Skip to comments.Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats
Posted on 08/09/2010 5:18:43 AM PDT by randita
CQ POLITICS NEWS
Aug. 8, 2010 10:35 p.m.
Rothenbergs Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats
By Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call Contributing Writer
Competitive open seats usually follow the direction of the overall cycle, so with House Republicans poised for large gains, it should be no surprise that most of the open seats that flip will be headed their way. The districts at the top of the list are more likely to flip, with at least the first half-dozen looking like no-brainers.
Tennessees 6th. Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon s retirement hands this seat to state Sen. Diane Black, who won Thursdays GOP primary very narrowly. Even the Congressman has long acknowledged that his party has little chance of retaining it in November.
Louisianas 3rd. House Democratic strategists knew that if Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) ran for Senate they would probably lose this seat in the fall, so their game plan rested on keeping Melancon in the House. But the likelihood that redistricting would damage his House prospects in 2012 probably helped persuade him to run for the Senate this year. Former Louisiana Speaker Hunt Downer (R) looks like the obvious successor.
New Yorks 29th. Former Rep. Eric Massa s embarrassing personal behavior and subsequent resignation opens up a district that leans Republican but has also elected Democrats. The GOP nominee, former Corning Mayor Tom Reed, didnt seem to be blowing the doors off with his campaign, but hes the big beneficiary of Democrat Massas resignation. Unable to get a top-tier candidate, Democrats have had to settle for young Afghanistan War veteran Matt Zeller. On June 30, Reed had $345,000 in the bank to Zellers $86,000.
Arkansas 2nd. Republicans have been frustrated for years at not being able to unseat Rep. Vic Snyder (D), but the Congressmans retirement and the Democrats nomination of state Sen. Joyce Elliott finally means the seat will flip to the GOP. Republican Tim Griffin, a former U.S. attorney, is a solid favorite over the liberal Elliott.
Kansas 3rd. Rep. Dennis Moore has held on to this Republican-leaning district since 1998, and Democratic strategists hope that his wife, Stephene, can keep it both in the family and in the party this year. But this is a bad time for an open seat in Kansas (where the two statewide races will be blowouts for the GOP), and Republican state Rep. Kevin Yoder is a clear favorite.
Delawares At-Large. Republican Michael N. Castle s Senate bid opens up his House seat and gives Democrats a rare opportunity for a takeover. Despite the incredibly trite first line of his website bio (John Carney will always be on our side because hes one of us), former Lt. Gov. Carney (D), who served two terms in this small state where contact with voters is highly valued, looks to be the favorite for the fall. Republicans think businesswoman Michele Rollins will be a formidable candidate, and given her resources, interesting background and the cycles dynamics, this race is worth watching.
Indianas 8th. Democrats recruited a strong candidate, state Rep. Trent Van Haaften, to try to hold Rep. Brad Ellsworth s open seat. But any Democrat would have problems holding this conservative district in the current political environment. Republican Larry Bucshon is a surgeon making his first run for office, which brings both pluses and minuses. Van Haaften, who served as a county prosecutor before being elected to the Legislature, is trying to run as another Ellsworth (a former sheriff), but voters may prefer to see the election as a referendum on President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress.
New Hampshires 2nd. Democrats were excited when Rep. Paul W. Hodes decided to run for Senate, but they are now starting to worry about a GOP sweep of the three federal offices up in November. Both parties have primaries in the 2nd district, but most of the attention has been on former Rep. Charles Bass, who lost to Hodes in 2006 and is trying to win back his seat.
Pennsylvanias 7th. The Philadelphia suburbs have been trending Democratic, but this year could well be different. Former Delaware County District Attorney Pat Meehan (R), a former U.S. attorney, faces state Rep. Bryan Lentz (D) in what looks to be a tossup. If the national political environment deteriorates any further for Democrats, Lentz could well be a victim. The seat has been held by Rep. Joe Sestak , the Democratic Senate nominee, for two terms.
Michigans 1st. For Democrats, Rep. Bart Stupak s retirement couldnt have come at a worse time. State Rep. Gary McDowell hopes to hold the seat for his party, and it isnt clear whether hell face state Sen. Jason Allen or physician Dan Benishek, who finished in a virtual tie in the GOP primary. But the district is socially conservative, so McDowell must localize the race if Democrats are going to retain the district in November.
Tennessees 8th. Democrats hope that state Sen. Roy Herron can retain retiring Rep. John Tanner s seat. Herron does seem like a perfect fit for the district in all aspects but one: his party. If the midterms turn into a flat-out statement about Obama, health care reform, government spending and cap-and-trade, even the moderate Herron is in deep trouble. The Republican nominee is Stephen Fincher, a farmer and gospel singer who should have strong appeal in rural areas.
Wisconsins 7th. Democratic Rep. David R. Obey is calling it quits, and Democrats hope state Rep. Julie Lassa can keep the seat in the party. But Republicans argue her record is too liberal for the district, and they think that their energetic nominee, prosecutor Sean Duffy, can win this seat in the current environment. They may be right.
Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.
Not an open seat, but another vulnerable Democrat seat - MO-04 - Ike Skelton, age 78.
These Senate seats are MUCH more important AND questionable:
WA = beat Murray
CA = beat Boxer
CO = beat Dem candidate
FL = beat Crist
NV = beat Ried
WI = beat Feingold
RCP says NONE of these are “Toss Ups”.....
The Marston Chronicles has a fairly complete listing of the seats at risk that are ranked with the most vulnerable Dems at the top. The list predicts a very big Republican pickup based on historical Generic Ballot percentages.
The methodology for doing rankings is less than obvious but I'm sure there is at least a little science behind it. If it is a reasonably accurate list then the best investments that you could make in Republican candidates would be in the range from 30 to 50 on the list. The top of the list is pretty secure for the Republicans. The bottom of the list is tougher. So an obvious strategy is to target the securing of a 50 seat pickup (less a projected loss of 2 R seats). If things improve in October and more seats look secure then you start feeding money to the 50+ races.
You can see the Marston List HERE
MO — NO Carnahan!
If we only target 50 seats and the Democrats manage to hold 25% of them, they’ll stay in control of the House. We need to target 80-100 winnable seats (and, believe me, they’re out there).
Given the way Republicans are acting in CO I fear the CO race may be lost to us.
My take is that Buck is not ready for Prime Time and is much easier for Dems to attack.
Norton is less vulnerable to Dem attack and is much better financed.
Norton polls better against both Dem candidates.
Gov’s race....watta mess!
Skelton is toast..the vote on Obamacare proved that..
Just wondering..re the Kansas 3rd..I can understand the Dem retiring, figuring that he was going to lose, but why would his wife run for the seat?..it doesn’t make sense..anyone have any info?
Re: KS-03. What I’ve read is that Dems tried for 6 months to recruit a high profile candidate to run, but they couldn’t get anyone. They know this will be a tough district to hold and that the Dem will have to raise a LOT of money because Hartzler (R) has proven herself to be a good fund raiser. I guess they couldn’t find a Democrat who wanted to commit to what it would take and still be on the losing end.
After the 6 months, they supposedly went begging for Moore’s wife to run. For the record, no wife in congressional history has ever been elected to succeed her husband. Some have been appointed, but none elected. That record will not be broken in this instance either.
To make matters worse, Moore’s wife has to go out there and defend her husband’s voted for stimulus, cap and tax and Obamacare. She can’t distance herself from her own husband.
Sorry, I got MO-04 and KS-03 mixed up re the GOP candidate. Hartzler is the candidate for MO—04.
Kevin Yoder (State Rep. and Attorney) is the candidate for KS-03 against Stephene Moore.
Thanks for the info...but as I said...it still makes no sense whatsoever..unless he plans on divorcing her soon...
There have been rumors that Dennis Moore has health problems, but far as I know, he hasn’t come out and said so directly.
It only makes sense if you think the only shot you have of winning the seat is to play on the sympathy vote. Desperation, I guess.
Overall it looks promising. I do hope that the ‘Rat candidates’ cash walls aren’t too high to climb.