Stuart Rothenberg's House races by category
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Stuart Rothenberg's Hot House Races
California 46 (Sanchez, D). Freshman Loretta Sanchez knocked off controversial GOP Rep. Bob Dornan by fewer than 1,000 votes two years ago, but Dornan's complaints about voting irregularities and the House's time-consuming investigation (which came to a close in February of this year, after a 14-month probe by the House Oversight Committee) made Sanchez a martyr among Democrats (and particularly Hispanics) nationally. The congresswoman is one of the top Democratic fund-raisers, while Dornan has much less, so a GOP win would be a long shot. For Dornan, however, this isn't just a race; it's a cause.
Colorado 2 (Open, Skaggs, D). State Rep. Mark Udall, son of former Arizona congressman Mo Udall, won a competitive Democratic primary but finds himself in a close general election against businessman Bob Greenlee. Greenlee, who sits on the Boulder city council and serves as mayor, hopes to prove that a moderate, pro-choice Republican can win this Democratic-leaning district. He has far more political and business experience than the photogenic but largely untested Udall. Still, the Democrat has a good name and should benefit from his party.
Connecticut 5 (Maloney, D). Freshman Jim Maloney knocked off a weak GOP incumbent two years ago and now will be tested by Republicans in this swing district. The GOP challenger is state Sen. Mark Nielsen, a combative fiscal conservative who represents the legislative district that Maloney gave up to run for Congress. While Nielsen portrays the congressman as a liberal, Maloney has taken steps to inoculate himself from that charge. He voted for the GOP's $80 billion tax cut (which failed this fall) and was one of just 31 Democrats to support the Republicans' House impeachment inquiry.
Idaho 1 (Chenoweth, R). Controversial Republican Rep. Helen Chenoweth, first elected in 1994, faces a re-match against young attorney Dan Williams (D). The congresswoman hoped to rally Republicans behind her re-election bid by criticizing the president's behavior and calling for more responsibility and morality in government. But Williams started his race earlier, has the experience of a race under his belt and may benefit from revelations, published in a local newspaper, that Chenoweth had a long affair years ago with a married man. The scandal could change voters' views of the congresswoman, who has always gone out of her way to anger environmentalists, liberals and organized labor.
Idaho 2 (Open, Crapo, R). Rep. Michael Crapo's run for the Senate gives former Rep. Richard Stallings (D) a chance to regain a seat he left in order to run for the Senate six years ago. A practicing Mormon, who is pro-life and generally carved out a moderate record when he served in the House, Stallings faces GOP state Rep. Mike Simpson, who beat two more conservative primary opponents. Simpson, who admitted smoking marijuana while in college, has less appeal to conservative Mormons, so he is going to have to paint the Democrat as a liberal. Simpson also hopes the district's strong GOP bent, combined with President Clinton's personal problems, will convince Republican voters it is important to send a Republican to Washington.
Illinois 17 (Evans, D). Republican Mark Baker drew 47 percent against eight-term Democratic Rep. Lane Evans two years ago, and now the former TV reporter is back for a re-match. Evans, who announced earlier this year that he suffers from Parkinson's Disease, and Baker offer voters a sharp ideological contrast. Both are well-funded. Polling shows the race as very tight.
Iowa 3 (Boswell, D). In a test of Bill Clinton's damage to Democrats in generally Republican districts, freshman Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) faces conservative state Sen. Larry McKibben. Boswell barely won an open seat two years ago, and he now faces an opponent who is running a more aggressive -- and negative -- campaign. McKibben has criticized the congressman for being insufficiently supportive of free trade, and the congressman could be hurt by depressed farm prices. Boswell, who supported the GOP's impeachment vote, must hope that the president isn't too big a problem for him to overcome.
Kansas 3 (Snowbarger, R). A former state legislator who won a tough primary and competitive general election last year, Rep. Vincent Snowbarger (R) has been a favorite of conservatives. But the Kansas GOP is split ideologically, and party moderates don't like his views. The congressman has two other major problems this year: (1) opponent Dennis Moore, a former prosecutor, is smart, tough, articulate and has raised a big war chest, and (2) Snowbarger hates to raise money and could easily be outspent in November. Republicans hope the district's GOP bent, combined with the president's trouble and a strong Republican turnout, will help Snowbarger win another term.
Kentucky 4 (Open, Bunning, R). While this district is very Republican, Democrat Ken Lucas has a great chance to steal a victory from state Rep. Gex "Jay" Williams. Williams, who beat a more moderate Republican in the primary and was slow to put together his campaign, has spent months trying to deflect ethics charges from the media and from Lucas. To make matters worse, Lucas is about as conservative a Democrat as you will find. He is pro-life, supported the GOP-proposed tax cut and opposes gun control. With moderate Republicans defecting to Lucas, Williams must find a way to hold his party's base vote.
Kentucky 6 (Open, Baesler, D). State Sen. Ernesto Scorscone won a crowded Democratic primary, but he faces a formidable opponent in Ernie Fletcher (R), a doctor and former state legislator. Scorscone likes to portray himself as a moderate, but he was the most liberal candidate in the primary and has a voting record to defend. Fletcher ran two years ago, drawing 44 percent against popular Rep. Scotty Baesler, who is giving up his seat to run for the Senate. Fletcher's fund-raising has been strong, and his conservative views are an asset in this district. The 6th C.D. is a mix of Louisville and rural counties, and that's a challenging mix for both candidates. The Republicans are counting on picking up this seat. If they don't, it could mean that they aren't having the election night that they hoped for.
Louisiana 6 (Baker, R). Republican Rep. Richard Baker doesn't normally have a tough re-election race, but this year's challenge by attorney Marjorie McKeithen (D) looks very serious. Daughter of the current secretary of state, Republican Fox McKeithen, and granddaughter of former Democratic Gov. John McKeithen, she has proven to be an adept fund-raiser and hard campaigner. Redistricting more than doubled the district from 13 percent to 29 percent African American, and the challenger portrays Baker as more interested in out-of-state banking interests than in local matters. He paints her as a liberal, even though she is pro-life on abortion. McKeithen's famous name helped her get her campaign off the ground, but she is proving herself as a candidate. Still, the district favors Baker, who isn't taking anything for granted.
Michigan 10 (Bonior, D). A member of the Democratic House leadership, Rep. David E. Bonior frequently has a competitive race, primarily because the district clearly leans Republican. GOP challenger Brian Palmer, a wealthy businessman, has more funds than any of Bonior's other opponents, and he is trying to link the congressman with Geoffrey Fieger, the attorney for suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian and the Democratic party's controversial nominee for governor. Bonior has criticized the challenger's personal and business finances, and will have the money he needs to hammer Palmer. The district's GOP bent, the president's problems and Fieger's candidacy all combine to give Palmer an opportunity for an upset in a state that has seen remarkably little turnover during the past few elections.
Mississippi 4 (Open, Parker, R). Democrat Ronnie Shows is a conservative, good ol' boy who should hold the black vote and appeal to conservative Democratic voters, particularly outside Jackson, the state capital and biggest city in the district. Republican Delbert Hosemann is a well-to-do tax attorney, and his financial advantage and party label should help him. He needs to overcome concerns in the rural areas, while Shows must overcome a fund-raising disadvantage and any fallout from the Clinton scandal.
New Mexico 3 (Redmond, R). Republican Bill Redmond won a low turnout special election, in part because of a divided Democratic party, poor Hispanic turnout and a Green Party candidate who siphoned votes away from the Democratic nominee. But Redmond faces a more formidable opponent this time in state Attorney General Tom Udall, son of former congressman Stewart Udall. Udall appeals to environmentalists and most Democrats, but Redmond has done pretty much everything right in trying to solidify this generally Democratic seat.
Ohio 1 (Chabot, R). Sophomore Rep. Steve Chabot faces a tough challenge from Cincinnati mayor Roxanne Qualls, a popular veteran of the city council. Democrats complain that Chabot is too ideological -- that he has opposed programs that would benefit Cincinnati -- and that Qualls would be more pragmatic. The congressman portrays Qualls as too liberal, arguing that the Democrat has supported higher taxes. Voters must decide whether national or local issues are more important, and turnout (particularly among the district's black voters) could have a considerable impact on the outcome of the election.
Ohio 6 (Strickland, D). Democrat Rep. Ted Strickland won his seat in 1992, lost it in 1994 and regained it two years later. The district's marginal nature assures another close race this year. The GOP nominee, Nancy Hollister, is a former local officeholder and currently the state's lieutenant governor. A moderate, she defeated two conservatives who divided the right-of-center vote in the Republican primary. It's unclear whether conservatives will back the pro-choice Hollister, or whether Bill Clinton's problems will resonate enough to help the challenger in the very socially conservative portions of the district.
Oregon 1 (Open, Furse, D). Democrat Elizabeth Furse's retirement creates a tossup featuring two non-politicians. In the primaries, high-tech attorney David Wu (D) knocked off a favored female Democratic elected official, while consultant Molly Bordonaro (R) beat a more moderate regional elected official. Each candidate portrays the other as ideologically out of step. The district is competitive but may tilt ever so slightly Democratic. Observers are waiting to see whether Bordonaro's gender helps her bid, whether both parties have united their nominees, and whether the president's problems including the GOP move toward impeachment) impacts the House race.
Pennsylvania 10 (Open, McDade, R). Rep. Joe McDade's retirement (after serving in Congress for 36 years) initially appeared to give the Democrats an easy takeover after attorney Pat Casey, son of popular former Gov. Bob Casey (D), entered the race. But Casey's youth and inexperience, combined with a surprisingly strong (and well-funded) campaign by car dealer Don Sherwood (R), have made this a tight race. The district is very competitive, but probably tilts Republican slightly.
Pennsylvania 13 (Fox, R). Republican John Fox faces a re-match against Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, who lost in 1996 by just 84 votes in the closest House race in the country. Fox was forced to ward off three major primary opponents, but unlike two years ago he hasn't been the target of a barrage of AFL-CIO ads. Hoeffel, who drew support from some moderate Republicans unhappy with the conservative Congress, began his campaign earlier this time, and hopes that Fox hasn't solidified GOP support or benefited from the president's problems.
Pennsylvania 15 (Open, McHale, D). The only Democratic member of the House to call for the president's resignation, Rep. Paul McHale is retiring from this swing district after three terms. Republican nominee Pat Toomey is a button-down businessman who was an investment banker. Democrat Ray Afflerbach, a state representative, is a more blue-collar candidate. Toomey beat two more conservative opponents in the primary, and he is a favorite of the business community. Afflerbach has support from organized labor but portrays himself as a moderate.
Washington 1 (White, R). Two-term Rep. Rick White is near the top of the Democrats' target list. Opponent Jay Inslee, who represented another district in the state, complains that White's record is too conservative for the district, and the congressman's very public divorce, after he campaigned in 1994 using his family, could undermine his appeal. Inslee has run a TV ad complaining the impeachment process has dragged on for too long and blaming the Republicans for it. But White's biggest problem could be third-party candidate Bruce Craswell, an unapologetic social issue conservative who complains that White is too willing to compromise. The district generally likes moderate Republicans.
Wisconsin 1 (Open, Neumann, R). Republican Rep. Mark Neumann's Senate bid gives the Democrats a chance in this district, which is competitive but probably leans slightly Democratic. The Democratic nominee, Kenosha city councilwoman Lydia Spottswood, came close to defeating Neumann two years ago in a very bitter, negative race. Her opponent this time is Paul Ryan, a young conservative who is surprisingly well-funded and worked on Capitol Hill for conservative representative and senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas).
Wisconsin 2 (Open, Klug, R). Moderate Republican Scott Klug has held onto this Democratic district by veering from his party's orthodoxy and working hard, and his retirement was expected to hand this seat to the Democrats. But the three-way Democratic primary was won by state Rep. Tammy Baldwin, an openly gay liberal Democrat. Baldwin did well in the primary in the city of Madison, but she is a harder sell in the rest of the district, which includes moderate suburbs and conservative rural areas. A crowded GOP primary was won by state insurance commissioner Jo Musser, a moderate who has Klug-like appeal.
Wisconsin 8 (Johnson, D). Democrats are openly worried about Rep. Jay Johnson, a former local TV anchor who won an upset victory two years ago in this Republican-leaning district. The GOP nominee is state Rep. Mark Green, who easily won a competitive primary. Polling suggests that Johnson may trail Green by a couple of points, and the president's problems could cause Republican voters to send a message to the president by dumping Johnson.
Stuart Rothenberg's House races by category