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Mid-Atlantic: Republicans Hope to End the Bleeding Next Year


Filing deadline: July 30 | Primary: Sept. 14


Open seat: Appointee Ted Kaufman (D) is not running in the special election
Outlook: Leans Republican

The nation’s second-smallest state will have a gargantuan Senate race next year, most likely between Rep. Mike Castle (R), who announced his candidacy in early October, and state Attorney General Beau Biden (D), who is expected to soon announce a campaign for the seat that was long held by his father, Vice President Joseph Biden.

The Senate race technically is a special election that will determine who will serve the remaining four years of the term won in 2008 by the elder Biden, simultaneous to his election as vice president. Kaufman, who was appointed to the Senate in January, isn’t running to serve the remainder of the expired term.

Surveys show that Delaware voters hold both likely nominees in high regard. Castle is a prominent GOP centrist in the House who has built a strong familiarity with the state’s voters over a four-decade career in public office. Beau Biden was elected to his office only in 2006, but he has universal name recognition and is running in a state that is trending Democratic. Generational politics should play a role in the contest between the 70-year-old Castle and the 40-year-old Biden.


Open seat: Mike Castle (R) is running for Senate
Outlook: Leans Democratic

While Castle’s campaign for Senate makes it easier for the GOP to claim a Democratic-held Senate seat, it also increases the chances that the Democrats will wrest control of the at-large seat Castle has dominated for nearly two decades.

The Democrats begin the open-seat race with several advantages, not least that their likely nominee, former Lt. Gov. John Carney, began campaigning for this seat in April and reported raising $427,000 for his campaign through the end of September. Though Castle had been sending signals that he would either run for the Senate or retire from the House, potential GOP candidates for Castle’s seat waited until the Congressman announced his political plans.

Several Republicans are weighing candidacies, among them former state Sen. Charlie Copeland, who was the party’s losing nominee for lieutenant governor in 2008, and state Rep. Tom Kovach. Republican officials, mindful of Carney’s big head start and Delaware’s late primary, say they will settle on a single nominee, almost certainly by the end of the year.


Filing deadline: July 6 | Primary: Sept. 14


Incumbent: Barbara Mikulski (D)
4th term (65 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Mikulski’s Senate seat is hers for as long as she wants it, and even though she’ll be 74 in 2010, she has shown no sign that she intends to retire anytime soon.

When Mikulski does eventually leave Congress, a long line of Democrats, and possibly former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R), will run for her seat. But for now, Mikulski faces only token opposition from Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Eric Wargotz (R) and attorney Jim Rutledge (R), who have both filed with the Federal Election Commission.


1st district
Incumbent: Frank Kratovil (D)
1st term (49 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Kratovil beat state Sen. Andy Harris (R) by the slimmest of margins last year in a long-held Republican district that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won by 18 points at the presidential level.

Republican discord in the wake of a bitter primary was a major reason Harris lost.

Harris, who was heavily backed by the anti-tax Club for Growth, won the GOP nomination by ousting moderate Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in a nasty primary. An embittered Gilchrest and many of his top operatives went on to endorse Kratovil in the general election.

Now Kratovil has the power of incumbency on his side, and party leaders from Maryland — including Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — have taken a particular interest in keeping the seat in Democratic hands.

The freshman Congressman raised nearly $240,000 from July to September, and he ended the third quarter with $691,000 in the bank.

Harris is back for a rematch in 2010, and Republicans hope he can carry the district this time with a better national political environment, a less contentious primary and an overhauled campaign team.

Harris, who hails from Cockeysville, near Baltimore, was also hurt in 2008 because he is not from the Eastern Shore, which is where most of the district’s voters reside. He hasn’t moved, but he has begun working part time on the Eastern Shore, a clear signal that he wants to have a more prominent presence on that side of the Chesapeake Bay this cycle.

Harris begins the race with the backing of the national party. Over the summer he was tapped as one of the 13 inaugural members of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s revamped “Young Guns— program, which aids the party’s top challenger and open-seat candidates.

Harris had a respectable showing in third-quarter fundraising. He brought in $180,000 and ended September with $313,000 in cash on hand.

For now, Harris has only token primary opposition, but that could change if wealthy state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who finished third in the 2008 House primary, decides to join the race.

New Jersey

Filing deadline: April 12 | Primary: June 8


3rd district
Incumbent: John Adler (D)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Adler has been working hard to inoculate himself from a serious challenge in 2010 after narrowly winning the 2008 open-seat race in the South Jersey district. Adler succeeded longtime Rep. Jim Saxton (R), who retired in 2008. He trumped Republican nominee Chris Myers by less than 4 points after outspending him by a ratio of more than 2-to-1.

The 3rd is a true swing district. It favored Barack Obama by 5 points in 2008 after narrowly voting for President George W. Bush in 2004.

Democrats have designated Adler among their potentially vulnerable incumbents who are receiving additional financial and logistical support for the upcoming elections. And Adler has demonstrated he is more than prepared for a fight, raising a whopping $1.4 million in the first nine months of the year, with $1.2 million of that left in cash on hand.

Republicans plan to target the race but say the candidate field is in flux until after Tuesday’s statewide elections. Still, Adler’s big bank account is likely to deter some GOP hopefuls. The pool of potential Republican candidates includes state Sen. Diane Allen, Ocean County Committeewoman Virginia Haines, Ocean County Freeholders Joseph Vicari, Gerry Little and Jack Kelly (Kelly unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in 2008), Toms River Councilman Maurice Hill and state Assemblyman Brian Rumpf.

7th district
Incumbent: Leonard Lance (R)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

Lance’s 8-point victory over Democrat Linda Stender in an open-seat race was something of a surprise. After all, Stender had only barely missed knocking off then-Rep. Mike Ferguson (R) two years earlier, a factor that contributed to the incumbent’s decision to retire in 2008.

Democrats, though they don’t yet have a top-tier candidate, almost certainly will try to stage a serious challenge in 2010 to prevent Lance, a former Minority Leader in the state Senate, from taking root in the district, which favored Barack Obama for president, albeit very narrowly.

New York

Filing deadline: N/A | Primary: Sept. 14


Incumbent: Charles Schumer (D)
2nd term (71 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Schumer is one of the safest incumbents in the 2010 lineup, with the big structural Democratic advantage in New York politics combined with his own campaign cash reserves that already are in eight figures. With the GOP duly challenged to find top-tier candidates for the state’s other marquee races in 2010 — the gubernatorial contest and the special election for the other Senate seat — it is extremely unlikely that Schumer will be targeted.

Incumbent: Kirsten Gillibrand (D) was appointed by Gov. David Paterson (D) on Jan. 23
1st term (Appointed)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Gillibrand had just begun a second House term in late January when Gov. David Paterson (D) named her as his surprise pick to fill the vacancy created when Hillary Rodham Clinton became secretary of State.

The decidedly mixed reception Gillibrand received from fellow New York Democrats made it look like she might face multiple primary challengers next year when she must run in a special election to fill out the final two years of Clinton’s unexpired term. As a rookie lawmaker from an upstate district, Gillibrand had voiced more conservative views on issues such as immigration and gun control than most of her state’s Democratic politicians, and several critics from the more liberal New York City area began mulling the 2010 race.

However, thanks to the strong backing of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) as well as intervention from the White House, Gillibrand has managed to ward off a serious primary threat. One by one, New York Democratic Reps. Steve Israel, Carolyn McCarthy and Carolyn Maloney all dropped their Senate aspirations. That has left Jon Cooper, a county legislator in eastern Long Island, as the only elected official talking seriously about challenging Gillibrand in the primary. Labor activist Jonathan Tasini is also running.

Republicans contend that Gillibrand’s shaky hold on the seat and the turmoil within her party’s ranks give them a shot in the 2010 special election. But the GOP, which has suffered major setbacks in New York, has no strong candidate lined up. Its best hope is to cajole former Gov. George Pataki (R) into the race. Pataki says he is considering it, but GOP operatives are not holding their breath.


1st district
Incumbent: Tim Bishop (D)
4th term (58 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Bishop has never faced a particularly tight re-election race despite the fact that 1st district voter registration favors Republicans. But conservative unrest in the eastern Long Island district over federal government spending — and the emergence of a wealthy Republican candidate, businessman Randy Altschuler, capable of self-funding his campaign — has the GOP talking up Bishop’s vulnerability.

Altschuler, a successful entrepreneur and big Republican donor, is looking to play up his business experience in the campaign and appeal to those in the district growing restless over the Democratic-led agenda in Washington, D.C. Democrats are already going after his record, claiming he promoted outsourcing of jobs overseas.

George Demos (R), a former attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, also recently joined the race.

13th district
Incumbent: Michael McMahon (D)
1st term (61 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

McMahon finds himself in a relatively strong political position heading into 2010. That is something that would have been unimaginable in the traditionally Republican seat only a year and a half ago. The local GOP, however, was hit by a political fiasco in the spring of 2008 when then-Rep. Vito Fossella (R) was arrested on a drunken driving charge in suburban Washington, D.C., which in turn prompted revelations that the married Congressman was in the midst of an adulterous affair and had a daughter by that relationship.

Fossella reluctantly dropped out of the 2008 race, and the party had a series of problems landing a replacement before finally nominating Bob Straniere, a former state legislator who had a contentious relationship with many fellow Republicans.

Republicans argue that McMahon didn’t get a real test in his easy 2008 victory, and they are high on the one candidate who has entered the race so far: Michael Allegretti, a young former aide to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) whose family owns a large heating oil business in the district. Allegretti raised a solid $189,000 in the third quarter.

Military veteran and former undercover FBI agent Michael Grimm (R) is also looking at the race and has the backing of influential former GOP Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari.

19th district
Incumbent: John Hall (D)
2nd term (59 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Hall’s win over Rep. Sue Kelly (R) in 2006 was one of that year’s most surprising. But Republican recruiting disappointments in 2008 paved the way for Hall to score an easy victory for a second term in this mid-Hudson Valley district north of New York City.

The Republicans look well ahead of their 2008 game, as state Assemblyman Greg Ball declared his candidacy early in the spring and has mounted an aggressive campaign. Ball, however, faces a primary challenge from Nan Hayworth (R), a prominent ophthalmologist from the portion of suburban Westchester County that is in the southern end of the district.

She signaled her entrance into the race in mid-October, launching a campaign Web site, filing an initial fundraising report and kicking in $150,000 of her own funds to start off. Republican operatives think Hayworth could be a more promising candidate given her willingness to self-fund, her community ties and Ball’s penchant for brashness. Hayworth is portraying herself as a centrist Republican in the Kelly mold.

Whoever emerges from the September primary, the party expects to give Hall a real race in 2010.

20th district
Incumbent: Scott Murphy (D)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Murphy was unknown to voters in this upstate district when Democratic leaders picked the young businessman as their nominee for the March 2009 special election. Yet Murphy was able to sustain the district’s Democratic trend, started by now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2006 when she upset Rep. John Sweeney (R). Murphy defeated longtime state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R) for the seat after Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate.

It wasn’t easy: Murphy came from behind in the polls to win by just more than 700 votes, in a count that extended three weeks past Election Day.

Republican officials say they’ve learned from the mistakes that contributed to their loss, which included a failure to match Democrats’ voter turnout efforts and a rushed candidate selection process. But the GOP’s efforts to target the seat again in 2010 did not get off to a running start. One potentially strong candidate, state Sen. Betty Little (R), has already said she is not interested in running. Tedisco is taking another look at the seat, and former Assemblyman John Faso (R) has not ruled out a run.

The Republican registration advantage in the district gives the GOP hope in 2010, but Murphy has been working hard to shore up his re-election chances, including compiling $500,000 in cash on hand as of the end of September.

23rd district
Vacancy: John McHugh (R) resigned to become secretary of the Army
Outlook: Tossup

Tuesday’s special election in this sprawling upstate district has become a showdown between factions of the Republican Party, which is split in its support between party nominee Dede Scozzafava and conservative third-party candidate Doug Hoffman. Democrat Bill Owens has profited from the divide, coming from behind to lead by a narrow margin, according to the latest independent polls. The race is now becoming a battle between Owens and Hoffman, with Scozzafava sinking badly under a barrage of negative attacks from both opponents.

Hoffman, who is running on the state Conservative Party line, has national conservative groups and leaders to thank for his political viability. Objecting to Scozzafava’s moderate record while in the state Assembly, groups such as the Club for Growth, Citizens United and the Susan B. Anthony List as well as national figures such as 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) have rallied behind his campaign, offering both endorsements and financial support.

The national Republican Party is sticking by Scozzafava and hoping the election is decided based on local, rather than national, issues. Owens, meanwhile, is working to appeal to crucial swing voters in this traditionally Republican district by zeroing in on job creation and touting his business background, though he leaves out the fact that it was as an attorney.

Nobody is quite sure how this tight three-way race will end up, particularly since turnout is expected to be light. Owens and Scozzafava both have labor union backing that can help with get-out-the-vote activities. But Scozzafava is just scraping by financially, while Owens and Hoffman have fat bank accounts to draw on in the final days. The district has a Republican registration advantage and a long record of sending Republicans to Congress, but it voted narrowly for President Barack Obama in 2008.

24th district
Incumbent: Michael Arcuri (D)
2nd term (52 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Richard Hanna (R), a wealthy construction executive, came unexpectedly close to ending Arcuri’s House career in 2008 after one term even though he did not enter the contest until spring of that year. There is a chance that Hanna will take another shot in 2010.

Arcuri’s 2006 open-seat win made him the first Democrat in more than 60 years to represent this upstate district. That alone renders him vulnerable, according to Republican strategists, who have launched early media attacks against the incumbent in an effort to soften him up for the 2010 campaign.

Arcuri, a former county district attorney, isn’t sitting still, though. A member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he has been actively touting his role in bringing federal infrastructure funding back to the district, both from the economic stimulus package enacted in February and regular legislative channels.

Support for big spending measures is not a risk-free proposition for Arcuri in a district that gave only a 2-point edge to Barack Obama in 2008. But Arcuri can still try to keep all of his bases covered by touting his membership in the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition.

25th district
Incumbent: Dan Maffei (D)
1st term (55 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Maffei’s 2008 win made the upstate district one of six seats in New York that switched from Republican to Democratic control in either 2006 or 2008. Maffei had come within less than 2 points of upsetting then-Rep. Jim Walsh (R) in 2006, which was widely seen as a big factor in Walsh’s decision not to seek re-election two years later.

Republicans, who once were politically dominant in the district’s population center of Syracuse as well as its rural areas, still have a narrow voter registration advantage over the Democrats. But like much of upstate, the 25th has an influential bloc of independent voters who have broken Democratic of late — as demonstrated by Barack Obama’s edge of 56 percent to 43 percent over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008.

Maffei, a former Congressional aide, has only one official challenger in 2010 — conservative activist Paul Bertan (R). Republicans say they are talking to several interested individuals but have declined to provide names. State Assemblyman Bob Oaks, Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney and Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick are among the local officials the party could look to.

26th district
Incumbent: Chris Lee (R)
1st term (55 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

As one of just two Republicans left in his state’s 29-member House delegation, Lee moved early to craft an image as a consensus-builder and bipartisan pragmatist who is focused on spurring a rebound for the upstate district’s struggling economy.

This puts Lee on a different political path than his predecessor: Former Rep. Tom Reynolds was a genial but highly partisan Republican who headed his party’s campaign committee in its successful 2004 election efforts and in the unsuccessful 2006 campaign that cost the GOP its House majority.

Lee’s approach has earned him some positive press at home in a district that gets most of its population from the suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester, with mainly rural areas in between. He even has drawn praise from some Democratic colleagues. And so far it’s earned him a reprieve from Democratic challengers in the wake of his double-digit winning margin in 2008.

29th district
Incumbent: Eric Massa (D)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Republicans believe next year’s race in the 29th district provides them with one of their best opportunities to retake a House seat in the Northeast, a region where a once-vibrant Republican Party has yielded to Democratic dominance in recent years.

Massa, a Navy veteran and former Pentagon aide, showed skills as a first-time candidate when he came within 3 points of ousting then-Rep. Randy Kuhl (R) in 2006. Still, GOP analysts tend to attribute Massa’s 2-point win in their 2008 rematch to a lackluster campaign by the incumbent.

The 29th, which takes in the largely rural southern tier of upstate New York and reaches north into suburban Rochester, has a strong Republican voting tradition. And even as Massa gave the Democrats a rare Congressional victory there, the district’s voters continue to resist the state’s evolution into a Democratic stronghold in presidential elections. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won by 2 points, and just four years earlier, the 29th favored President George W. Bush (R) by 14 points.

The Republicans landed a top recruit when Corning Mayor Tom Reed announced July 1 that he will take on Massa in 2010. Reed already is positioning himself to remind local voters of their long-standing GOP ties. But his campaign rollout has not been without its snags, and Massa had a nearly $400,000 cash-on-hand advantage at the end of September.


Filing deadline: March 9 | Primary: May 18


Incumbent: Arlen Specter (D)
5th term (53 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

It was the party change heard around the globe: Specter announced in late April that he would run for re-election as a Democrat because he could not win the GOP primary. Democrats welcomed him to the party, and President Barack Obama promised to campaign for his re-election.

But Specter’s first six months as a Democrat have not been easy. Since he made the switch, Rep. Joe Sestak announced that he would challenge the veteran incumbent for the Democratic nod.

What’s more, recent public polls have shown Specter basically in a dead heat with former Rep. Pat Toomey, whom Specter would have faced in the GOP primary in a rematch of their blockbuster 2004 contest.

Regardless of whom the Democratic nominee is next November, this is going to be one of the most closely watched races of 2010. Toomey is an unknown commodity to a large swath of voters. Still, the aftermath of the Specter and Sestak primary cannot be predicted, and there is little doubt that whoever emerges will be badly bloodied. Polls show Specter with a double-digit lead over Sestak in the primary, but Sestak has more potential room for growth because he is less-known.

There’s also the potential that Specter could lose the Democratic primary in what would be an ironic twist given the Senator’s original reason for switching parties. Sestak is raising money at a relatively solid rate, and he can use those funds to introduce himself to voters. If Sestak can shore up the vital labor and union vote in the Democratic primary, he has a real shot at defeating Specter in May.


3rd district
Incumbent: Kathy Dahlkemper (D)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Dahlkemper defeated Rep. Phil English (R) to win her first term in Congress. Boosted by a strong Democratic ticket in the Keystone State, Dahlkemper even performed better than President Barack Obama in her district last year. Obama lost to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 3rd by 17 votes.

Republicans appear to be still searching for a candidate in the northwestern Pennsylvania district. Businessman Paul Huber is the only Republican so far in the race. He raised $101,000 in the first couple months of his campaign, although $58,000 of that came from his own pocket. Huber might be a strong candidate, but only time will tell if he has the mettle to give Dahlkemper a run for her money.

4th district
Incumbent: Jason Altmire (D)
2nd term (56 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Altmire easily defeated his predecessor, former Rep. Melissa Hart (R), in their second matchup in 2008. While Altmire’s margin of victory grew in this suburban Pittsburgh district, it is actually one of the few in the country that voted for the Republican presidential candidate by a larger margin in 2008 than in 2004. There’s an opportunity here for a top-tier Republican to give Altmire a good challenge, but Republicans are still looking for their golden candidate.

Attorney Keith Rothfus announced in October he would run against Altmire, but Republicans know they have to keep searching for a stronger and better-known candidate.

Republicans are cautiously hopeful that state Rep. Mike Turzai, who lost a bid for the same seat in 1998, will decide to run against Altmire. Republicans see him as a rising star with good name identification in the district. Although Turzai has not officially made a decision on whether to run, the more time that passes the less likely he is to get in.

6th district
Open seat: Jim Gerlach (R) is running for governor
Outlook: Tossup

Gerlach’s departure to run for governor gives Democrats a real shot at stealing this seat. They targeted Gerlach in 2004 and 2006 with their chosen candidate, attorney Lois Murphy, without success.

Democrats failed to find a strong candidate last cycle, when businessman Bob Roggio ran for the seat. But even though Roggio raised and spent only one-quarter of Gerlach’s haul, he still came within 4 points of defeating the Congressman. With Gerlach leaving, Democrats could finally pick up this suburban Philadelphia seat.

Former newspaper editorial writer Doug Pike (D), the son of former Rep. Otis Pike (D-N.Y.), announced his candidacy early this year. Pike has received the lion’s share of endorsements so far in his bid for the Democratic nod, including from several Members of Congress. Pike has also indicated that he is willing to put $1 million of his own money into the race — and he’s already given his campaign $622,000 toward that total. The district is particularly expensive because of the Philadelphia media market, so an ideal candidate must be a strong fundraiser.

Iraq War veteran and physician Manan Trivedi (D) has also announced he’s running for his party’s nomination. Although he raised $127,000 in his first few weeks of the campaign, it’s going to be difficult to compete with Pike’s fundraising.

Republicans have found their own self-funding candidate to compete in this district. Businessman Steven Welch was originally running in the neighboring 7th district, but GOP leaders urged him to switch races after a prominent Republican entered that race. Welch reported raising $559,000 through the end of September, although about half a million of that is from his own wallet.

In addition to Welch, Chester County Recorder of Deeds Ryan Costello and state Rep. Curt Schroder are also running for the GOP nomination. Costello raised only $31,000 through end of September, while Schroder raised $109,000. Given Welch’s cash largess, he is likely national Republicans’ desired nominee.

7th district
Open seat: Joe Sestak (D) is running for Senate
Outlook: Tossup

Sestak would have been a shoo-in for re-election in his southeastern Pennsylvania district, but he’s leaving to run for Senate — and Republicans subsequently have a real shot at picking up this seat.

GOP leaders lured former U.S. District Attorney Pat Meehan out of the gubernatorial race to run for Congress in his home district and then basically cleared the field for him. He has been received well among local Republicans, and he had raised $212,000 through the end of September.

As soon as Sestak was talking about running for Senate in May, state Rep. Bryan Lentz (D) said he would run for this seat. Lentz originally wanted to run in 2006, but party leaders favored Sestak instead. Lentz had raised $220,000 for his campaign through the end of September.

There’s one more Democrat who is interested in running, and his candidacy could become a headache for the party if he gets into the race. State Rep. Greg Vitali is considering a bid and has not yet made a final decision. Whichever candidate emerges from the primary could be damaged, and that will only make it harder to defeat Meehan in the general election.

10th district
Incumbent: Christopher Carney (D)
2nd term (56 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Carney should be vulnerable this cycle given the national mood and the conservative tendencies of his district. But Republicans have failed to find anyone to run against him.

The GOP’s chances of taking back the seat in 2008 were hurt by a negative primary between two businessmen. The eventual nominee, Chris Hackett, lost to Carney by a 12-point margin while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried the district on the presidential level with 54 percent.

Republicans aren’t even talking about potential Carney opponents anymore. Maybe a strong GOP nominee will come out of the woodwork later this year or in the first few months of the next, but that becomes more unlikely as each month passes.

11th district
Incumbent: Paul Kanjorski (D)
13th term (52 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Kanjorski was not expected to win re-election last cycle. Public polls showed him trailing Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, whom Republicans considered one of their best recruits of the cycle.

But Kanjorski defeated Barletta in a rematch of their 2002 race, 52 percent to 48 percent. Local political operatives say the president’s strong performance in his district carried the Congressman over the finish line.

Republicans believe there is only one candidate who can defeat Kanjorski: Barletta. And it appears the staunch anti-illegal-immigration advocate is seriously considering a third bid for the seat. Well-placed sources said he is “very likely— to run for the seat again. Without President Barack Obama on the ticket, Barletta could have an even better shot this cycle.

Kanjorski has already attracted an opponent in the Democratic primary. Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien announced in October that he would run against the longtime Congressman. Kanjorski is favored to win this contest, but O’Brien could hurt Kanjorski’s chances in the general election if he runs a negative campaign.

Without Barletta in the race, Kanjorski skates to a 14th term. With Barletta in the race, Kanjorski has a fight on his hands once again.

12th district
Incumbent: John Murtha (D)
19th term (58 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Murtha drew national attention in the waning weeks of the 2008 campaign when he called western Pennsylvania “a racist area— and suggested those attitudes would hurt Barack Obama at the polls. He apologized, but money poured into the campaign account of his opponent, retired Army officer William Russell (R) — and also into Murtha’s account at an even faster rate.

Russell is running for a second time, although Republicans are not optimistic about the 2008 nominee’s chances this time around. They’re more optimistic about businessman Tim Burns, although many Republicans still see Murtha as impossible to beat short of him being indicted or punished by the ethics committee.

Murtha has acquired a primary opponent: Navy veteran Ryan Bucchianeri (D). The first-time candidate is not likely to be competitive against Murtha, but his candidacy is proof that even some Democrats are not satisfied with his representation.

While Murtha’s southwestern Pennsylvania district votes increasingly for Republicans each cycle, the longtime Democrat continues to have a firm hold on his seat, and he remains an institution in the Johnstown-area district.

15th district
Incumbent: Charlie Dent (R)
3rd term (59 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

Dent has never had to fight for re-election in his Lehigh Valley district, even though the territory he represents has voted for the Democratic presidential ticket in 2000, 2004 and 2008. That’s because Democrats could never find a strong candidate to run against him. They repeatedly asked Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, but he turned them down — until this cycle.

Callahan formally announced his candidacy in late July and so far, he’s surpassed expectations by raising $346,000 through the end of September. The Democrat is well on his way to matching Dent’s $537,000 Sept. 30 cash-on-hand figure.

The top of the ticket, however, might work in Dent’s favor. Dent’s predecessor, former Rep. Pat Toomey (R), is running for Senate, and turnout in the 15th could help other Republicans downballot. Callahan likely would have had a better shot at winning in 2008, when President Barack Obama won this district with 56 percent of the vote.

West Virginia

Filing deadline: Jan. 30 | Primary: May 11


1st district
Incumbent: Alan Mollohan (D)
14th term (Unopposed)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

A veteran member of the Appropriations Committee, Mollohan continues to be a dominant political force in his northern West Virginia district even after a 2006 ethics complaint charged that he directed numerous earmarks to nonprofit organizations he set up in his district. Mollohan, who has denied wrongdoing, trounced state Rep. Chris Wakim (R) in 2006, and last year the Republicans didn’t even field an opponent against the Congressman.

State Sen. Clark Barnes (R) announced his candidacy in September, calling himself a “traditionalist— who believes in fiscal responsibility. Most of his state legislative district, including his primary residence, lies outside the 1st district, so he’ll need to boost his name recognition in a district that includes Parkersburg, Wheeling and Morgantown.

Other Republicans running include Daniel Swisher, a financial executive, Cindy Hall, a real estate broker, and Tom Stark, a retired civil servant. None is well-known.

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