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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly Analysis CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Analysis - 'Toons

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

Rep. Rogan undecided on re-electon bid, but GOP seat at risk either way

Treen, Vitter to face-off for Louisiana House seat

By Stuart Rothenberg

May 12, 1999
Web posted at: 6:35 p.m. EDT (2235 GMT)

WASHINGTON (May 12) -- Even if every other congressional race in the country in 2000 is focused on local themes and local personalities, you can bet that the race in California's 27th C.D. will be defined - at least by the national media - by one national issue: the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

That's because incumbent Republican Rep. Jim Rogan, a member of the House Judiciary Committee that impeached the president, was one of the House managers during the Senate trial of Clinton.

But Rogan could yet spoil the Democrats' plans to defeat him next year by deciding against running for re-election. The congressman, who recently changed his plans and decided against seeking the California GOP Senate nomination, still hasn't announced his intentions for next year.

Regardless of what Rogan decides to do, the Democrats seem to have settled on a likely nominee in state Sen. Adam Schiff.

A graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law School, Schiff served as an assistant U.S. attorney for six years. His early efforts at elective office were unsuccessful. He lost a special election for the state Assembly in 1991, as well as a 1994 Assembly special election and the 1994 general election. Both of his losses in 1994 were to Rogan.

Two years later, however, Schiff ran for the state Senate in an open seat and won.

National Democratic operatives are optimistic about picking up the 27th C.D. for a number of reasons. First, Schiff is an established officeholder whose state Senate district includes all of the congressional district. Second, the congressional district continues to become more Democratic, as white, Republican voters move out and Democratic, Latino voters move in. And third, Rogan's controversial role in the president's impeachment is a weapon that Democrats can use against the Republican. If Rogan doesn't seek re-election, Republicans lose the advantage of incumbency in the district.

GOP insiders acknowledge that Rogan is one of their most vulnerable incumbents, and California's 27th District is one of their toughest districts to hold. Rogan is smart and should be able to raise funds from supporters of impeachment, but the district's demographic trends favor Schiff.

No matter what Rogan decides, this GOP seat is very much at risk.

Treen, Vitter to face-off for Louisiana House seat

The May 29 runoff in Louisiana's 1st Congressional District (to fill the seat vacated by Republican Bob Livingston) pits a political veteran, former congressman/former governor David Treen, against a much younger state representative, David Vitter, and while both are Republicans, the election is being watched closely both in Louisiana and in Washington.

Treen, 70, placed first in the balloting, but his weak 25 percent showing clearly was a sign of weakness and vulnerability. Vitter drew 22 percent in the May 1st balloting, narrowly beating David Duke (19 percent) for the other spot in the runoff. Ophthalmologist Monica Monica, who poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race and was the preferred candidate of a pro-term limits group that also spent heavily, plummeted to a weak fourth (16 percent).

Duke and Monica have already endorsed Treen. They'd obviously prefer the 70-year old former governor to spend a few years keeping the seat warm before he retires rather than have the 37-year old Vitter win it and lock up the district indefinitely. Gov. Mike Foster (R) has also endorsed Treen, no doubt because Vitter isn't viewed as part of the insider, old-boy state political network, as well as because the state legislator has been critical of the governor and an outspoken critic of legalized gambling.

Democratic state Rep. Bill Strain (11 percent) and Robert Couhig (6 percent), the owner of the New Orleans Zephyrs minor league baseball team, who finished fifth and sixth respectively, have not yet endorsed candidates. Sen. John Breaux (D) has been urged by Foster to endorse Treen. He has not yet done so, but insiders expect an endorsement soon.

While Treen has most of the political establishment backing him (including Livingston and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott), Vitter seems to have some momentum. As a veteran politician with a well-established name, Treen's showing far under 30 percent surprised many observers.

"Even though Treen has the endorsements and it will be a low turnout election," says Louisiana political guru John Maginnis, editor of the Louisiana Political Fax Weekly, "I still think it is Vitter's to lose."


Analysis: Lessons from Election 1999 (11-8-99)

The CNN/WMUR Town Hall Meetings at Dartmouth (10-29-99)

Spotlight on key races in 2000 (10-14-99)

The races for governor in 1999 (10-6-99)

The GOP presidential race after Ames (8-17-99)

Death of a congressman gives GOP chance to pick up House seat in California (8-6-99)

Democrats eye GOP House seats in North Carolina, Washington (7-21-99)

Best chance of unseating Democratic House incumbent may be in Connecticut (7-8-99)

Fierce Democratic Senate primaries expected in New Jersey and Rhode Island (6-22-99)

GOP has a chance to pick up Democratic Pennsylvania House seat (6-9-99)

Rep. Capps will have to fight for evenly split district (5-24-99)

Rep. Rogan undecided on re-electon bid, but GOP seat at risk either way (5-12-99)

Democrats look for candidate to beat Sen. Grams (4-29-99)

Hot race for Livingston's Louisiana House seat (4-13-99)

DeWine's re-election chances stronger with no declared Democratic challenger (3-29-99)

Mack's retirement means competitive race for Senate in Florida (3-16-99)

Mississippi's gov. race may determine bragging rights for Election '99 (2-25-99)

Impeachment votes could be a factor in some Senate races next year (2-12-99)

Open or closed? The politics of the final debate (2-8-99)

Challengers look to Chenoweth to honor term-limit pledge (1-26-99)

The state of Bill Clinton's State of the Union (1-20-99)

N.Y. Senate race could be a wild one (1-13-99)

More Rothenberg reports


Wednesday, May 12, 1999

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