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View Diary: House Races to Defend (with Ranking) (155 comments)

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  •  I'm supremely confident in Tim Holden. (none)
    He's a conservative Democrat in an area that should be electing conservative Democrats.  His district includes the Penn State University main campus as the only purple spot in all of Pennsyltucky.  He ran a great campaign in 2004 to beat a guy named Paterno - Paterno.  Paterno wasn't even a psycho wingnut Republican, and Holden won the district by a larger margin than expected.  Holden, a blue dog Democrat, is here to stay.  It's hard to believe that any of our incumbents are in any danger.  These days incumbents are always safe unless they're plagued by scandal.  Since Democrats don't even have the power to create scandals, it's hard to believe that even one of our incumbents will lose.
    •  Holden does inspire confidence (none)
      The only incumbent Democrat to beat an incumbent Republican in 2002.  The district was drawn to reelect his opponent and defeat him.  Holden really beat the odds.

      I grew up in that district.  The eastern end (where I'm from) is marginal but the Democrats are blue dog style conservative Dems - pro labor and culturally conservative - and the Republicans have some strength in that neck of the woods.  The western end (except the city of Harrisburg) is very Republican - damn near as Republican as Lancaster and Lebanon counties.

      Holden's showings (even in his old district that included Republican leaning Berks county) really are almost as impressive as Matheson's.  The two of them should give seminars to Dems in Red States.

    •  Oh, one point of dispute--- (none)
      Are you sure Holden's district includes State College?  I doubt it because that district would stretch a very long way to the Nothwest if it did.
    •  Paterno (none)
      Scott Paterno, son of the football coach, was a joke -- a 30ish nonpracticing lawyer who had never held a real job, not set up or financed by his father, in his life.  The Bushies pushed Paterno over some locals who actually had some qualifications, the second time in a row they underestimated Holden and overestimated the power of a familiar name.  I don't think they'll make that mistake again.  I am very impressed with Holden's tenacity and skills, but this is an overwhelmingly Republican district, and Holden will be in a dogfight every two years for the rest of his career.  If the Republicans ran one of their strong candidates -- State Sen. Jeff Piccola for instance --  they would win.  Fortunately the candidates lining up now seem to be second-tier, but I doubt Holden will ever have as easy a target as he did with Baby Paterno.
      •  A touch late to disagree... (none)
        I think Holden can hold this seat for a while.  If he could defeat a Republican incumbent (Gekas) in an overwhelmingly Republican district after the 2000 census, surely he can cruise by on incumbency alone.  Democrats should be taking notes from Holden.
        •  Holden has been blessed (none)
          in his draw of opponents.  The Republicans redistricted the district with the thought that Gekas would easily knock off Holden, which seemed reasonable based on the registration numbers.  They didn't realize that Gekas was like one of those big old trees -- grand and imposing on the outside, soft and rotting on the inside.  They thought he was a winner because he'd never lost, but he hadn't run a competitive race in his career.  The race he ran against Holden was godawful, so bad that it raised doubts even among Republicans as to whether senility had set in.  Holden has had to scrap and fight for every election he has ever been in, so he was much more trim and fit for a tough fight than Gekas, and he won by a comfortable margin.  Then with Scotty Paterno he got the opponent from Heaven.

          I have immense respect for Holden and what he does, other than the fact that he's more conservative than many Republicans.  With each win he gets stronger.  But this is still a terrible district for him, and one of these years the Republicans are going to run a strong candidate -- Jeff Piccola, perhaps -- in a Republican year, and Holden will be gone.  For now I'm very glad to have him.

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