Welcome to the fourth and final section of my project to attempt to rank any of the districts that could be potentially competitive in 2006. Since I've started Ken Lucas decided to run to take back his old Congressional seat in 2006 (Kentucky 4) which I would consider a second or even top tier race and Joe Knollenberg may be drawing a primary challenge from a former State Rep. which could serve to help whichever of the four Democratic candidates gets the nomination (in Michigan 8).
However, this diary attempts to look at seats that nobody considers as being in play but that could potentially turn competitive thanks to an active, good candidate or a weak incumbent, or a district that could be potentially better than some think. In other cases it is because there is a viable candidate and the incumbent is someone that it would be good to defeat. Now, on to the races:
Interesting Potential Long Shots (11)
Matt Souder is generally a secure incumbent in safely Republican Indiana, so much so that he barely fundraises (opensecrets.org had his fundraising at $71,000 at the close of the third quarter). However, this time he's drawn a serious challenger in Fort Wayne city councilmember Dr. Tom Hayhurst (http://www.tomhayhurstforcongress.com/), a physician, and Presbyterian minister and community activist Kevin Boyd (http://www.kevinboyd4congress.com/) is also running (though he has less of a chance of getting the nomination). Dr. Hayhurst seems to be campaigning to win and is nearly even with Souder in fundraising ($63,000 to Souder's $71,000). Souder generally wins by large margins, but he also generally doesn't run against strong candidates and Hayhurst seems like a good, and qualified, guy.
We have a race involving Republican incumbent Mike Rogers that could potentially be far more interesting than his 2004 race because of his Democratic challenger Jim Marcinkowski (http://www.marcinkowskiforcongress.com/). The first is that Marcinkowski, a former Republican, joined the Democratic party partly out of what happened to Valerie Plame (he apparently went through CIA training with her). This race is generally considered safe as Rogers's district is made up mostly of Livingston County (which, outside of Putnam Township is mostly Republican). But this ex-CIA Agent (Marcinkowski) vs. ex-FBI agent (Rogers) battle has the potential to be dangerous for Rogers as Marcinkowski is already making an issue of Rogers past support of Tom Delay. This isn't a perfect opportunity, but it's a good one in which we could also potentially limit Rogers (who's considered a rising star in the Michigan GOP) attempt to plan a future Senate or Governor race.
2-term incumbent Thaddeus McCotter has the only district in Michigan in which the incumbent scored less than 60% (McCotter managed about 58%). Further the district's composition is also undergoing a sea of change as Canton is growing more Democratic and Livonia (McCotter's base of power) is shrinking (the 2003 Census estimate had the city's population at only 99,000 from over 100,000 in 2000. McCotter has currently drawn two Democratic challengers in radio talk show host/ex-restauranteur Tony Trupiano (http://www.tony4congress2006.com/) and business consultant Ray Raczkowski (http://www.ray4congress.com/). Of these two I'd say that Trupiano is the stronger candidate and he's drawn endorsements from the Teamsters, Progressive Democrats of America, and Democracy for Metro Detroit (an affiliate of DFA if memory serves). The main areas of this district (which straddles Western Wayne county and Eastern Oakland county) include Canton, Plymouth, Northville, Redford Township, Westland, and the cities of Livonia and Novi. Generally speaking Redford and Westland are both Democratic (Redford more than Westland) as is the city of Plymouth (the township is a different matter) while Canton is trending Democratic (I have heard that Bush only won it with something like 51.6% in 2004). However, Livonia is historically Republican (and McCotter's roots in the city ensure that he'll get a large margin, though Democrats are making inroads in other races) as is Novi. I'd urge people to donate to Tony Trupiano's campaign as I feel this district is the most likely Congressional race in Michigan to turn if Trupiano gets the necessary funding.
The special election for this seat made Paul Hackett famous (to an extent). While Paul Hackett isn't running for this seat there are three Democrats running to challenge incumbent Jean Schmidt (who's facing a primary challenge herself in the form of former Congressman Bob McEwan). The Democrats running are health care administrator (and Dailykos poster) Jim Parker (http://www.jimparker4ad.blogspot.com/), transportation engineer Jeff Sinnard (http://www.sinnard.com/), and home remodeling contractor/ex-teacher/-marketing executive Thor Jacobs (http://www.jacobsforcongress.org/). Both Sinnard and Parker ran in the '05 special election and both finished with rather unimpressive totals (though to be fair the race narrowed fairly rapidly down to Hackett and Dr. Victoria Wulsin). I personally find Jacobs to be the best candidate and he does a solid enough job detailing his general positions on his website (http://www.jacobsforcongress.org/...). Admittedly this is the longest shot on the list as this is supposedly the most conservative district in Ohio. However, if Schmidt survives the primary she could be weakened enough to fall victim to a candidate that runs an excellent campaign.
Steve LaTourette did have his margin of victory cut significantly even though he still won with 63%. However, his district is competitive as it features parts of Summitt, Cuyahoga, and Trumbull counties as well as Lake County (a county that John Kerry received over 47% in). Granted, LaTourette is strong but he is facing interesting challengers in law professor Lewis Katz (http://www.katzforcongress.com/) and meteorologist and progressive activist Palmer Petersen (http://www.palmerjpeterson.com/). It appears that Katz is favored for the primary.
A lot of people dislike James Sensenbrenner and this district isn't as red as some of the other Wisconsin Republican congressional districts. Further, Bryan Kennedy seems to be a decent candidate (http://www.bryankennedyforcongress.com/).
Ron Lewis is normally considered a shoo-in but he's drawn a decent candidate in the form of State Representative John "Mike" Weaver (http://www.weaver2006.org/) who appears to be the sort of conservative Democrat (hunter, ex-military, pro-life) that is capable of winning in Kentucky. With scandals dogging Ernie Fletcher and strong challenges in this district and the 4th (with Ken Lucas challenging Geoff Davis) and possibly the third (I need to see more before I can tell if Horne or Yarmuth have what it takes to win against Northup) there is a good amount of possibility (both here and in the '07 Governor's race). And Weaver just might be able to take advantage of it. Also of note, former Lt. Governor Steven Henry seems to be supporting Weaver as his wife was recently guest hosting a fundraiser for Weaver.
This isn't the best opportunity as the seat amounts to non-Clark county Nevada. However, it is an open seat and Nevada University Regent Jill Derby (http://www.jillderby.com/) is a excellent candidate who has had some very surprising fundraising given the district's over all make-up. She seems to be making a very serious shot at this red seat. I don't know how set in their voting habits the second district's residents are but we do have a serious candidate running a solidly financed campaign.
This district is normally considered safe but there are two candidates running serious races to take the seat from Republican incumbent Ric Keller in marketing consultant Charlie Stuart (http://www.charliestuartforcongress.com/...) and Orange County Commissioner Homer Hartage (http://hartageforcongress.com/), and teacher/'04 nominee Stephen Murray (http://murrayforcongress.com/) is also running. Stuart was running especially strongly as he has been holding regular events and had raised over $200,000 as of the end of the third quarter (I have not yet seen fourth quarter totals). Hartage has been endorsed by the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Orange County Firefighters unions. This district includes Orange County (which John Kerry won) and Osceola county (where we were close) so this district could theoretically be competitive.
This is Katherine Harris's district and a lot of people seem to think that the seat is a safer Republican seat as an open seat than if she ran for re-election. I'm not necessarily sure of that as the GOP looks to be having a somewhat...interesting primary. Further we have a solid seeming candidate in bank president/community activist Christine Jennings (http://www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/), two-time nominee (04/02)/attorney Jan Schneider (http://www.votejan.com/) is running again as well, and so is community activist Michael LaFevers (http://www.mikelafevers.com/). As of right now it appears that Christine Jennings is getting most of the fundraising among the Democrats so I'd give her an edge for the nomination.
This district is located in Brevard County where we admittedly did not do terribly well in on a Presidential level in 2004, but veterinarian/2002 Agricultural Commissioner candidate Andy Michaud (http://www.andymichaud2006.com/) seems to be a very good candidate. The part of Brevard county that makes up the 24 CD is located around Titusville, Winter Springs, Port Orange, and Edgewater. We should be taking a shot at this district anyways as, with over 260,000 voters, Brevard County shouldn't be ignored anyways.