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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Analysis - Stuart Rothenberg

Rothenberg One of the nation's top political analysts, Stuart Rothenberg, dissects politics at the congressional and statewide levels.

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....

Rothenberg's 1998 House ratings

SENATE

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.


ELECTION '98
Election '98 Visit our Election '98 special section for all the hot races, state-by-state info and Congressional Quarterly's candidate profiles.

1998 PRIMARIES

1998 State Primary Special



ROTHENBERG

1998 Gubernatorial Ratings
10-16, 8-10, 7-20, 6-30, 6-8, 5-19, 4-29, 4-6, 3-16, 2-24, 2-2

1998 House Ratings
10-29, 10-27, 8-5, 7-3, 6-23, 6-2, 5-13, 4-21, 3-30, 2-12

1998 Senate Ratings
10-20, 9-28, 9-14, 7-28, 7-6, 6-15, 5-27, 5-5, 4-13, 3-24, 3-3, 2-9

Taking stock as Election Day draws near (11-02-98)

What are '98's top races? (10-27-98)

N.Y. Senate race still tight (10-20-98)

A tight North Carolina Senate race (10-16-98)

Illinois' Sen. Moseley-Braun faces an uphill battle (9-28-98)

A tough race for South Carolina's Sen. Hollings (9-14-98)

Republicans Upbeat About Indiana's 10th C.D. (8-10-98)

'Carpetbagger' Label Could Hurt Maine Challenger (8-5-98)

GOP Looks For A Beachhead In Massachusetts (7-28-98)

A Surprising Challenger For Minnesota's Rep. Luther (7-20-98)

Dems Target Rep. White In Washington's 1st C.D. (7-13-98)

An Opening For Democrats In Wisconsin's 1st C.D. (7-6-98)

Kentucky's Open House Seat Contest Sets Up Ideological Struggle (6-30-98)

Democrats Have A Shot In Ohio's Competitive 1st C.D. (6-23-98)

More Rothenberg reports for 1998
6-15, 6-8, 6-2, 5-27, 5-19, 5-13, 5-7, 5-5, 4-29, 4-21, 4-13, 4-6, 3-30, 3-24, 3-16, 3-3, 2-24, 2-16, 2-9, 2-2, 1-29



MORE STORIES:

Tuesday, October 27, 1998

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