Short, but quite sweet.
Don Cravins, Jr. (LA-07
Jill Derby (NV-02)
Vic Wulsin (OH-02)
Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-03)
Tom Perriello (VA-05)
Judy Feder (VA-10)
There's been quite a bit of news around Donald Cravins of late. Cravins was a prize DCCC recruit into the LA-07 race, challenging incumbent Republican Charles Boustany for a seat that had until recently belonged to Democrat Chris John.
CQ Politics just today changed their rating of their race to "Republican Favored", indicating the potential strength of a Cravins candidacy. Though he enters the race late, Cravins has a solid political base as a state senator:
Cravins seems certain, at least, to far surpass the 29 percent vote share won by 2006 Democratic nominee Mike Stagg, a little-known and underfinanced candidate. Cravins has warmed up for the House contest by winning a state House seat in 2004, and then winning in 2006 to succeed his namesake father, Don Cravins Sr., in the state Senate. The elder Cravens, who now is mayor of the 7th District city of Opelousas, ran for the congressional seat in 2004 but was eliminated by finishing a close third behind Boustany and Democratic Rep. Willie Landry Mount under the single-ballot primary system then used but since abandoned by Louisiana.
The younger Cravins’ state Senate district, which takes in Opelousas and part of Lafayette, gives him a political base that he stands a good chance of expanding by appealing to a heavily Democratic constituency of his fellow African-Americans, who make up a quarter of the 7th District’s population.
Cravins, running in a district with a strong overall conservative lean, also will emphasize some of his more conservative positions, including his support for gun owners’ rights. Before Boustany won the 2004 race for the seat Democratic Rep. Chris John left open to pursue a Senate campaign that failed, southwestern Louisiana had a longstanding, unbroken tradition of voting conservative Democrats into the House.
As for Jill Derby, she ran an unexpectedly strong campaign in a solidly Republican district against Republican Dean Heller. Derby subsequently took a position as chairwoman of the Nevada Democratic Party, but opted for another run earlier this year (she was widely considered one of, if not the only candidate who could make it a race).
It's an unforgiving district - Bush carried 57% of the vote in both 2000 and 2004 in Nevada's Second - but Derby lost by only five points in 2006, 50% to 45%. Heller has not had a stellar freshman cycle in Congress, and Derby's internal polling likely suggests that she has a decent shot once again.
Neither Cravins nor Derby was a huge surprise on this list, but perhaps the longest-awaited addition is that of Dr. Vic Wulsin, running once again in OH-02 against Daredevil Jean Schmidt.
On paper, Wulsin looks like an obvious choice for Red to Blue. She lost just 51% to 49% in an overwhelmingly Republican district in 2006, and her fundraising has outstripped Schmidt's all year. The DCCC's reluctance to add this race previously is understandable, though, given the district's R+13 tilt.
This is certainly a race to be excited about, given Schmidt's controversial political history, and Wulsin's unabashed progressive stances. It's safe to say that Wulsin is likely the most progressive candidate who could have any kind of reasonable shot at winning in an R+13 district such as this one.
Kathy Dahlkemper is an interesting choice, and her inclusion on this is rather exciting for those who had nearly given up on this race prior to the primary. The original frontrunner in this district, Erie City Councilman Kyle Foust, proved to be a fundraising dud, and lost the primary badly to Dahlkemper, who, while a political neophyte, at least showed the ability to raise a decent amount of money.
Still, while the district is favorable at R+1.6, it was unclear for some time whether Dahlkemper would have the political skills to beat incumbent Phil English. However, Dahlkemper's internal polling numbers show the race deadlocked, an inspiring sign given English's far superior name recognition.
Tom Perriello is rather well known on Daily Kos for his fascinating background in international affairs (having worked in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Afghanistan), and for waging a historically strong campaign against Republican Virgil Goode, in a district that hasn't seen a strong Democratic challenge since...well, since Virgil Goode was a Democrat.
Perriello has touted his Catholic faith as determining his commitment to social justice, which seems like a reasonable play in this rural Virginia district. His fundraising has been top-notch, as he's raised even more so far this cycle than Goode has.
Finally, Judy Feder returns for a second round against Republican Frank Wolf after her 57-43 loss in 2006. This is an exceptionally bold and gutsy play by the DCCC, as not only did Feder lose her 2006 match by a decent margin (though the race was much closer than most of Wolf's have been in the past), but the district, at R+5.5, is not exactly a swing district.
This should be seen as a considerable vote of confidence in Feder as a candidate. Like Perriello, her fundraising has been exceptional this cycle (she's raised well over a million dollars), which may be a central reason for the optimism.