Democrats appear to be gaining momentum in their bid to wrest control of the House of Representatives from the Republicans. Veteran DC prognosticator Charlie Cook says there are now 46 House seats in play. Thats an increase of ten over his previous forecast. In order to prevail, the Democrats will have to hold onto 10 shaky seats and win 15 of the 36 tenuous GOP seats.
Judging from the results of the hotly contested election to replace disgraced Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham In Californias District 50, Democrats have their work cut out for them. Despite running a strong race, the Dems candidate, Francine Busby, lost by 4 percent. (In 2004 Bush carried the district by 10 percent.) Repugs felt that they had to win this race and lavished more than $5 million on Brian Bilbrays campaign, outspending Dems 2:1.
Heres a look at sixteen races where Democrats have good shot at taking a Republican Congressional seat:
California 11: Democrat Jerry McNerney is running for the congressional seat occupied by archconservative Republican Richard Pombo. The district leans Republican, but there is great dissatisfaction with Pombo. McNerney has a real shot, but may be too liberal for the district. At least thats what Repugs will claim in what promises to be the most expensive California Congressional contest.
Colorado 7: Republican Bob Beauprez is running for Governor. The August 8th primary will determine whether Democrat Peggy Lamm or Ed Perlmutter runs against Republican Rick ODonnell.
Florida 22: Incumbent Republican Clay Shaw will face a Democratic opponent selected in the September 5th primary, probably Ron Klein.
Illinois 6: Republican Henry Hyde is retiring. The contest will pit Republican Peter Roskam versus Tammy Duckworth is a retired Army pilot who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq. While this is a slightly Republican district, its hard to imagine that anyone who meets Duckworth would vote for her opponent.
Its an indication of the trouble the GOP is having that two of their Indiana seats are vulnerable. In the 8th district, incumbent John Hostettler is getting the race of his life from County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth. In the 9th district, incumbent Mike Sodrel is having a tough time with Democrat Baron Hill. The Dems may well win both races.
Iowa 1: Republican Jim Nussle is retiring to run for Governor. Democrat Bruce Braley will face Republican Mike Whalen in district that leans Democrat.
Kentucky 4: Republican Geoff Davis is in a tight race with the former Democratic incumbent Ken Lucas. Although this district has traditionally voted Republican, Cook calls the race even.
Theres a lot going on in Ohio in this election. The 6th district Representative was Democrat Ted Strickland, whos running for Governor. Now, Democrat Charlie Wilson is favored over Republican Chuck Blasdel. In the 18th district, incumbent Republican Bob Ney is under investigation for his relationship with Jack Abramoff; Democratic challenger Zack Space is running an unexpectedly strong race.
Pennsylvania 6: Republican Jim Gerlach appears to be falling behind Democratic challenger Lois Murphy.