It's been a while since my last House diary, and I just know you've been sitting there wondering "when will Nathaniel publish his next House roundup diary? I can't live without my fix, and he's just so...incisive...and brilliant...and downright Lincolnesque." (h/t to Stephen Colbert for that.)
Well, pine no more! As always, seats are ranked by flippability, but since House races are so numerous (at 435), I eventually switch to alphabetical order after the first 18 races. I figured 18 was a convenient number...and I also got lazy after writing about Alaska At Large.
Read below the fold, if you dare...
- Illinois 11th - Leans Democratic pickup
Jerry Weller (R) retiring after 7 terms
Cook PVI: R+1
State Sen. Debbie Halvorson (D) is undoubtedly favored over concrete company owner Martin Ozinga (R), a replacement candidate after the GOP’s preferred choice dropped out unexpectedly after the primary. While it is not a slam-dunk – Ozinga can raise and has raised cash quickly and impressively – this is the best pickup opportunity in the nation for the DCCC, particularly with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket helping all Illinois candidates.
- Virginia 11th - Leans Democratic pickup
Tom Davis (R) retiring after 7 terms
Cook PVI: R+1
The Democratic nominee, Fairfax County Council Chair Gerry Connolly, has the political chops and name recognition to start out the favorite in this competitive district (which barely went to Bush twice but which most of us expect Obama to win in November). His GOP opponent, home inspection company founder Keith Fimian, is a newcomer to politics but, like Ozinga, has demonstrated fundraising prowess and establishment backing. Connolly also survived a fairly nasty primary against Leslie Byrne, and despite his blowout victory, will need to mend fences with former Byrne supporters to lock this up. All that said, if the Democrats are gaining anywhere, it is Northern Virginia.
- New York 25th - Leans Democratic pickup
Jim Walsh (R) retiring after 10 terms
Cook PVI: D+3
The Democrats have been united behind 2006 nominee Dan Maffei, who nearly unseated Walsh two years ago, long ago, while Republicans finally rallied behind former Onondaga County Legislative Chair Dale Sweetland this spring. Given the slight Democratic lean of this Syracuse-area district, Cillizza asserts punchily, “’Nuff said.” I say, “Almost there.”
- Ohio 16th - Tossup or Leans Democratic pickup
Ralph Regula (R) retiring after 18 terms
Cook PVI: R+4
The DCCC has long awaited their chance at this competitive, maybe somewhat Republican-leaning, suburban Ohio district, and finally that day has arrived. Regula is out, and we have a superb candidate in State Sen. (and Iraq veteran) John Boccieri, who many are already calling a rising star in the next Congress. Meanwhile, State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R) is busy insulting Canton, the biggest city in the district.
- Arizona 1st - Tossup or Leans Democratic pickup
Rick Renzi (R) retiring after 3 terms
Cook PVI: R+2
The nonpartisan Arizona Redistricting Commission drew this district in 2002 to be competitive. It spans rural northern Arizona – as I eloquently dubbed it at the age of 14, “the freaking cold part!” – and has the highest Native American population in the country. Republicans finally decided on Sydney Hay, a candidate from 2002, as their nominee after eight failed recruitment attempts. Democratic leaders long ago chose ex-State Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (who still faces a September primary but is heavily favored). John McCain should theoretically help Arizona Republicans, but polling shows him surprisingly weak in his GOP-friendly home state, barely winning his solidly Republican home district against Obama. Obama also seems popular with Native American voters given his performance in Native-heavy areas of Montana and South Dakota, as is the Navajo-speaking Kirkpatrick.
- Texas 22nd - Tossup or Leans Republican pickup
Nick Lampson (D) running for 2nd term
Cook PVI: R+15
Cillizza already considers Lampson cooked against former Cornyn chief of staff Pete Olson, but I have to wonder. Yes, this seat is still heavily Republican, in a presidential year where McCain starts the strong (how strong depends on who you ask) favorite in Texas. But Lampson is a tough customer who has long worked his NASA-heavy district well. Obama’s supposed strength among college-educated, affluent voters could also narrow McCain’s edge here and help Lampson. Nevertheless, he is the sole Democratic incumbent this year who seemingly starts out behind, and I could see a scenario where Republicans lose another 30 seats but still pick this one off, solely based on presidential-year turnout.
- New Jersey 3rd - Tossup or Leans Democratic pickup
Jim Saxton (R) retiring after 12 terms
Cook PVI: D+3
Chris Myers, Medford Township mayor and vice president at Lockheed Martin, won the GOP primary with strong establishment support and will take on Democratic State Sen. John Adler in this slightly Dem-leaning district (won by Gore, lost by Kerry). Adler is quite well-funded, and despite the big talk about competing in blue states, something tells me McCain will be forced to withdraw from New Jersey by early autumn, robbing Myers of that organizational boost.
- Minnesota 3rd - Tossup
Jim Ramstad (R) retiring after 9 terms
Cook PVI: R+1
State Sen. Erik Paulsen (R) is a solid fundraiser who benefitted from a clear GOP field. Iraq vet Ashwin Madia (D) came out of nowhere to beat Terri Bonoff at the Democratic convention. Madia supporters compare the 30-year-old to Barack Obama and national analysts seem to agree: many say whichever party wins the presidential race in this swing district will also win the congressional seat. From where I’m standing, a swing open seat in Minnesota in 2008 points to an Obama/Madia win.
- North Carolina 8th - Tossup
Robin Hayes (R) running for 6th term
Cook PVI: R+3
Hayes faces a rematch from 2006er Larry Kissell, who lost a nailbiter and immediately declared he would run again. A new internal poll shows Kissell up 45-43, and Obama perceptibly ahead in this heretofore GOP-leaning district. More tellingly, Hayes did not counter with his own internal numbers. Obama should run well in Tarheel Land and plans to stay on the ground there, a national organization Kissell didn't have to work with in '06, so I'd have to give Kissell a tiny edge.
- New Mexico 1st - Tossup
Heather Wilson (R) lost Senate primary, leaving after 5 terms
Cook PVI: D+2
Albuquerque City Councilman Martin Heinrich (D) faces Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White (R) in this long-swingy district in the long-swingy Land of Enchantment. Both candidates have been heavily touted by the national parties, and given the battleground status of New Mexico in Obama v. McCain, expect both parties to stay on the ground here through November. The only clear advantage for the Democrats is the Senate race, where Rep. Tom Udall will crush Rep. Steve Pearce; elsewhere, New Mexico will be key to both parties’ hopes.
- New Jersey 7th - Tossup
Mike Ferguson (R) retiring after 4 terms
Cook PVI: R+1
That Ferguson is retiring at the age of 38 is one of the stranger political developments in Washington this year. Waiting in the wings are 2006 Dem nominee Linda Stender, a State Assemblywoman who nearly beat the incumbent, and State Sen. Leonard Lance, who won the primary surprisingly easily over Kate Whitman, daughter of the former governor. This district is more Republican than the 3rd but Stender did just great in ’06, so this one should stay close.
- Ohio 15th - Tossup
Deborah Pryce (R) retiring after 8 terms
Cook PVI: R+1
Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) came agonizingly close in 2006, and after Pryce unexpectedly announced her retirement last year, Kilroy spent months unopposed. Republicans scrambled to find a candidate until they convinced State Sen. Steve Stivers, an Iraq veteran, to jump in after initially declining. He is running strong and Kilroy is controversial, but her fundraising so far is stellar. Both Obama and McCain (particularly Obama) will need this district to win Ohio, so spending will be lavish and should continue through Election Day. In the event of another Democratic landslide, this will be one of the "me too" seats that flips.
- Florida 16th - Tossup
Tim Mahoney (D) running for 2nd term
Cook PVI: R+2
Mahoney delivered some well-publicized gaffes early in his tenure that made him an NRCC target on day one. Much was made in 2006 of his squeaker victory over “Mark Foley” (really replacement nominee Joe Negron), and Beltway insiders have been critical of his political skills. Further, McCain might still have the early edge in Florida (unclear after two polls show Obama narrowly ahead). The Republican primary is August 26.
- New York 13th - Tossup
Vito Fossella (R) retiring after 5 full terms
Cook PVI: D+1
Most of you are well-acquainted with Fossella’s recent woes, and the resulting weeks and months have been hilariously entertaining. This heavily Italian Staten Island district went narrowly Gore in 2000 but more decisively Bush in 2004. Democrats are uniting around NYC City Councilor Mike McMahon – no, not Ed; he’s facing foreclosure like millions of other Americans. Republicans apparently want venture capitalist Frank Powers, though the choice was a bit of a sticking point between the Brooklyn and Staten GOPs. The 9/11 effect is still tragically palpable here, in the district with the nation’s largest number of World Trade Center victims.
- Washington 8th - Tossup
Dave Reichert (R) running for 3rd term
Cook PVI: D+2
Reichert squeaked by former Microsoft program manager Darcy Burner two years ago, and Burner, still a youthful rising star at 37, is back for a rematch. SurveyUSA has Reichert leading 51-45, a slight improvement over his narrow reelection in '06, but that could be a blip based on their newer, more Republican-friendly weighting model. Obama should win this district, so consider it a flip-a-coin scenario.
- Nevada 3rd - Tossup
Jon Porter (R) running for 4th term
Cook PVI: D+1
This suburban Clark County district will be crucial to both Obama and McCain in seeking a Silver State victory, and both campaigns intend to stay organized in Nevada to the end. Add in Porter's heartbreakingly close survival in 2006 over Tessa Hafen, and you have the makings for a close race between he and State Sen. Dina Titus. If Hafen, a first-time candidate, could run within a single percentage point, Titus can definitely pull this off, particularly as Democrats now have a 20K+ registration advantage in the district (you can thank the GOP for ignoring their own caucuses in January, while Nevada Dems geared up for a record-breaking turnout).
- Michigan 7th - Tossup
Tim Walberg (R) running for 2nd term
Cook PVI: R+2
Most of us only know Battle Creek, Michigan for its Pop-Tarts, but it is also the urban center of a south-central Michigan district where a right-wing incumbent, Walberg, faces a stiff challenge from State Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer (as well as 2006 rerun Sharon Renier). Michigan Dems have recently had trouble picking up House seats, even where they've run very close, but they plan to go all-out on Schauer's behalf given the relative paucity of competitive seats (they are also targeting the suburban Detroit 9th).
- Alaska At Large - Tossup
Don Young (R) running for 17th full term
Cook PVI: R+14
This is surely one of the oddest House races this cycle. Young has typically had an easy go, but perhaps due to the corruption issues of nearly all Alaska Republicans (including the venerable incumbent), polls show him losing badly to State Sen. Ethan Berkowitz. Only one problem: they also show him losing the GOP primary to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who is tacitly supported by Gov. Palin. If Parnell and Berkowitz face off, Parnell leads 43-38, but that still seems in reach. And it is still not sure that Young will lose the primary, though recent history (see 2006, when Gov. Murkowski came in third) does not bode well for unpopular Alaska incumbents.
Other vulnerable GOP seats (and there are other longshots as well, but these I expect to be legitimately competitive)
Alabama 2nd (OPEN): runoff (R) vs. Bobby Bright (D)
Arizona 3rd: John Shadegg (R-inc.) vs. Bob Lord (D)
California 4th (OPEN): Tom McClintock (R) vs. Charlie Brown (D)
Colorado 4th: Marilyn Musgrave (R-inc.) vs. Betsy Markey (D)
Connecticut 4th: Chris Shays (R-inc.) vs. Jim Himes (D)
Florida 13th: Vern Buchanan (R-inc.) vs. Christine Jennings (D)
Florida 21st: Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-inc.) vs. Raúl Martinez (D)
Florida 24th: Tom Feeney (R-inc.) vs. Suzanne Kosmas (D)
Idaho 1st: Bill Sali (R-inc.) vs. Walt Minnick (D)
Illinois 10th: Mark KIrk (R-inc.) vs. Dan Seals (D)
Kentucky 2nd (OPEN): Brett Guthrie (R) vs. David Boswell (D)
Louisiana 4th (OPEN): Jeff Thompson (R) vs. Paul Carmouche (D)
Maryland 1st (OPEN): Andy Harris (R) vs. Frank Kratovil (D)
Michigan 9th: Joe Knollenberg (R-inc.) vs. primary (D)
Missouri 6th: Sam Graves (R-inc.) vs. Kay Barnes (D)
Missouri 9th (OPEN): primary (R) vs. primary (D)
New Mexico 2nd (OPEN): Ed Tinsley (R) vs. Harry Teague (D)
New York 26th: Tom Reynolds (R-inc.) vs. Jon Powers (D)
New York 29th: Randy Kuhl (R-inc.) vs. Eric Massa (D)
Ohio 1st: Steve Chabot (R-inc.) vs. Steve Driehaus (D)
Ohio 2nd: Jean Schmidt (R-inc.) vs. Vic Wulsin (D)
Virginia 10th: Frank Wolf (R-inc.) vs. Judy Feder (D)
West Virginia 2nd: Shelley Moore Capito (R-inc.) vs. Anne Barth (D)
Wyoming At Large: Someone (R) vs. Gary Trauner (D)
Other vulnerable Dem seats
Alabama 5th (OPEN): Parker Griffith (D) vs. runoff (R)
Arizona 5th: Harry Mitchell (D-inc.) vs. primary (R)
Arizona 8th: Gabrielle Giffords (D-inc.) vs. Tim Bee (R)
California 11th: Jerry McNerney (D-inc.) vs. Dean Andal (R)
Connecticut 2nd: Joe Courtney (D-inc.) vs. Sean Sullivan (R)
Connecticut 5th: Chris Murphy (D-inc.) vs. David Cappiello (R)
Georgia 8th: Jim Marshall (D-inc.) vs. Rick Goddard (R)
Illinois 14th: Bill Foster (D-inc.) vs. Jim Oberweis (R)
Indiana 9th: Baron Hill (D-inc.) vs. Mike Sodrel (R)
Kansas 2nd: Nancy Boyda (D-inc.) vs. primary (R)
Kentucky 3rd: John Yarmuth (D-inc.) vs. Anne Northup (R)
Louisiana 6th: Don Cazayoux (D-inc.) vs. primary (R)
Mississippi 1st: Travis Childers (D-inc.) vs. Greg Davis (R)
New Hampshire 1st: Carol Shea-Porter (D-inc.) vs. Jeb Bradley (R)
New York 20th: Kirsten Gillibrand (D-inc.) vs. Sandy Treadwell (R)
Oregon 5th (OPEN): Kurt Schrader (D) vs. Mike Erickson (R)
Pennsylvania 4th: Jason Altmire (D-inc.) vs. Melissa Hart (R)
Pennsylvania 10th: Chris Carney (D-inc.) vs. Chris Hackett (R)
Wisconsin 8th: Steve Kagen (D-inc.) vs. John Gard (R)
There are still many others that might become engaged, but at this point these are the seats where I think real races can and will be waged.