Races to watch.
The Senate, where the Democrats would need to pick up six seats to win a majority, is less of a long shot than ever, thanks in large part to Senator George "Macaca" Mien of Virginia. After seesawing between declaring that his recently revealed Jewish heritage makes him sensitive to racial slights and rushing to reassure voters that he's still scarfing down pork chops and ham sandwiches (he's not that Jewish!), Mien was blindsided by former classmates who went public with stories about his racist antics in college. Democrat James Webb has a decent chance, if only because Virginians want Mien out of the spotlight.
Democrats will have to struggle to hold on to New Jersey, where Senator Robert Menendez, appointed in 2006, is in trouble as Republican State Senator Tom Kean moves up in the polls. If the Dems lose New Jersey, they'll actually need to win seven Senate seats.
According to the National Journal rankings at the end of September, the most vulnerable seats are:
Pennsylvania, where Senator Rick Santorum is in bad shape as pro-life Democrat Bob Casey moves ahead.
Montana, where progressive Democrat Jon Tester has relentlessly hit Republican Conrad Burns for his connection to Jack Abramoff.
Ohio, with Brown ahead of DeWine.
Rhode Island, where moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee is neck-and-neck with his Democratic challenger, Sheldon Whitehouse.
Missouri, where rightwing Republican Jim Talent is having trouble holding on against Democratic State Auditor Claire McCaskill.
Tennessee, where Democratic Congressman Harold Ford is squaring off against former mayor of Chattanooga Bob Corker.
Maryland, where there is a tight race between Democratic Representative Ben Cardin and Republican Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele.
Washington, where Maria Cantwell seems to be holding on to her Democratic seat.
Arizona, where Jim Pederson is getting very close to two-term Republican incumbent Jon Kyl, much to the Republicans' dismay.
And then there's Virginia, where Mien continues to fumble.
In the House, there are about forty races in play, about half of which are too close to rank. The Republicans' colossal blunder--suppressing news of disgraced Florida Congressman Mark Foley's addiction to young, male pages until he was forced to resign a month before the election--will likely push his seat into the Democratic column, and maybe others.
Among the most interesting races:
In Connecticut, Diane Farrell is running against Republican incumbent Chris Shays. The Iraq War is a major issue, as is Shays's support for the President on wiretapping and other issues in an increasingly anti-Bush environment.
In Pennsylvania, Democrat Lois Murphy stands a good chance of unseating Republican Representative Jim Gerlach, who is heavily funded by the oil and pharmaceutical industries. Murphy, who lost narrowly to Gerlach in 2004, is the former head of Pennsylvania NARAL.
In Arizona's Eighth Congressional District, National Journal's number-one ranked House race pits Democratic businesswoman Gabrielle Giffords against former professional golfer Randy Graf, the Republican nominee to replace retiring Representative Jim Kolbe. It says something that a recent banner news item on Giffords's website was the intelligence report stating that the U.S. presence in Iraq is making America less safe.
In central Ohio, Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy is giving Republican incumbent Deborah Pryce a run for her money in the traditionally Republican Fifteenth District. "This in uncharted territory for Pryce," the Associated Press notes. Pryce's opponent in 2004 couldn't even raise the $5,000 to get on the radar screen.
In Kentucky's Third Congressional District, Republican incumbent Anne Northup faces anti-war Democrat John Yarmuth, who has called for beginning to withdraw troops immediately. He has also challenged Northup's moderate image, criticizing the Republicans' Medicare prescription drug plan as a "boondoggle" for the pharmaceutical industry.
In Iowa, anti-war Democrat Bruce Braley, a trial lawyer, is running for the seat left open by eight-term Republican Jim Nussle, and stands a good chance at beating Republican Mike Whalen.
In California's Eleventh Congressional, Democrat Jerry McNerney is trying to unseat Republican Richard Pombo, with environmental issues playing a part in this race.
In New Jersey's Seventh, Democrat Linda Stender, an anti-war candidate, is trying to unseat Republican Mike Ferguson.
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|Title Annotation:||Democratic Party, Republican Party|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2006|
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