What are '98's top races?
Stuart Rothenberg's picks as election approaches
With the November 3 elections just a few days away, here are snapshots of a few of the top races of 1998....
Nevada Senate Nevada Democrats continue to try to turn the issue of nuclear waste against GOP challenger John Ensign. Incumbent Harry Reid (D) has run an aggressive race, but he and his campaign too often sound frenzied and hysterical. While Ensign has been within striking distance of the senator for weeks (or even months), increasing Democratic energy in Las Vegas and questions about whether Ensign can get the margin he needs up north have many Republican insiders wondering about their chances of picking up this seat.
Connecticut Governor Gov. John Rowland's re-election hasn't been in doubt for months, but political insiders are still surprised at the inability of Cong. Barbara Kennelly (D) to get any kind of challenge going. Sen. Chris Dodd (D) will overwhelm challenger Gary Franks (R) easily, but Kennelly, who has been part of the Democratic congressional leadership and has been widely regarded for years as a savvy political insider, has proven inept as a gubernatorial candidate. Her problems, combined with a strong economy and the governor's widespread popularity, are leading to a GOP landslide.
Pennsylvania 10 Democrat Pat Casey is having a much harder time than anyone expected in winning the open seat of retiring Republican Joe McDade. Casey, whose father was governor and has what should be a magical name for the 10th C.D., has been trailing GOP nominee Don Sherwood slightly. Sherwood, a wealthy businessman, has made an issue of Casey's relative youth and lack of experience. He has also attacked the Democrat as a "trial lawyer" who worked "for big insurance companies." This campaign is likely to become a political blood bath in the final days, as both campaign try to turn a close race to their advantage.
Nevada 1 John Ensign's soon-to-be-open 1st District seat was expected to go rather easily to Las Vegas insider and Democratic activist Shelley Berkley, but district judge Don Chairez (R) continues to be too close for most Democrats' comfort. One recent GOP poll showed Chairez up by a couple of points, but Democrats insist that Berkley still holds the lead. Nevada observer John Ralston has written that Berkley, who is smart and normally brimming with confidence, looked "shell-shocked" in a recent debate. The Democrat was initially put on the defensive when a former employer revealed a memo she wrote suggesting that he try to influence local political leaders by hiring their relatives. But Chairez has his own baggage and isn't a particularly strong candidate in many ways, and it is difficult to believe that, in the end, this Democratic district won't pick Berkley.
Ohio 1 The battle between Cong. Steve Chabot (R) and challenger Roxanne Qualls (D), the mayor of Cincinnati, remains close, though the Republican has a slight edge. Democrats say the contest is too close to call, and even GOP insiders have for months identified Chabot as one of the more vulnerable GOP incumbents seeking reelection. Qualls has attacked Chabot for voting against the budget deal, emphasizing her argument that the congressman has been so ideological that he has voted against things that were good for Cincinnati. But Chabot emphasizes fiscal responsibility and the failures of the entire budget process.
Wisconsin, North Carolina Senate Democrats in Wisconsin and Republicans in North Carolina are trying last-minute changes in strategy in an attempt to save their Senate seats. In North Carolina, Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R) has turned his re-election race over to consultant Arthur Finkelstein, who is known for his TV ads in which he calls his Democratic opponent a liberal. Faircloth's new attacks on Democrat John Edwards reiterate earlier complaints that the challenger is a "trial lawyer," but now seek to tie Edwards to President Clinton.
In Wisconsin, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ran almost five days of an independent expenditure campaign against GOP Senate challenger Mark Neumann. Sen. Russ Feingold (D) and Neumann have limited themselves in spending, but outside groups, including GOP party organizations, are spending "soft dollars" (unregulated by the Federal Election Commission), primarily against Feingold. The DSCC's hard dollar advertising campaign reflects both concern about Feingold's prospects and the committee's adoption of a new tactic. But the DSCC abruptly pulled their ad before it had played for the full seven days when Feingold went to Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle and asked for his help in getting the independent expenditure stopped. Daschle went to DSCC chairman Bob Kerrey, and the committee agreed to pull the spot, which ran for a few days.
Tuesday, October 27, 1998
McDougal fiancé scolded over Whitewater mention
Farmhand saw suspect with murdered state senator, heard 'pop'
Burton asks FEC to review Democratic funds
Bennett tried to protect Jones case information from Starr
Women discuss Social Security
Witness in Espy trial says she was asked to delete details from trip itinerary
First lady celebrates 51st birthday
Man in Clinton threat makes a plea
Democrats on the decline in Kentucky
Feiger forces Democratic defections in Michigan governor's race
Jesse "The Body" Ventura plays the spoiler in Minnesota gov. race
S.C. Senate race pits old South against new
Both parties eye no-incumbent races
Paper: Democrats fighting over elections
Election ads outnumber news stories
California candidate signs gay pledge
Techniques to raise voter turnout
Texas' Stenholm has a tough fight
California candidate has military record