Skip to content

Mid-Atlantic: Big Pennsylvania, New York Wins Could Push GOP to Majority


Filing deadline: July 30 | Primary: Sept. 14


Open Seat: Appointee Ted Kaufman (D) is not seeking election

Outlook: Likely Republican

Republicans thus far couldn’t have scripted any better their campaign to
secure the seat that was long held by Vice President Joseph Biden and now held on an
interim basis by Kaufman.

The widespread popularity of Rep. Mike Castle (R), the party’s strongest
possible candidate, has enabled him to maintain a large lead in public polls since
January, when state Attorney General Beau Biden (D) surprisingly declined to enter
the race for his father’s old seat.

Castle has never lost an election in a public service career that has spanned more
than four decades, and his defeat in the Senate race would be a major upset. But
Democrats say their new candidate, New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, should
not be written off. They say he’s a dynamic and smart candidate with a good
base in the most populous of Delaware’s three counties.

The two candidates have disagreements on the economic stimulus and health care
laws, which Castle opposed and Coons supports.

The race should tighten over the next few months, if only because the well-known
Castle has nowhere to go but down. Coons should draw more support as he builds his
statewide profile in a Democratic-leaning state, but at this point he’s still a
distinct underdog.



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

Outlook: Leans Democratic

With the popular Castle eschewing a re-election bid to run for Senate,
Delaware’s at-large district sits at or near the very top of a small list of
districts that Democrats can conceivably wrest away from Republicans this fall. The
presumptive Democratic nominee, former Lt. Gov. John Carney, has been campaigning for
more than a year, is well-funded and is running in a state that usually votes more
Democratic than Republican.

The GOP candidate field also was slow to develop. But GOP officials hailed the
April candidacy announcement by Michele Rollins, a lawyer and philanthropist who is
well-known in Delaware GOP circles. She’ll be able to bring her significant
personal wealth to bear in this race, though she’s not a shoo-in in a fall
primary in which the other major contenders are Glen Urquhart, a conservative real
estate developer who has already loaned his campaign $565,000, and Republican
activist Kevin Wade.


Filing deadline: July 6 | Primary: Sept. 14


Incumbent: Barbara Mikulski (D)

4th term (65 percent)

Outlook: Safe Democratic

Some Free State Republicans dream of a Scott Brown-like upset this fall.

Ain’t gonna happen.

Mikulski is probably the most popular politician in Maryland right now. Queen
Anne’s County Commissioner Eric Wargotz is the leading Republican candidate at
the moment.


1st district

Incumbent: Frank Kratovil (D)

1st term (49 percent)

Outlook: Tossup

Kratovil is working hard to prove he’s not an accidental Congressman, but
the numbers look awfully tough. The district, based on the Eastern Shore, is fairly
conservative and gave Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) an 18-point victory in 2008.

The best thing Kratovil may have going for him is his likely Republican opponent,
state Sen. Andy Harris, a grating figure who tore the local GOP establishment apart
by challenging then-Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in a hard-fought primary two years ago. Many
of those wounds have healed — though Gilchrest remains in Kratovil’s
corner. Still, Harris has an additional obstacle to overcome: the fact that he lives
in Baltimore County and not on the Shore.

Harris is running a much better campaign than he did two years ago, and the
national political environment may simply be too good for Republicans for him to
lose. But don’t count Kratovil out completely.

4th district

Incumbent: Donna Edwards (D)

1st term (86 percent)

Outlook: Safe Democratic

Edwards, who ousted then-Rep. Albert Wynn (D) in a contentious primary in 2008,
now has a tougher-than-average primary on her hands. State Del. Herman Taylor (D) is
hoping to capitalize on some pro-Israeli groups’ disenchantment with Edwards
— and the fact that he’s from the Montgomery County portion of the
district, where turnout is generally higher (Edwards is from Prince George’s

But Taylor wasn’t exactly a legislative superstar during his eight years in
Annapolis; Edwards should win handily in a race that nevertheless bears some

New Jersey

Filing deadline: Passed

Primary: June 8


3rd district

Incumbent: John Adler (D)

1st term (52 percent)

Outlook: Leans Democratic

With $1.7 million in his campaign account as April began, Adler is among the most
cash-rich Democratic freshmen and will have plenty of resources to defend his record
as he seeks re-election in a politically competitive area of south-central New

His likely Republican opponent is Jon Runyan, a professional football player
formerly with the Philadelphia Eagles. Runyan last week took the unusual and
pre-emptive step of revealing some unflattering information about himself, namely
that he was late to pay some taxes and was sued in some business dealings. Runyan
says he is “a different type of candidate” by acknowledging his mistakes.

Runyan self-funded $100,000 of the $151,000 he raised in the first quarter, but
he’ll need a lot more money to win a district where Adler spent more than $2.8
million on his 2008 campaign.

New York

Filing deadline: July 15

Primary: Sept. 14


Incumbent: Charles Schumer (D)

2nd term (71 percent)

Outlook: Safe Democratic

Recent polls have suggested that Schumer’s popularity may be slipping some,
but no Republican is in any position to take advantage. Schumer’s feisty spirit
and $21.8 million war chest make him impenetrable.

Incumbent: Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

1st term (appointed January 2009)

Outlook: Safe Democratic

Is Gillibrand lucky or good?

Either way, she appears to be sitting pretty, as a dozen potentially formidable
challengers in both parties have fallen by the wayside over the past several months.
Still, some Democratic operatives in the Empire State and Washington, D.C., remain
privately nervous about her political strength.

But it’s getting awfully late for a strong, well-funded challenger to
emerge. And Gillibrand is nothing if not an aggressive fundraiser and indefatigable
campaigner, with $6 million in the bank as of March 31.

The Republican race, featuring ex-Rep. Joe DioGuardi, former Port Authority
Commissioner and Nassau County legislator Bruce Blakeman, Orange County Executive
Edward Diana and economist David Malpass, appears to be a jump ball at the


1st district

Incumbent: Tim Bishop (D)

4th term (58 percent)

Outlook: Leans Democratic

Bishop’s district at the eastern end of Long Island both epitomizes some of
the Republicans’ opportunities this cycle and also spotlights the potential
cost of GOP infighting.

Although Bishop has won comfortably since narrowly winning in 2002, the district
remains competitive at the presidential level and in most statewide elections. And
even though Bishop hasn’t committed any major fireable offenses, the national
political climate could hurt him considerably.

But Republicans have a donnybrook of a primary, with the outcome — and its
potentially bloody aftermath — uncertain.

Businessman Randy Altschuler was the choice of many national GOP leaders
initially, and he got off to a fast start on the fundraising front. But several local
party leaders became disenchanted with him, and his initial surge ground largely to a
halt with the entry into the race of Chris Cox, a business consultant and attorney
who happens to be the grandson of former President Richard Nixon — and just as
significant, the son of New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox. Cox now appears to be the
favorite of many local Republican leaders.

There are two other credible candidates competing in the primary: former CIA agent
Gary Berntsen and attorney George Demos. Complicating matters further is the fact
that the local Conservative Party leader has expressed a preference for Altschuler.
So there is a chance that the Republicans and the Conservatives could wind up putting
different candidates on their ballot lines, benefiting Bishop greatly. And even if
that doesn’t happen, the Republican nominee could be so bloodied after the
mid-September primary that he’ll have little time to recover before the general

For a variety of reasons, Bishop could still be in trouble — but the messier
the Republican picture, the better his prospects for survival.

13th district

Incumbent: Michael McMahon (D)

1st term (61 percent)

Outlook: Likely Democratic

This district, which takes in Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, resembles a
moderate Southern district in its political habits more than the roaring metropolis
it’s a part of. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won it in 2008, and Republicans
frequently win in citywide and statewide contests.

So it’s not surprising that in a Republican year, McMahon — who owes
his victory at least in part to the political implosion of former Rep. Vito Fossella
(R) and the subsequent dysfunction in the local GOP — would be in some trouble
this year.

But McMahon’s own poll numbers show that he’s popular and in fairly
decent shape. He is certainly extremely lucky that Republicans do not appear to be
putting their A team on the field this year. The two leading GOP candidates are
Michael Allegretti, an environmental policy expert whose family owns a big oil
company in the district, and former FBI agent and security consultant Michael Grimm.
Either could win — though the primary is destined to get nastier as time goes
on, and McMahon finished March with more than $1.1 million in the bank.

Then there are the persistent rumors that Fossella is trying to figure out a way
to get back into politics. McMahon’s vote against health care reform did not
endear him to unions and liberal groups, but none appear willing to put up a
challenger from the left, and some are beginning to make peace with the

14th district

Incumbent: Carolyn Maloney (D)

9th term (80 percent)

Outlook: Safe Democratic

Maloney came close to challenging appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand this year, but
she stayed out in the name of party unity. Her reward? She’s getting a tough
primary challenge from Reshma Saujani, a 34-year-old former hedge fund attorney and
political fundraiser.

By most measures, Maloney should be bulletproof. She had close to $2 million in
the bank as of March 31, and she has a wealth of political chits to call in. But
Saujani is glamorous and energetic — she raised an impressive $402,000 in the
first three months of the year and banked $506,000 — and is trying to appeal to
younger voters and the district’s increasingly diverse population. It’s
hard to bet against Maloney at this point, but Saujani is definitely a rising star to

15th district

Incumbent: Charlie Rangel (D)

20th term (89 percent)

Outlook: Safe Democratic

Rangel, wounded from a thousand cuts connected to questions about his ethics and
stripped of his gavel at the Ways and Means Committee, is facing significant
Democratic primary opposition for one of the few times in his career.

But neither state Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV nor banker (and former Rangel
aide) Vincent Morgan appear strong enough at the moment to oust the Congressman, who
turns 80 next month. Powell has a famous name — his father was the venerable
Harlem Congressman whose political career Rangel ended in 1970 — but he has had
his share of ethics scrapes through the years.

Late last week, author and labor activist Jonathan Tasini (D) joined the race
after dropping his long-shot bid against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, which never gained
any traction. He probably can’t beat Rangel, either.

Most of the New York political establishment continues to embrace Rangel. But
there is still some thought he may choose to retire rather than spend another two
years in a diminished position in Congress. An open-seat race would be a completely
different dynamic and would spotlight the many changes Rangel’s Upper Manhattan
district has gone through over the decades.

19th district

Incumbent: John Hall (D)

2nd term (59 percent)

Outlook: Leans Democratic

National Republican leaders want ophthalmologist Nan Hayworth to be their nominee,
and she probably will be — but not before some nasty internal GOP bickering
that could last well into the fall. Wall Street compliance officer Neil DiCarlo and
former Tuxedo Park Mayor David McFadden are among the other candidates seeking the
Republican nomination.

Despite being a celebrity in his former life — a songwriter and front man
for the band Orleans — Hall has kept a fairly low profile in Congress.
He’s slightly to the left of his Hudson Valley constituency overall, and how
much trouble he’s actually in could have a lot to do with the national and
state political environment. But his fundraising numbers are somewhat troubling:
Hayworth outraised him 3-to-2 in the first three months of the year. He finished
March with $553,000 on hand, compared with Hayworth’s $659,000.

20th district

Incumbent: Scott Murphy (D)

1st term (50 percent)

Outlook: Likely Democratic

Despite winning a March 2009 special election by just 700 votes and representing a
fairly conservative upstate district, Murphy appears to be in remarkably strong
shape. No top-tier Republican has emerged to challenge him — the likely GOP
nominee is Army veteran Chris Gibson — and Murphy, who essentially never
stopped campaigning after his victory a year ago, was sitting on more than $1 million
after the first fundraising quarter of the year. Gibson had $92,000 in the bank.

23rd district

Incumbent: Bill Owens (D)

1st term (48 percent)

Outlook: Leans Democratic

This upstate district was political ground zero last fall, and Owens won one of
the wildest special elections in recent memory, putting the seat in Democrats’
hands for the first time since the 19th century. Owens benefited from an epic split
among Republicans in a race that had the GOP nominee drop out at the end and endorse
the Democrat, and the nominee of the Conservative Party serving as the vessel for
most Republican voters.

Incredibly, it could happen again.

The Conservative candidate in the special, Doug Hoffman, is seeking the Republican
nomination this year with the blessing of Conservative leaders. But Matt Doheny, a
wealthy investment banker, is also running in the GOP primary, and it isn’t
clear whether the Conservatives will back him or stick with Hoffman if Doheny gets
the Republican nomination. Any kind of split among conservatives could yield another
term for the lucky Owens.

24th district

Incumbent: Michael Arcuri (D)

2nd term (52 percent)

Outlook: Tossup

What’s up with Arcuri? He runs an almost flawless campaign in 2006 against a
very tough opponent, putting a long-held Republican district into the Democratic
column. Then in 2008, he’s caught napping by businessman Richard Hanna (R), an
appealing guy who enters the race late and runs a disorganized campaign.

Now Arcuri and Hanna are headed for a rematch, and it’s anybody’s
guess who will win. Arcuri had a cash-on-hand advantage of $493,000 to $358,000 as of
March 31, but that’s not saying much. And while Arcuri’s vote against
health care reform could be seen as prudent given the swing nature of the central New
York district, it infuriated labor leaders and liberal groups, and there is a very
real possibility that he could get a distracting Democratic primary challenge or that
the union-backed Working Families Party could run its own candidate rather than give
Arcuri its ballot line in November.

Democratic leaders are nervous about this race, with good reason.

29th district

Vacancy: Eric Massa (D) resigned

Outlook: Tossup

Massa’s spectacular demise complicated Democrats’ efforts to hold on
to his swing district in the Southern Tier and Rochester area because he was looking
pretty strong until various scandals erupted.

State Democratic leaders have succeeded in holding off scheduling a special
election until November, with Gov. David Paterson (D) just last week calling for the
contest to coincide with Election Day.

The delay improves Democrats’ prospects for holding the seat, but not by

The likely Republican nominee is former Corning Mayor Tom Reed, who was already
planning to challenge Massa. Democratic leaders appear to have settled on Matt
Zeller, a 29-year-old military veteran, to be their candidate. But with extra time
before the special is held, they may be shopping for someone better.


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: Tuesday


Incumbent: Arlen Specter (D)

5th term (53 percent)

Outlook: Tossup

Just over a year after Specter announced he was switching parties to run for
re-election as a Democrat, he’s in the fight of his political life — yet
again. Rep. Joe Sestak (D) has come from a more than 20-point deficit in the polls in
the last couple of weeks, and the race is now in a dead heat.

Part of Specter’s problem is he is such a known commodity that most voters
had already made up their minds about him before he went on the air with his message.
Sestak, however, was not as well-known statewide and had a lot more room to grow as
primary voters learned about him.

What’s more, a pivotal ad for Sestak’s campaign showed Specter getting
a hearty endorsement from President George W. Bush in 2004, when he was facing defeat
in a difficult GOP primary. While Specter is the first to say it’s no secret
that he used to be a Republican, it doesn’t help to remind Democratic primary
voters of this fact.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face former Rep. Pat Toomey (R). There
are advantages to running against either Sestak or Specter, but both Democrats will
start the general election with depleted funds in their bank accounts. Toomey, on the
other hand, reported $4 million in cash on hand at the end of March.

3rd district

Incumbent: Kathy Dahlkemper (D)

1st term (51 percent)

Outlook: Leans Democratic

Dahlkemper’s chances of winning a second term have been boosted by a crowded
Republican primary that lacks a top-tier candidate. There are two Republicans with
large bank accounts in the race who quickly emerged as the frontrunners: car
dealership owner Mike Kelly and businessman Paul Huber. Although this district is not
a particularly expensive one in which to run a campaign, money doesn’t hurt
either. After all, Dahlkemper won a crowded Democratic primary in 2008 with the help
of some personal funds.

Dahlkemper is a good candidate, but this conservative-leaning district could end
up in a more competitive column if the GOP nominee turns out to be a good candidate,

4th district

Incumbent: Jason Altmire (D)

2nd term (56 percent)

Outlook: Likely Democratic

Altmire started off this cycle with a target on his back, but GOP squabbling
hasn’t been helpful to the party’s efforts to prepare a strong challenge
to the sophomore lawmaker. This district should by all measures be competitive and
Altmire should be in trouble, but not if the GOP nominee can’t run a good

There are two Republicans in the race: attorney Keith Rothfus and former U.S.
Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. Republicans were initially excited about
Buchanan’s candidacy, but her campaign has faltered since she got into the
race. She had an unprofessional squabble with a local radio host, and her campaign
fundraising has been far from stellar. Pennsylvania has an early primary, so
it’s possible that Republicans will recover in time to mount a serious campaign
against Altmire. But whichever Republican gets the nomination, likely Buchanan, may
need to revamp her campaign in order to mount a serious challenge in November.

6th district

Incumbent: Jim Gerlach (R)

4th term (52 percent)

Outlook: Leans Republican

Republicans’ chances in this competitive district got a major boost when
Gerlach dropped out of the gubernatorial race to run for re-election instead. Gerlach
held on to this seat against a little-known opponent by a mere 4-point margin in the
Democratic wave of 2008. Nonetheless, he is the best Republican to run in this
district given his name identification.

Democrats struggled in 2006 and 2008 to find a good candidate, but this cycle they
have two: Navy physician Manan Trivedi and former editorial writer Doug Pike.
Although Pike was the early favorite for Democrats, Trivedi quickly gained momentum
and the endorsements of several local party committees. Pike, however, is willing to
put $1 million toward his campaign — a valuable sum in the expensive
Philadelphia media market.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be running against the strongest
Republican tide in three election cycles, which might just put this once-juicy target
out of reach.

7th district

Open seat: Joe Sestak (D) is running for Senate

Outlook: Tossup

This is the most competitive House seat in the state and a bellwether for other
districts across the country. Sestak won the seat in 2006, but he is running for
Senate this cycle.

State Rep. Bryan Lentz will be the Democratic nominee. Republicans also lured a
top recruit in former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan.

Both candidates are solid fundraisers and have run good campaigns so far, although
Meehan had some problems with his petition for the ballot.

This race will be competitive, and the winner is anyone’s guess right

8th district

Incumbent: Patrick Murphy (D)

2nd term (57 percent)

Outlook: Likely Democratic

Although Murphy has attracted a top challenger in former Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick
(R), he is favored to win re-election at the moment. This district has changed too
much in Democrats’ favor since Fitzpatrick won in 2004 and served a single

Murphy also runs a strong campaign and will have plenty of money to spend in the
expensive Philadelphia media market. While Fitzpatrick had a great first quarter by
raising $510,000, it’s not certain he can keep up that kind of fundraising pace
until November.

10th district

Incumbent: Christopher Carney (D)

2nd term (56 percent)

Outlook: Leans Democratic

Carney is once again benefitting from a contested GOP primary in a district that
has traditionally elected Republicans. This is a tough year for Democrats, and other
Republicans still win this district by convincing margins, so Carney’s race
will always be competitive. However, the three main Republicans running have shown
little promise so far.

The most promising Republican in the race is former U.S. Attorney Tom Marino, whom
national Republicans tried to recruit to run in 2008 with no success. However,
Marino’s fundraising has been dismal so far; he had only $56,000 in the bank at
the end of April.

Conservative activist David Madeira has a good shot in the primary given his
support from the grass roots in the district. He also had poor fundraising, however,
with only $24,000 in the bank after the first four months of this year.

Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk is the only elected official in the race
and could win on that merit alone. He is also a poor fundraiser, showing only $12,000
in the bank.

This district should be in GOP hands, and it must be frustrating for party leaders
that they couldn’t come up with a better field in a year where the political
environment favors them. Whoever wins the GOP nomination will have a lot of work to
do to give Carney a challenge.

11th district

Incumbent: Paul Kanjorski (D)

11th district (52 percent)

Outlook: Leans Democratic

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta (R) is making his third bid against Kanjorski, and
this time he could be successful — if voters aren’t tired of watching him

Barletta ran against Kanjorski in 2002, but his campaign was lackluster and he
could not defeat Kanjorski in what was otherwise a good year for Republicans.

In 2008, Barletta was favored to defeat Kanjorski but lost by a 4-point margin in
a year that favored Democrats.

Barletta’s fundraising has been strong but not overwhelming since he got
into the race, but that might not matter so much this time around. If Republicans win
at the top of the ticket in the gubernatorial and Senate contests, Barletta could
ride the wave to victory.

Kanjorski has a primary challenge from Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey
O’Brien, but the Congressman is expected to win. While O’Brien has run a
spirited campaign, his fundraising dried up and he had only about $37,000 in the bank
with three weeks to go before the primary.

12th district

Vacancy: John Murtha (D) died

Outlook: Tossup

This special election has attracted a great deal of national attention. Whoever
the winner is, he will have to fight to keep his seat in November in this competitive

Businessman Tim Burns (R) and former Congressional aide Mark Critz (D), who worked
for Murtha, are competing in the special election Tuesday and also for the nomination
to vie for a full term in November.

Public polling has shown the race tied or with Burns having a small lead; however,
elevated Democratic turnout could give Critz a boost to victory.

Perhaps more importantly, this race has major national implications for both
parties. Both national parties have spent considerably on this race, and a victory
will be an important morale builder for the rank-and-file troops. If Burns wins,
Republicans can claim momentum headed into the midterm elections. If Critz wins,
Democrats can claim victory on their legislative agenda and will have some evidence
to back up their assertion that they aren’t headed for a complete drubbing at
the polls this fall.

15th district

Incumbent: Charlie Dent (R)

3rd term (59 percent)

Outlook: Leans Republican

Even though Democrats on the national ticket won this district in 2004 and 2008,
Dent won with 59 percent in both of those cycles. This is a competitive district for
Democrats, and they appear to have finally found a good candidate.

Democrats asked Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan repeatedly if he would challenge
Dent, but he only agreed to it this cycle. And while this might be the hardest cycle
in which to run as a Democrat in several years, party strategists are happy to have
him on the ballot.

So far, Callahan has proved his worth: He’s raised $943,000 so far, which is
more than Dent (although the Congressman has a little more in the bank).

This will be one of the most competitive races of the cycle and a test to see just
how Democratic Pennsylvania has become in recent cycles.

West Virginia

Filing Deadline: Passed | Primary: Passed


1st district

Open seat: Alan Mollohan (D) lost in the primary

Outlook: Tossup

Republican strategists were eager to face Mollohan in the fall in large part
because questions about his ethical behavior and his vote for a Democratic-written
health care law made him very vulnerable. But Mollohan was decisively beaten in last
week’s primary by state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who questioned Mollohan’s
integrity in office and ran as a conservative Democrat who focused on reducing the
federal debt.

Though Democrats are now fielding a more electable candidate, the general election
between Oliverio and Republican nominee David McKinley, a former state legislator and
West Virginia GOP chairman, should still be very competitive.

President Barack Obama’s lagging popularity in this part of the country
could be a drag on the Democrats, and McKinley has described his upcoming race with
Oliverio as a “referendum” on the Obama administration and the policies of the
Democratic leadership, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).

But Oliverio’s opposition to abortion, gun control, the health care law and
a climate change bill, as well as a recent pronouncement that he’s hoping for a
better candidate for Speaker next year, will make it difficult to link him to
national Democrats. Republicans say they will begin looking for vulnerability in
Oliverio’s 18 years of state legislative votes.

Recent Stories

‘Unholy alliance’: Congress needs to act as global crises threaten West

Figures, Dobson win runoffs in redrawn Alabama district

Fundraising shows Democrats prepping for battle in both chambers

Senate readies for Mayorkas impeachment showdown

Panel pitches NDAA plan to improve troops’ quality of life

Biden pitches tax plan in Pennsylvania as Trump stews in court