matter of time before the GOP held a complete monopoly on white, conservative congressional districts in the South. The few yellow-dog Democrats that remained were assumed to be the last of their party to represent their district. Representative Bud Cramer was one such Democrat, and his retirement will test the whether the conventional wisdom holds, even in strongly Democratic year.



Although Cramer?s surprise announcement came weeks before Alabama's filing deadline, both parties have settled upon their preferred, high-quality candidates. Running to succeed Cramer is Democratic state senator Parker Griffith who, with the help of Representatives Cramer and Arthur Davis has a clear path to the nomination. After state senator Tom Butler (D) declined to switch parties and make the race, Republicans offered up businessman Wayne Parker as their favored candidate above a field of longshots. Alabama voters may remember Parker?in 1994 he came within one percent of unseating Cramer and ran again with less success in 1996.



In the battle of Parker versus Parker, Parker (Griffith) (D) leads (Wayne) Parker (R) by a margin of 48-32 in an early poll. Such an impressive margin, however, is based on name recognition alone and should not be treated as credible at this point in the campaign. If anything, Parker, not Griffith begins the contest as an early frontrunner, given the district's partisan demographics. Once the race engages, Democrats will have to fight for their lives to retain a district that gave President Bush sixty percent in 2004.




Candidates




Parker Griffith - Democrat - state senator

Website 10




Wayne Parker - Republican - businessman, House nominee in 1994 and 1996

Website 11









Arizona (01) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Leans Democratic









November 18, 2008 Update:

Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick won the district handily by 56% to 40% to take over indicted Republican Rick Renzi's seat. Kirkpatrick defeated her rival Sydney Hay to become the first Democrat to serve the district in its 10 year history.




September 16, 2008 Update:


Neither Ann Kirkpatrick nor Sydney Hay impressed in securing their respective party nominations, but now the match for Arizona?s first district is set and both campaigns can concentrate on the general election. Kirkpatrick, long considered one of the Democrats best recruits, only mustered 47 percent against lesser known candidates Mary Titla (32) and Howard Shanker (18), and Hay, the presumptive GOP nominee, barely scraped by the underfunded challenge of Sandra Livingston 40-36.


Going into the general election, Kirkpatrick retains the advantage due to her strong fundraising and a 25K Democratic voter registration advantage. However, the frontrunner?s primary hiccup may reveal a window of vulnerability through which Hay can ride the coattails of John McCain and pull what would be one of the bigger upsets of 2008.



June 13, 2008 Update:


With the passing of the filing deadline, the speculation is over. Republicans will now settle for Sydney Hay to take on likely Democratic nominee Ann Kirkpatrick. By the DCCC's count, eight prominent Arizona Republicans turned down chances to run for the seat, yet another example of the GOP's candidate recruitment woes.



While the district leans Democratic in party registration, Bush won 51% and 54% of the district's votes in his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. While the GOP will have the Arizonan Senator John McCain atop their ticket in 2008, with a big fundraising gap down ballot (Hay has raised less than half of Kirkpatrick's $660,000 total) and a weaker than expected candidate, can they still hold this seat?









Background


With the retirement of embattled incumbent Rick Renzi, this seat isn't just open: it's WIDE open. Renzi, currently finishing up his third term, is one of almost 20 Republicans giving up his seat in 2008, but for Renzi the reason is his alleged involvement in a less-than-squeaky-clean land transaction.



Candidates from both sides of the aisle have emerged to succeed Renzi. The Democratic frontrunner is state legislator Ann Kirkpatrick who garnered support from the DCCC and EMILY's List and has proven to be a capable fundrasier. To win the nomination Kirkpatrick must overcome the challenges of former TV broadcaster Mary Titla and Howard Shanker whose strong ties to Apache and Navajo communities respectively hold political weight in the most heavily Native American congressional district in the country. Republicans are left without a strong candidate after the surprise withdrawal of state representative Bill Konopnicki, who may well reenter the race. For now, policy advocate Sydney Ann Hay is the only one filling the primary void, but potential Republican candidates cannot delay if they hope to retain the seat in November.








Candidates




Ann Kirkpatrick - Democrat -
current state legislator, speaks fluent Navajo
Website 12




Howard Shanker - Democrat -
attorney
Website 13




Mary Kim Titla - Democrat -
publisher and broadcaster, born and raised on San Carlos Apache Reservation
Website 14




Sydney Ann Hay - Republican -
policy advocate
Website 15









Arizona (03)



Outlook: Leans Republican






November 18, 2008 Update:

John Shadegg managed to hold off Democrat Bob Lord's 3.4 million dollar campaign, winning by a 12 percent margin to continue his eighth term in the district.









Background



Rep. John Shadegg will face a well-funded challenger this year, despite his supposedly safe seat. Democratic attorney Bob Lord has over $630,000 in his coffers, which has forced Shadegg to call in the big guns, Arizona's Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, to shore up his bank account which posted a balance of $940,000 at the end of March.



Even though the Arizona primary date isn't until September, neither Shadegg nor Lord has a primary opponent, so their matchup is already set in stone. This race isn't yet on anybody's list of most competitive races, but Lord's fundraising abilities are causing Shadegg to redouble his efforts, as he should.





Candidates




John Shadegg (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 16




Bob Lord - Democrat - attorney

Website 17









Arizona (05)



Outlook: Leans Democratic







November 18, 2008 Update:

Democrat incumbent Harry Mitchell beat challenger David Schweikert and was re-elected to the district by a 9 percent margin. Mitchell picked up the seat two years ago when he ousted Republican J.D. Hayworth.




September 16, 2008 Update:


Former Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert narrowly bested a crowded primary field to claim the GOP nomination and will go on to face Representative Harry Mitchell in November. Schweikert can credit his two point victory to the Club for Growth whose early endorsement delivered the fundraising and independent advertising necessary to fend off the late entrance of city councilor Susan Bitter Smith. Although Schweikert gives Republicans the best hope of pulling the upset, he emerges from the primary at a severe financial disadvantage to Mitchell and licking the wounds of Bitter Smith?s attacks. Odds are this district will never give Mitchell an easy reelection, but don?t expect this year to be the one that sends the freshman from Arizona packing.









Democratic incumbent Harry Mitchell may find himself in yet another dogfight in Arizona's 5th Congressional District. Mitchell won the seat in 2006 from Republican incumbent J.D. Hayworth, and won by a modest 5 percent. In a district that went 54-45 for Bush in the 2004 presidential election, any Democrat is going to have his hands full.



Mitchell stands to gain from the Republicans having to resort to a crowded primary to sort out their nominee. Just by the nature of primaries, much of the airing of dirty laundry could be done within the Republican primary, saving Mitchell the money and negativity. This district should remain in Democratic hands, but it will take a concerted effort from Mitchell.






Candidates




Harold Mitchell (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 18




David Schweikert - Republican -
former county treasurer
Website 19




Jim Ogsbury - Republican -
attorney, former Congressional staffer
Website 20




Laura Knaperek - Republican -
former state legislator
Website 21




Mark Anderson - Republican -
state representative
Website 22




Susan Bitter Smith - Republican -
lobbyist and former city councilor
Website 23









Arizona (08)



Outlook: Likely Democratic






November 18, 2008 Update:

Freshman Democrat Gabrielle Giffords retained her seat in the 8th district with a comfortable 12% win over opponent Tim Bee.




July 29, 2008 Update:


Arizona state senate president Tim Bee has had some difficulty adjusting to the bright lights of a competitive Congressional campaign. Touted as one of the GOP?s top recruits, Bee hoped to unite the fractious wings of the Arizona Republican party and draw over the Democrats and independents he had worked with in the statehouse. However, in the past couple of months, Bee?s buzz is beginning to fade.



First, Bee angered Arizona conservatives for backing a Democratic budget deal that expanded state spending. Then, Bee veered in the opposite direction, drawing backlash from Democrats and social moderates over his support of a same-sex marriage referendum. In the fallout from the marriage debate, the district?s fiercely independent former Representative Jim Kolbe has rescinded his support, a move which crippled last cycle?s Republican nominee.


Bee?s lone bright spot has been fundraising?banking nearly $400K over the second quarter. He?ll need all of that money and more if he?s to overcome a 59 to 35 deficit in a Giffords poll (Bee?s own poll shows only a 7 point gap). Odds are, Bee will regain his footing and go on to give Giffords a run for her money, but these early stumbles show just how challenging running for Congress is, even for a savvy veteran like Tim Bee.









After prevailing in a tough Democratic primary, Representative Gabrielle Giffords received a free pass to Congress when district Republicans nominated the starkly conservative, anti-immigration advocate Randy Graf. This time, however, Giffords will be in for a fight against state senate president Tim Bee.



Bee, who was courted by the NRCC and a host of Arizona politicians, is the best possible candidate the party could field in this moderate swing district. Through his service in the statehouse, Bee enjoys support from Republicans, Independents, and even moderate Democrats. Unlike Graf, Bee has been endorsed by the district?s former Representative, Jim Kolbe, as well as Senators McCain and Kyl.



Meanwhile, Giffords has been preparing for a tough reelection ever since entering the Congress. Giffords' fundraising is strong?over $1 million raised in 2007?and her votes on funding the Iraq War have helped to craft a moderate image, consistent with the district?s leanings. Because Arizona's ''Resign-to-Run'' law prevented Bee from entering the race before January, Giffords should be well prepared for a formidable opponent and ready to earn the seat she was given in 2006.




Candidates




Gabrielle Giffords (I) - Democrat -
current Congresswoman
Website 24




Timothy Bee - Republican -
state Senator
Website 25









California (04) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up








November 14, 2008 Update:

California's 4th district is still locked in crisis mode. Republican Tom McClintock was still leading the race by a narrowing margin of 815 votes on Thursday.




November 7, 2008 Update:

Republican Tom McClintock leads by 709 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting. But the race may not be decided for several weeks because estimated 40,000 provisional ballots still need to be counted in eight counties before the final results can be tallied.





September 16, 2008 Update:


Fourth district voters already knew Tom McClintock was ambitious?after all, he moved from Southern California to run for the open seat?but they probably expected the state senator to take things one race at a time. As it turns out, while running for Congress and finishing his term in the legislature, McClintock was raising money for not one, but two California statewide campaigns (Lieutenant Governor and the Board of Equalization). When the news broke, McClintock reacted immediately and closed down the accounts, but the damage was done.



Will McClintock?s stumble affect his chances of winning in November? Probably not: the district leans strongly Republican, and McClintock has shown the talent to match his ambition. Still, his opponent Charlie Brown, who came close last cycle, remains within striking distance in the polls and claims a lead in one internal survey. Odds are, McClintock will win this fall, but he cannot afford too many mistakes if he wants to keep the seat in GOP hands.



June 4, 2008 Update:


In a somewhat anti-climactic end to perhaps the most exciting primary race in the country, conservative Republican state senator Tom McClintock defeated moderate ex-Rep. Doug Ose by a 54-39 margin. The race had been characterized by ceaseless attacks and a heated endorsement and fundraising battle. In the end, McClintock raised over $1 million for the primary alone, while Ose somehow scrounged together over $3.3 million!



McClintock must now face 2006 candidate and retired Air Force Colonel Charlie Brown, who has raised as much as McClintock, but spent much less since he avoided a serious primary challenge. Going into the general election, Brown has nearly $500,000 cash on hand, while McClintock has just $100,000. Brown proved to be a strong candidate in 2006, pulling to within three percent of retiring Rep. John Doolittle on Election Day. But in a heavily Republican district (61% for Bush in 2004) in a presidential election year, and with the scandal-plagued Doolittle off the ballot, Republicans have the early edge.




March 26, 2008 Update:


California?s second district continues to host one of the most fluid and entertaining primary contests in the nation. At our last update, the Republican nomination was shaping up to be a no-holds-barred grudgematch between conservative Rico Oller and moderate Doug Ose with 06 challenger Charlie Brown awaiting in the general. The tables have turned once again. Oller is out, and state senator Tom McClintock has jumped in to challenge Ose from the right.



The only thing that hasn?t changed is the tenor of the campaign. McClintock slams Ose for his views insufficiently conservative views, and Ose accuses McClintock?who represents a Southern California district nearly 400 miles away?of being a carpetbagger in search of higher office (full disclosure: Ose just moved into the district himself!). What is most clear from the GOP nomination battle is the high quality of the two Republican candidates. Provided the party doesn?t self-destruct before the primary, whichever politician emerges should be a strong favorite to defeat Charlie Brown in a general election and keep the seat in Republican hands.









Background


The long-awaited retirement of scandal-plagued Representative John Doolittle allowed California Republicans to breathe a sigh of relief, if only for a moment. If Doolittle had pursued reelection and survived a primary challenge from Air Force Reserve officer Eric Egland, he would likely be defeated by 2006 nominee Charlie Brown, who came within three points of Doolittle last cycle.



Doolittle?s resignation allows this Republican-leaning district to remain in Republican hands, but at the cost of a contentious primary. Former state senator Rico Oller and ex-Representative Doug Ose will face off in a primary that threatens to expose rifts within the district?s Republican party. Oller, the more conservative of the two, has been endorsed by Doolittle as well the Club for Growth, while the California Farm Bureau Federation?s support of the moderate Ose should play well in the district with California?s largest rural population.



Both Republican candidates are already taking the battle to television airwaves, and the primary threatens to turn negative out of the candidates? mutual acrimony. If the eventual Republican nominee can heal intra-party wounds before November, the seat stands a good chance of remaining in GOP hands. However, should Republicans fail to put their differences aside, Charlie Brown may deliver the party ?good grief? for the next two years.







Candidates




Charlie Brown - Democrat -
2006 Democratic candidate, retired U.S. Air Force colonel

Website 26




Tom McClintock - Republican -
state senator
Website 27









California (11)



Outlook: Leans Democratic









November 18, 2008 Update:

Freshman Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney held on to his seat with a 55% to 45% victory over rival Dean Andal. Republicans failed to recapture the district which they initially lost in 2006.




July 29, 2008 Update:


Dean Andal entered the race against Representative Jerry McNerny as one of the GOP?s most touted recruits. After a relatively smooth start, the last few months have been rocky for Andal. The Republican has stumbled upon a minor scandal related to lobbying a local college on behalf of a construction contractor, but Andal?s meager fundraising efforts are more troubling. The challenger raised a paltry $171K in the second quarter compared to McNerney?s $1.37 million cash on hand, yet his campaign insists that it remains on track for its fundraising goals.



Despite Andal?s recent hiccups, McNerny is not out of the woods yet; the city of Stockton tops the nation in home foreclosures and voters may seek to vent their frustrations by ousting the incumbent. Even if the GOP doesn?t knock off McNerny this time, there will always be next cycle for this perpetually-vulnerable freshman to succumb to district demographics.








Background


Perhaps more than anyone, Representative Jerry McNerney benefited from the Democratic wave of 2006 to defeat ex-Rep. Richard Pombo. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats 43 to 37 percent respectively in this Bay Area district. Believing he is ripe for a challenge, the House Democratic leadership has rewarded McNerney with prized committee assignments?Transportation and Infrastructure and Steering?usually unavailable to freshmen members. By voting against troop withdrawal deadlines in Iraq, McNerney himself has attempted to craft a moderate reelection image, and his weekly cross-country visits to the West Coast go great lengths in establishing rapport with district constituent.



Republicans have recruited a solid challenger in former California assemblyman Dean Andal. Andal has the endorsement of the Club for Growth, whose financial support may be critical given the disinclination of the cash-strapped NRCC to fund challenger races. Although the district leans strongly Republican, McNerney has done everything within his power to ensure reelection. Given the Democratic-friendly environment and barring unforeseen developments the race leans Democratic for the time being.








Candidates




Jerry McNerney (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 28




Dean Andal - Republican -
businessman, former state assemblyman
Website 29









California (50)



Outlook: Leans Republican






November 14, 2008 Update:

Republican Brian Bilbray beat his opponent Nick Leibhamto keep his seat, receiving over 50 percent of the vote compared to Leibham's 45 percent.









Background



Rep. Brian Bilbray is just wrapping up his first full term after succeeding disgraced ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham in a 2006 special election and winning reelection later that November. Although the district gave Bush double-digit victory margins in 2000 and 2004, national Democrats are gushing about this race and are ready to put their money where their mouths are. Already they have aired radio ads opposing Bilbray and the DCCC just added challenger Nick Leibham to their list of 'emerging races', the group of races just below their 'Red to Blue' list.



Why is Bilbray in trouble? First, Democrats are hoping Cunningham's corruption conviction has left a lasting tarnish on the GOP brand in this district. To take advantage of this, they hope to use gas prices as the antidote to incumbency, a national strategy that seems prudent given gas prices of over $4 a gallon in most parts of the U.S.. Still, it seems Democrats will have to find something more sensational to defeat Bilbray. Although California's electoral votes are all but certain to be cast for Democrat Barack Obama, this district will just as likely support Republican John McCain. If Democrats want voters to avoid the temptation to vote a straight-party ticket and kick out an incumbent congressman at the same time, they'll have to give voters a good reason. While they haven't found one yet, they have the machinery in place in case they do.




Candidates




Brian Bilbray (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 30




Nick Leibham - Democrat - attorney

Website 31









Colorado (04)



Outlook: Leans Democratic









November 18, 2008 Update:

Freshman lawmaker Betsy Markey defeated incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave by 12 percentage points to win the district. It has been 35 years since the 4th district was represented by a Democrat.




July 29, 2008 Update:


If there were an award for ?Most Vulnerable Republican Incumbent,? Colorado Representative Marilyn Musgrave would certainly be one of the finalists. Last cycle, Musgrave escaped with a three point victory, but her narrow margin, like blood in the water, only attracted more sharks circling for the kill. Already, the liberal Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund?sporting the pelt of Richard Pombo (R-CA) in 2006?has flooded the airwaves with ads criticizing Musgrave?s environmental record, and it?s only a matter of time before the DCCC joins the fray with $700K of airtime reserved for the fall. Barack Obama?s decision to compete for Colorado?s nine electoral votes won?t help either. The district tilts Republican, and the incumbent boasts a formidable campaign staff, but Musgrave will have to fight for her life against multiple adversaries in rapidly changing and highly competitive high plains of Eastern Colorado.



June 13, 2008 Update:


In May, the two campaigns traded dueling polls, each purported to show their candidate in the lead. Democratic nominee Betsy Markey fired the first salvo, with a poll taken in mid-May, showing her with a 43-36 advantage and incumbent Rep. Marilyn Musgrave with a 37-48 favorable to unfavorable rating. Musgrave's campaign responded by reaching into their archive, pulling out a poll taken in early March. Their poll, which tellingly did not include an estimate of Musgrave's unfavorability rating, had Musgrave leading, but by five percent with a five percent margin of error. The 47% of voters in Musgrave's poll who said they would vote for the incumbent congresswoman should be disturbing for the GOP, since she is unable to crack 50% even before Markey introduces herself to voters and the campaign begins in earnest. Musgrave does hold a huge cash advantage, $1 million to Markey's $375,000, but what good will that do when most voters have already made up their minds about her?










Background


Like her colleague Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio, Representative Marylin Musgrave has faced difficulties ingratiating herself to her constituents and, as a consequence, she consistently underperforms her district?s demographics. Last cycle?s narrow victory over Angie Paccione earned Musgrave the ignominious distinction as the fifth most vulnerable Republican incumbent, according to the White House. Since 2006, Musgrave has altered her message to stress bipartisanship and compromise, but one only wonders how much she can change voter?s established opinions of the Colorado Representative.



This time around, Musgrave has drawn the challenge of former staffer to Sen. Ken Salazar Betsy Markey. While Markey is Musgrave?s best funded challenger to date, the Representative has a commanding $750K to $255K cash on hand advantage as of January 2008. The withdrawal of 2006 Reform Party candidate Eric Eidsness may somewhat offset Markey?s financial disadvantage as he likely pulled decisive votes from Paccione in 2006. Given the district?s strong Republican tilt and the weakened Democratic headwinds of 2008, Musgrave should prevail in 2008, but be on the lookout for any stumbles from the incumbent that could open a window of opportunity for Democratic takeover.









Candidates




Marilyn Musgrave (I) - Republican -
current Congresswoman

Website 32




Betsy Markey - Democrat -
former staffer for Senator Ken Salazar
Website 33









Connecticut (04)



Outlook: Leans Democratic










November 18, 2008 Update:

The last remaining Republican congressman in true-blue New England, Republican incumbent Christopher Shays was always somewhat of a misfit. In a political atmosphere highly poisonous for Republican candidates, he finally conceded on Nov. 4 to Democrat Jim Himes after losing 51% to 48%.




September 29, 2008 Update:



Representative Christopher Shays? remarkable resilience in the heavily Democratic fourth district has depended upon his uncanny ability to align himself with changing constituent sentiments rather than the GOP party line. Last cycle, Shays was pitch-perfect in pivoting from an Iraq War advocate to a critic of the administration?s strategy just in time to fend off a strong challenger and the Democratic wave.


This cycle, however, Shays may be a step off of the pace. When questioned about the financial meltdown, Shays repeated McCain?s mistake of reassuring that ?our economy is fundamentally strong.? Regardless of the validity of the claim, such statements are toxic in an atmosphere of economic hysteria. That many of Shay?s constituents have ties to distressed financial firms like Lehman Brothers and AIG only compounds the danger to the incumbent. Compounding the bad news, Shays? opponent, Jim Himes, has pulled even with the incumbent in Democratic internal polling, reflecting the gravity of the situation.


That said, past claims of Shays? demise have been greatly overstated. Look for Shays to push back against Himes? attacks by linking himself to Barack Obama, for whom Shays has a legislative ally over the past four years. Also, Himes?who replaced his campaign manager two weeks ago?is not without troubles either. It?s still anyone?s guess who will win the race, but the Crystal Ball wouldn?t bet against the ability of Chris Shays to recover from his mistakes and defy the electoral odds once again.




May 20, 2008 Update:


So far, the money situation looks bright for newly minted Democratic nominee Jim Himes who has raised $1.4 million and has just over $1 million cash on hand. Republican incumbent Chris Shays is no slouch, however, as he has $1.2 million in his bank account. This is shaping up to be a barn-burner this fall.











Background


Representative Chris Shays, the fiercely independent Republican from Connecticut's forth district, is a survivor of tough reelection bouts. The past two cycles, he turned back two challenges from selectman Diane Farrell while his colleagues, Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson, lost in more Republican districts. Through his criticism of the Iraq war and moderate social positions, Shays has distanced himself from the unpopular Bush administration and become something of an institution in Connecticut politics.



This cycle, the master of survival has drawn Greenwich Democratic chair Jim Himes for his likely November opponent. Himes, like Shays, has raised money well and may have the ability to self-fund from his former status as Goldman-Sachs vice president. Unlike in 2006, Shays will not have the coattails of Governor Jodi Rell or Senator Lieberman in 2008, but with the tenth-term Congressman?s demonstrated electoral skills, it is hard not to give Shays decent odds for returning to the Hill in 2009.









Candidates




Chris Shays (I) - Republican -
current Congressman
Website 34




Jim Himes - Democrat -
businessman, former chair of Greenwich Democratic Town Committee
Website 35









Connecticut (05)



Outlook: Likely Democratic







November 18, 2008 Update:

Freshman congressman Chris Murphy trounced his Republican opponent David Cappiello by 20 percentage points to retake the district. Murphy won in nearly every municipality, including Cappiello's hometown of Danbury.




May 20, 2008 Update:


With the Republican nominee, David Cappiello, chosen and looking ahead to November, Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy will have to start concentrating on the election as well. As things stand, Murphy is in good shape, with $1.5 million cash on hand to Cappiello's $400,000, but locals warn that Cappiello is a good candidate in a swing district. If the current Democratic swell, and Murphy's fundraising, continue on into the fall, this race could get out of the GOP's reach. If conditions change, however, this could become another in a series of close Connecticut races.









Background


In 2006, Representative Chris Murphy unseated ex-Rep. Nancy Johnson in Connecticut's most conservative congressional district. Unfortunately for the GOP, a Connecticut conservative is a liberal most anywhere else. Early in the cycle, Johnson passed on the rematch, opening the door for state senator David Capiello and ex-state representative Tony Nania to join the race.



Neither Murphy nor Capiello are in top campaign form as both have dealt with embarrassing fundraising snafus. Newspaper reports forced Murphy to return $2.5K of contributions from a healthcare provider under federal investigation, and Capiello has come under scrutiny for $40K of illegally bundled contributions from trash magnate James Galante. Both candidates must get their act together by November, but the continued low profile of this race seems only to benefit the incumbent.





Candidates




David Cappiello - Republican -
state senator

Website 36




Chris Murphy (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 37









Florida (08)



Outlook: Leans Democratic







November 18, 2008 Update:

Democrat and attorney Alan Grayson defeated Republican Ric Keller by 4 percentage points to turn the Republican stronghold blue. Keller's base had eroded due to his broken promise of serving only four terms and his vote against the Iraq surge.









Background




When the primary election results were announced in late August, political pundits nationwide had to throw out their previous analysis and start from scratch. With Republican Rep. Ric Keller pulling off a slim, six percent margin of victory over an unknown candidate who ran no television ads, he now looks vulnerable. By contrast, Democrat Alan Grayson pulled off a larger than expected victory, catapulting Democratic hopes sky-high.



Adding to the frenzy was Grayson's internal polling which showed him leading Keller 44-40. While the district went for Bush by a 10 percent margin in 2004, the poll also showed the White House race as a dead heat. Either the poll is dead wrong or Keller's re-election may be dead in the water.



Although the fundraising has been about even thus far, Grayson's money has come almost entirely out of his own pocket. With these new developments, Grayson is likely to get some monetary assistance. In fact, the DCCC has already announced that they are adding Grayson to their 'Red to Blue' list of targeted races.



When one steps back for a moment and takes a deep breath, it is clear that this race is still Keller?s to lose. Still, he?ll have to run a vastly different campaign in the general election than he did in the primary if he hopes to keep his seat.






Candidates




Ric Keller (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 38




Alan Grayson - Democrat - lawyer and 2006 candidate

Website 39









Florida (13)



Outlook: Likely Republican










November 18, 2008 Update:

Unlike 2006, which saw two mandatory recounts and a 369 vote margin, this year's election was far from close. Republican incumbent Vern Buchanan crushed his opponent Christine Jennings by 17 percentage points to clinch a second term in the district.



September 16, 2008 Update:


It?s been a rough couple of months for Representative Vern Buchanan, but at least he can take heart in one thing: his opponent is Christine Jennings. Buchanan?s troubles started when several former employees claimed that Buchanan forced them to contribute to Republican candidates. A FEC complaint was filed, and other allegations of shady business practices surfaced as well, keeping the story alive for nearly a month.


For most freshmen in swing districts, such a bad news cycle would jeopardize the incumbent?s reelection chances. Not so for Buchanan. Through it all, he has maintained an eighteen point polling lead (48-30) over Jennings, whose negatives are even higher than the incumbent?s! As if Jennings needed another obstacle to her repeat challenge, independent candidate Jan Schneider?whom Jennings defeated in the 2006 Democratic primary?continues to poll at a healthy six percent, taking nearly all of her support from the Democrat?s hide. In any other district, with any other candidates, Buchanan would be in serious trouble, but this year, he looks to be on track to win a second term in the House of Representatives.




June 13, 2008 Update:


Republican Vern Buchanan has been in some hot water recently, as a former employee has accused him of fraudulent business practices at his automotive dealerships and funneling money from his business into his campaign coffers in 2006. Buchanan is named in at least two lawsuits, despite the fact that he is not responsible for day-to-day operations at the businesses.



In spite of the lawsuits, Buchanan still has the upper-hand. As of March, he held a $1.1 million to $500,000 cash-on-hand advantage over his repeat challenger Christine Jennings. Additionally, Jennings' protracted legal challenge to the 2006 election results seems to have tarnished her image in the eyes of voters, as a Republican poll from March showed Jennings with a 38% unfavorability rating, roughly twice that of Buchanan. In a district that went for Bush by a double-digit margin in both 2000 and 2004, Jennings's unpopularity is not good news for Dems, but Buchanan's bad press as a result of these lawsuits may do something to close the negatives gap.










Background


In some ways, this race never really ended since 2006 when former car dealership franchiser and current Representative Vern Buchanan won over banker Christine Jennings by a mere 369 votes of nearly 240,000 cast. Jennings cried foul when returns reported 18 thousand voters in liberal-leaning Sarasota County registered a ''no-vote'' on electronic polling machines for the competitive congressional race.



Jennings appealed the election results through the Florida state court system and eventually up to Congress itself, but to no avail. Instead, Jennings has vowed to run again and hope 2008 voters correct the 2006 computers? mistakes. However, continuing her 2006 legal challenge until February 2008 is not without cost. Jennings walks a fine line between mobilizing voter sympathies and being labeled as a ''sore loser'' who remains focused on the events of the past. Either way Jennings has an uphill battle to unseat Buchanan this fall. In 2006, the current Representative spent $5.6 million of his own money on the race, and Jennings expects to need $3.5 million of her own to be competitive in November.








Candidates




Christine Jennings - Democrat -
2006 Democratic nominee
Website 40




Vern Buchanan (I) - Republican -
current Congressman

Website 41




Jan Schneider - Independent - author, attorney, '02 and '04 Democratic nominee

Website 42









Florida (16)



Outlook: Likely Republican











November 18, 2008 Update:

Plagued by several extra-marital affairs, Democrat Congressman Tim Mahoney lost the district to Republican Tom Rooney by a stunning 20 percent margin.




September 16, 2008 Update:


NRCC Chair Tom Cole received some well-deserved credit for piloting the GOP?s best candidate through a protracted, divisive primary in Florida?s 16th district. When the votes were counted, Pittsburgh Steelers heir Tom Rooney prevailed by a nose (37-35-28) over Palm Beach councilor Gayle Harrell and state representative Hal Valeche. Better yet, the Republican Party is unified as both Harrell and Valeche endorsed Rooney the day after the primary.


Going into the general election, Rooney has to feel good about his chances. Yes, Representative Tim Mahoney has a large financial advantage, but Rooney has proven his fundraising chops in the primary and can always dip into his vast personal fortune if necessary. Unlike either of his primary opponents, the businessman Rooney is a credible messenger on the economy, which seems likely to be the dominant issue of this campaign. Make no mistake, Mahoney can still defend his own seat, but he will have to run a very strong campaign to win a second term in Congress.




July 29, 2008 Update:


With July almost over, Republicans still lack a nominee, but at least they have a frontrunner in Tom Rooney. In an attempt to defuse a contentious primary, the Florida GOP brass?Representatives Connie Mack, Tom Feeney, and ?06 candidate Joe Negron?has stepped in and endorsed Rooney. Their intervention, combined with Rooney?s pre-existing edge, virtually ensures that the Pittsburgh Steelers heir will get his chance in Dolphins territory. But the endorsements, at least for now, won?t stop an onslaught of ads from Hal Valeche and Gayle Harrell slamming the self-proclaimed social conservative for his ties to the gambling industry. Make no mistake, Rooney is a top-notch candidate and every ounce capable of unseating Representative Tim Mahoney, but it remains to be seen whether wounds from the primary will prove lethal in the general election.



June 13, 2008 Update:


In the three-way GOP primary, each candidate is working hard to burnish their conservative credentials. Pittsburgh Steelers heir Tom Rooney touts his endorsement from conservative website RedState.com while former city councilor Hal Valeche notes his support from the the conservative group, Citizens United Political Victory Fund. The third candidate, Republican state representative Gayle Harrell, is probably a slight underdog, with about half as much cash in her campaign account as her two opponents, but she has her own self-proclaimed ''badge of honor'': Planned Parenthood mailers opposing her candidacy.



Whoever emerges from the primary on August 26 will face Democratic Rep. Tim Mahoney who is viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in 2008. The district went for Bush by an 8% margin in 2004, and even with disgraced Rep. Mark Foley's name on the ballot in 2006, Mahoney mustered a slimmer than 2% victory in a very Democratic year. This time around, Republicans hope that they can capitalize on presidential coattails and catapult one of these three GOP candidates onto Capitol Hill.










Background


It will be difficult for Representative Tim Mahoney to shed the ignominious label of ''accidental congressman.'' In 2006 he won in conservative district under highly unusual circumstances?his opponent, the disgraced ex-Rep. Mark Foley, resigned amid a congressional page sex scandal, and Foley?s replacement, state senator Joe Negron, was barred by Florida law from replacing Foley?s name on the ballot. Even so, Mahoney only scored an unimpressive 1.8 percent victory over Negron.



If Mahoney?s electoral fortunes hadn?t caught the attention of district Republicans, his controversial comments that being a congressman ''isn't the greatest job I've had'' surely would. Unsurprisingly, Republican candidates, led by state representative Gayle Harrel and Pittsburgh Steelers heir Tom Rooney, have flocked to the race. Mahoney, however, stands to benefit from strong fundraising?over $1.1 million by the third quarter of 2007?and the late date, August 26th, of the Republican primary. If he is to be reelected, Mahoney must improve upon his 2006 performance and guard against future gaffes in what appears to be one of the most endangered Democratic seats of 2008.









Candidates




Tom Rooney - Republican -
Pittsburgh Steelers heir, attorney, veteran

Website 43




Tim Mahoney (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 44









Florida (21)



Outlook: Leans Republican







November 18, 2008 Update:

Republican incumbent Lincoln Diaz-Balart cruised to a ninth term with a 16 percentage point victory margin over Democratic opponent Raul Martinez.




July 29, 2008 Update:


One year ago, who would have guessed that Lincoln Diaz-Balart?s reelection would be one of the most intriguing races in the country? A recent Democratic poll shows Diaz-Balart leading Raul Martinez 41 to 37, but there are far to many unanswered questions to begin to handicap the race for November.



Will South Floridians really oust an icon of Cuban American politics? When will Raul Martinez?s checkered past of federal indictments and inflammatory statements come to light? How do younger voters view a Cuban policy that hasn?t changed since President Kennedy? Where do Cuban American partisan loyalties lie in the first post-Fidel Castro election? What does it all mean for the presidential race? In the end, these questions can only be answered at the ballot box, but for now, the South Florida races make for some of the most intriguing contests in the country.









Background



Democrats think Lincoln Diaz-Balart is just one of several Florida Republicans whose time is running out. Since 2006, Republicans voter registration numbers in Florida's 21st district have fallen while Democratic numbers have risen. Diaz-Balart, one of three Cuban-American Florida representatives, is seen as vulnerable as a result of a generational shift which some believe has produced more South Florida voters who consider themselves Democrats or at least open to voting for them.



The man Democrats hope will exploit this change is former Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez. Martinez, who was born in Cuba, has years of political experience at the municipal level and considerable fundraising ability, having raised over $600,000 through March. The DCCC and national Dems have already started helping Martinez in his bid to unseat Diaz-Balart, running Spanish-language radio ads criticizing the incumbent Congressman for voting 'present' on the most recent Iraq funding bill. Although Diaz-Balart has only once in eight elections dipped below 70 percent in a district that handed Bush a 14 percent margin of victory in 2004, Democrats are optimistic that the right candidate at the right time can pull off the upset.




Candidates




Lincoln Diaz-Balart (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 45




Raul Martinez - Democrat - former nine term mayor of Hialeah
Website 46









Florida (24)



Outlook: Leans Democratic







November 18, 2008 Update:

Former state Rep. Suzanne Kosmas won comfortably by 16 percentage points over Republican incumbent Tom Feeney . Feeney's reputation had suffered due to his alleged ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.




September 16, 2008 Update:


Which one of Florida?s second tier races (FL18, FL24, FL25) does the Crystal Ball think is most likely to flip? Here?s a hint: it?s not held by anyone named Diaz-Balart.



That?s right, behind Tim Mahoney?s reelection bid in FL16, the twenty fourth district surprisingly holds the second most competitive race in all of Florida. Why so competitive? First, Suzanne Kosmas has shown herself to be a strong challenger, raising and banking more than the incumbent in two of the last three fundraising quarters. Second, because Representative Tom Feeney?s campaign tactics have seemed rusty, at best, so far. Feeney, for example, aired television ads before the primary to promote the longshot candidacy of Clint Curtis (D), Kosmas? primary opponent. Kosmas went on to crush Curtis 72-28, making the advertisements a colossal waste of Feeney?s limited resources.


If Feeney intends to secure a fourth term, he?d better get his campaign up to speed quickly. It would still be an upset if Kosmas wins, but don?t be too surprised if there?s a Democrat representing this district next January.








Background



This race first attracted the Crystal Ball's attention way back in June 2007. Incumbent Republican Tom Feeney was in the news prior to the 2006 election due to his connections to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Although those allegations weren't enough to sink the embattled lawmaker then, Feeney won by sixteen percent, they no doubt will be trotted out again by this year's Democratic candidate.



And just who will that candidate be? Most likely former state representative Suzanne Kosmas. Kosmas is seen as a strong candidate and her early fundraising numbers back that up, as she actually has more cash in her campaing coffers than does Feeney. Even if no new scandalous allegations emerge, this could be a very tight race this November.





Candidates




Tom Feeney (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 47




Suzanne Kosmas - Democrat - state representative

Website 48









Florida (25)



Outlook: Toss-up








November 18, 2008 Update:

After a tight race that ran down to the wire, Republican incumbent Mario Diaz-Balart won the 25th district by 6 percentage points over his rival Joe Garcia. This is the first time the seat has been so hotly contested since Diaz-Balart clinched it in 2002.









Background



The Diaz-Balart brothers are both in fights for their political lives. Mario Diaz-Balart is struggling to hold onto his seat in Florida's 25th District, while brother Lincoln is fighting for reelection in the 21st District. Both brothers are Cuban-American icons, once thought to be invulnerable in their congressional strongholds. Now that is being tested, and Mario's political future hangs in the balance.



The 25th District is 62% Hispanic, mostly Cuban Americans. In 2004, the district handed George W. Bush a twelve percent victory, emblematic of the district's conservative politics. Now new figures are popping up to challenge those views, foremost among them Joe Garcia. Garcia was the director of the Cuban American National Foundation before becoming the Democratic Party chair for Miami-Dade County. Now he has turned his focus to Diaz-Balart, while carrying the mantle of Democratic Party nominee. Garcia has both the background and fundraising ties to compete, proving it by raising just over $1 million through the beginning of August.



Still, it is unwise to count out a Diaz-Balart, especially Mario whose political rise has been meteoric and so far unstoppable. Despite the national headwind and a moderating electorate, he is still the favorite to retain his seat in Congress, although Garcia's credentials and coffers threaten to cut into his margin of victory. Keep a close eye on this race to and, depending on your point of view, you'll either catch a glimpse of the political future of South Florida or watch a political pro further cement his legacy.







Candidates




Mario Diaz-Balart (I) - Republican - current congressman

Website 49




Joe Garcia - Democrat - former Cuban American National Foundation director

Website 50









Georgia (08)



Outlook: Leans Democratic








November 19, 2008 Update:

U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall won a fourth Congressional term comfortably over his Republican opponent Rick Goodard by 14 percentage points.




May 28, 2008 Update:


This race has always been seen as one of just a few chances for Republicans to dethrone a sitting Democrat, even in a Blue year. With presidential candidates on the ballot, in a district that gave Bush 61 percent in 2004, it could very well be the phenomenon of "coattails" that plays kingmaker in November. So far Rep. Jim Marshall has done everything right, sticking by his conservative voting record and amassing a princely fortune of over $1 million. Republican veteran Rick Goddard will be making his case to be successor to the throne, though, banking on the fact that the "D" by Marshall's name is cause enough for an uprising this fall.








Background


Two Georgia house districts?Jim Marshall's 8th and John Barrow's 12th?bucked the Democratic wave of 2006 and almost fell to Republican challengers. Marshall?s eighth district?the safer of the two?provided a slim 51-49 reelection margin over former Congressman Mac Collins. Both districts figure to be even more marginal without the tailwinds of 2006.



In line with his district, Marshall has staked out a conservative, pro-war profile in Congress. His votes against the State Children?s Health Insurance Program in 2007 have drawn the ire of fellow Democrats including Macon mayor Jack Ellis and teacher Robert Nowak who have challenged Marshall in the primary. Republicans have recruited top-tier candidate, former Air Force major general Rick Goddard, who they hope can match up well with Marshall on military issues. Even if the two vulnerable Georgia Democrats survive this cycle, they may not be long for the political world as post-2010 partisan redistricting (Georgia stands to gain at least one seat) could damage their electoral calculus.







Candidates




Jim Marshall (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman

Website 51




Rick Goddard - Republican - retired Air Force Major General

Website 52









Georgia (12)



Outlook: Likely Democratic









November 19, 2008 Update:

Incumbent Democrat John Barrow beat his opponent John Stone to win the district by a 2 to 1 margin.




July 18, 2008 Update:


Following challenger Regina Thomas's easy defeat at the hands of Democratic Rep. John Barrow, the incumbent congressman can breathe a bit easier. He better catch his breath quickly, though, because when you represent a district that voted for the other party's presidential pick in 2004 and when you won your last election by fewer than 1,000 votes, you can never rest easy.



Make no mistake, even with a competitive general election around the corner, Barrow must feel like a great weight was lifted off his chest. After many predicted he would be greatly threatened by his African-American state legislator challenger, he instead defeated her with over three-quarters of the vote. He now goes into the general election campaign against a worthy opponent, but the high ground is Barrow's at the moment. Barrow ended June with over $1.1 million in the bank, dwarfing his Republican opponent's paltry $8,000. Barrow's general election foe, former congressional aide John Stone, has only raised around $100,000 over the course of the entire election cycle, while Barrow's figure is thirteen times higher.



Barrow is still on the radar screen of the GOP who, with few pickup opportunities in sight, are hoping for an upset even in a district where Democratic turnout will most likely rise as a result of Barack Obama's presidential candidacy. In the end, Barrow would be wise not to get too comfortable in a traditional battleground district, but Republicans shouldn't get their hopes up either.




May 28, 2008 Update:


Democratic Rep. John Barrow has a tough row to hoe in his upcoming reelection attempt. First, he must defeat a primary challenger, state senator Regina Thomas, who isn't exactly garden-variety. Thomas has political experience and, like nearly 70% of presidential primary voters in the district earlier this year and unlike Barrow, she is African-American. Barrow's second challenge will be taking on whoever emerges from a pack of Republican challengers, currently led by former Rep. Max Burns' spokesman John Stone. Make no mistake, though, Barrow's not letting the grass grow under his feet. He already has $1.3 million in the bank, while money hasn't quite been growing on trees for his opponents, the best-funded of which has just $43,000. Still, there's no use beating around the bush: Barrow's got a long fight ahead.










Background


Despite only losing by 900 votes in a Democratic year, former Congressman Max Burns declined a third rematch against Representative John Barrow. Seeing Barrow?s vulnerability, a host of Republicans including Iraq war veterans Chris Edenfield and Lt. Col. Wayne Mosely and Continental Field Systems vice president Ray McKinney have entered the race. Top tier Republicans?former Augusta mayor Bob Young and ex-Rep. Kingston aide Karen Bogans?are circling the race as well.



Barrow can take comfort, however, in his district's demographics. Forty percent of the population is African American, and a Barak Obama presidential candidacy may motivate higher Democratic turnout. Even if Barrow survives a potentially less-favorable climate of 2008, his congressional days may be numbered as his seat will be a top target for Georgian partisan redistricting in the next decade.








Candidates




John Stone - Republican - former congressional staffer
Website 53




John Barrow (I) - Democrat - current Congressman


Website 54









Idaho (01)



Outlook: Leans Republican











November 19, 2008 Update:

Republican incumbent Bill Sali lost the district to Democratic candidate Walt Minnick by a margin of just over 4,000 votes.





September 19, 2008 Update:


For a Democrat to win in Idaho, he?ll have to steal a lot of Republican votes. So far, that has been exactly the plan of Democratic challenger Walt Minnick. Minnick thus far has a list of about 60 Republican supporters, which is using to show his bipartisan appeal. Bill Sali, the incumbent Republican, has also been conned into the game, naming a Democrat as one of his campaign?s co-chairs. Ultimately, Sali needs to focus on winning back Republicans in a district with few Democrats to appeal to. Neither Kerry nor Gore won even a third of the vote in 2004 and 2000 respectively, a watermark which Minnick is on pace to exceed. Whether he can reach the all-important 50 percent mark is a very different question. A Democratic win in this district would be grand larceny, indeed.





July 30, 2008 Update:


Despite Idaho?s ruby-red leanings, Republican Bill Sali isn?t making his first reelection easy for himself. In our last update, Sali?s paltry fundraising elicited concern from party regulars. Since then, he?s been added to the GOP?s Regain Our Majority Program (ROMP) and enjoyed an NRCC fundraiser in Washington, but he was still outraised by Democratic challenger Walt Minnick $250K to $361K in the second quarter. Neither is Sali keeping his name out of the headlines. Sali was one of only a handful of Republicans to vote against delaying Medicaid pay cuts, and in June, the incumbent raised eyebrows with his claim that there were only ?around 130 people that are very good folks? in Congress. In the end, Sali will likely win reelection due to district demographics, but the representative?s history of gaffes and foibles only tempts fate?and perhaps a primary challenge?in the years to come.



May 28, 2008 Update:


Republican Rep. Bill Sali will face Democrat Walt Minnick this November after Sali defeated his primary challenger, Matt Salibsury, 60-40 on May 27th. Even though Idaho's 1st district voted 69 percent for Bush in 2004, Sali still has some hurdles to clear. A poll taken in the days leading up to the primary showed that among Republicans, his own base, 46 percent saw him unfavorably and only 32 percent favorably. In addition, his last election was secured with only a five percent margin, despite the district's overwhelming Republican tilt. He will also have to contend with a 2 to 1 fundraising disadvantage, very much a rarity for an incumbent, as Sali's campaign held a balance of only $160,000 at the beginning of May, compared to Minnick's $320,000.








Background


Representative Bill Sali has adjusted surprisingly well to life in Congress. In his 2006 open-seat election, Idaho Republicans feared the then divisive and controversy-prone Sali was a liability even in one of the country?s most conservative district. Their anxiety was temporarily lessened when Sali prevailed over technology executive Larry Grant. Since then, Sali has earned the respect of his congressional peers and was elected president of freshman house class.



Still, Sali has issues to resolve at home. A July 2007 poll reported Sali at a 29/46 approval rating?dismal for any incumbent congressman. He also has drawn criticism for commenting that Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison was not what was ''envisioned by the founding fathers.'' Larry Grant, the 2006 candidate, is back for a rematch and is joined by 1996 Senate candidate Walt Minnick in the Democratic primary. Sali also faces primary opposition from Iraq war veteran Matt Salisbury, but neither the primary nor general election should pose difficulty so long as Sali avoids the gaffes that jeopardized his last election.










Candidates




Walt Minnick - Democrat -
businessman, 1996 US Senate candidate
Website 55




Bill Sali (I) - Republican -
current Congressman

Website 56









Illinois (08)



Outlook: Likely Democratic







November 19, 2008 Update:

Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean trounced her Republican rival and one-time professional hockey player Steve Greenberg by 20 percentage points. Greenberg was outraised more than 3 to 1.




June 3, 2008 Update:


Steve Greenberg became the poster-child for Republican challengers' ineptitude when he reported just $5,000 in his campaign account at the end of April. He claimed to have spent March off the campaign trail, focusing on his business, but the GOP can't afford any more lollygagging. Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean certainly hasn't been taking any time off, reporting a fundraising total of $2.2 million, with a cash balance of over $1.3 million. To make matters worse, Greenberg lost his campaign manager and took over a month to replace him. After all that time, he settled for his former field coordinator, saying it was best to ''let our donors know that there's somebody steering the ship.'' Unfortunately for Greenberg, that ship is already way off course.











Background


Like her colleague Peter Roskam (R) to the south, Democratic Representative Melissa Bean's 2008 reelection campaign will seem strangely familiar. Whereas Roskam faces down another Iraq war veteran, Bean, for the second cycle in a row, has drawn a highly-touted multimillionaire who is willing to self fund.



Stuart Greenberg, the owner of the Ben Franklin retail store chain, is this cycle?s Republican nominee after he passed on a tougher challenge to Senator Dick Durbin. Greenberg expects the race to cost between $5 and $6 million, which he is willing to pay from his own pockets. Self-funders like Greenberg are a godsend for the cash-strapped NRCC, but money alone may not be enough to knock off Bean who beat back the self-funded campaign of David McSweeney by an impressive seven percent in 2006.






Candidates




Melissa Bean (I) - Democrat -
current Congresswoman


Website 57




Steve Greenberg - Republican -
businessman
Website 58









Illinois (10)



Outlook: Toss-up








November 19, 2008 Update:

Republican Mark Kirk held off a challenge from Democrat Dan Seals to preserve his seat in the district by 10 percentage points. Seals had also lost to Kirk by six percentage points in 2006.




July 30, 2008 Update:


With Illinois uncontested statewide, suburban Chicago voters won?t get to see campaign ads from Barack Obama or John McCain this fall, but don?t be too disappointed. Come November, there?ll be plenty of fireworks when Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Dan Seals empty their impressive warchests on the airwaves. Both candidates are fundraising at a torrid pace and will need every penny in an expensive media market. Although Seals tops all Democratic challengers with $635K raised and $1.17 million banked in the second quarter, his tally pales in comparison to Kirk?s jaw-dropping $900K haul with over $2.85 million left in the bank! Kirk?s haul means that he?s capable of withstanding an Obama-fueled wave and winning reelection in the most difficult of conditions. Seals' warchest, though impressive by national standards, keeps him within shouting distance for now, but Democrats may regret missing their chance surprise the incumbent in 2006. In Illinois, the presidential race will be a snoozer, but watch out when the congressional ads?and the dollars?begin to fly this fall.



June 3, 2008 Update:


Democrats are very optimistic about Dan Seals chances of unseating Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, but Kirk's camp must be wondering why. Kirk released a poll, taken in mid-March following Seals' primary victory a month earlier, that showed him with 50% to Seals' 29% in a head-to-head matchup. In addition, Kirk reported raising almost $3 million, with Seals lagging more than $1.5 million behind. And Kirk has $2.2 million still to spend from his campaign coffers while Seals has banked just $750,000. Still, the DCCC has added Kirk to their list of ''Red to Blue'' targets and Seals' fundraising is picking up.



While Dems still think this is a definite pickup opportunity, Kirk has proven to be a difficult opponent. Seals is certainly a strong candidate, but can a strong candidate defeat a strong, entrenched one?












Background


Representative Mark Kirk experienced a rude awakening when little-known challenger Dan Seals came within six percent of the Illinois incumbent in 2006. Seals is back again in 2008 with higher name recognition and a stronger national backing, but this time, Kirk will not be taking the rematch lightly.



Already, Seals has dispatched a credible primary challenge from Clinton administration Jewish liason Jay Footlik by an impressive 81-19 margin. A recent Democratic poll shows Seals within striking distance of Kirk (46-39), as well. Last cycle, repeat challengers performed poorly?only Baron Hill (D-IN) and Nancy Boyda (D-KS) defeated an incumbent?and Seals may have already reached his electoral ceiling against a popular incumbent.



Both Seals and Kirk are prolific fundraisers, amassing $900K and $2.3 million in 2007, respectively. After his close-call in 2006 and considering the potential for Obama coattails in 2008, Kirk will be well-prepared for reelection, whatever political winds may blow.






Candidates




Mark Kirk (I) - Republican -
current Congressman
Website 59




Dan Seals - Democrat -
2006 Democratic candidate, businessman
Website 60









Illinois (11) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Leans Democratic










November 19, 2008 Update:

With Republican Martin Ozinga outspent more than 2 to 1 in a climate favorable to Democrats, his opponent Debbie Halvorson won by a twenty-point margin in this open seat race.




July 30, 2008 Update:


Count us impressed with the tour-de-force performance of Republican Marty Ozinga in the second quarter. In less than three months, Ozinga raised $800K?double that of Debbie Halvorson?with only $70K coming from his own pocket. Not bad for a last minute replacement. In addition to closing the financial gap, Ozinga has already hit the airwaves with ads highlighting his outsider status as not another career politician. Ozinga has also benefited from a bit of luck with Halvorson facing scrutiny over her support of a questionable airport project and her vote to block a gubernatorial recall of scandal-scarred incumbent Rod Blagojevich.



Ozinga?s successes and Halvorson?s stumbles have transformed what seemed to be a Democratic gimme into a genuinely competitive contest. With a late start, terrible coattails, and toxic national mood, Ozinga still has mountains to climb, but his performance thus far has national Republicans wishing there was more of Marty to go around.




May 30, 2008 Update:


Democratic state senate majority leader Debbie Halvorson is in the driver's seat here, with the political pedigree and pocketbook to pickup the seat. To make matters worse for Republicans, her opponent, concrete magnate Martin Ozinga, wasn't even the winner of the February primary. Instead, the first-choice GOPer dropped out as a result of fundraising woes and the local Republican Party chose Ozinga as his replacement to be on the ballot in November.



Dems stand a good chance to pick up the seat for two main reasons: money and momentum. Halvorson had over $600,000 cash on hand at the end of March, before Ozinga even entered the race. Although Ozinga raised $400,000 in his first month and has the capacity to pump in his own cash, Democrats should be able to pull off a very rare feat: staying ahead against a self-funder in a Republican-held district. Ozinga will also be swimming upstream as a result of ethics questions and a legal proceeding that has produced five witnesses who directly contradict Ozinga's sworn statements. Searching for a candidate with better fundraising ability, the GOP got what they wanted, but their choice of candidate could put this seat out of reach.





March 26, 2008 Update:


Is the withdrawal of New Lenox mayor Tim Baldermann good news or bad news for 14th district Republicans? On one hand, if Republicans wanted to keep Jerry Weller's seat in their hands, Baldermann wasn't the man for the job. Despite winning the primary, Balderman?s anemic fundraising and sluggish campaigning wouldn?t have been enough to defeat state senate majority leader Debbie Halvorson. However, the longer it takes for county chairs to appoint a nominee, the farther the district GOP falls behind the Democratic candidate.



For now, two names stand out from the Republican candidate short-list: Monical Pizza president Harry Bond and concrete contractor Martin Ozinga, with Ozinga having the inside track. Although both Republicans have roots in the business community, neither can be expected to fork over the millions this race will require. With the Democratic upset in Illinois 14th district, this race is looking even more like a Democratic pickup?perhaps their top opportunity nationwide.











Background


When revelations of a suspicious Nicaraguan land deal sent seven-term Representative Jerry Weller packing, both parties scrambled to contest the swing house district. Last October, Rahm Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi pulled off a recruiting coup when state senate majority leader Debbie Halvorson joined the race as a top tier candidate. Since then, she has raised over $428K and banked $394K of it.



Republicans, however, are much less optimistic about their nominee, Tim Baldermann. Unlike Halvorson, the New Lenox mayor dislikes political fundraising saying, ''It makes me sick to my stomach.'' Although Baldermann prevailed in three-way primary, he has raised only $104K since Halvorson?s entrance. Personal preferences aside, Baldermann cannot escape the reality of money in modern campaigning; without strong finances, he has slim hopes of competing in November. For the time being the race stands as a toss-up, but with the potential to become one of the best Democratic pickup opportunities.








Candidates




Debbie Halvorson - Democrat -
Illinois State Senate Majority Leader
Website 61




Martin Ozinga - Republican - concrete company owner

Website 62









Illinois (14)



Outlook: Leans Democratic









November 19, 2008 Update:

Democrat Bill Foster beat his opponent Jim Oberweis by a comfortable 14 point margin to keep his seat.




March 26, 2008 Update:


Did you hear that? Was the rumbling from central Illinois an aftershock of 2006 or stormclouds gathering for November? Either way, Democratic novice Bill Foster's upset victory over statewide veteran Republican Jim Oberweis has rocked the electoral landscape and thrown partisan pundits into the political spin cycle.



There are countless ways to analyze this race, depending on one's political persuasion. Was it only a battle between the flawed candidate (Oberweis) and a political outsider without external import? Was Oberweis a casualty of a contentious primary against Chris Lauzen or his own political shortcomings? Was the race a proxy war between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama? Is this only an isolated incident or a sign of things to come for Congressional Republicans in the fall?



Regardless, several things are undeniable. One, Democrats continue to pad their slim Congressional margin after the wave of 2006. Oberweis is running in the general election, but experts give him little chance in the rematch. Two, NRCC woes continue?they spent 20 percent of their cash on hand, but could not hold the Republican district. And three, the twelve-year Republican majority continues to be dismantled. In two short years, Democrats now occupy the districts of former Majority Leader Delay and Speaker Hastert. Only New York Governors fall harder, faster.











Background


Political prognosticators often look to early-season special elections as bellwethers for November general elections. In 1994, Republican special election victories presaged the ''Republican Revolution'' of the fall. Last cycle, a Democratic near-misses in conservative districts--Ohio's 2nd and California?s 50th--foreshadowed a growing wave of Democratic discontent. This cycle's bellwether looks to be Illinois 14th congressional district, home to retiring former Speaker Dennis Hastert. The district is conservative territory, giving Bush 55 percent in 2004, but not outside the realm of competitiveness given the unpredictability of special elections.



After hotly contested Super Tuesday primaries, both parties have settled on their nominees to face off on March 8th. For the Republicans, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis, a multimillionaire veteran of statewide campaigns, prevailed over state senator Chris Lauzen on an outsider message of change. Oberweis has the ability to spend millions on the special election, but the brutal contest left him with high negatives (49/41 percent approval rating) among district voters.



The Democratic nominee, physicist Bill Foster, squeaked out a primary win over 2006 nominee John Laesch by a mere 300 votes, and also has the ability to self fund from his vast personal wealth. Both candidates have already taken to the television airwaves and enlisted their party?s heavy-hitters--John McCain for Oberweis and Senator Dick Durbin for Foster--at fundraising events. A recent Democratic poll shows the race within the margin of error with 45 percent of voters for Oberweis and 43 percent for Foster, but polling is notoriously inaccurate in low-turnout special elections. In the end, this bellwether of 2008 may come down to which candidate can overcome either the national mood or district demographics and turn out their party's base on March 8th.







Candidates




Bill Foster (I) - Democrat - current Congressman elected in a special election

Website 63




Jim Oberweis - Republican -
businessman
Website 64









Illinois (18) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Likely Republican








November 19, 2008 Update:

Republican Aaron Shock beat his Democratic opponent Colleen Callahan by over 20 percentage points.




June 3, 2008 Update:


As expected, Democrats appointed former farm radio broadcaster Colleen Callahan as their nominee in March, ending a three-month span with no Democrats in the race. Callahan, who now runs a communications firm, says she can raise $1.5 to 2 million but has only raised $140,000 thus far, a result of her (very) late start. It's certainly an uphill battle against a candidate, Aaron Schock, who is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party due to his young age (27) and meteoric rise. The fact that Schock has already raised $1.1 million, even though he spent almost all of that during the primary, doesn't make Callahan's chances look any better.









Background


After Representative Ray LaHood called it quits after fourteen years on the Hill, Republicans feared they would have to defend yet another open seat. However, after Illinois? Super Tuesday primary, no Democrat has yet earned a nomination and Republican state senator Aaron Schock, a rising star of the state party, looks likely to cruise to election in November.



If (and when) elected, Schock, age 27, will be the youngest congressman in Washington. Schock prevailed in a three-way primary despite controversial remarks, later retracted, supporting providing Taiwan nuclear weapons in the event of a Chinese attack. Democrats still have the opportunity to appoint a nominee?television broadcaster Colleen Callahan seems most likely?but it would be nearly impossible to stop Schock?s meteoric rise to Congress in a district that gave President Bush 58 percent in 2004.






Candidates




Colleen Callahan - Democrat - businesswoman, radio and television broadcaster


Website 65




Aaron Schock - Republican -
state legislator

Website 66









Indiana (03)



Outlook: Likely Republican





Background


In many ways, this overwhelmingly Republican district in the Hoosier state should not even be considered a contest. The Republican incumbent Mark Souder is running for his eighth term against Democratic political newcomer and recent law graduate Michael Montagano. This northeast corner of Indiana has not elected a Democrat to Congress since 1992. President Bush took it by more than 30 percent margins in both 2000 and 2004, and Souder also won his 2002 and 2004 contests by more than 30 percent.

But this year's race is also closer than Souder would like. Having won in 2006 54%-46%, he can hardly be considered safe. Montagano has managed to keep up on fundraising, raising a total of $620,493 to Souder's $775,600. This has led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to add the district to its list of possible Republican incumbent-knock-outs and pour in $150,000 for ads. Combine this with Republican troubles at the national level, and you have yourself a contest. While polls in the spring showed Souder leading by a two to one margin, more recent ones show the gap narrowing.


Despite all this, Montagano will have a tough time trying to hand his party their sixth House Seat in Indiana. In the remaining weeks, Souder has $451,756 cash on hand to Montagano's $31,255. Montagano is a Democrat running in a strong Republican district where his opponent enjoys significant name recognition. He has also had trouble trying to solidify his Democratic base while drawing in Republicans and independents. A commercial he put out publicizing the fact that he supports a constitutional ban on abortion and opposes any gun restrictions provoked some anger among Democrats. Thus, while Souder may need to sweat a little more for a victory, he still has a good chance at an eighth term.






Candidates




Mark Souder (I) - Republican - Current U.S. Representative

Website 67




Michael Montagano - Democrat - Law school graduate

Website 68









Indiana (08)



Outlook: Likely Democratic





May 27, 2008 Update:


The bill is set. Democratic freshman Brad Ellsworth will face Republican nominee Greg Goode in the November general election. Ellsworth has the early advantage, especially where fundraising is concerned, with almost three-quarters of a million dollars on hand, compared to Goode's $43,000.










Background


There?s a new sheriff in town in Indiana's eighth congressional district. After defeating the unconventional campaign of former Representative Jeff Hostettler, newly minted congressman and former sheriff Brad Ellsworth seems likely to win reelection in a highly conservative district. Ellsworth's first term has been relatively mistake-free and highlighted by the unlikely praise from Republican Mitch Daniels that Ellsworth was "off to a great start".



As a result, Ellsworth has drawn only one serious challenger: Indiana State University provost Greg Goode. Goode, also a former chief of staff to Representative Brian Kearns, is a credible candidate, but the race has been slow to develop. The longer Goode waits to engage Ellsworth politically, the better the incumbent?s chances for reelection. Given the district?s demographics, Ellsworth will have to fight for his seat sometime?but odds are that this won?t be the year.



Candidates




Brad Ellsworth (I) - Democrat - Current U.S. Representative

Website 69




Greg Goode - Republican -
Indiana State University provost, former chief of staff to Rep. Brian Kearns
Website 70









Indiana (09)



Outlook: Likely Democratic










May 27, 2008 Update:


For the fourth election in a row, Democrat Baron Hill will face Republican Mike Sodrel for the chance to represent Indiana's 9th district. This time, Hill has the advantage of incumbency and better fundraising, with almost $1 million cash on hand to Sodrel's $300,000. Still, the past contests have followed a simple pattern: in presidential election years, Sodrel wins; in mid-term years, Hill wins. With 2008 being a presidential election year in a district where Bush won 59 percent in 2004, don't write off Sodrel yet.










Background


Fourth time's the charm? That's what former Republican Representative Mike Sodrel is hoping in his biannual slugfest in Indiana?s ''bloody ninth'' congressional district. Current Congressman Baron Hill won in the midterm elections of 2002 and 2006, while Sodrel took the seat on the back of the Bush reelection in 2004. Sodrel, who wavered in his decision to enter, is banking on a Hillary Clinton candidacy to swing marginal Indiana voters to the Republican side, but Hill can counter with his massive incumbent warchest.



Both candidates are battle tested and campaign savvy, and Hill's incumbency advantage balances against the district?s slight conservative lean. All in all, this promises to be another spirited contest in the ''bloody ninth'' so sit back, relax, and watch the fireworks!








Candidates




Baron Hill (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman

Website 71




Mike Sodrel - Republican -
former Congressman from the Indiana 9th
Website 72









Kansas (02)



Outlook: Toss-up











September 16, 2008 Update:


In our last update, the Crystal Ball was rosy on former Representative Jim Ryun?s chances of securing the GOP nomination for a rematch against Nancy Boyda. At the time, Ryun enjoyed wide leads in the poll and his opponent?Lynn Jenkins?endured criticism for not running an aggressive campaign. Oh, how the tables have turned!



Now, it is Jenkins, not Ryun who prevailed by two points in a hotly contested primary, and the critics of the state treasurer have turned into her biggest proponents. Despite being outraised nearly three to one, Jenkins capitalized on her outsider status and effectively labeled Ryun as a member of the Washington establishment. In this political environment, Jenkins, the more moderate of the two Republicans, seems to be the better candidate to flip the district.


Meanwhile, Congresswoman Boyda has adopted a conscious strategy of distancing herself from national Democrats by refusing any DCCC ads and not attending the DNC in Denver. It remains to be seen whether Boyda?s unilateral moves will establish her as an independent voice in the eyes of voters or whether her decisions will cost her valuable resources in an uphill battle to win reelection.



June 13, 2008 Update:


Two polls taken in April show former Rep. Jim Ryun with a good chance to get on the ballot for a rematch against now-Rep. Nancy Boyda. Ryun faces state treasurer Lynn Jenkins in the GOP primary on August 5, but leads her in polls conducted both by his campaign and by a group supporting Jenkins. Ryun's poll has him with a 65-21 advantage, while Jenkins' allies have Ryun leading 50-34. While both Ryun and Jenkins have similar amounts of money left in their campaign accounts, Ryun's 2 to 1 fundraising advantage has allowed him to spend much more, further cementing his lead.









Background


In what may have been the biggest upset of 2006, an insurgent Nancy Boyda unseated incumbent Representative Jim Ryun in what Ryun admitted was a ''lackluster campaign.'' Now, Ryun is back and taking nothing for granted in his rematch against the freshman representative.



Besides incumbency, Boyda has a significant advantage this time around. Before getting the rematch Ryun will have to overcome a contentious primary against state treasurer Lynn Jenkins. While Ryun has been endorsed by the Club for Growth, Jenkins enjoys the support of the Republican Main Street Partnership. The republican contest is already getting heated with the conservative Club for Growth running attack ads against the more moderate Jenkins. A bitter primary has the potential to divide the GOP base and allow Boyda to finish off a bloodied opponent, but one can only wonder how long Boyda can hold out in such a conservative district.










Candidates




Jim Ryun - Republican - former Congressman, lost to Boyda in '06

Website 73




Nancy Boyda (I) - Democrat -
current Congresswoman

Website 74




Lynn Jenkins - Republican - current State Treasurer

Website 75









Kansas (03)



Outlook: Likely Democratic






Background



In his bid for an upset of Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore, Republican state senator Nick Jordan has been bringing in the big guns. Jordan has already held a fundraiser featuring President George W. Bush and hit the campaign trail with NRCC Chair Tom Cole of neighboring Okalahoma. Jordan has also been able to out-fundraise Moore in the second quarter of 2008, prompting many observers to take notice of a seat that was written off before.



Never count out Moore, though, who has appeased enough conservatives to eke out five consecutive victories in a district that supported Bush over Kerry by a 55-44 margin. Close races are nothing new to Moore who won his first four elections by 52, 50, 50, and 55 percent respectively. Moore also has significant money in the bank, over $1 million as of mid-July to Jordan's $615,000. Moore also has one other advantage, probably the one that worries Republicans the most: the DCCC. This year the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will have much more to spend than their Republican counterparts and Moore will be a likely beneficiary of the DCCC largesse while Jordan will be hoping for NRCC scraps.




Candidates




Dennis Moore (I) - Democrat - current congressman

Website 76




Nick Jordan - Republican - state senator

Website 77









Kentucky (02) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up











Background



This race got interesting in January with a covert gambit that could have been torn from the pages of a?very wonky?spy novel. Republican Rep. Ron Lewis' chief-of-staff, Daniel London, sent his wife to secretly file two sets of papers at the last minute before the candidate filing deadline. One set of papers withdrew Lewis' name from the ballot, while the other added London's. Lewis later called the move a ''mistake'' as national GOPers threw their support behind equally crafty state senator Brett Guthrie who had been tipped off and was able to narrowly beat the filing deadline. After news of the ploy broke, London eventually withdrew and Guthrie won the party nod unopposed.



On the Democratic side, the primary began and ended with much fewer fireworks, and state senator David Boswell won the nomination on May 20, setting up a high-caliber general election matchup. Both candidates have solid political pedigrees, but Guthrie's lack of a primary has led to a large cash advantage, with Guthrie holding $380,000 to Boswell's $16,000. This gap and the district's Republican preference?it voted 65 percent for Bush in 2004?gives Guthrie and the GOP the initial edge.







Candidates




David Boswell - Democrat - state senator

Website 78




Brett Guthrie - Republican - state senator
Website 79









Kentucky (03)



Outlook: Leans Democratic







May 27, 2008 Update:


Voters in Kentucky's 3rd district will be treated to a rematch of the 2006 congressional race, with Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth switching roles with Republican ex-Rep. Anne Northup. Yarmuth's advantages are his incumbency, a $300,000 cash on hand advantage, and an anti-GOP electorate. Northup on the other hand has plenty of experience and over half a million dollars in the bank. To add even more excitement to round two of this battle, the two candidates will be competing in a district that could go for either party in the upcoming presidential election.










Background


Former Representative Anne Northrup?s political skills certainly haven?t rusted in since Representative John Yarmuth won her seat in the Democratic wave of 2006. Since then, she challenged and lost against sitting governor Ernie Fletcher in a 2007 primary, and as of January announced a repeat bid against her congressional successor. Her entrance was prompted by the surprise exit of Personnel Cabinet secretary Erwin Roberts and marks a strong challenge to the freshman Yarmuth. To ensure a rematch Northrup must dispatch with primary opposition from developer Chris Thieneman and Bob DeVore.



Northrup is the strongest challenger Yarmuth could have faced, but the district is trending Democratic beneath her feet. This election will determine the future of two strong-willed Kentucky politicians. Either Yarmuth will segue to a long Congressional career or Northrup?s political career will be redeemed after consecutive losses in 2006 and 2007.





Candidates




John Yarmuth (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 80




Anne Northrup - Republican - Former U.S. Representative to KY-03, 2007 gubernatorial candidate

Website 81









Louisiana (04) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up







November 7, 2008 Update:

The candidates of both parties won their respective runoffs comfortably. Carmouche emerged as the Democratic candidate after overpowering his opponent by a 62 to 38 percent margin, while Fleming beat his opponent 56 to 44 percent. Both candidates will now square off in a general election on December 6.




October 6, 2008 Update:


Yesterday's primary did little to clarify the picture in this northwestern Louisiana district. In fact, things are even cloudier than before, as both parties have runoffs scheduled for what was supposed to be the date of the general election. While the rest of the country chooses their representatives for Congress on November 4, voters in Louisiana's 4th district will be choosing the candidates for their December 6 general election, postponed as a result of Hurricane Gustav.



On November 4th, Republicans will choose between physician John Fleming and trucking executive Chris Gorman. Fleming led the voting with 35 percent of the vote, while Gorman won 34 percent. Lawyer Jeff Thompson just missed the runoff with 31 percent, despite having the support of outgoing Rep. Jim McCrery.



Democrats' choices are establishment-pick, district attorney Paul Carmouche and attorney Willie Banks. Carmouche was expected to win outright, but he captured just 48 percent of the vote, so he will need to improve by at least 2 percent to win the runoff. Banks could pose a challenge, despite capturing viewer than half as many votes, since he, like roughly 50 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, is African-American.



Overall, the district is heavily Republican and supported Bush with almost 60 percent of the vote in 2004. The eventual Democrat victor, almost certainly Carmouche, will be hurt by Election Day being moved from November 4, since Obama will no doubt increase Democratic turnout in this 33 percent black district. Carmouche could have used a clean, primary win, but there is still a chance he can pull it out.










Background



Although it took a while for both sides to cast their leading men, it now appears the stage may be set for the general election. To assume the role of Republican Party nominee, attorney Jeff Thompson still must defeat several other candidates, but he has already earned the endorsement of the man he hopes to succeed, retiring Rep. Jim McCrery, and is seen as the clear frontrunner in the primary race.



On the Democratic side, hopes rest with district attorney Paul Carmouche who is touted for his conservative ''law and order'' credentials in a congressional district that gave Bush 59% in 2004 and reelected McCrery for decades without much of a second thought.



Why, then, are Dems optimistic about their chances in a district that is usually deep Red? Special election victories in arguably similar districts like LA-6 and MS-1 have made them feel that a Democratic sun is shining, even in areas that usually provide the most shade for Republicans. A new resolve to fight for previously uncontested Southern districts and the district's 33 percent African-American citizenry has combined to convince national?and local?Dems that this 2008 is the year of the donkey.





Candidates




John Fleming - Republican - physician


Website 82




Paul Carmouche - Democrat - district attorney

Website 83




Willie Banks - Democrat - attorney

Website 84




Chris Gorman - Republican - trucking executive

Website 85 8









Louisiana (06)



Outlook: Leans Democratic










September 29, 2008 Update:


Don?t let Don Cazayoux?s new poll fool you; the newly-minted Congressman?s reelection remains in serious jeopardy.


This week, Cazayoux released internal poll showing himself leading Republican Bill Cassidy by a solid eighteen point margin. That means Cazayoux is safe, right? Wrong. With intense media coverage of the special election, Cazayoux enjoys near-complete name identification throughout the heavily Republican district while his opponent, a newcomer to the race, is virtually unknown. Once Cassidy hits the airwaves, expect his vote share to rise at the expense of Cazayoux.


Even more troubling, however, is the fact that Michael Jackson takes a solid nine percent in the aforementioned poll. Jackson?s showing signals that he retains a significant following among African Americans in the district. Once Cassidy makes his case to the electorate, Cazayoux will need every one of Jackson?s black supporters to swim against the demographic and presidential tides. At first glance, Cazayoux?s poll seems nothing but smiles and sunshine, but a closer look reveals storm-clouds gathering on the horizon.



July 15, 2008 Update:


Newly-minted Democratic Rep. Don Cazayoux faces two new hurdles in his bid to repeat his May upset. The first fits the category of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Widely criticized special election GOP nominee Woody Jenkins made the last-minute decision to drop out of the primary just three days before the filing deadline. Instead the Republican nod will almost certainly fall to state senator Bill Cassidy who should now have an easy time of it in the primary. Republicans are much more excited by the prospect of a Cassidy candidacy and they believe Cazayoux's days are now numbered.



The second unfortunate development for the freshman legislator is the independent candidacy of his special election primary foe. Cazayoux defeated state representative Michael Jackson by a 57-43 margin, but a three-way race will be a definite threat to Cazayoux's chances of retaining his seat. Jackson who is African-American and still calls himself a Democrat, could very well split the Democratic vote with Cazayoux, who is white, a dangerous proposition in a district that is 33% black and where just 40% of the electorate voted for John Kerry in 2004. If Cassidy can hold the Republican line as Jenkins was unable to in the special election, the GOP could certainly defeat both Democrats come November.






May 31, 2008 Update:


Don Cazayoux?s special election victory over Woody Jenkins gave political observers some answers, but more questions as to the electoral environment in November. Cazayoux?s victory was expected?he led in all public and internal polling?but still startling, as President Bush carried the district by more than nineteen percent in 2004. Democratic spin-masters quickly labeled the Republican defeat as a signal of a noxious national mood for the GOP, while Republican pundits blamed the loss solely on Jenkins, whose controversial ties to KKK leader David Duke could not be overcome by any amount of independent advertising.



Regardless of whether national or local factors dominated, the trends are disturbing for House GOPers. The NRCC and 527s dumped over one million into the race, but could not salvage the district. Meanwhile, the DCCC flexed its financial muscles and demonstrated how its fundraising advantage can be brought to bear in second-tier races in the fall. Victories by Cazayoux and Bill Foster in IL14 illuminate two other trends, as well. First, national Democrats are learning how to recruit moderate candidates in conservative districts, while the NRCC has been handicapped by its self-imposed policy of non-intervention in contested primaries. Look for these trends to continue in races across the South and elsewhere (AL2, AL5, MD1, FL21, and TX23 come to mind). Second, the classic ''tax-and-spend,'' ''San Francisco'' liberal argument isn?t working yet this cycle. Independent organizations tried and failed to tie Cazayoux to Barack Obama, and in an election year with so many big issues at stake (the Economy, Iraq, Immigration, Health Care, etc), Republican candidates will have to make a case on their own merits, rather than vilifying their Democratic opponents.



But the news from Louisiana isn?t all bad for the GOP. Unlike in Dennis Hastert?s old seat (IL14), Republicans are not stuck with Jenkins, who is still running, as their nominee in the fall. Furthermore Cazayoux?s primary opponent, Michael Jackson, promises to make the general election a ''thriller,'' by running as an Independent in the general election. Assuming Jenkins is not the nominee, the GOP stands a decent shot at recapturing the seat on the back of presidential coattails this November.



In short, the special election raised more questions than answers. Observers of both partisan persuasions must turn to May 14th?s special election in Mississippi as the ''tiebreaker'' between the national mood and local factors to explain special election results. If Republicans, who have a solid candidate in Greg Davis, win, they can breathe easier, but if Democrats prevail, the floodgates may open for a ''wave'' election like 2006.





May 27, 2008 Update:


On May 3, Democrat Don Cazayoux pulled perhaps the biggest special election upset of the cycle, defeating Republican Woody Jenkins by three percent in a district that gave President Bush 59 percent of the vote in 2004. Although the seat is far from safe in the fall, Democrats have managed to put themselves in the driver's seat with the November election just around the corner.




April 16, 2008 Update:


It?s still an upset if you can see it coming, right? In what should have been a GOP cakewalk, national Republicans are praying to reverse recent trends in Louisiana's sixth district that could cost them yet another special election seat.



Although both Republican Woody Jenkins and Democrat Don Cazayoux easily emerged from primary runoffs, right now, all the momentum in the world is behind Cazayoux. Two polls?one Republican, one Democrat?report Cazayoux with a slim lead, and just last week, the National Rifle Association astonishingly endorsed the conservative Democrat. National Republicans, quick to perceive the urgency of the situation, have rushed to Jenkins' aid and, despite their meager finances, have begun airing ads attacking Cazayoux?s tax record. If Democrats can win in this conservative, Southern district, it will be a bigger upset than Bill Foster?s victory in Dennis Hastert's old seat. If not, Republicans can take a deep breath, then go on to fight the countless other fires spreading throughout the Congressional landscape.










Background


Democrats are feeling bullish about their chances in special elections after their surprise victory in Illinois fourteenth district. Their best pickup opportunity before November lies in Louisiana?s sixth district, home to retiring Representative Richard Baker. For the first time in memory, the election will not take place under Louisiana?s convoluted open-primary system, which was recently struck down by the Supreme Court. Instead, each party?s nominee will be named in a 4/5 runoff with the general election to occur on May 3rd.



For the Republicans, publisher Woody Jenkins and lobbyist Laurinda Calongne emerged from a bitter primary. Jenkins is the frontrunner, but Republicans fear his financial record makes him less electable than Calongne in a general election. Democrats are headed for a showdown between state representatives Don Cazayoux and Michael Jackson which threatens to expose racial divides in this 33 percent black district. Cazayoux was recruited by the DCCC and has shown solid fundraising, but Jackson?s strong ties to the African-American community and the Congressional Black Caucus (which is not openly supporting him) will be difficult to overcome. If Cazayoux and Jenkins prevail, prepare for a real race, otherwise, this looks like a Republican hold.









Candidates




Michael Jackson - Independent - state representative



Website 86




Don Cazayoux (I) - Democrat - current Congressman

Website 87




Bill Cassidy - Republican - state senator and physician
Website 88









Louisiana (07)



Outlook: Likely Republican






Background



Republican Rep. Charles Boustany is seeking a third term in Congress this year, but could the third time be the charm for Democrats instead? After a seemingly endless wait, they've fielded African-American state senator Don Cravins Jr., whose father ran against Boustany in 2004, barely missing the runoff which Boustany went on to win handily.



Will a Cravins best Boustany in 2008? Democrats think it is a distinct possibility, despite the fact that Cravins entered the race during the last week of June, much later than the typical Congressional challenger. The DCCC is wholeheartedly supporting Cravins who has pledged to make Boustany's acceptance of pay raises a marquee issue. Cravins himself is very pro-gun, saying, ''Some people play golf. I strap on a vest and gun for fun.'' Cravins seems to be following the new Southern Democrat playbook in his bid to get elected in a district that is only 25% black and voted 60% for Bush in 2004. Those statistics and Cravins' late start, though, definitely favor Boustany, but there's no doubt he would have much rather not faced any challenger at all.




Candidates




Charles Boustany (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 89




Don Cravins Jr. - Democrat - state senator

Website 90









Maryland (01) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up








November 14, 2008 Update:

Democrat Frank M. Kratovil declared victory on November 11 after his opponent conceded. Kratovil edged Harris out 49 percent to 48 percent, and 2,154 votes.




November 7, 2008 Update:

The Democrat Frank Kratovil leads by 2,003 votes with 100% of precincts reporting. But since the absentee ballot process will be kept open till Nov. 14, results may not be known until next week or even a few weeks away.






September 16, 2008 Update:


In what was perhaps the worst kept secret in Maryland politics, Representative Wayne Gilchrest, defeated in the Republican primary, has named his preferred successor: Democrat Frank Kratovil, Neither the passing of time nor the pleading of national Republicans could overcome Gilchrest?s bad blood toward his primary opponent, state senator Andy Harris.


The endorsement keeps this race on the verge of competitiveness, at least for now. Although Democrats point to victories in the GOP territories of Louisiana and Mississippi to bolster Kratovil?s chances, all other factors point toward a Harris victory. Not only is the district painted in a deep red hue, but for Kratovil to win he must struggle against the twin headwinds of McCain coattails and an unpopular Democratic governorship. While an upset is not inconceivable, this seat is still likely to remain in GOP hands for years to come.








Background



Following state senator Andy Harris's primary defeat of Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, some of the Good Ole Party faithful is jumping ship. Already Gilchrest's chief-of-staff and several other campaign and legislative aides have signed onto the campaign of Democrat Frank Kratovil. Gilchrest himself has conspicuously withheld an endorsement and insiders suggest he is closer to endorsing Kratovil than Harris.



Still, this is a Republican district at heart and in presidential years that counts double. The district went 57 percent for Bush in 2000 and 62 percent in 2004 and there is no indication that 2008 should be much different. Although Harris has been a much better fundraiser so far, the cash-on-hand totals are roughly equal between the two candidates as a result of Harris' expensive primary battle with Gilchrest. Some Democrats are already comparing Maryland's 1st district to Mississippi's, noting a special election upset in a pro-Bush area, but Harris is no slouch and he certainly has a good shot at keeping the seat in the Republican column.







Candidates




Frank Kratovil - Democrat - state attorney

Website 91




Andy Harris - Republican - state senator
Website 92









Michigan (07)



Outlook: Leans Democratic











May 28, 2008 Update:


The stage is pretty much set for a showdown between Rep. Tim Walberg and Democratic state senator Mark Schauer. Although Schauer technically still has to face 2006 Democratic nominee Sharon Renier in a September primary, he has $750,000 cash on hand to her $45, all but assuring himself the lead role this fall. Schauer has even outshone Walberg with regards to fundraising, as the incumbent Republican has just $600,000 in his coffers. This is shaping up to be a blockbuster showdown that will keep Wolverine State voters on the edge of their seats until the curtain falls in November.











Background


Last cycle, Representative Tim Walberg was the poster-child for the conservative Club for Growth by knocking off the more moderate Rep. Joe Schwartz in a heated primary. This year, however, the Club must play defense as Walberg's razor-thin general election victory has lured a bevy of potential challengers.



Foremost among the announced candidates is state senate minority leader Mark Schauer whose entrance cleared an otherwise crowded field. Considering the 2006 Democratic nominee, Sharon Renier, spent only $56K to come within four percent of Walberg, Schauer?s fundraising has been impressive. His $355K in the fourth quarter, strong for any challenger, doubles the feeble $153K of the incumbent. While Schauer is likely the Democrat?s best possible candidate, he will have to struggle against the conservative tilt of the district. Perhaps the biggest x-factor in the race is ex-Rep Joe Schwartz who has yet to signal his intentions to run as a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, but with passing time, his entrance grows more unlikely.









Candidates




Mark Schauer - Democrat -
state senator

Website 93




Tim Walberg (I) - Republican -
current Congressman

Website 94




Sharon Renier - Democrat -
2006 Democratic nominee
Website 95









Michigan (09)



Outlook: Leans Republican









May 28, 2008 Update:


This race got even more interesting in March, when former doctor and assisted-suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian announced he would throw his hat into the ring as an Independent. Although Kevorkian has no realistic chance of winning, he could still have an effect on what is shaping up to be a very competitive race. Democrats have chosen former state senator and lottery commissioner Gary Peters as their candidate to take on Republican Rep. Joe Knollenberg who won an eighth term in 2006 with just a six percent margin, despite outspending his opponent nearly 10 to 1.



Knollenberg spent over $3 million last cycle and seems prepared to repeat that pace if necessary, already having raised $1.3 million. Although Peters isn't quite at that level, his $650,000 shows he means business. Even though the race just picked up a celebrity candidate, Kevorkian, for once, is unlikely to be the center of attention for long.









Background


In 2006, Democrat Nancy Skinner surprised political observers by coming within 15,000 votes of defeating seven-term congressman Joe Knollenberg. This year, Skinner will have another shot, provided she can overcome a tough primary against former lottery commissioner Gary Peters who has the endorsement of the DCCC and the national establishment.



Knollenberg, however, is taking the challenge more seriously this time. He is among the most prolific Republican fundraisers, raising more than $1.45 million in 2007 and expecting to spend at least $4 million on the race, all told. For Democrats to pull the upset, they must avoid a costly primary, and keep pace with Knollenberg's impressive fundraising. Both goals present big question marks over the coming months.








Candidates




Gary Peters - Democrat -
state Lottery Commissioner, former state senator

Website 96




Joe Knollenberg (I) - Republican -
current Congressman

Website 97




Jack Kevorkian - Independent - assisted-suicide advocate









Minnesota (01)



Outlook: Likely Democratic







September 16, 2008 Update:


What did state senator Dick Day gain from skipping the Republican nominating convention in April? Not too much. After the convention delegates enthusiastically endorsed his opponent, physician Brian Davis, the party establishment coalesced behind the former political outsider. Davis? fundraising soared while GOP leaders urged Day to drop the race for months. In last Tuesday?s primary, Day finally got the message, going down in defeat by a two to one margin (67-33) and potentially damaging his chances at a future bid for higher office. Davis, on the other hand, exits the primary with momentum and the support of the Republican base at his back. However, it remains a tall task for Davis to translate his primary performance into general election success against the well-financed and mistake-free incumbent, Tim Walz.



June 2, 2008 Update:


A mid-May poll conducted by Rep. Tim Walz showed him sitting pretty against either of his two most-likely opponents. Against state senator Dick Day, Walz led 57-22 and against Mayo Clinic doctor Brian Davis, Walz held a 60-20 advantage. Both Republicans also have a financial disadvantage, as they have each raised just over $200,000 compared to Walz's $1.6 million with over $1 million still in the bank. While Davis won the endorsement of the state GOP in mid-April, he still must face Day in a primary on September 9 for the right to face Walz in November.









Background


This race still needs time to develop. As of now, Representative Tim Walz appears to be on the right track to reelection. In his first two years, he has avoided serious mistakes and carved out a moderate voting record. His fundraising continues to impress, as well, piling up over $1M in contributions in 2007 alone.



In comparison, Waltz's strongest competitor, state senator Dick Day has raised only $210K to date and other candidates including state representative Randy Demmer and oncologist Brian Davis have enjoyed considerably less financial success. Barring any further developments, Walz remains a strong favorite for reelection in the fall.






Candidates




Tim Walz (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 98




Brian Davis - Republican -
oncologist at Mayo Clinic
Website 99




Dick Day - Republican -
state Senator, former state Senate Minority Leader
Website 100









Minnesota (03) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Leans Democratic









April 16, 2008 Update:


Call off the coronation, Iraq war veteran Ashwin Madia just crashed the party! Culminating an impressive turnaround in momentum, Madia capitalized on grassroots activist support to defeat the once-presumptive nominee Terri Bonoff at the district?s nominating convention. Waiting in the wings for the young Democrat is state representative Erik Paulsen, who has quietly amassed a sizeable campaign warchest and campaign infrastructure. Unlike Paulsen, Madia is an unknown commodity to Minnesota voters, and faces fundraising and name identification deficits, but for a former Republican who supported Dole in '96 and McCain in '00, he will be difficult to paint as a classic DFL liberal.




March 26, 2008 Update:


Oh, the tables have turned in the Democratic primary! When state senator Terri Bonoff entered the race last year, district insiders assumed she would be the nominee. Now, Iraq war veteran Ashwin Madia has surged into the lead on the back of grassroots activist support. In the eleven Democratic county conventions, Madia has won nine and built a 81.5-65 delegate lead over Bonoff with 95 delegates needed to win. Bonoff has a commanding lead in superdelegates (15 to 2), however, reflecting her solid establishment support. Both candidates have pledged to abide by the results of the district convention on April 12th, but it is far from certain which Democrat will emerge to face Erik Paulsen in November.









Background


Rep. Jim Ramstad?s decision to retire sent both parties scrambling to fill a competitive seat. Currently, Republicans seem to have an upper hand in state representative Erik Paulsen who banked an impressive $390K in the fourth quarter of 2007 and leads all Democrats in cash on hand.



The Democrats face a crowded primary between state senator Terri Bonoff, Edina mayor Jim Hovland, and Iraq war veteran Ashwin Madia with Bonoff the current frontrunner. Bonoff has secured the coveted endorsement of former Vice President and Minnesota icon Walter Mondale, but the more moderate Hovland, a recent Republican convert, may be a better fit for the marginal district. With strong fundraising and an uncontested primary, Paulsen stands in prime position to retain Ramstad?s seat, but can he overcome the pro-Democratic national mood to win this swing district?







Candidates




Ashwin Madia - Democrat - Iraq War veteran, attorney

Website 101




Erik Paulsen - Republican - state representative

Website 102









Minnesota (06)



Outlook: Toss-up





Background


The old adage about how quickly politics can change may seem trite. But its examples continue to astound. Case in point: freshman Republican incumbent Michele Bachmann was set for another probable victory. She had wrapped up a competitive 2006 election with a convincing 50%-42% win. President Bush won the district comfortably by more than 10 percent margins in 2000 and 2004. And, as of last month, she was out-funding her Democratic opponent Elwyn Ticklenberg by close to a million dollars.


Then, on October 17, Bachmann decided to bathe in the national spotlight with another one of her cable news interviews ? this time on Chris Matthews' Hardball on MSNBC. When pressed to comment about Barack Obama, she indicated he "may have anti-American views". She also called for an investigation into members of Congress for harboring anti-American sentiments.


Bam! Within minutes, the race shifted. Within 24 hours of her interview, 9,000 donors nationwide poured half a million dollars to the Ticklenberg campaign from across the country. Bachmann tried to finesse her statements but, as her opponent's spokesman put it, the fire had been lit. Within three days, the funding lead over her opponent evaporated. Republicans distanced themselves from her, while former Secretary of State Colin Powell dismissed it as "nonsense". Democrats were outraged, denouncing her statements as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) injected over a million into the race.


Ticklenberg already had a decent chance at winning even before the saga broke out. He picked up a key endorsement from the Independence Party, which is significant considering that 8 percent of the vote went to a third-party candidate in 2006. He also enjoys some name recognition having lost the Democratic nomination in 2006 and an election in 2004. Republicans are also facing trying times at the national level during this election cycle.
But it can't hurt him to have received the electoral equivalent of a gift from God. Bachmann must be kicking herself for making this race much more competitive than it should have been. Maybe she shouldn't have played Hard Ball.





Candidates




Michele Bachmann (I) - Republican - Current U.S. Representative

Website 103




Elwyn Ticklenberg - Democrat - 2006 Democratic primary candidate, former mayor and transportation commissioner

Website 104









Missouri (06)



Outlook: Leans Republican











June 10, 2008 Update:


Republican Rep. Sam Graves and his Democratic challenger Kay Barnes have gotten into the most publicized ad war of the cycle so far. Graves is calling Barnes out for her ''San Francisco values,'' while Barnes' response ads highlight the negative nature of Graves' ads and the incumbent's fundraising from oil companies. Graves' ads are notable both for their poor production values, the three young people dancing arhythmically in front of a bar is a sight to remember, and the time at which they are being run: two months before the primary even takes place.



The early ad battle shows that both sides feel this is a very competitive race. It also demonstrates the financial arsenal with which each candidate is equipped. Both have raised around $1.5 million so far this cycle and have spent $450,000 each. The NRCC and DCCC watching this race closely, as Barnes is on the ''Red to Blue'' list and Graves has already gotten some money from the ''ROMP'' program. Missourians can expect a lot of outside attention, and money, to pour into the sixth district over the next few months.










Background


Democrats are excited about their nominee against Representative Sam Graves in Missouri?s fifth district, a typical GOP stronghold. Former Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes, who turned down a challenge in 06, entered early and seeks to capitalize on the revitalization of downtown Kansas City. Unfortunately for Barnes, only half of the district?s voters hail from the more liberal Kansas City suburbs, while the other half of the district sprawls across thinly-populated rural counties.



Both candidates are taking the race seriously: Barnes has already raised over $1M and Graves has already welcomed President Bush and Vice President Cheney to the district for fundraising events. In 2006, Senator Claire McCaskill narrowly won the district against Jim Talent, but Graves has not faced a competitive reelection race yet. The suspension of unpopular Republican Governor Matt Blunt's gubernatorial bid gives Graves the opportunity to distance himself from the woes of the Missouri and focus on Barnes' liberal cultural record as mayor. Normally, this district would be off the Crystal Ball radar, but with high-quality candidates on both sides, the race could be one of the most fascinating of 2008.










Candidates




Kay Barnes - Democrat -
former mayor of Kansas City, professor at Park University

Website 105




Sam Graves, Jr. (I) - Republican -
current Congressman
Website 106









Missouri (09) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Leans Republican






September 16, 2008 Update:


For two primaries that were up for grabs until election day, Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer and Democrat Judy Baker prevailed by surprisingly wide margins, 40-29 and 44-31 respectively. Luetkemeyer, who emerged from a crowded field by dipping into his personal wealth, is the slight favorite for now given the district?s conservative demographics. Expect Luetkemeyer to focus his campaign on his socially conservative views which seem more in line with the district?s ideological bent than Baker?s.


Conversely, Judy Baker, one of the more liberal candidates in the Democratic primary, must work hard to expand her base outside of the college town of Columbia and into the rural reaches of the district. The Democrat starts with a fighting chance, leading Luetkemeyer 41 to 39 in her campaign?s internal polling (remember, internal polling is notoriously optimistic) with many voters still undecided. Even if this polling lead is credible, this race won?t be a cakewalk for Baker in a district that gave former Senator Jim Talent 8% and George Bush 18% in the two previous elections.



June 10, 2008 Update:


With still two months to go until Missouri's August 5th primary date, this race is as crowded as Arrowhead Stadium on a November Sunday. Five Republicans and four Democrats filed to run in their respective primaries, leaving handicappers without much of an idea about who the victors will be. The two candidates with the most money are Republican state representative Bob Onder who has raised $370,000 and Democratic state representative Judy Baker who has raised $216,000. Only one other candidate, Democratic county commissioner Lyndon Bode, has raised even $100,000.



Even with Onder's big haul, he has spent just $1,000, indicative of his confidence that he will be the Republican nominee. Baker, on the other hand, is facing three opponents who all have spent $5,000 or more and one, Bode, who has spent over $65,000.



The salient issue in this nascent race thus far has been abortion. Onder even debated Democratic candidate and former state senator Ken Jacob on the issue, a rare event for two candidates of opposite parties who each still face a tough primary. Jacob pitches himself as the most ardent supporter of abortion rights, while Bode doesn't hesitate to proclaim himself a pro-life Democrat.



There's clearly a lot more race left to see here over the coming months. While Onder stands out among Republicans, Democrats have yet to coalesce around a true frontrunner and August 5th is a date all politicos should circle as this Show Me State primary is sure to be a dandy.











Background


Governor Matt Blunt?s surprise suspension of his reelection campaign set off a mad scramble in Missouri politics. Ahead of the filing deadline, longtime Representative Kenny Hulshof jumped into the crowded gubernatorial race and left his conservative district open to competition on both Republican and Democratic sides. Democrats are headed for a primary between state representative Judy Baker, ex-state house speaker Steve Gaw, and Marion County commissioner Lyndon Bode, with Gaw as an initial favorite.



On the Republican side, there are no announced candidates as of yet, but state Senator Bond?s Chief of Staff Jason Van Eaton and representatives Bob Onder, Joe Smith, and Ed Robb, and are mulling the race. The district went for Bush with 59% in 2004 and is tough sledding for Democrats, but any open seat has the potential to be contested in what appears to be a Democratic year.





Candidates




Judy Baker - Democrat - state representative
Website 107




Blaine Luetkemeyer - Republican - former state representative

Website 108









Mississippi (01)



Outlook: Leans Democratic






May 31, 2008 Update:


On the count of three, everybody panic.



One... Bill Foster in Illinois' fourteenth...Two... Don Cazayoux in Louisiana's sixth...Three!



Democrat Travis Childers' special election victory over Southaven mayor Greg Davis (R) was the stuff of Democratic dreams and Republican nightmares. Capping three special election upsets in conservative districts, Mississippi's first congressional district delivered the most decisive and significant result for the national political parties. Unlike IL-14 and LA-6, this district was ''no excuses'' territory for the GOP. By any reasonable standard, Republicans should hold this seat--the district gave President Bush 62 percent in 2004 and, unlike in the previous races, Republicans had a credible candidate. Even though Childers' maintained a stable polling lead up until election day, his larger-than-expected eight point margin was a 'wake-up call' to congressional Republicans which continues to reverberate through Washington politics.



How did it happen? The conventional wisdom of a toxic national mood for the Republican Party fails to tell the whole story of a race with uniquely local idiosyncrasies of character and geography. Like Cazayoux (but not Foster), Childers was not your typical Democrat. The Prentiss County Chancery Clerk hails from the nearly extinct tradition of ''Southern Democrats.'' A pro-life social conservative, Childers touted his love of God, guns, and good-old-boy society. His political base lay among the rural courthouse crowd in the southern part of the district, while Davis came from the Memphis suburbs and was considered an outsider to many voters. Over the course of two months and five ''runoff'' elections, Childers maintained his tiny vote plurality over Davis despite heavy spending by campaign committees and independent organizations trying to link Childers to national Democrats.



The special election upset sent the national parties into a frenzy. The Republican leadership searched for someone to blame (NRCC chair Tom Cole, ex-Senator Trent Lott, and Senator Roger Wicker are the leading candidates), while individual members scrambled to secure their own reelection plans. In some way, the defeat may be a blessing in disguise for House Republicans, allowing them to rewrite their message before November and adopt the moderate, change-oriented themes of their standard-bearer, John McCain. Democrats, meanwhile, have struggled to contain their enthusiasm as estimations of the electoral playing field have grown from 10 to 20 to as high as seventy-five. If celebration turns to complacency, the may well prove a curse for House Democrats, but for now, the party looks poised for another banner year in 2008.









Background



What a difference a few months makes! This time last year, Republican Rep. Roger Wicker was the owner of one of the safest seats in the House. His smallest margin of victory in a reelection campaign was 32 percent and Bush carried the district by 25 in 2004. When Senator Trent Lott announced his retirement, Wicker's good fortunes took an even better turn, as he was appointed by the governor to fulfill the rest of Lott's term.



Wicker's good fortune did not transfer to the GOP. In one of the biggest special election shockers in a season of surprises, Democratic county clerk Travis Childers defeated Republican mayor Greg Davis 54-46 in the May 13 runoff to capture the remainder of Wicker's term in office. The November general election will be a rematch of Childers and Davis' May showdown, will both candidates reprising their roles as their party's respective nominee.



For Childers, the key to reelection will be to quickly establish himself in Congress, showing he has hit the ground running. Most freshman House members get two years to make an impact and get noticed; Childers will have six months. Davis' challenge is to prove to party leaders that the May results were a fluke, a prospect made more challenging by the fact by Childers' very strong showing in the April nonpartisan primary. While both candidates ended the campaign broke, they will have to quickly rev up their campaigns again, especially the fundraising machinery. Childers will be helped by national Dems who see him as a poster child for a banner year. Davis, who was helped heavily by the NRCC in the special election, may not be able to count on as much support by an organization trying to cut their losses and make smarter investments. With round one of this matchup over, we won't have to wait long for these candidates to step back into the ring.




Candidates




Travis Childers - Democrat - current Congressman

Website 109




Greg Davis - Republican - mayor of Southaven

Website 110









North Carolina (08)



Outlook: Leans Democratic













September 29, 2008 Update:


When the dust settled after the midterm elections of 2006, Democrats realized they had missed a golden opportunity. Democrat Larry Kissell, an all-but-unknown teacher had come within 329 votes of upsetting Republican incumbent Robin Hayes in a very Republican district without any help from national Democrats. Desperate not to miss out two elections in a row, the DCCC announced early support of Kissell?s repeat bid.



Now it likes like Kissell will certainly need that help. As of July 1, he was only halfway to his fundraising goal of $1.2 million, despite having run a nearly continuous campaign since his 2006 loss. Worse yet was his free-spending ways, which reduced his cash-on-hand to less than $250,000 at the end of primary season, despite having had no primary opponent. The DCCC isn?t giving up hope yet, pledging over $1 million in TV ads to bolster Kissell?s chances. Unfortunately, Democrats may have missed their chance. In North Carolina?s 8th, Dems just might be a day late and a dollar short.



May 27, 2008 Update:


In 2006, this race was decided by a mere 329 votes. In 2008, voters will get a chance to re-write the ending if they choose, with Republican Rep. Robin Hayes squaring off against Democratic challenger Larry Kissell for the second election in a row. While the DCCC has offered Kissell more help this time around, Hayes vows not to be caught napping again. Case in point: Hayes has almost $1 million in the bank already, while Kissell has just $130,000.



Money won't entirely define the race, however, as Kissell made his mark in 2006 with innovative stunts, such as selling gas for $1.22 a gallon, the same price as the day Hayes first took office. Although national Dems pledge to pay more attention this time around, they may have lost their chance to catch Hayes by surprise.










Background


Has the DCCC learned anything since 2006? After their chosen candidate dropped out of the 2006 primary, the national Democrats refused to financially support social studies teacher Larry Kissell's longshot bid against Representative Robin Hayes. Kissell went on to lose by 329 votes, and now he is one of the DCCC?s top recruits for the rematch in 2008.



This time around, Kissell has plenty of establishment support. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already hosted a Washington fundraiser to retire the candidate?s $35,000 personal loan, and the DCCC rapidly cleared the primary to ensure Kissell?s nomination. Whether Kissell can beat Hayes in a presidential year is another matter altogether, as neither side appears inclined to take the race lightly this time around.











Candidates




Larry Kissell - Democrat -
2006 Democratic nominee, high school teacher

Website 111




Robin Hayes (I) - Republican -
current Congressman

Website 112









Nebraska (02)



Outlook: Leans Republican








Background



It's deja vu in this part of the Cornhusker State. Incumbent Rep. Lee Terry, son of prominent TV anchor Lee Terry, Sr., is running for his sixth term against Democratic opponent Jim Esch in a repeat of the 2006 race. Terry won their last encounter healthily by 10 percent (55-45), outspending his opponent $998,578 to $420,010.



On the one hand, there is reason to expect the district to stay Red. Latest polls indicate Terry is up by a similar 10 percent margin (49-39), while President George W. Bush won the district handily by an average of 20 percent in 2004 and 2006.



But Terry's margin of victory in 2006 declined relative to his previous ones partly because of the unpopularity of the war in Iraq, which could continue to influence the outcome of this race. Terry has also acknowledged the fact that Esch is running a more coordinated and grassroots-based campaign than in 2006. It can't hurt Esch that his pockets are also better lined this time. Although Terry has almost twice as much cash on hand, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has added the district to its 'Red to Blue' list and chipped in $435,000 into for against Terry in early October. Esch also found more momentum in late September as Barack Obama began to make inroads into the state.



All this was enough for Terry to ask the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for some assistance, which they reportedly denied. Whether they will regret it is yet to be seen. But this race seems to heating up enough to make even a five-term incumbent sweat.








Candidates




Lee Terry (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 113




Jim Esch - Democrat - 2006 candidate

Website 114









New Hampshire (01)



Outlook: Toss-up








September 16, 2008 Update:


Primary losses by incumbents in Maryland and Utah taught observers that an anti-Washington wind was blowing through the 2008 electorate. The nomination of outsider Lynn Jenkins over deposed Representative Jim Ryun confirmed this conventional wisdom. But the hard-fought, four point victory of former Congressman Jeb Bradley over insurgent former Health Secretary John Stephen should remind us that all politics truly is local.


Bradley?s victory, somewhat of a moderate surprise, has positives and negatives for the New Hampshire GOP. On the plus side, Bradley is the more moderate of the two candidates and can contrast his statesmanship and experience with Carol Shea-Porter?s mixed reviews in Congress. As in the primary, however, Bradley will have difficulty distancing himself from his record in Washington and virtually surrenders the change mantle to the incumbent. This race truly could go either way and will likely remain a toss up until the election.



July 30, 2008 Update:


Representative Carol Shea-Porter, the unlikeliest member of the class of 2006, is in a world of trouble this fall. Last cycle, she channeled voter discontent over the Iraq war into a remarkable upset over incumbent Representative Jeb Bradley. But as conditions on the Iraqi ground improve, her raison d?ĂȘtre weakens and her reelection chances suffer. Once again, Shea-Porter has been outraised by her Republican opponents, and nonpartisan polling shows her trailing Bradley in the potential rematch.


Shea-Porter?s best hope is that Bradley?s campaign is derailed by a bitter primary challenge from former Health Commissioner John Stephen. So far, the strategy may be working as the Republicans have fought over fiscal conservatism, outsider credentials, and the support of external groups. If Stephen wins the September 9th primary, or Bradley emerges mortally wounded, the incumbent may yet prevail. Even so, Carol Shea-Porter still has much work to do to establish herself as a respected voice for New Hampshire in Congress, not just a single-issue opponent of the Iraq war.




May 27, 2008 Update:


Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter has decided to accept DCCC help after all. After initially declining to take part in the Frontline program to protect endangered Democrats, but reserving her right to change her mind, she announced that she would seek funding from the national organization. This announcement came on the heels of a lackluster first quarter fundraising report, which showed her to be one of only four freshmen Democrats to be out-raised by their Republican challengers. Shea-Porter is currently in a virtual cash-on-hand tie with her main Republican challenger Jeb Bradley, whom she defeated in 2006 by a 51-49 margin, and polling from earlier this month has shown the rematch to be a statistical dead heat with six months to go.



Although this may all seem like good news for Bradley, whose opponent appears to be getting desperate, the former representative must still escape from a primary that won't be decided until September 9. Former New Hampshire Commissioner of Health and Human Services John Stephen is in the race as well, and is fundraising well, but Bradley seems content to look past him and concentrate all his firepower on Shea-Porter. Granite State and national politicos alike are watching this race with the greatest of interest.










Background


Representative Carol Shea-Porter enters 2008 trying to prove that her 2008 upset victory was not a fluke. To do so, she will likely have to defeat the district's former Congressman Jeb Bradley once again. The two candidate's styles could not be more different. Bradley is a social moderate who runs a conventional campaign of fundraising and TV advertisement. Shea-Porter, one of the more liberal members of the freshman class, raises little money (she even declined DCCC incumbent protection funds) and relies on an extensive volunteer network to promote her message and get out the vote.



In 2006, Shea-Porter was elected by a wave of anti-war activism; now that conditions in Iraq have improved, and the former outsider is now an incumbent, can she replicate such a perfect storm to win reelection? Or will Bradley's more disciplined, traditional campaign be able to counteract Democratic momentum in an increasingly liberal state? Without doubt, Shea-Porter is one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, but Bradley's restoration may also be complicated by a primary challenge from the conservative former health commissioner John Stephen.






Candidates




Carol Shea-Porter (I) - Democrat -
current Congresswoman
Website 115




Jeb Bradley - Republican -
former Congressman for New Hampshire 1st, defeated by Shea-Porter in 2006
Website 116




John Stephen - Republican - Former New Hampshire Health commissioner

Website 117









New Hampshire (02)



Outlook: Likely Democratic







September 16, 2008 Update:


Finally, we have a nominee in New Hampshire?s second Congressional district. Talk radio host Jennifer Horn emerged from a crowded field of GOP contestants with 40 percent of the primary vote. Horn was considered a tentative frontrunner in the primary, and she met, but did not exceed the expectations of her party. Now the nominee, she will have to redouble her efforts to close gaping fundraising and polling deficits with Representative Paul Hodes. With election day less than two months after the primary, time is running out for Horn to mount an effective challenge to a popular incumbent.



May 27, 2008 Update:


With the primary date set for September 9, the GOP has a lot to sort out over the next four months. A four-way Republican primary has developed, with the beneficiary being incumbent Democrat Paul Hodes. Radio host Jennifer Horn had early support of the Republican organization, but that faded away somewhat as state senator Bob Clegg entered the fray. Now all Hodes has to do is sit back and count his money while Republicans burn through theirs. Another cause for concern is not just spending money, but raising it. Neither Clegg nor Horn has even $100,000 on hand while Hodes has banked over $800,000. If this race is to stay competitive, Republicans must find a solution to this mess, preferably well before the September primary date.










Background


Representative Paul Hodes has enjoyed a relatively successful first term in Congress. In addition to being elected freshman Democratic class president and entertaining rumors about a possible Senate run, Hodes hopes to secure his most prized achievement: reelection in November. So far, he appears to be on the right track, but he has already attracted a crowded Republican primary. As of right now, state senator Bob Clegg, former Senator Sununu aide Grant Bosse, attorney Jim Steiner and radio talk show host Jennifer Horn are battling to for their party?s nomination with Clegg, the only elected official of the bunch, having a slight upper hand. In this district, Republicans face an uphill climb. With the bluing of New Hampshire and Hodes' strong fundraising, this race should remain in Democratic hands for the time being.




Candidates




Paul Hodes (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman

Website 118




Bob Clegg - Republican -
state senator
Website 119




Grant Bosse - Republican -
former aide to Senator Sununu
Website 120




Jennifer Horn - Republican -
radio talk show host
Website 121




Jim Steiner - Republican -
retired Green Beret, businessman and attorney
Website 122









New Jersey (03) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up







July 30, 2008 Update:


Republicans got their man in executive Chris Myers, but their chances at keeping the seat are rapidly slipping away. In a district rooted in the expensive Philadelphia media market, money will be paramount for general election success. Democrat John Adler is doing fine with $720K raised in the second quarter, but Myers has fallen behind with only $249K (including a $50K self-loan) during the same period and little in the bank after a hard-fought primary. Although Myers is personally wealthy, he does not have the resources to fully fund such an expensive race, and is he hoping that retiring Representative Jim Saxon cashes in some of his $1 million warchest to elect a suitable replacement. If Myers does not pick up the pace, he risks being overwhelmed by a barrage of Adler ads in what is likely to be a very Blue Jersey come November.



June 4, 2008 Update:


State Senator John Adler won an uncontested victory in the Democratic primary to replace retiring Republican Rep. Jim Saxon, while Chris Myers, the mayor of Medford Township, beat out three challengers in the Republican primary. This is another race where the lack of an incumbent makes things much more interesting. Saxon's reelection in 2006 by 58 percent of the vote seems to indicate a strong Republican-leaning district, but Bush only carried the area by 3 points in 2004. Adler's ability to save his resources, while Myers had to spend on a nomination battle, should help Adler overcome some of the district's possible Republican tendencies. But until we see how the candidates develop their campaigns over the next few months, this race is still definitely a toss-up.










Background


In the race to replace retiring Representative Jim Saxon, Republicans don't know who they want to fight more?the presumptive Democratic nominee state senator John Adler or themselves. The GOP nomination has split into a bitter inter-county, intra-state battle between Lockheed Martin vice president Chris Myers and freeholder Jack Kelly. Myers, who can self-fund, has the endorsement of Rep. Saxon and support of the Burlington County GOP, but Kelly has enlisted the endorsement of neighboring Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ4) and has the Ocean County GOP at his back.



Although Myers likely has the nomination upper hand, protracted squabbling plays into the hands of the sole Democratic candidate state senator John Adler, who has quietly amassed a respectable war chest. If Republicans cannot bury the hatchet and unite around the eventual nominee, Adler may well roll to victory in a district that gave George Bush a mere 51% in 2004.





Candidates




Chris Myers - Republican - Lockheed Martin vice president and Medford Councilman

Website 123




John Adler - Democrat -
state Senator
Website 124









New Jersey (05)



Outlook: Leans Republican








Background



When blind rabbi Dennis Shulman announced his House candidacy in November of last year, it seemed more likely to end up in Reuter's Oddly Enough than in Sabato's Crystal Ball. Shulman, however, has turned a surefire GOP win into a competitive race, on the strength of his fundraising and a generally strong campaign.



Shulman began running television ads in the primary phase of the campaign, but strong fundraising has allowed him to keep up the pace. His second-quarter haul of over $270,000 almost matched that of incumbent Rep. Scott Garrett, even though Garrett clearly leads in the category of cash-on-hand.



Why is this race competitive? It is hard to say. Voters don't seem to dislike Garrett in particular, as evidenced by an early Shulman poll showed that 31 percent of voters would vote to re-elect Garrett and just 19 percent favored definitely replacing him. Instead it seems Garrett is the victim of the environment, both anti-incumbent and anti-GOP, and the candidate, a strong fundraiser with a compelling narrative. While Garrett has the definite advantage in this district which gave Bush a 14 percent margin of victory in 2004, he'll still have to spend the last few months of the campaign sweating what should have been an easy victory.







Candidates




Scott Garrett (I) - Republican - current congressman


Website 125




Dennis Shulman - Democrat - rabbi and psychologist

Website 126









New Jersey (07) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up






July 30, 2008 Update:


Like Chris Myers (NJ-03) to the south, Republican Leonard Lance is facing a serious financial shortfall against Democrat Linda Stender in this open seat race. Lance emerges from an expensive primary with only $80K cash on hand to Stender?s $1.2 million warchest. However, unlike New Jersey?s other contest, Republican hopes of holding the seat are much brighter. Here, the GOP seems to have the advantage in candidate quality. Internal Republican polling shows Lance with a seven point lead and Stender with an upside-down (20/29) favorability rating. Perhaps district voters still remember Representative Mike Ferguson?s 2006 mantra of ?Linda Stender, big spender,? but it remains to be seen whether Stender can translate her financial advantage into repairing her image? or sullying her opponent?s. Taken as a whole, Republicans still have a shot at the seat, but only if candidate quality trumps cash quantity.



June 4, 2008 Update:


State legislator Linda Stender won the Democratic primary, and will make another bid for the seat she almost won in 2006. Her challenger will be state senator Leonard Lance, who will attempt to hold the seat for the Republicans after the departure of former Rep. Mike Ferguson. Considering how close Stender came two years ago, now that incumbency won't be a factor we'll be watching this race very closely, as it's too close to call right now.










Background


The GOP may be headed for another exhausting primary battle in northern New Jersey after the surprise departure of Representative Mike Ferguson. Like the Jets versus the Giants (who both play in North Jersey), the Republican primary features a pair of local bluebloods?state senator Leonard Lance and GOP Leadership Council executive director Kate Whitman, who is the daughter of former governor Christine Todd Whitman. Joining the two famous last names are businessman Victor Sordillo and a smattering of lesser contenders.



On the Democratic side, assemblywoman Linda Stender is back after coming within 1% of victory last cycle. Stender has a clear path to the nomination and the DCCC?s endorsement, but she may have difficulty competing with the famous last names on the Republican ticket. Regardless, given the financial woes of the NRCC, this seat appears to be a prime, if expensive, opportunity for a Democratic pickup.




Candidates




Leonard Lance - Republican -
state senator

Website 127




Linda Stender - Democrat -
state legislator
Website 128









New Mexico (01) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Leans Democratic







June 4, 2008 Update:


The candidates are set in what could prove to be one of the most exciting districts to watch in the 2008 election cycle. Former Albuquerque city councilman Martin Heinrich won the Democratic primary, and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White won by a wide margin in the Republican contest. The two will vie to replace Republican Heather Wilson, who left the seat to campaign for Senate. Considering how tight Wilson's bid for reelection became in 2006, a victory by only 0.4 percent, Heinrich and White should have quite a battle on their hands. With New Mexico as one of the key swing states for the presidential election, both McCain and Obama will be spending lots of time trying to win over New Mexico voters; one of them could very well provide the down-ticket boost to push this race one way or the other. But as of right now, the New Mexico 1st is too close to call.









Background


Accusations of ethical impropriety concerning the U.S. attorney scandal heightened interest in New Mexico?s first district even before Representative Heather Wilson left the seat to run for the Senate. Now, both primaries are becoming crowded in what is likely to be one of the most hotly contested races of 2008. Heading the Democratic field is former Albuquerque councilor Martin Heinrich who announced before Wilson?s retirement and has the tacit support of Governor Bill Richardson. His pathway to the nomination is complicated by the candidacies of former health secretary Michelle Lujan-Grisham, ex-secretary of state Rebecca Vigil-Giron, and attorney Robert Pidcock as well has his own unremarkable fundraising.



Republicans, meanwhile, are thrilled over their expected nominee: Bernalillo county sheriff Darren White. White?s local ties and strength on security issues?think Rep. Brad Ellsworth of 06?have revived hopes that a Republican other than Wilson could hold this Democratic-leaning district. White, who has been endorsed by Senator Domenici, has a commanding advantage in a primary against state senator Joe Carraro, and early polls show him beating Heinrich head-to-head. Like last cycle, this will likely be one of the fall?s most competitive races with the strength of White?s candidacy balanced against a pro-Democratic demographic and national mood.





Candidates




Martin Heinrich - Democrat -
former Albuquerque City Councilman
Website 129




Darren White - Republican - Bernalillo County Sheriff

Website 130









New Mexico (02) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Leans Democratic









June 4, 2008 Update:


Rancher and restaurateur Ed Tinsley won yesterday's Republican primary, edging out four other candidates vying to replace Steve Pearce, who vacated the seat to run for Senate. Businessman Harry Teague won the Democratic contest, setting up a Teague-Tinsley showdown for November. In a district that went 58 percent for Bush in 2004, and that has been represented by a Republican since 1981, Tinsley looks to be the favorite to succeed Pearce. Teague's ace-in-the-hole may be his fundraising ability: he outspent the other Democratic candidates by a 2-to-1 margin, and has the ability to continue self-financing his campaign. But money doesn't always translate into votes, and Teague has an uphill climb if he hopes to gain the seat for the Democrats.










Background


Senator Pete Domenici?s retirement sent shockwaves through New Mexico?s politics, resulting in the vacancy of all three Congressional districts in pursuit of higher office. The second district, formerly represented by Steve Pearce is by far the most conservative, but candidates have been lining up for the open seat race. The Republican field is cluttered with countless candidates led by K-Bob's Steakhouse owner Ed Tinsley who has some ability to self-fund. Tinsley?s competition includes former state representative Terry Marquardt, ex-Bernalillo GOP director. Bob Cornelius, Sierra GOP chair C. Earl Greer, and rancher Aubrey Dunn Jr.



The Democratic race, if possible, is even more clouded after the withdrawal of frontrunning state representative Joseph Cervantes and includes 2006 nominee Al Kissling, Dona Ana county commissioner Bill McCamley, businessmen Harry Teague, and Frank McKinnon. Cervantes? departure is especially crippling for Democrats given that he is the only candidate on either side with obvious Hispanic roots in a district that is 47 percent Latino. The seat tilts Republican, but stranger things have happened in a district best known for paranormal activity in Roswell.







Candidates




Harry Teague - Democrat -
businessman
Website 131




Ed Tinsley - Republican -
rancher, businessman
Website 132









Nevada (02)



Outlook: Leans Republican







June 11, 2008 Update:


Just when things had starting looking bleak for Republican Rep. Dean Heller, he stumbled upon an oasis. His main primary opponent, Sharron Angle, dropped out, representing a growing acceptance of Heller by all manner of Silver State Republicans. The Club for Growth, a conservative mainstay in GOP primaries which supported Angle in 2006, says they were ''pleasantly surprised by Heller's record,'' a clear endorsement which should signal the final word of the Nevada right.



On the general election front, Heller will again face 2006 Democratic nominee Jill Derby in November. Heller prevailed by 5% last time around in a race that was roughly equally well-funded on both sides. This cycle, the money stock isn't as equitably distributed and Heller owns a cash-on-hand advantage of $800,000 to $130,000. Unless something changes, this pick-up opportunity for Democrats will quickly evaporate under the hot desert sun.












Background


Although he remains a very strong favorite for reelection, Representative Dean Heller has to be feeling a bit more nervous after the last few weeks. Until February, Heller lacked any opponent whatsoever, but recently, formidable challengers have emerged on either side of the Nevada Congressman. To Heller?s right is anti-tax advocate and former assemblywoman Sharron Angle who fell 421 votes short of the Republican nomination in the 2006 open seat contest. Angle has not formally announced, and may well pass on the race, but Heller certainly would like to avoid another bruising primary.



Provided the Congressman navigates the primary, 2006 candidate Jill Derby once again awaits Heller in the general election. Immediately before her entrance, the incumbent?s campaign released a poll showing Heller up double digits (51-36) over Derby, but the district has grown slightly more Democratic since 2006. In the end, Heller should win, perhaps even comfortably, but he certainly could have done without the developments of the last few weeks.





Candidates




Jill Derby - Democrat -
2006 Democratic candidate

Website 133




Dean Heller (I) - Republican -
current Congressman
Website 134









Nevada (03)



Outlook: Leans Democratic








June 12, 2008 Update:


At the end of April, things took an interesting turn in this Southeastern Nevada district. The all-but-certain nominee, prosecutor Robert Daskas, dropped out with just two weeks left until the filing deadline. The DCCC quickly recruited state senate minority leader and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Dina Titus to fill the void. In that 2006 election, Titus lost to now-Gov. Jim Gibbons, but carried the third district she now seeks to represent by 2%, giving Dems hope for her bid this fall.



Republican Rep. Jon Porter will seek to portray Titus as a left-wing liberal, reminding voters that Nevadans rejected her just two years ago. While that critique may be dampened by a recent report that showed she has a more conservative voting record than even the Republican state senate majority leader, Porter also can point out that Titus resides outside the district. Titus, for her part, seems to be concentrating all her fire on Porter's Congressional voting record, which she claims is in lockstep with President Bush's agenda. This race is poised to become as hot as the Nevadan desert and as wild as the Las Vegas strip.










Background


It took Nevada Democrats a long time to attract a credible candidate to the race against Representative Jon Porter. The party quickly exhausted its rumored ?dream team? of candidates? boxer Oscar de la Hoya and former tennis star Andre Agassi?then one-by-one, top tier challengers passed on the race. After 2006 nominee Tessa Hafen, 06 gubernatorial candidate Dina Titus, and Senator Reid?s son, Rory Reid, declined the challenge, Clark county prosecutor Robert Daskas took the plunge.



Daskas is a green candidate, and at times, it shows. He has no fundraising experience and appears to have a shaky grasp on certain issues. If Daskas is to make a race against an entrenched Porter, he will have to be a quick learner and make sure not to repeat earlier mistakes. For now, though, this suburban swing district leans toward reelecting Porter in November, but in Vegas, it?s hard to find a safe bet.






Candidates




Dina Titus - Democrat - state senate minority leader and 2006 gubernatorial nominee

Website 135




Jon Porter, Sr. (I) - Republican -
current Congressman
Website 136









New York (13) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Likely Democratic







September 16, 2008 Update:


After a summer of turmoil and tragedy in New York?s 13th Congressional district, we finally have nominees for the fall. As expected, NYC councilor Michael McMahon swept through the Democratic primary, defeating 2006 candidate Stephen Harrison by nearly three to one. Meanwhile, after countless trials and tribulations, Republicans have settled upon the candidacy of party-endorsed Robert Straniere over physician Jim Wyne by a smaller margin of 59-41.


Emerging from the primaries, the two parties are on opposite ends of the enthusiasm spectrum. Rumors abound over Straniere?s supposed financial troubles, and his lastest gimmick, selling ?the world?s most expensive hot dog? for $4.6K apiece, will do little to quiet the whispers. Furthermore, Brooklyn conservatives, local GOP officials, and Republican backers of Wyne have yet to embrace Straniere as their party?s nominee. With the Republican Party in disarray (see previous update for details), Democrats are thrilled with McMahon?s chances to capture the last remaining GOP seat in New York City.



July 15, 2008 Update:


Just when you think the congressional race in New York's 13th district can't get any crazier, it does. This seat has certainly lived up to its unlucky number for GOPers this year, with Rep. Vito Fossella retiring following his DIU arrest and the revelation of a child as a result of an affair. Following Fossella's announcement that he wouldn't seek reelection, GOP hopes were pinned on Frank Powers, who then passed away unexpectedly in late June.



Understandably this series of events left the local Republican Party in disarray. With the petition filing deadline rapidly approaching, Republicans filed Powers' signatures giving them a few extra days before they would have to name a replacement endorsee. The eventual winner of those sweepstakes was former assemblyman Robert Straniere, a divisive figure even within his own party. In 2004, Straniere lost his seat in the state assembly after the Staten Island GOP chose another candidate for their endorsement and Straniere lost the resulting primary. Local GOP leaders did choose him this time around, eschewing the other option, Jamshad Wyne, who is the Staten Island GOP finance chairman and a physician. Wyne will now meet Straniere in the September primary, but without the party support Straniere will receive.



Still the insanity is not over, as some Republicans have hinted that they will cross over to vote for Independence Party candidate Carmine Morano instead of supporting Straniere. Morano and Conservative Party candidate Paul Atanasio both sought the GOP endorsement but were passed over and are now ineligible to run in the primary since they are not registered Republicans. Atanasio in particular faces a very tough race, since he is endorsed only by Brooklyn Conservatives and not by the Staten Island wing of the party, which has chosen to support Democrat Michael McMahon.



Seem confusing? It is. With every added ounce of confusion, though, McMahon and Democrats pull further away. Republican fractures and fissures now seem much too deep to plaster over completely before November and Democrats are now the likely victors.




July 2, 2008 Update:


The unexpected passing of Republican Frank Powers in late June adds another sad chapter to the GOP saga in this Staten Island district. Now, Republicans must recruit a new challenger and gather over 1,000 signatures before July 10 to qualify for the ballot. Therein lies the problem, as none of the local GOP party chairmen seem able to agree on who should be the nominee.



With all the top tier options exhausted the only names left on the list are investment banker Paul Atanasio, Staten Island GOP treasurer Jamshad Wyne, and businessman Carmine Morano. While Atanasio is the favorite of the Brooklyn GOP chair, he has some professional baggage as a result of his resignation after allegations of nepotism, and other GOP leaders have not been forthcoming with their support. Wyne has a similar problem, as he was fined and placed on probation by the health department for negligence in his cardiology practice. Morano's candidacy would also be unusual given his current status as a candidate for the Independence Party line, although he could run under both the Independence and GOP banners.



The bottom line is that whoever the GOP eventually chooses will be the heavy underdog against likely Democratic nominee Michael McMahon. In just a few short months this seat has gone from an easy Republican hold to a complete toss-up and now should fall squarely into the Democratic column, barring further unexpected events.








Background



Just to prove that nothing is going Republicans' way in 2008, the last GOP seat in New York City is now endangered. The foibles of retiring Rep. Vito Fossella have been well documented and his eventual retirement decision was not unexpected. What was unexpected was the desperate scramble by the GOP to find a replacement. Recruit after recruit resisted the party's advances, until finally they settled for Frank Powers, a rather unknown quantity whose previous political involvement was mainly in financing the campaigns of others. Powers seems bent on retaining the seat however, pledging to spend $500,000 of his own money and to raise another $500,000 in this defensive effort.



Democrats, on the other hand, got one of their top picks: New York City Councilor Michael McMahon. While McMahon must still contend with 2006 nominee Steve Harrison, he is the clear establishment favorite, having won the endorsement of the Staten Island Party and that of the Brooklyn Democrats chair. McMahon is seen as a strong candidate, since he lives in Staten Island, which comprises most of this district which also encompasses Brooklyn, and since he currently holds elected office.



While it is much too early to know how these candidates will handle the rigors of a congressional campaign, it is already clear that national attention will be focused on New York's 13th district as Democrats seek to wipe the last Red smudge off the New York City map.






Candidates




Michael McMahon - Democrat - New York City councilor


Website 137




Robert Straniere - Republican - businessman and former assemblyman


Website 138




Timothy Cochrane - Independent - businessman and Conservative Party nominee












New York (19)



Outlook: Likely Democratic








June 2, 2008 Update:


Republican candidate George Oros announced he would end his bid today, handing the GOP nomination to Iraq War veteran Kieran Lalor whom the party endorsed at a convention last week. Lalor will face Democratic Rep. John Hall in November. While Lalor hopes to be a concern for Hall, money won't be. Hall leads the fundraising race with $1.1 million cash on hand, while Lalor has under $100,000.









Background


Representative John Hall, formerly of the band Orleans, is ''Still the One'' in the eyes of Tom Cole and the NRCC, but unfortunately, prospective candidates in New York's nineteenth district don?t see it that way. After businessman Andrew Saul dropped out and assemblyman Greg Ball passed on the bid, Hall's only challengers are Westchester county politician George Oros and Iraq war veteran Kieran Michael Lalor. Oros, though hardly a top-tier candidate, has the primary advantage due to his electoral experience in liberal-leaning Westchester.



For Hall, high on national Republicans target list, a relatively painless reelection could work wonders toward establishing gravitas in Congress and loyalties within the district. There is still time to recruit a strong challenger against Hall, but the potential presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton (which grows ever dimmer with time) could dampen enthusiasm from New York Republicans.






Candidates




John Joseph Hall (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman

Website 139




Kieran Michael Lalor - Republican -
Iraq War veteran, national security activist
Website 140









New York (20)



Outlook: Leans Democratic







June 12, 2008 Update:


Former New York GOP Chair Sandy Treadwell is almost there. He has done everything but lock up the nomination, having raised $1.7 million through March and already running TV ads to boost his name recognition. His nearest opponent for the GOP nod is Michael Rocque, a special forces officer turned management executive. Rocque had raised just $230,000 at the end of the first quarter, but has frustrated Treadwell's efforts to unite the GOP and Conservative Party behind a single candidate. While Treadwell has earned the endorsement of four county Conservative Party organizations, Rocque has three endorsements under his own belt.



Along with underdog candidate John Wallace, these two GOP candidates are dueling for the chance, almost certain to be won by Treadwell, to take on freshman Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand in the fall. Gillibrand has been seen as vulnerable ever since her election which made her the first Democrat to hold the seat in 28 years. Bush carried the district by 7% or more in both 2000 and 2004, while it took a series of escalating scandals on the part of the incumbent Republican for Gillibrand to eke out her 53-47 victory in 2006.



Republicans have had this seat on their target list since before Gillibrand was even sworn in, but they haven't been able to catch the first-term Congresswoman napping. She has been a frequent sight back in her district despite spending the workweek in DC and accruing more in campaign fundraising travel expenses than any other member of Congress. The work has paid off with Gillibrand earning local headlines and big bucks too; her bank account had a balance of $2.5 million at the end of March. While she's out-fundraised Treadwell and outperformed Republican expectations, Gillibrand must still be leery of the district's Red hue and Treadwell's political pedigree.









Background


Almost before the champagne bubbles fizzed out at freshman Representative Kirsten Gillibrand's victory party, her reelection bid began in earnest. Eight months into 2007, Gillibrand?s seat already attracted three credible Republican challengers and a Democrat critical of her Iraq war funding votes. Leading the GOP field is former New York GOP chair Sandy Treadwell who is a proven fundraiser and political organizer and marks a recruiting coup for national Republicans. Treadwell is well on his way to securing the endorsement of the state party over his primary challengers John Wallace and Michael Roque.



If he gets the nod, Treadwell should mount a strong challenge to Gillibrand in the district?s conservative-leaning New York City suburbs. Fundraising is not an issue for either candidate. Treadwell's $1.24 million in 2007 contributions is tops of all House challengers, but is surpassed by Gillibrand?s $2.6 million haul, second only to Charles Rangel of all House incumbents. Both Treadwell and Gillibrand will need every penny in the nation?s most expensive media markets. While Gillibrand should be considered an early favorite, she lacks the luxury of an easy campaign and will have to earn every ounce of her reelection in November.





Candidates




Kirsten Gillibrand (I) - Democrat -
current Congresswoman

Website 141




John Wallace - Republican -
former New York State Trooper, talk radio host
Website 142




Michael Rocque - Republican -
retired Special Forces officer
Website 143




Sandy Treadwell - Republican -
former New York Secretary of State, chair of New York State Republican Committee
Website 144









New York (24)



Outlook: Likely Democratic







Background




In 2006, the 24th District was the site of one of the most pitched open seat battles in the county. The Republican and Democratic House campaign committees spent a combined $4 million on advertisements supporting their respective candidates, but mostly tearing down the other side. Ultimately, Democrat Michael Arcuri prevailed by almost ten percent and now holds the seat, and a coveted position of the House Rules Committee.



Now Arcuri is being challenged by Republican businessman Richard Hanna. Hanna has already committed over $300,000 of his own money to the race, a welcome development for the cash-strapped NRCC who will be very unlikely to match last year's spending orgy. In addition, Hanna has been tacking away from the GOP, noting his independence and even racking up the endorsement of the Independence Party which supported Arcuri in 2006.



The district went for Bush in 2004 by a six percent margin, but it should be something of a battleground at the congressional level this year with two strong, well-funded candidates facing off. If the the DCCC decides to reprise its heavy spending of 2008 and the NRCC can't keep up, however, Arcuri could win his second election by a margin as comfortable as that of his first.






Candidates




Michael Arcuri (I) - Democrat - current congressman

Website 145




Richard Hanna - Republican - businessman

Website 146









New York (25) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Leans Democratic










June 12, 2008 Update:


With Republican Dale Sweetland wrapping up the support of county GOP organizations, he is now the party's nominee. His almost-certain opponent is Democrat Dan Maffei, who lost to retiring Rep. Jim Walsh by just 1% in 2006 and is so far unopposed in his bid to repeat as Dem nominee.



Sweetland recently released a poll showing himself in a statistical dead heat with Maffei, but critics have pointed out that the polling firm is the same one that predicted at 13% victory for Walsh in 2006. Adding to the uncertainty, Sweetland has yet to report any fundraising to the FEC, although he reportedly has the goal of raising $500,000 by the end of July. Sweetland has been frank about his dislike for the fundraising side of politics, potentially a bad sign since Maffei has already banked over $1 million for his repeat bid.



Even though this seat has been Red for the past few decades at the Congressional level, it is very competitive for Democrats, who carried the district in both 2000 and 2004 at the presidential level, albeit by small margins both times. Maffei has the advantage of running a similar race before, but Sweetland will have much support from Walsh and others who want to keep the seat in the Republican column for decades more.









Background


The retirement of Representative James Walsh capped off a week of high-profile exits that will give NRCC chair Tom Cole nightmares for months to come. Walsh's decision surprised most insiders and Republicans are scrambling to find a nominee for the open seat. Thus far, only former state fair director Peter Cappuccilli and business leader Randy Wolken have entered the race, but Onondaga district attorney William Fitzpatrick, former Onondaga county politician Dale Sweetland, ex-assemblyman Jeff Brown, and former Syracuse councilor Rick Guy have expressed interest.



Congressional press secretary Dan Maffei, who came within 2 percent of unseating Walsh in 2006, entered before the incumbent?s retirement and is off to a running start against the rest of the field. Maffei is on pace to surpass his 06 fundraising and has assembled national and district Democratic support, but the potential candidacy of Syracuse mayor Matt Driscoll could complicate the nomination. In a general election, the liberal-leaning district provides another wrinkle; unlike elsewhere in the United States, a Hillary Clinton presidential nomination may boost turnout from New York Democrats and create even tougher terrain for Republican defenders. Even if Obama receives the nod (which is appearing ever more likely), this will be an uphill battle for Republicans without a top-tier candidate.








Candidates




Dale Sweetland - Republican - farmer and former county legislature chair


Website 147




Dan Maffei - Democrat -
businessman
Website 148









New York (26) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up









September 16, 2008 Update:


Surprise! Just like everyone else, the Crystal Ball got caught up in the back and forth bickering between Jonathan Powers and Jack Davis and failed to acknowledge the upstart candidacy of attorney Alice Kryzan, winner of last Tuesday?s primary. While we can admit our mistake, in retrospect, Kryzan?s come-from-nowhere victory makes sense. For the past three months, Davis and Powers have been at each other?s throats. Powers had hammered on Davis? shady dealings with the wives of third party chairmen, and Davis attacked Powers over his mismanagement of War Kids Relief, a failed charity for orphaned Iraqi children.



While the DCCC-endorsed Powers and deep-pocketed Davis threw haymakers at each other, Kryzan, unscathed, could sit on the sidelines and watch her polling numbers rise. Davis? decision not to attend the Democratic debates may have been the final straw, giving Kryzan a virtually unopposed platform to voice her own criticisms of her opponents.


Now that the dust has settled, what kind of candidate do Democrats have in Kryzan? By virtue of comparison, she carries far less baggage into a general election than either Powers or Davis. However, one may question whether Kryzan can match the campaign experience or fundraising chops of her two better known opponents in a battle against self-financing businessman Christopher Lee. Come November, we?ll know a lot more about the unexpected candidacy of Alice Kryzan, but for now only time will tell whether her primary victory was a taste of things to come or merely a product of favorable circumstance.



July 30, 2008 Update:


The primary concern for New York Democrats is, well, the primary campaign in the 26th district. Insiders believe that if Iraq veteran Jonathan Powers is the nominee, Democrats have a real shot against businessman Christopher Lee. On the other hand, if two-time nominee Jack Davis gets the nod, his high negatives from past races will quash any chance of the pickup. So far, national Democrats are putting their money where their mouth is?the DCCC has endorsed and added Powers to their Red to Blue list?but so too has Davis, drawing from incredibly deep pockets to fund his own campaign. Davis may have won the first battle in a U.S. Supreme Court challenge overturning the Millionaire?s Amendment, but Democratic hopes of capturing the seat depend on him losing the war and Powers emerging victorious from the primary.








Background



New York's 26th district looks like the perfect setting for a Democratic pickup. The district is reasonably competitive?with Bush taking 55 percent in 2004 and only 51 percent in 2000?and now?with Republican Rep. Tom Reynold's retirement announcement?it is an open seat. There's only one problem: there may be too many Democrats who want it.



While Republicans have coalesced behind businessman Chris Lee, Democrats have a four-way primary mess on their hands. Iraq veteran Jonathan Powers is a favorite of bloggers and all seven of the district's county Democratic committees, but businessman Jack Davis is fighting to reclaim his 2004 and 2006 mantle as party nominee. Davis' main forte is his funding, as he has pledged to commit $3 million to the race. Davis worries some Dems, though, as they have seen him fall short twice before.



While an open seat in a barely Republican district is certainly ripe for the taking with national winds at Democrats' backs, this pickup is far from certain. Republicans have found their candidate and they're sticking to him. Democrats must follow suit quickly, and without expensive infighting, or they risk losing this plum opportunity.









Candidates




Alice Kryzan - Democrat - lawyer


Website 149




Chris Lee - Republican - businessman
Website 150









New York (29)



Outlook: Toss-up








June 12, 2008 Update:


While both candidates are posting anemic fundraising totals, perhaps Rep. Randy Kuhl's inaction is the most disturbing. It has been over a year and a half since his narrow electoral escape in November 2006 by just 6,000 votes out of the 200,000 cast. Despite ample time and clear indications that he would once again face nearly-victorious challenger Eric Massa, Kuhl has raised just $630,000 this cycle and had only $365,000 left in his campaign account at the end of March. Massa hasn't done much better over the past 20 months, but he has out-raised Kuhl, raking in $900,000 this cycle with $565,000 still on hand.



Even worse is that Kuhl still doesn't seem to get the picture. In the first quarter of 2008, the most recent quarter for which FEC reports are available, Massa raised more than twice as much as Kuhl, further increasing the fundraising gap. Kuhl's camp has recently tried to spin things in a more positive light, releasing in May a poll conducted in January that showed Kuhl leading Massa by a 46-26 margin. The general rule-of-thumb, however, is that polls showing incumbents under 50% are bad news, so this release offers little explanation for Kuhl's apparent torpor.



If Kuhl doesn't take steps to protect himself, he can hardly expect the cash-strapped NRCC to pick up the slack, even though Massa hasn't been exactly been wowing. In a Democratic year, following a near-fatal 2006 result, it is flirting with disaster to be trailing in fundraising this late into the cycle. When the next FEC reports are due in mid-July, Empire State politicos will be scouring Kuhl's filings for any further signs of weakness. It will be up to him to prove the naysayers wrong.










Background


New York Republicans are rapidly becoming a rare breed. With 2006 losses by Representatives Sue Kelly (R-19) and John Sweeney (R-20) and Rep Michael Arcuri's (D-24) open seat victory, the GOP delegation has dwindled to six. Four more congressman?Reps. King, Reynolds, Walsh, and Kuhl?won dangerously narrow victories in 06. Representative Randy Kuhl survived a scare from retired naval officer Eric Massa, who came within two percent of unseating the second-term incumbent.



Massa is back and has a clear road to the nomination, but neither candidate has impressed with fundraising this cycle. Given the once-in-a-generation convergence of pro-Democratic circumstances in 2006, Massa may have reached his electoral ceiling, but like any New York Republican, Kuhl will not let down his guard.






Candidates




Randy Kuhl, Jr. (I) - Republican -
current Congressman

Website 151




Eric Massa - Democrat -
retired Navy officer, former Congressional staffer
Website 152









Ohio (01)



Outlook: Toss-up












July 21, 2008 Update:


In a normal year, a sitting member of Congress will most likely win a race if he keeps out of the headlines. Republican Steve Chabot has done just that, but merely staying gaffe-free may not be enough to win this November. Why? 2008 isn't a "normal year" and Chabot's district isn't a normal district. With GOP popularity tanking and an African-American Democratic presidential nominee running for the first time, in a district that is more than a quarter black, Chabot has cause for concern.



Chabot's Democratic challenger, state representative Steve Driehaus has raised almost $900,000 and is banking on an increased African-American turnout that could turn the tide against Chabot. In 2004, the most recent presidential election year, African Americans cast 25% of the ballots. In 2008, experts predict that Barack Obama's candidacy could cause that number to rise to over 30%, garnering tens of thousands of more Democratic votes. Considering Chabot's margin of victory in the last election was fewer than ten thousand votes, Republicans better buckle down in this battleground district.



Chabot's own polls show Obama winning the district by a 7 percent margin, and Chabot himself wins just 50% of the vote in a head-to-head matchup with Driehaus, who trails with 37% according to Chabot's most recent poll taken in early July. When things look so bleak that a poll showing the opposing party's presidential nominee winning your district is the best news you can dredge up, it is time to prepare yourself for a fight. Chabot has done just that, with over $1.3 million in the bank. Still, will incumbency and currency trump demographics and party ID? Chabot hopes so.











Background


Veteran Representative Steve Chabot has a talent for beating back competitive challenges in difficult cycles. In 2006, he sent Cincinnati councilman Joseph Cranley packing by a larger-than-expected margin despite national and statewide Republican woes. This cycle, Chabot must fend off term-limited state representative Steve Driehaus who has earned a spot on the DCCC's ''Races to Watch'' list. The demographic makeup of the district?a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans?makes any race potentially competitive, but Chabot has been here before and survived. Notably, the district has one of the largest African American populations of any Republican-held seat (about 30%), so high black turnout may benefit Driehaus should Barack Obama secure the presidential nomination.








Candidates




Steve Driehaus - Democrat -
state legislator

Website 153




Steve Chabot (I) - Republican -
current Congressman

Website 154









Ohio (02)



Outlook: Leans Republican








August 1, 2008 Update:


The race for Ohio?s Second isn?t just ugly; it?s downright unwatchable. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are there two less-popular candidates running two more unimpressive campaigns. Ohio Democrats have known that two-term incumbent Jean Schmidt was vulnerable since her unimpressive 2005 special election victory over Iraq vet Paul Hackett in a staunchly conservative district. Fortunately for Schmidt, Democrats have re-nominated Victoria Wilsun, a candidate who couldn?t win even in 2006?s Ohio Democratic wave.



Neither candidate has shown much improvement over last cycle. Schmidt has repeatedly stumbled over inaccurate claims of China drilling off the Cuban coast and accusations that her government-salaried Chief of Staff has campaigned at taxpayer expense. Unwilling to let the incumbent steal the spotlight, Wilsun has suffered embarrassments of her own. Earlier this cycle, she endured public criticism from the aforementioned Hackett over her poor campaign skills, and as of July, she has been left off the DCCC?s Red to Blue program, which includes virtually all competitive challengers nationwide.



Polling shows an electorate unsatisfied with either candidate. Although 41 percent back Schmidt and 33 percent favor Wilsun, the remaining 26 percent?startling for a rematch with two well-known choices?remain uncommitted or support third party candidates. Schmidt and Wilsun may take comfort in the fact that someone must win, but on election day, many voters will secretly wish to elect ?None of the Above.?




June 3, 2008 Update:


Both nominees from 2006 survived primaries to set up a rematch this November. Incumbent Republican Jean Schmidt captured 57% of the vote in the March primary to sneak by into the general election. The Democrat's 2006 nominee Victoria Wilsun performed with a similar level of mediocrity, garnering just 58% of votes in her primary. While Wilsun came within a hair's breadth of winning in 2006, national Dems seem less than thrilled that she will be carrying the party banner again in 2008. Similarly, Schmidt draws the ire of some Republicans who note that the district votes over 60% for Republican presidential candidates but barely 50% for Schmidt. Neither party seems elated by the prospect of this matchup, but they one that comes out on top will be more than happy to congratulate the winner in November.










Background


Competitive primaries abound in this Republican-leaning Ohio district. Representative Jean Schmidt has had trouble ingratiating herself with Ohio voters ever since her narrow 2005 special election victory over Iraq veteran Paul Hackett. Last cycle?s one point victory over physician Victoria Wilsun only confirmed her vulnerability and opened the floodgates to potential challengers. As in 2005, Schmidt will again have to face state representative Tom Brinkman in the primary, but she dodged a bigger bullet when the better funded Hamilton county commissioner Phil Heimlich dropped out of the primary. The conservative Brinkman received 20 percent of the vote (third place) and exposed intra-party rifts within the district.



Democrats are hoping that the gaffe-prone Schmidt emerges with the nomination as they view her as the weaker of the two candidates to face either Wilsun, who is running again, or attorney Steve Black. Though Ohio's second is a highly Republican district, as long as Schmidt remains its congresswoman, it will be vulnerable, but Democrats should not get their hopes up in a presidential year.






Candidates




Jean Schmidt (I) - Republican -
current Congresswoman

Website 155




Vic Wulsin - Democrat -
2006 Democratic candidate, physician
Website 156




David Krikorian - Independent - businessman

Website 157









Ohio (15) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up







November 14, 2008 Update:

The race is still close to call as Republican Steve Stivers leads Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy by fewer than 400 votes in a battle where thousands of provisional ballots are outstanding. Some of Stivers' supporters have filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court over the Democratic Secretary of State's directive on how to tally provisional ballots.




November 7, 2008 Update:

The Republican Steve Stivers is leading by 146 votes with 100% of precincts reporting. But Franklin County has yet to finish counting provisional ballots and the results from those are not expected until next week.





June 3, 2008 Update:


Democrats feel that this race represents a great opportunity to capture a Red seat in a battleground district in a battleground state. The Democrats' nominee in 2006, Mary Jo Kilroy, will reprise her role in 2008, but she won't be facing Rep. Deborah Pryce. Pryce's unexpected retirement led to state senator Steve Stivers winning the nomination in the March primary.



Stivers must contend with Kilroy, who is now a congressional campaign veteran, and bring his own campaign and fundraising apparatus up to speed quickly. Kilroy has raised $1.2 million this cycle, after raising almost $3 million in 2006. Stivers has raised just under $800,000, but has $600,00 on hand despite enduring a primary battle. The DCCC feels that this pickup opportunity is among their best, adding this seat to their list of 'Red to Blue' races. National Republicans caution that Stivers is a strong candidate in a district that was highly supportive of Pryce and friendlier to GOP congressional candidates than the 2004 presidential numbers (50-50) suggest. Whose optimism is well founded and who is just blowing smoke? That question will likely remain for the duration of this firefight until the votes are counted in November.










Background


After losing their majority in 2006, Republicans had to expect some retirements and resignations. Ohio Representative Deborah Pryce's was not one of them. Pryce?s decision was a pleasant surprise for Franklin county commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy who had already started fundraising for rematch of the close 2006 election.



Republicans agonized nearly three months without a candidate to replace Pryce until state senator Steve Stivers caved to pressure from Minority Leader John Boehner and entered the race. Apparently, the wait was worth it as Stivers pulled off an astounding $404K fourth quarter despite only running since November. With solid candidates on each side, this race is a pure toss-up and should be an entertaining backdrop to Ohio?s presidential main event this fall.




Candidates




Steve Stivers - Republican -
state senator and Iraq veteran


Website 158




Mary Jo Kilroy - Democrat -
2006 Democratic candidate
Website 159









Ohio (16) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Leans Democratic







June 12, 2008 Update:


While Democrats nationally are expecting an equally-favorable year to follow their 2006 successes, Ohio may be the one state where their fortunes have diminished, if only somewhat. In 2006, Republican Governor Bob Taft became the first sitting Ohio Governor to be charged with a crime while in office, a result of his failure to report gifts and other perks he received. While the national GOP was reeling from revelations about Abramoff, nowhere did their brand suffer more than in Ohio, where Taft's criminal conviction fit perfectly into the storyline Democrats constructed.



Flash forward to 2008. Long-time incumbent Ralph Regula's retirement has Democrats feeling confident that they can pick up this seat, even though the district is reliably Republican at the presidential level and 2008 is a presidential election year. In the March primaries, both sides got their preferred nominees, so Democrat John Boccieri will take on Republican Kirk Schuring this fall. Democrats asked Boccieri, a state senator and Air Force Reserve Major, to deliver their national Memorial Day address, a sign of how happy they are with their candidate and how eager they are to raise his profile and that of this race.



Schuring secured his place on the ballot after barely escaping a primary challenge by underdog Matt Miller, something of a surprise given Schuring's establishment support. The primary also burned through a substantial amount of his cash, as he had raised $500,000 but is left with just $100,000. That puts him at a slight disadvantage to Boccieri's $250,000, but it is certainly not an insurmountable lead by any means. While Democrats are going to use their money to try and replay Taft's foibles for the next five months, Ohio voters may very likely have moved on. In the end, this district's Republican tilt (Bush won with margins of 11% and 8% in 2004 and 2000) counteracts the national Democratic climate much more than it would have in 2006.









Background


Thirty-six years is a long time to serve in Congress, and after eighteen terms Representative Ralph Regula is calling it quits. In anticipation of open-seat race, both party establishments lined up behind their favored nominees?state senator Kirk Schuring for the Republicans and state senator John Boccieri for the Democrats. Though Boccieri has a clear road to the nomination, Schuring, who is endorsed by Regula, must overcome a stiff challenge from Ashland county commissioner Matt Miller who took a formidable 42 percent in a 2006 primary challenge to Regula.



Democrats have a shot at the seat?Governor Strickland and Senator Brown carried the district last cycle?but the unpopularity of the Iraq War and Governor Taft presented a perfect storm against the Ohio GOP in 2006. It remains to be seen how an Obama or Clinton presidential candidacy and a renewed focus on the economy will affect races in traditionally Republican territory.





Candidates




John Boccieri - Democrat -
state Senator, Iraq War veteran
Website 160




Kirk Schuring - Republican -
state Senator
Website 161









Ohio (18)



Outlook: Likely Democratic








June 12, 2008 Update:


When Democratic freshman Zack Space first won election in November 2006, Republicans put him in the same category as Nick Lampson and Tim Mahoney, freshmen Dems who had won election in dark Red districts as a result of the foibles of incumbent Republicans Tom DeLay and Mark Foley respectively. The GOP felt that, two years divorced from the ethical troubles of Bob Ney, Space's predecessor, and with the Democratic winds presumably dying down, they could certainly recapture the Ohio 18th, among others.



Enter the wild beast of candidate recruitment. Republicans, facing an early March primary, had little time to find strong candidates, or weed out weak ones, and were left with a hotly contested four-way primary. After the dust settled and the votes were counted, former Ohio agriculture director Fred Dailey emerged as the nominee. Dailey prevailed by a narrow margin, winning 39-31-22-8, showcasing the lack of a consensus pick among Republicans.



With just a few months until the general election, Dailey has much left to accomplish if he is to restore the GOP's optimism. Currently, Space has raised almost ten times as much as Dailey and Space's campaign coffers are full to the tune of $1 million, while Dailey has just $36,000 in his account. Space still must translate those dollars into votes, but without the strong candidate and groundswell of support Republicans were predicting, their glass looks much less than half-empty at this point.











Background


Ever since Representative Zack Space replaced disgraced former Representative Bob Ney with 62 percent of the vote, the NRCC and district Republicans have drawn a bulls-eye on the back of this ''accidental congressman.'' Already three GOP challengers?former agriculture director Fred Dailey, retired pilot Paul Phillips, and attorney Jeannette Moll?have entered to unseat Space in a district that voted 55% for President Bush in 2004.



Thus far, Space has responded well to the pressure by maintaining a constant presence in the district and raising over $1 million in 2007. However, to shed the label of vulnerability, Space must win convincingly in November?no easy task given the unpopularity of the Democratic Congress and the headwinds of Republican presidential coattails. This seat could easily shift to a toss-up should one of Space?s challengers distinguish themselves in fundraising, polling, or campaign acumen.







Candidates




Fred Dailey - Republican -
former Ohio director of agriculture

Website 162




Zack Space (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 163









Oregon (05) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Likely Democratic







September 16, 2008 Update:


Listen up kids: here?s not how to run for Congress. Lesson one: don?t pay for your girlfriend to have an abortion if you are a pro-life candidate. Lesson two: don?t lie about it when the story is confirmed by said girlfriend. Lesson three: don?t travel to Cuba, visit the famed Tropicana night club, attend a cigar festival and cockfight, and claim the trip was for ?humanitarian purposes.? Lesson four: if failing to follow lesson three, don?t claim ?I?ve never smoked a whole cigar in my entire life.?



Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the campaign of Mike Erikson, still the Republican nominee for Oregon?s 5th Congressional district. Since the GOP primary, Erikson stock has fallen faster than Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and no Republican officeholder or conservative group has dared to endorse him. Once, the GOP was optimistic about its chances of capturing a rare swing district open seat, but no more. As it stands right now, Democrat Mark Schrader is a virtual lock (unless he has secrets of his own) to become the next Representative from the state of Oregon.



July 3, 2008 Update:


Republican repeat candidate Mike Erickson's chances for a victory took a hit as the abortion allegations from the primary campaign have resurfaced already. Erickson's ex-girlfriend spoke with a local paper and gave her version of the events leading up to her abortion, claiming Erickson knowingly paid for the operation. The controversy has led to Oregon GOP Senator Gordon Smith withholding his support while Oregon Right to Life denounced the pro-life politician.



Almost anywhere else in 2008, this would be the death knell for the Republican. While these new details, which directly contradict Erickson's past explanations, are a crushing blow, Erickson can still continue and put some pressure on Democratic nominee Kurt Schrader. Erickson benefits from the roughly equal demographic breakdown in the district between Democrats and Republicans and from the fact that the seat is currently open, with Democrat Darlene Hooley retiring, so there will be no incumbent to protect it.



Also important is Erickson's personal wealth which has allowed him to donate over half a million to himself, which dwarfs the $100,000 Schrader has raised for the entire campaign from all sources put together. The ability to self-fund will allow Erickson to withstand some of the negative press since money won't be a problem even if his donor base is unhappy, but it can't make up for the horrible press he's been getting. If Erickson wants to win, something better change and soon.





May 27, 2008 Update:


The May 20 Oregon primary turned out to be quite an exciting affair, with 2006 Republican nominee Mike Erickson clinching the party nod once again, but only after some exciting fireworks. First, Erickson's main primary opponent, Kevin Mannix went public with unflattering abortion allegations that attacked the heart of Erickson's conservative credentials. Then, after the mail-in ballots were counted, Erickson won by fewer than 2,000 votes and Mannix didn't concede until the next day.



Although Mannix's last-minute attack wasn't enough to cripple Erickson in the primary, it may hobble him in the general election. Already GOPers are reluctant to line up behind Erickson, with Mannix and Senator Gordon Smith both withholding endorsements. Democratic state senator Kurt Schrader, on the other hand, emerged as the Democratic nominee looking no worse for the wear and is the favorite as the general election phase of the campaign begins.










Background


After twelve long years of wandering in the minority-party wilderness, the Democrats are back and enjoying their newfound majority power. As a result, there have been noticeably few Democratic retirements relative to their Republican counterparts. Oregon Representative Darleen Hooley is a rare exception to the rule, and her surprise retirement sets the stage for a competitive open seat race in an archetypical swing district.



Both parties? nominations are up in the air with candidates scrambling to file before the March 11th deadline. Republicans face a primary between businessmen Allen Alley and Erik Erickson, but the party waits with baited breath for the entrance of GOP chair Kevin Mannix. Although Erickson, who ran in 2006, was the presumptive nominee before Hooley?s retirement, his fundraising ($175K in 2007) has been weak. Mannix, meanwhile, is a prolific fundraiser with high name identification from several statewide bids who could energize the district?s social conservatives. His entrance would vastly improve Republican chances of taking the district.



On the Democratic side, the field is more muddled. A day after Iraq veteran and gubernatorial adviser Paul Evans withdrew from contention, the first top-tier Democrat, state senator Kurt Schrader, jumped in, but a host of Democrats are mulling possible bids. The district is pure swing territory?registered Republicans have a slim 5K advantage?and will force national Democrats to play defense. Give the national mood, this race starts off leaning Democratic, but the entrance of Mannix could easily shift the race into a pure toss up.






Candidates




Kurt Schrader - Democrat -
state senator


Website 164




Mike Erickson - Republican -
businessman, 2006 Republican nominee

Website 165









Pennsylvania (03)



Outlook: Toss-up







Background




Republican Rep. Phil English survived a 2006 challenger and has raised $1.5 million for the upcoming elections, but Democrats still won't leave him alone. The Democrats are taking inspiration from 2006 victories in nearby districts, seven takeovers in total, spanning Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Last cycle English dispatched his challenger by twelve percent, but this year he faces an opponent who has already raised twice as much as his 2006 opponent did throughout the entire campaign.



Businesswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, English's general election opponent, has raised over $400,000, but will likely be unable to keep up with English's staggering totals. Further hampering her efforts is the Republican tilt of the district which, while slight, still was enough to give George W. Bush the edge against his Democratic opponents in both 2000 and 2004 by about five points each time. While money and history won't be on her side, the national political climate will be. Democrats are riding high this cycle and are expected to increase the gains they realized in 2006. Will this seat be one they add to their total?




Candidates




Phil English (I) - Republican - current congressman

Website 166




Kathy Dahlkemper - Democrat - businesswoman

Website 167









Pennsylvania (04)



Outlook: Likely Democratic








May 27, 2008 Update:


The primary on May 20th solidified the rematch between former Republican Representative Melissa Hart and the Democrat who beat her in 2006, Rep. Jason Altmire. First quarter fundraising numbers show a cash-on-hand advantage of $1.3 million to $400,000 in favor of Altmire.










Background


Two years after Representative Jason Altmire defeated Melissa Hart on the back of a Democratic wave, Hart is back with vengeance for the rematch. In 2006, the former suburban Pittsburgh Congresswoman was criticized within Republican circles for paying too little attention to Altmire until it was too late. Needless to say, Hart won't be making that mistake again. Both candidates have clear paths to the nomination, especially after retired Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and 2006 gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann passed on the challenge. Despite voting for Bush in 2000 and 04, the district is trending Democratic, and with incumbency on his side, Altmire should be considered a slight favorite to retain the seat in the rematch.





Candidates




Jason Altmire (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 168




Melissa Hart - Republican -
former Congresswoman for PA-4, defeated by Altmire in 2006
Website 169









Pennsylvania (06)



Outlook: Likely Republican







May 27, 2008 Update:


Democratic nominee Bob Roggio didn't have any primary opponents, so perhaps still he needs to gain some campaigning experience. Roggio made headlines for criticizing Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach for missing several House votes; votes Gerlach missed to attend his mother's funeral. This district has been seen as one of a very few where national Dems failed to find an A-list candidate and Roggio's latest misstep (coupled with a week-late apology) has only added more fuel to critics' fires. Gerlach also has a 4 to 1 cash-on-hand advantage; a gap Roggio must quickly close lest this pickup opportunity go up in smoke.










Background


Representing one of only eight Republican-held districts that voted for John Kerry in 2004, one would think Representative Jim Gerlach lives on the edge of vulnerability. However, he has made a business of turning back well-funded challenges in the past. including last cycle?s rematch with Lois Murphy which was thought to be one of the Democrats' top pickup opportunities of 2006.



This year, Gerlach is getting somewhat of a pass. None of his Democratic challengers?businessman Robert Roggio, developer Mike Leibowitz, ex-state senator Bob Rovner, and businessman Richie Phillips?could be considered ''top-tier.'' Although Roggio has secured the endorsement of Chester County Democrats, he faces long odds against the battle-tested Gerlach in a general election. Even if a surprise entrance by the likes of attorney Chris Casey, brother of Senator Bob Casey, were to scramble the Democratic nomination, the smart money would stay with Gerlach, who like fellow moderate Chris Shays of Connecticut, has proven his ability to survive in the toughest of conditions.





Candidates




Bob Roggio - Democrat -
businessman

Website 170




Jim Gerlach (I) - Republican -
current Congressman

Website 171









Pennsylvania (08)



Outlook: Likely Democratic







May 27, 2008 Update:


Fears about Republican nominee Tom Manion's abilities as a candidate were put to rest by his first quarter fundraising and he seems to be in great position to challenge Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. Current fundraising totals have Murphy with a cash-on-hand advantage of $1.7 million to $400,000, but Manion is clearly doing quite well for a first-time candidate.










Background


For over a year after Representative Patrick Murphy's induction to Congress, former Representative Mike Fitzpatrick's silence on a possible rematch froze the GOP nomination and prevented the entrance of potential challengers. As of January, however, Fitzpatrick is out and is laying the groundwork for pharmaceutical executive Tom Manion's bid against Murphy.



Manion, a Marine Corps Reserve Colonel, entered the race in memoriam to his son, Travis, who was killed in Iraq. Murphy is an Iraq war veteran himself, and the campaign could evolve into a clash of strong opinions and first-hand perspectives on the war. Although Manion's pathway to the nomination is relatively clear, he must prove his mettle financially before he can compete with Murphy, one of the strongest fundraisers in the freshman Democratic class. For now, Murphy is the favorite, but it should be interesting to see how Manion fares as a first time candidate.





Candidates




Patrick Murphy (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman

Website 172




Tom Manion - Republican -
pharmaceutical executive, Marine Corps Reserve Colonel
Website 173









Pennsylvania (10)



Outlook: Leans Democratic







May 27, 2008 Update:


Newly-minted Republican nominee Chris Hackett is switching over to general election mode and preparing for his November battle against Democratic Rep. Chris Carney. While Hackett and the NRCC tout the district's conservative tendencies and emphasize that 2008 will be a presidential election year with coattails aplenty. Carney's camp, on the other hand, stress his $1 million cash on hand (compared to Hackett's $200,000) and Carney's moderate rhetoric and voting record. While Democratic winds are certainly blowing across the nation, Pennsylvania's 10th district is just one of many where having a "D" next to your name could turn out to be something of a mixed blessing.










Background


The Republican race to oppose Representative Chris Carney in Northeastern Pennsylvania's 10th district is shaping up to be an expensive, high profile contest. Pride Mobility Products president Dan Meuser faces off against One Source Staffing Solutions president Chris Hackett, and both executives hope to capitalize on Carney?s vulnerability in relatively conservative territory. Meuser, endorsed by former Senator Rick Santorum, can self-fund and has the upper hand for now, but Hackett?s fundraising continues to be solid.



A recent Democratic poll, however, shows Carney ahead thirty points and above fifty percent against either nominee. Should the GOP primary degenerate into a costly, bruising affair, the eventual nominee must make up considerable ground before unseating Carney in November. Regardless, with two top-notch candidates, this district appears to be one of the Republicans best opportunities to roll back the Democratic wave of 2006.





Candidates




Chris Carney (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 174




Chris Hackett - Republican -
entrepreneur
Website 175









Pennsylvania (11)



Outlook: Toss-up







September 19, 2008 Update:


If there?s one Representative whose re-election woes are entirely his own doing, it is Democrat Paul Kanjorski. In a year when Democrats are favored to make double-digit gains in the House, Kanjorski is the one incumbent who is swimming against the tide. His gaffes have been YouTube staples and the DCCC has already spent close to $300,000 trying to bail him out. With the latest independent poll showing Kanjorski losing to immigration activist Lou Barletta by a 44-35 margin, Kanjorski better turn things around quickly before national Democrats lose patience.










Background




Democratic Rep. Paul Kanjorski's reelection campaign has been hobbled by one major factor: his mouth. Kanjorski should be one of the most entrenched members of Congress, serving in a district that gave Gore an 11% margin in 2000 and Kerry a 6% one in 2004. Furthermore, Kanjorski has only dipped below 65% in one of his eleven reelection campaigns. Last year he defeated the Republican challenger who raised just $10,000 by nearly 50%. Who would have thought 2008 would be any different in a Democratic district in a Democratic year?



But 2008 has been different. Very different. Kanjorski faces Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta who has raised over $100,000 so far and is known for his staunch anti-immigration stance. His campaign has released a poll purporting to show a 5% lead for the Republican challenger as of late March. Barletta's conservative credentials and the closeness of the race has led to support from a number of conservative organizations who have begun airing radio ads opposing Kanjorski. While Kanjorski has $1.8 million in the bank, he's already had to start spending on television ads to counter his opponent and his own bad press.



Kanjorski's gaffes have been the biggest threat to his reelection so far. A YouTube clip garnered much news coverage, as Kanjorski was caught on tape apparently admitting that his fellow Democrats in 2006 had promised change in Iraq that they knew they couldn't deliver. Just when that maelstrom was dying down, Kanjorski was at it again, comparing Barletta to white supremacist David Duke. Kanjorski has two of the greatest advantages any Congressional candidate can hope for: incumbency and money. Unfortunately for him, Barletta has an advantage of his own: an gaffe-prone opponent.





Candidates




Paul Kanjorski (I) - Democrat - current Congressman

Website 176




Lou Barletta - Republican - Hazleton mayor

Website 177









Pennsylvania (15)



Outlook: Likely Republican





May 27, 2008 Update:


Sam Bennett will be the Democrats' nominee this November against Republican Rep. Charlie Dent. The race is taking place in a bona fide battleground district where Kerry and Bush split votes 50-50. Dent has the early, but slim, money advantage, with $600,000 to Bennett's $200,000.








Background



In 2006, Representative Charlie Dent outspent little-known Democratic candidate Charles Dertinger by nearly fourteen to one, but won by only a 53-44 margin. Dent?s underperformance drew the attention of national Democrats who hoped to capitalize on his newfound vulnerability. However, Democratic recruitment efforts have produced paltry returns. The Democratic primary consists of '05 Bethlehem Mayoral candidate Sam Bennett and anti-abortion rights activist William Hall, neither of whom have impressed to date. Bennett, though a strong primary favorite, has had little success in fundraising (only $28K in the third quarter) and has had to dodge allegations of impropriety over her nonprofit salary package. With a better Democratic nominee, this race could have been competitive, but as it stands, Charlie Dent is a favorite for reelection.



Candidates




Charlie Dent (I) - Republican - incumbent congresssman

Website 178




Sam Bennett - Democrat - businesswoman

Website 179









Pennsylvania (18)



Outlook: Likely Republican









May 27, 2008 Update:


Businessman Steve O'Donnell squeaked past early favorite Beth Hafer in the Democratic primary to decide who will face Republican Rep. Tim Murphy in November. Democrats have often seen Murphy as vulnerable, but they hope this will finally be the year they give him a run for his money. Speaking of money, Murphy's cash advantage currently stands at $900,000 to $200,000.










Background


Representative Tim Murphy has never faced a competitive race in his entire congressional career, despite the fact his district lies on somewhat marginal territory. Murphy's past invulnerability is a double-edged sword?he has been able to retain the goodwill of his constituents and amass a sizable war chest, but his campaigning skills may be a bit rusty. This year, Murphy is troubled by an ongoing FBI investigation over the use of congressional staffers for political purposes, which may provide fodder for a general election.



Fortunately for the Pittsburgh-area congressman, the Democratic field remains ill-defined. Leading a pack of six candidates is businesswoman Beth Hafer, daughter of former state treasurer Barbara Hafer whose name carries political weight in the district, but she must deal with a host of other Democratic contestants. If Hafer emerges as the nominee, Murphy must not repeat the mistakes of former Representatives Curt Weldon (R-PA) and Phil Crane (R-IL) who adjusted too slowly to the realities of a competitive race and went on to lose in November. In all likelihood, Murphy will retain his seat, but to do so, he must be prepared for the toughest race of his career.







Candidates




Steve O'Donnell - Democrat -
retired Navy veteran

Website 180




Tim Murphy (I) - Republican -
current Congressman

Website 181









South Carolina (01)



Outlook: Likely Republican






Background




First-time political candidate Linda Ketner is trying to do what no one has done in a long time ? paint this Republican stronghold Blue. She is running against a formidable opponent in four-term Republican incumbent Henry E. Brown Jr. in this coastal district.


Ketner, a businesswoman whose father founded the Food Lion grocery store, is doing well financially. She reported raising $1.6 million through Sept. 30, almost doubling the $861,000 Brown raised by the same date. She may also benefit from the appeal of Democratic candidate Barak Obama, who may energize the African-American population which forms a stunning fifth of the district?s electorate.


Nevertheless, Ketner still has quite a steep hill to climb. Brown has won all of his previous contests comfortably, by over 70 percent in 2002 and 2004 and by over 20 percent in 2006. President George W. Bush also won the district handily in both the 2000 and 2004 elections by comfortable margins of more than 20 percent. And Republicans have represented the state for almost 30 years running. So, while she does hold a cash advantage, Ketner may need something much more special to break this solid trend.





Candidates




Henry E. Brown Jr. (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 182




Linda Ketner - Democrat - Food Lion heiress

Website 183









Texas (07)



Outlook: Leans Republican







Background



In a political environment where alternative energy is quickly becoming one of the hottest topics, it makes sense that wind power executive Michael Skelly would see his campaign heating up. Skelly will gunning for incumbent Republican Rep. John Culberson this fall, undeterred by Bush's 28 percent margin of victory in the district during the 2004 presidential race.



Skelly's has been on fire on the fundraising front, burning up the FEC reports with over $400,000 in donations during the second quarter and adding a $200,000 personal donation, leaving him with over $1 million cash on hand, nearly double Culberson's total. While Skelly has impressed the campaign handicappers with his numbers and fortuitous background, it will take a lot more than that to win over the solidly Republican voters of the 7th District. Skelly's own February poll showed Culberson with a 52-33 lead, a gap Skelly has likely closed somewhat with his flurry of television ads. Still, in addition to incredible fundraising and a popular job title, Skelly will likely need something just short of a miracle to pull off an upset in the heart of GOP country.






Candidates




John Culberson (I) - Republican - current congressman

Website 184




Michael Skelly - Democrat - wind power executive

Website 185









Texas (10)



Outlook: Likely Republican








Background



Republican Rep. Michael McCaul's stiffest electoral challenge yet may be coming from an unexpected place: a television courtroom . Larry Joe Doherty, once the judge of television's Texas Justice, won the March primary and will face off against McCaul this November. Doherty's chief asset is probably his money. He has already raised over $550,000, while McCaul only spent $1.1 million last cycle and has raised just $700,000 so far.



The rest of the picture isn't so bright for Doherty. The district voted 62% for Bush in 2004 and McCaul's history as a federal prosecutor nullifies any ''law and order'' advantage of Doherty's background. Some years Democrats don't even file in the district, but when an underfunded Democrat got 40 percent of the vote in 2006 after spending just $65,000, people took notice. The jury is still out, but Doherty and his fellow Dems are optimistic that they can get a friendly verdict from voters this November.







Candidates




Michael McCaul (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 186




Larry Joe Doherty - Democrat - attorney and former 'Texas Justice' host

Website 187









Texas (22)



Outlook: Toss-up







October 23, 2008 Update:

Financially speaking, this race should be leaning Democrat. While Republican candidate Pete Olson has out-raised his opponent this quarter $413,000 to $292,000, the incumbent Nick Lampson still holds a huge financial advantage with 1.1 million left in his campaign fund compared Olson's $486,000. And while Olson has received help from the Republican party, the cash-strapped NRCC has also cut its ad budget for this district by half, which, for whatever reason, is a dent to their candidate's finances.


But money may not be able to buy everything for Lampson. For starters, he is a Democrat in a heavily Republican district that he pocketed after the embattled Republican strongman Tom De Lay vacated it. While he has picked up recent conservative endorsements from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Rifle Association, it isn't clear whether he can do enough to win in a district with such an ideological orientation. His opponent Olson has also proven quite formidable, having been a Navy veteran and a former chief of staff to the popular Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn. At their only debate on Oct. 21, Olson charged on with numerous attacks, slamming Lampson as a wasteful spender whose rhetoric did not match his record.


The National Republican Congressional Committee has set its eyes firmly on retaking the district, and Olson's fundraisers have thus featured notables like President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The NRCC also insists that its recent funding cuts are part of a national effort to redirect funds from less vulnerable candidates to more vulnerable ones.


What the numbers mean is really anyone's guess in one of the most competitive races in the country. But one thing's for sure ? this year isn't going to be another walk in the park for Lampson as it was before.




April 16, 2008 Update:


With apologies to Rolaids, O-L-S-O-N spells ''Relief'' for Texas Republicans. In the April 4th Republican primary runoff, former senate staffer Pete Olson prevailed over physician Shelly Sekula Gibbs by an impressive 68.5-31.5 percent margin. If the confrontational and abrasive Gibbs had won, GOP general election prospects would have been dim, but Olson's nomination means that Republicans have a terrific shot at recapturing the 22nd district from Representative Nick Lampson. More than anyone, the NRCC was in dire need of some good news, and Olson's victory will force national Democrats to play defense on their gains of 2006.





March 26, 2008 Update:



Shelly Sekula Gibbs and Pete Olson make it out of the Republican free-for-all and advance to the runoff. As expected, the Republican establishment is lining up behind Olson--he has the endorsement of Senator John Cornyn and twelve Texas Congressmen. However, Sekula Gibbs has a strong advantage in name recognition and looks to tie Olson to Washington insiders. If Olson emerges from the runoff, Representative Nick Lampson will be in the fight of his life this November, if Sekula Gibbs is the nominee, Lampson can breathe a bit easier.











Background


Extenuating circumstances placed Representative Nick Lampson back on the Hill in 2006. A botched resignation ploy by former Majority Leader Tom Delay resulted in Lampson?s eventual victory over write-in candidate Shelley Sekula Gibbs. With Lampson at the top of the national GOP?s target list, Republican candidates have flocked to the contest. While the primary field remains cloudy, one thing is certain: the Republican establishment does not want to nominate Sekula Gibbs again. While serving the final two months of Delay?s term, Sekula Gibbs alienated local Republicans when Delay?s congressional staff walked out due to the congresswoman?s abrasive management style.



Sekula Gibbs is running again, but so too are former Sugar Land mayor Dean Hrbacek, ex-Pasadena mayor John Manlove, former Senate aide Pete Olson, and state representative Robert Talton, all of whom are credible candidates. Due to high name recognition Sekula Gibbs is expected to win the March 4th primary, but with well under the fifty percent needed to avoid a runoff. The Republican establishment in this conservative district will likely coalesce around the primary runner-up, to ensure a competitive race in the fall. Short of Sekula Gibbs, no matter who emerges from the Republican primary, Lampson will be in the fight of his life to retain his seat in November.





Candidates




Nick Lampson (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 188




Pete Olson - Republican -
retired Navy pilot, former Chief of Staff for Senator John Cornyn
Website 189









Texas (23)



Outlook: Likely Democratic







June 3, 2008 Update:


Republican nominee Lyle Larson has three problems facing him as he seeks to unseat Ciro Rodriguez in one of the few congressional districts that Republicans view as pickup opportunities. Larson's first problem is simply one of money. While he showed just $60,000 cash in the bank at the end of the first quarter, Rodriguez avoided a primary clash and banked close to $1 million.



Larson's second problem: demographics. When Larson defeated primary opponent ''Quico'' Canseco, the GOP lost their chance to neutralize Rodriguez's advantage as the Hispanic candidate in a district in which 65 percent of voters share that trait. In Texas, unlike in Florida, Hispanic and Democratic often conflate and Rodriguez has a clear leg up as a result.



The final problem hampering Larson's campaign is the partisan ID of the district's voters. While many have cited Rodriguez as potentially vulnerable because his district voted 57 percent for Bush in 2004, the true number of Republicans is most likely much lower. Many voters in the Texas 23rd district likely cast their ballots on Election Day for their former governor, even thought they might not generally support Republican presidential and congressional candidates. In 2008, without a Texan on the presidential ballot, how will voters cast their votes and can Larson win without coattails?




March 26, 2008 Update:


How much does 38 percent of the vote cost in South Texas? For Francisco ''Quico'' Canseco, the price was over $900K and more than a year of campaigning. Despite Canseco's long head start and significant financial advantage, Bexar county commissioner Lyle Larson won the nomination in a landslide, 62-38 percent and will go on to face Representative Ciro Rodriguez in November. Although Larson can run on his elected experience, national Republicans were privately hoping Canseco could win, given the district's 55 percent majority of Hispanic voters. Without Canseco, the race slides down Republican target lists, and if Larson is going to beat Rodriguez, he must do it without NRCC help.













Background


After the Supreme Court mandated redrawing of Texas? 22nd congressional district to include more Hispanic voters, Representative Ciro Rodriguez became the Democratic class of 2006?s thirtieth and final member in a December special election. Now, Rodriguez must fight to retain his seat against two powerful Republican personalities. Bexar county commissioner Lyle Larson and attorney Francisco ''Quico'' Canseco are engaged in a heated battle to challenge Rodriguez in the fall. Larson, who represents the largest GOP population center, has the advantages of extensive public service, but Canseco, who has already spent nearly $600K of his own money, has been in the race for over a year and may be able to draw upon substantial Latino support. As the March 4th primary turns dirty, Rodriguez can only hope that whoever emerges is politically damaged and financially weakened. Until Republicans have a definite nominee, this seat remains likely to stay in Democratic hands, but either candidate could pose a threat to Rodriguez in November.




Candidates




Ciro Rodriguez (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman
Website 190




Lyle Larson - Republican - Bexar County commissioner

Website 191









Virginia (02)



Outlook: Leans Republican










October 3, 2008 Update:


Republicans are hoping this will be the year Rep. Thelma Drake wins convincingly and takes her name off of the Democratic target list in Virginia. Her opponent, Glenn Nye is trying hard to convince his fellow Democrats that Drake is not out of the woods yet. He recently released a poll that shows only a five-point deficit in his race against Drake. If true, this would justify the attention Nye's been clamoring for and the DCCC has been granting.



Unfortunately for Nye, candidate-commissioned polls often tell the campaign what they want to, rather than what they need to, hear. While Nye has been trying to use his diplomatic background to sway this heavily military district, many believe that tactic ignores a great cultural difference between the two groups. Some Democrats privately worry that Nye isn't the dynamic figure that would be needed to win over this Republican district and McCain's military background could create coattails that would be difficult to overcome.



As it stands, this is likely to be another tough race for Drake, something Republicans will be sorry to hear. The news is at least as bad for Democrats, though, who may have had a better shot at taking their seat last cycle.





June 3, 2008 Update:


Rep. Thelma Drake's biennial underperfomance (she's won 51 and 55 percent of the vote in her two elections, while Bush got 58 percent in 2004) makes her a biennial target for Democrats. Drake's hoping to finally break the cycle, facing off this year against diplomat Glenn Nye, a Democrat with 9 percent name identification according to a recent poll. Through late May, Nye had managed to raise $300,000, but Drake had nearly quadrupled that effort.



Still, there is some hope for Democrats. The mixed blessing of Nye's low name ID is that his horserace numbers are bound to go up. The same poll showed him losing to Drake 48-32, but as he introduces himself to voters, those numbers will go up. Conversely, Drake's 95 percent name ID doesn't give her much upwards potential. National Democrats are hopeful about this race, noting Drake's inability to put away her competitors and Drake's nearly equal approval and disapproval numbers.



The bottom line is that Nye needs to get his name out there, and sooner rather than later. To take advantage of this upward potential he has to plaster his name and face on TV, radio, and newspapers for the next five months. To do that, he must start raising money and in much larger chunks than he has thus far. This mountain isn't the steepest Dems have faced, but it's a mountain nonetheless and it will take the right equipment and a healthy does of perseverance to reach the summit by November.











Background


The odds of Representative Thelma Drake facing a competitive reelection bout grow ever more unlikely by the day. In 2006 and 2004, Drake fended off competitive challenges from commissioner Phillip Kellam and Naval reservist David Ashe, respectively, with healthy margins of victory. As of yet, no top-tier Democrats have announced, and Drake?s only opponent is diplomat Glenn Nye.



Virginia's second district lies predominantly in the conservative, military-friendly Virginia Beach metropolitan area. Although the district voted overwhelmingly for President Bush (58% in 2004), Drake is perennially perceived as vulnerable because she hails from Norfolk, which comprises a small minority of district voters. As time goes by and Drake broadens her district loyalties, this handicap should disappear. Avoiding a competitive race this fall could go great lengths to entrenching Congresswoman Drake and guaranteeing a long career representing the second district.








Candidates




Glenn Nye - Democrat - diplomat


Website 192




Thelma Drake (I) - Republican -
current Congresswoman

Website 193









Virginia (05)



Outlook: Likely Republican








November 14, 2008 Update:

Democrat Tom Perriello declared victory in the 5th district early this week but his opponent Virgil Goode has yet to concede. As of Nov. 14, the State Board of Elections' website showed Perriello ahead by 745 votes. The State Board of Elections must verify the election results by Nov. 24, and the losing candidate will then have the chance to ask for a recount up to ten days after that point.




November 7, 2008 Update:

Democrat Tom Perriello is leading by 648 votes with 100% of precincts reporting. But the results won't be certified by the Board of Elections until Nov. 24th and the loser must file for a recount by Dec. 4.





October 28, 2008 Update:

Democrats are hoping this will be the year they finally unseat six-term incumbent Rep. Virgil Goode with Tom Perriello. Polls may get their hopes up ?the last one Sept. 30 showed Goode's staggering 34 point advantage in August slashed to just 13 percent (55 to 42 percent). While the margin is still considerable, the dip is still significant for an incumbent who has always won his previous races by a minimum 19-point landslide. For his part, Goode has outpaced his opponent in financing despite an early setback. Recent campaign finance show that between June 1 and September 30, Goode led Periello in terms of contributions by over $120,000 ($532,750 to $412,488). He also has more than twice as much cash on hand than his opponent ($686,051 to $321,233).


The race is tightening in its last lap. Both candidates picked up some high-profile endorsements this month ? Sen. Jim Webb and Gov. Tim Kaine for Perriello and Attorney General Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov Bill Bolling for Goode. The ad-war is also getting increasingly nasty, with the DCCC running radio ads linking Goode with ?big oil? and Goode's campaign airing one claiming Perriello was opposed to offshore drilling. Perriello called it ?libelous? and asked television stations to stop airing the ad. That's as good an indicator as any that this race is heating up.


While Perriello still has to close a wide gap within the next few weeks, he is certainly pulling off the toughest fight for Goode's seat yet, raising more money than his previous opponents and buying up television time to get his name out. But whether or not the Democrats paint this district blue remains to be seen.









Background



Incumbent Rep. Virgil Goode made national headlines last December for his comments about fellow Congressman Keith Ellison, who is Muslim. While that controversy has certainly died down, the Virginia 5th is in the headlines again, at least across the state. This time the focus is attorney Tom Perriello who clinched the Democratic nomination and has thus far outraised Goode. Perriello's fundraising success led the DCCC in April to add Goode to their list of targeted incumbents.



How optimistic should Democrats be? That remains to be seen. But if history is any predictor: not very. The district is GOP country, with only the liberal city of Charlottesville to keep things potentially competitive. Bush carried the district with 56 percent of the vote in 2004 and Goode has only once dipped under 60 percent in his six elections. Goode won with 59 percent of the vote in 2006, spending $1 million to his opponent's $500,000. If Democrats can narrow that fundraising gap this time around, or even reverse it, perhaps that will be enough to topple this entrenched incumbent.



Candidates




Tom Perriello - Democrat - public entrepreneur



Website 194




Virgil Goode (I) - Republican - current Congressman

Website 195









Virginia (11) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Likely Democratic










October 23, 2008 Update:

The race between former home inspector Keith Fimian and local government representative Gerry Connolly seems to be moving even further in the latter's direction with the latest finance reports. A poll taken over three months ago had shown Connolly ahead 52 percent to 21 percent. Since then, he has narrowed his opponent's $400,000 cash advantage, with the most recent campaign finance filings show that he has $646,252 in the bank to Fimian's $718,630. The closing gap is significant because, with a lack of experience in local government and almost no name recognition, Fimian's chief advantage in the race had been his cash.


Despite this, the race itself has shown no signs of dying down. Both candidates and their supporters have run incisive negative ads and fought harsh debates. At a recent debate held last month, Fimian accused Connolly, who was chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, of pushing through a redevelopment plan for his own financial gain, calling him a ?poster child for corruption?. Connolly called it ?slander?, before criticizing his opponent's lack of local government expertise as just ?showing up for an election?. National campaigns have also joined the show. The DCCC criticized Fimian's membership on the board of Catholic business group Legatus as funding ?anti-female? organizations, while the NRCC has attacked Connolly for holding on to campaign funds donated by Rep. Charles B. Rengel who is being investigated by a House ethics panel for tax evasion.


Despite the back and forth, the district should be a comfortable pickup for Connolly, given his decade-long involvement in local government and resulting name recognition. Besides, a population influx in this affluent district has seen it turning increasingly blue in the last few years. The retiring incumbent in this open seat race, Tom Davis, had seen a dramatic slicing of his election winning percentages in the last six years ? from 83 percent in 2002 to just 55 percent in 2006 against an underfunded candidate. With the cash gap narrowing, Connolly's prospects seem even brighter.




June 11, 2008 Update:


The Democratic primary ended with a surprisingly lopsided result and unsurprisingly low turnout. With just 6% of registered voters casting ballots, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly defeated former Rep. Leslie Byrne by a 58-33 margin, with two minor candidates splitting the remainder.



Connolly will now face Republican businessman Keith Fimian in the fall general election. Connolly won the primary with support from Gov. Tim Kaine, but Fimian has the backing of the congressman he seeks to replace, Tom Davis. The wild card here is demographics and growth. While Bush eeked out a victory in the district in 2004 by just 2,000 votes out of 300,000, the Northern Virginia area is, rightfully, seen as trending Blue. Couple that trend with the expected anti-GOP voter sentiment this fall and this race has a Democratic lean as the general election campaign gets underway.










Background


Representative Tom Davis has had a tough year. Coming into 2007, he was a widely-respected moderate Republican with realistic ambitions of a Senatorial promotion after Senator John Warner's retirement. In October, his Senate dreams died when Virginia Republicans opted for a nominating convention, in November, his wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis lost her state senate seat to a Democratic challenger, and by January, Davis had called it quits in Congress.



Even before Davis' departure, Democrats had fielded two top-tier challengers: former Representative Leslie Byrne, whom Davis defeated in 1994, and Fairfax county supervisors chair Gerry Connolly. While Byrne has an early lead in polling, Connolly?s connections with the business community should generate sizeable fundraising returns, a necessity to compete in Washington media markets. The Republican nomination remains cloudy, as no candidates have announced, but businessman Keith Fimian commands an early advantage with a sizeable $670K warchest. The district has trended Democratic in recent years?voting for Governor Kaine and Senator Webb in 2005 and 2006 respectively?but a divisive primary between Byrne and Connolly could provide a window for the GOP to retain Davis' seat.








Candidates




Gerry Connolly - Democrat - chair of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Website 196




Keith Fimian - Republican - founder of home inspection company

Website 197









Washington (08)



Outlook: Leans Republican









November 14, 2008 Update:

Republican Dave Reichert won re-election after her opponent Darcy Burner conceded late Friday, November 7. At that time, Reichert was leading by 8,000 votes with 80 percent of the vote counted.




November 7, 2008 Update:

Republican Dave Reichert is leading by 5,332 votes with 72% of precincts reporting. Results are expected within the next week. Back in 2006, when the same two candidates squared off, it took a week to decide the winner.






September 16, 2008 Update:


With less than two months until election day, the race for Washington?s eight district is shaping up to be a barn-burner (pun definitely intended)! Even with the loss of her house to fire in July, repeat candidate Darcy Burner has kept up her torrid fundraising pace. During the last reporting period, Burner raised $584K to incumbent Dave Reichert?s $347K, banking $1.24 million to the incumbent?s $916K cash on hand.


But the news isn?t all bad for Reichert either. In last month?s bipartisan ?top-two? primary, Reichert improved upon his 2006 showing and garnered more votes than his Democratic opponent for the first time in his Congressional career (Note: Washington?s primary includes all candidates and parties with only the ?top-two? vote winners advancing to the general election). What?s more, Reichert has picked up the endorsement of a conservative Democrat that drew four percent of the primary vote. With both candidates looking strong coming into the home stretch, this race may prove to be one of the more exciting and competitive contests in the entire nation.



June 3, 2008 Update:


Democratic repeat challenger Darcy Burner has lit the fires and kicked the tires in a race that is really starting to heat up. Her fundraising efforts have netted $1.4 million this cycle, actually outpacing the incumbent, Rep. Dave Reichert, by a few thousand dollars. Even better, she has a cash-on-hand advantage of more than $200,000.



Perhaps the best explanation for this lead is that Burner has been in full-out campaign mode ever since last November's election ended with her losing by just two percent after matching Reichert dollar for dollar in expenditures. Burner has not just been raising money, she's been tackling policy as well, helping develop a thirty-six page plan for what to do in Iraq. While Reichert's campaign thinks voters have moved on and are now concerned primarily with the economy, Burner has thus far framed this election as a continuation of 2006 and a second referendum on Iraq. Right now, this race looks like a carbon-copy of the first and if national party dynamics stay the same as they were in 2006, Reichert is in for another very tough race.











Background


Repeat challengers from both parties had a tough time in 2006, but even so, more candidates are taking a second shot at incumbents in 2008. Former Microsoft executive Darcy Burner came within two points of Representative Dave Reichert last cycle, but is convinced she can improve upon her showing in 08. Needless to say, some things have changed since 2006?the Iraq war has improved, the economy has fallen?while others, especially the unpopularity of President Bush, remain the same.



So far, Burner is on the right track in her second challenge; her fundraising has improved since 2006 and she was able to avoid a competitive primary against state senator Rodney Tom. Congressman Reichert, as well, has reported solid, if not impressive, fundraising totals, and can now boast of the League of Conservation Voters? distinction as one of the ten most environmentally friendly Republicans in the House. The district itself leans slightly Democratic, but barring further developments, Burner may find it difficult to expand upon her 2006 performance.







Candidates




Dave Reichert (I) - Republican -
current Congressman
Website 198




Darcy Burner - Democrat -
2006 Democratic candidate, manager for Microsoft
Website 199









Wisconsin (08)



Outlook: Leans Democratic






October 23, 2008 Update:

When Steve Kagen faced off against Republican nominee John Gard two years ago, the outcome was decided by fewer than 6,000 votes. This year, both men are running a second round of the 2006 race, though Kagen appears to have a somewhat firmer lead this time around.


In terms of funding, Kagen has a slight advantage over his opponent with a bit more cash on hand. Based on the latest campaign finance reports, Kagen reported $668,000 against Gard's $607,000. Kagen has also out-raised Gard 1.8 million to 1.2 million. In addition, polls conducted earlier this month found Kagen leading 52 percent to Gard's 43 percent. All this suggests that Kagen has the upper hand.


But Gard and his supporters are running the race down to the wire. The National Republican Congressional Committee, which is cash-strapped compared to its Democratic counterpart, has chosen this as one of the few places to run ads against their challenger. This includes a recent ad that links Kagen to corrupt New York City Charlie Rangel, alleging that Kagen took $16,000 in donations and supported a $2 million dollar earmark for Rangel's personal office and library. Both national parties have poured more than $300,000 into ads and mailings for the race, and both presidential candidates and their running mates made appearances in the district last month. So, despite Kagen's edge, Wisconsin's only competitive house race could be heading for yet another close, close shave.










Background


Multimillionaire doctor and freshman Representative Steve Kagen is off to a rocky start in his congressional career. While most first-term members try to keep a low profile and establish their congressional credentials, Kagen has done the opposite. Just days after inauguration, Kagen endured backlash from boasts about a series of uncivil comments made toward President Bush, Laura Bush, and Karl Rove. Newspaper reports of Kagen?s claims and White House denials of the incidents cast a negative light on the freshman?s character and judgment. Despite apologizing for his behavior, the damage has already been done, and district voters can expect to see his tape-recorded comments in television advertisements this fall.



The ensuing controversy prompted the entrance of the 2006 Republican nominee John Gard into the race. Gard is widely perceived to be the best available challenger, but he may face primary opposition from a bevy of Republicans eying the race. If Kagen can avoid future gaffes, he should be considered a slight favorite, but he has certainly done little to help his chances for reelection to Congress.




Candidates




John Gard - Republican -
2006 GOP nominee, former state house speaker

Website 200




Steve Kagen (I) - Democrat -
current Congressman

Website 201









West Virginia (02)



Outlook: Leans Republican








May 27, 2008 Update:


Democrat Anne Barth's primary victory was warmly received by national Democrats who believe she has what it takes to defeat Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito this November. Barth was a late entry into the race, but quickly gathered establishment support and easily won the primary, even managing to squirrel away $300,000 for the general election. Capito has almost $1 million on hand herself, but the DCCC still thinks she is vulnerable, and has had Barth's name on their "Red to Blue" list of targets since even before she emerged victorious from the primary.










Background


State senator John Unger put a serious dent into Democratic hopes of unseating Representative Shelley More Capito when he withdrew from the race the day of West Virginia's filing deadline. Upon hearing the news, Anne Barth, Senator Byrd?s longtime state director, rushed to Charleston to submit her candidacy just before midnight. Barth had passed on the race when the state Democratic establishment coalesced around Unger, and her late entry means that she will face severe fundraising and name identification deficits in the general election.



Meanwhile, Congresswoman Capito stands in a strong position for reelection as West Virginia?s only Republican federal official. Early in the cycle, she tested the waters on a challenge to Senator Rockefeller, but passed, perhaps waiting for Senator Byrd's next retirement opportunity in 2012. Even if Barth develops into a strong challenger, Capito has to feel good about her chances after summarily dispatching (57-43) former Democratic state chairman Mike Callaghan in 2006. Republican presidential coattails in a district that voted 57 percent for Bush should be more than necessary to guide Capito to a fifth term.






Candidates




Shelley Moore Capito (I) - Republican - current Congresswoman


Website 202




Anne Barth - Democrat -
state director for Senator Byrd
Website 203









Wyoming (0) (Open Seat)



Outlook: Toss-up








September 16, 2008 Update:


Change may be in the air this election season, but in Wyoming, experience and ideology still matter. Such was the case when former state treasurer Cynthia Lummis prevailed over rancher Mark Gordon by a comfortable margin of 46 to 37 in the Republican primary last Tuesday. Lummis is a longtime fixture of Wyoming state politics and was one of the finalists to replace the late Senator Craig Thomas last year. Gordon?s fresh-faced candidacy generated buzz among primary observers, but revelations that he donated to Democratic campaigns and liberal organizations ultimately doomed his nomination bid.


Choosing a known quantity like Lummis has advantages and disadvantages for the Wyoming GOP. From day one, Lummis has nearly statewide name identification and can tap into networks of establishment donors. Her staunch conservatism, which played well in the primary, however, might not cross over as well to a more moderate to libertarian general electorate. Without a doubt, this remains Lummis? race to lose, but she had better keep her guard up lest Democrat Gary Trauner can improve upon his surprise showing of 2006.



June 3, 2008 Update:


While Democrat Gary Trauner waits in the wings for the eventual Republican nominee, who will be chosen on August 19, the two main Republican candidates are duking it out on the primary stage. Former state treasurer Cynthia Lummis leads in name recognition and political experience. Her primary rival for the nomination, rancher Mark Gordon, holds the edge in money and, according to him, the votes. Gordon released a poll, taken in late April, that showed him leading Lummis 39-23, albeit with 30 percent undecided. Gordon has been using his money advantage, he has raised more than twice as much as Lummis, to run television ads to conquer Lummis' name ID advantage in the remaining two months of the primary campaign. While his camp must be excited by their internal numbers which show him in the lead, the nearly one-third of voters without a preference should be a scary thing, especially against a better-known opponent who may get some votes from name recognition alone.




May 8, 2008 Update:

There is good news and bad news for repeat Democratic candidate Gary Trauner. The good news is that he continues to out-pace his rivals in fundraising (he has raised $648,123, while the leading Republican candidate, newcomer Mark Gordon, has raised only $412,417, with the majority being self-funded). The bad news for Trauner is that the demographics of the district have not changed (Wyoming gave John Kerry just 29% of the vote in 2004) and that Gordon has emerged from the pack of Republican challengers as a well-funded potential foe. The only Republican likely to seriously contest Gordon for a shot at Trauner in November is ex-state treasurer Cynthia Lummis, who has raised just $170,720 to date, and trails Gordon by a 39-23 margin in a recent poll. The August 19 primary will be a key determinant in deciding how this race pans out.








Background


Representative Barbara Cubin?s retirement from the House may be a case of addition by subtraction for national Republicans. Cubin?s abrasive commentary, aggressive personality, and propensity for gaffes alienated many Wyoming voters in a traditionally conservative state. Upon surviving a contested primary, Cubin would have been vulnerable to a repeat challenge by 06 Democratic nominee Gary Trauner who came within 1,012 votes last cycle and is running again in 2008.



Instead, the opportunity passes to former state treasurer Cynthia Lummis, businessman Ken Gilchrist, and state representative Dan Zwonitzer to keep the seat safely in GOP hands for another thirty years. Lummis, who was snubbed for the late Senator Craig Thomas? seat is the primary frontrunner for now, but the likely entrance of former assistant Attorney General Tom Sansonetti could scramble the nomination. Odds are, given the conservative nature of Wyoming, Republican voters will coalesce around their nominee to defeat Trauner and secure the seat for posterity, but until then, how much will the cash-strapped NRCC have to spend on a district that will give the Republican presidential nominee at least a 30% margin in 2008?






Candidates




Gary Trauner - Democrat - 2006 Democratic candidate
Website 204




Cynthia Lummis - Republican - former state treasurer

Website 205






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