After my computer went kerflooey as I was finishing my report on the other Southern states, thus eliminating the effort, I don't have it in me to do it again immediatly. So, we're heading to the states of the West, between the Pacific Coast States and the Mississippi River. There are a lot of good races to look for in this region, with Democrats having some opportunities to gain some seats.
-The Sunflower State saw a Democratic Governor elected to its Statehouse in 2002, and the Democrats here seem to be benefiting from the GOP infighting between moderates (read: Dole Republicans) and conservatives (read: Brownback Republicans). However, this is as rock-ribbed a Republican state as you'll find, so the Democrats will be happy to just keep their lone House seat in 2004.
KS-2: Republican Jim Ryun (a Silver Medalist in the Olympics) won with 60% in 2002. This time, he faces a strong challenger in Nancy Boyda (http://www.nancyforcongress.com), a pharmaceutical researcher and teacher. Boyda, a former Republican who worked for the EPA during the Carter Administration, has been touted by Kansas Democrats as a top-notch challenger to Ryun. This district leans Republican (Bush easily carried it in 2000), so expect Ryun to win. However, an upset cannot be ruled out at this time.
In KS-3, the ever-vulnerable Dennis Moore will be up for a tough fight yet again. The centrist Democrat won with just 50% in 2002, surviving a strong challenge from moderate Adam Taff. Taff, who drew 47%, is running again, and faces a primary with State Rep. Patricia Lightner and former Ashcroft employee (in the Justice Department)Kris Kobach. Moore is one of the top 10 Democratic incumbents the GOP has marked for defeat in 2004. His website is http://www.mooreforcongress.com .
Nebraska: Democrats have two golden opportunities in the land of the Cornhuskers. With moderate Doug Bereuter retiring in NE-1, and with Congressman Lee Terry facing an exceptional challenger in NE-2, expect Democrats to wage a tough fight for these two seats. In NE-1, Bereuter's unexpected retirement in December has created a competitive race. Bereuter was a solid centrist Republican, and the Democrats are trying to seize his seat with a centrist Democrat. That Democrat is State Senator Matt Connealy, a veteran Senator from Decatur who is also a farmer. Connealy, whose website is http://www.connealy04.com, is a very strong candidate, and has a fighting chance at this seat. He faces two primary challengers in Janet E. Stewart and Phil Chase, the first an attorney and the other a businessman. The GOP faces a primary as well, with State Legislature Speaker Curt Bromm facing ex-Lincoln Councilman Jeff Fortenberry and Nebraska Cattlemen's Association Executive V.P. Greg Reuhle.
In NE-2, Lee Terry (R) faces State Senator Nancy Thompson in what should be a competitive race. Thompson, from Pampilon in Sarpy County, is running for Congress after being term-limited out of the Legislature, has raised a hefty amount of cash so far, enough to go toe-to-toe with Terry. This race should also be competitive, although I give Terry the edge to begin with. Thompson's website is http://www.nancythompson4congress.com/
We won't go into South Dakota, since Kos is doing a fine job covering that race. I will say, however, that my money is on Herseth to win this race. In North Dakota, Democrat Earl Pomeroy dodged a bullet when his 2002 opponent, Rick Clayburgh, declined a rematch with Pomeroy. Clayburgh, had he ran again, could very well have ended up as Congressman Clayburgh in 2005. Now, Pomeroy faces 2000 Senate nominee Duane Sand, who unexpectedly dropped out of the 2004 Senate race to challenge Pomeroy. I think Sand will be competitive, but won't beat Pomeroy. For at least until 2006, the North Dakota delegation will be all Democratic, with South Dakota possibly joining it in 2005.
In Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada, don't expect any competitive races (in Nevada, Jon Porter (R:NV-3) still has no Democratic challenger), All incumbents in those states should be reelected easily, so we'll wait until 2006 for some good races to emerge.
In Colorado, on the other hand, two GOP seats are going to be top-notch races. In CO-3, Scott McInnis is retiring unexpectedly(and may even resign early, according to a recent report) , leaving a tossup district behind. the recent court ruling upholding the Democrat's House redistricting plan helps us greatly in winning both CO-3 and CO-7. There are crowded fields on both sides of this gigantic district, but expect State Rep. John Salazar, brother of Attorney General Ken Salazar to win the Democratic nomination. The GOP, on the other hand, has so many candidates that I have no idea who will win the nomination.
CO-7 will see Jefferson County D.A. Dave Thomas (http://www.davethomasforcongress.com) (D) take on Congressman Bob Beauprez in a hard-fought race. Thomas is popular in Jefferson County, where Beauprez ran well in 2002, so that will help him greatly. The wildcard is Thomas' perfomance during the Columbine Tragedy, which has given him flack in the past. There is a possibility of Jared Polis, the young ex-internet millionaire and former State Education Board Member making a bid-if so, he'd likely clobber Beauprez.
In New Mexico, Democrats have three candidates running against Heather Wilson, but she seems to be more entrenched than she was in 2002. State Senator Richard Romero will make another bid, and has raised an impressive amount of money so far (about $250,000), but is unlikely to win. NM-2 has ex-State Rep. Gary King (son of Bruce King, the former Governor) challenging Freshman Steve Pearce(R). King, whose website is http://www.garyking.org , is a very strong candidate, but Pearce still has an advantage going into the general election.
One Republican incumbent who is likely heading home in 2005 is Rick Renzi, a freshman who barely won in 2002 against a scandal-plagued opponent. Democrats are taking no chances in beating Renzi in 2004-they've cleared the field for Paul Babbitt, brother of former Governor Bruce Babbitt. P. Babbitt is a former Mayor of Flagstaff and a County Commissioner currently, and is a very strong candidate. Expect a Democratic pickup here, in AZ-1.
In Utah, Democrat Jim Matheson faces another tough fight for reelection -after all, this is Utah! He's facing a likely rematch with John Swallow, the former State Rep. who nearly beat him in 2002 (49%-48%). Swallow has a primary, but will likely win there and should prove a tough challenger yet again. With President Bush likely to romp through Utah in 2004, Utah Democrats will have to pull out all the stops to win the Governorship and keep Matheson in office.
Over this coming week, I'll preview the races on the West Coast and catch up with the remaining House races in the South.