The Friday Line: The Battle for the House
If it's Friday, it's time for The Fix's latest Line. This week it's time to assess the 2006 battle for the House, where Republicans look likely to retain the majority given the (still) relatively small number of competitive seats.
Democrats have several months to fill slots in toss-up races and must do so if they want to make a believable argument as to why they can wrest back control. Again, the No. 1 ranked race is the most likely to switch parties, the 10th ranked race is the least likely (of the contests mentioned) to switch. Comments, criticism and queries are welcome.
Without further ado, the House line:
1. Colorado's 7th District -- OPEN: Rep. Bob Beauprez's (R) decision to leave the House to run for governor in 2006 creates a prime pick-up opportunity for Democrats. Created to be a toss-up between the two parties, the 7th District has lived up to its reputation. In the 2004 presidential election, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) won it by three percent, a margin of just more than 8,000 votes. Recognizing their vulnerabilities here, Republicans quickly united behind Rick O'Donnell, who lost to Beauprez in the 2002 GOP primary. Jefferson County Treasurer Mark Paschall is also weighing a bid but is not given much of a chance even if he runs. Democrats will have a primary between former state senator Ed Perlmutter and former state representative Peggy Lamm. Perlmutter appears to be the favorite as he has rolled up a series of key endorsements from organized labor.
2. Georgia's 8th District: Rep. Jim Marshall (D) faces a two-headed Republican monster as he seeks a third term in the House: A GOP-drawn redistricting plan that changed the makeup of his current 3rd District earlier this year, and former representative Mac Collins (R), who is running to oust him next November. The redrawn 8th District still includes Marshall's Macon base but also encompasses Collins's home in Butts County, which he represented during his six terms in Congress. (Collins left Congress in 2004 to pursue a Senate bid.) As evidence of the high priority national Republicans are placing on the seat, Vice President Dick Cheney will travel to the district to raise money for Collins on Oct. 28.
3. Iowa's 1st District -- OPEN: Rep. Jim Nussle (R) is running for governor, and ever since Nussle first won this eastern Iowa district, Democrats have been trying unsuccessfully to unseat him. With Nussle seeking statewide office, Democrats believe now is their time. Using the 2004 presidential election as a guide, the seat seems to tilt in Democrats' favor, as Kerry won 53 percent to 46 percent over Bush. Three-way primaries are underway on both sides. Former Iowa Trial Lawyers Association head Bruce Braley is leading the financial pack for Democrats; state Rep. Bill Dix and Heart of America CEO Mike Whalen are in a virtual dead heat in fundraising on the GOP side.
4. Pennsylvania's 6th District: Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) has so far been unable to plant roots with the voters of this suburban Philadelphia district. Elected in 2002 to a seat drawn for him by the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature, Gerlach narrowly defeated Dan Wofford (D), the son of the former senator, 51 percent to 49 percent. Two years later Gerlach eked out another 51-49 win over attorney Lois Murphy, a first-time candidate who drew raves from national Democrats. Murphy's back for a rematch; and given the current mood in Pennsylvania toward Republicans (take a look at GOP Sen. Rick Santorum's polling numbers as an example), one gets a sense of why Democrats see Gerlach as vulnerable.
5. Illinois's 8th District: - Rep. Melissa Bean (D) was the upset special of 2004, defeating longtime Rep. Phil Crane (R) in what should be a comfortably Republican district. Bean won by making the race a referendum on Crane, who had served in Congress since 1969 and whose campaign apparatus was rusty -- at best. She will not have that luxury in her bid for reelection. Republicans have a crowded primary field, which helps Bean; but regardless of the GOP nominee, the fact that Bush carried this district by 12 points in 2004 ensures a close race.
6. New Mexico's 1st District: State Attorney General Patricia Madrid's (D) recent decision to challenge Rep. Heather Wilson (R) ensures another tough-race for this battle-tested incumbent. Madrid, who is Hispanic, has been in her current office since 1998 and has been mentioned by the party for a variety of offices, including lieutenant governor and state land commissioner. Wilson represents one of the most closely divided districts along partisan lines in the country, and if there is a wind at Democrats' back, it will be felt here first.
7. Ohio's 6th District -- OPEN: Rep. Ted Strickland's (D) decision to run for governor opens up a seat where Republicans are talking up their takeover chances. The field appears to be set on both sides. State House Speaker Pro Tempore Chuck Blasdel is the likely Republican nominee, while Democrats have settled on state Sen. Charlie Wilson. The seat is a toss-up; President Bush carried it with 51 percent in 2004.
8. Florida's 22nd District: Rep. Clay Shaw (R) is a perennial Democratic target even though his seat was made more Republican by the 2001 redistricting process. Democrats are (again) touting a candidate to knock off Shaw -- state Sen. Ron Klein. Shaw was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, an announcement that led to immediate speculation that he might not seek another term. GOP strategists insist Shaw is in it for the long haul and argue that he has shown a capacity to run and win against well-funded Democratic challengers. Klein has proved a formidable fundraiser so far in 2005, so it appears Shaw is in for a nail-biter.
9. Georgia's 12th District: Rep. John Barrow (D), like Rep. Marshall in the state's 8th District, has seen his reelection prospects affected by the state's new congressional boundaries. After defeating freshman Rep. Max Burns (R) in an Athens area district in 2004, Barrow watched as GOP line-drawers cut his home out of the 12th District. The 12th should be friendly territory for a Democrat, even though Barrow does not live there (though he has said he plans to move into the district). Burns will be able use his one-term in Congress to raise the money to fund a rematch with Barrow.
10. Indiana's 9th District: Rep. Mike Sodrel (R) narrowly edged Rep. Baron Hill (D) in this southern Indiana district in 2004 and will face Hill again in 2006. This seat, along with Rep. John Hostettler's (R-Ind.) 8th District, will be major targets for national Democrats, who believe the current political mood gives them the leverage they need to pry those seats from Republicans. This race looks to be a carbon copy of the 2004 contest, but Hill hopes a favorable Democratic climate nationally will reverse the result.
-- Chris Cillizza
Posted by: Dublin Hotels | March 22, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sara M. | November 25, 2005 2:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: SwarthmoreResident | November 15, 2005 3:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: SwarthmoreResident | November 15, 2005 3:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Mark | November 7, 2005 2:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dave N. | October 29, 2005 3:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MissMarmelstein | October 28, 2005 9:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Brian Yates | October 28, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PATeacher | October 24, 2005 10:41 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | October 23, 2005 1:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Heywood | October 22, 2005 12:09 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Cal | October 21, 2005 7:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Cal | October 21, 2005 7:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Texas Slim | October 21, 2005 5:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Rich | October 21, 2005 5:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jbowen43 | October 21, 2005 5:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PWLove | October 21, 2005 5:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kentucky Jim | October 21, 2005 4:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PackerBoy | October 21, 2005 4:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: J Callmont | October 21, 2005 4:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Charles | October 21, 2005 4:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Mark | October 21, 2005 3:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Carl | October 21, 2005 3:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Disgusted | October 21, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: McDaniel | October 21, 2005 3:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JOE OPPENHEIMER | October 21, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Joan | October 21, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Marcia | October 21, 2005 1:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Marcia | October 21, 2005 1:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Ralph Bailey Langdon | October 21, 2005 1:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dave McMahon | October 21, 2005 12:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: scootmandubious | October 21, 2005 12:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Ralph Bailey Langdon | October 21, 2005 11:19 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Political Junkie | October 21, 2005 10:11 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: laocoon | October 21, 2005 10:02 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.