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Mid-Atlantic

Delaware

Filing deadline: July 25
Primary: Sept. 9

Senate

Incumbent: Joseph Biden (D)
6th term (58 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

After abandoning his long-shot presidential bid in January, Biden has yet to say for sure if he’s seeking another Senate term. But if he does — which seems likely — he’ll win easily.

If, however, Biden were to make a surprise retirement announcement, his son, state Attorney General Beau Biden, could be a contender on the Democratic side. Republicans would likely get moderate Rep. Mike Castle to run, and he’d be the favorite against the younger Biden or most any other Democrat.

House

At-large
Incumbent: Mike Castle (R)
8th term (57 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Castle, the state’s former governor, is a long-serving Republican in a very blue state, but the eight-term Member will likely keep his seat as long as he wants it.

Even though the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made noise about challenging Castle and the state’s Democratic registration is far outpacing Republican numbers, the highly popular Congressman isn’t in danger this year.

In fact, Castle already is the longest-serving House Member in state history, and it seems the only thing that might keep him from extending that record is another health problem. Castle suffered two small strokes late in his 2006 campaign but went on to an 18-point victory that November.

One other possible factor that could keep Castle from a ninth term is if Sen. Joseph Biden (D) were to make an unlikely retirement announcement, in which case Castle would be the obvious Republican choice in an open-seat Senate race.

Maryland

Filing deadline: Passed
Primary: Passed

House

1st district
Open seat: Wayne Gilchrest lost in the Republican primary
Outlook: Likely Republican

After fending off repeated attempts to end his Congressional career, the politically moderate Gilchrest finally succumbed to a primary challenge from his right in February.

But the triumph of conservative state Sen. Andy Harris could be short-lived — even in a Republican stronghold like the 1st district — if the Democratic nominee, Queen Anne’s County States Attorney Frank Kratovil, can pick up moderates and take advantage of the lingering bitterness from the nasty three-way GOP primary.

It’s an uphill battle, but Kratovil is working hard to sell himself as the ideological heir to Gilchrest. Two former top aides for Gilchrest already are working for Kratovil and, perhaps most importantly, Gilchrest himself has all but said he would not endorse Harris in the general election.

But Harris, who was backed by the conservative Club for Growth in his primary, now is reaching out to moderate groups, including the Republican Main Street Partnership, as he looks to the general election. The RMSP supported Gilchrest in the primary but has said it will now back Harris.

Meanwhile, first-quarter fundraising numbers showed Harris outraising Kratovil and having more in the bank, despite his tougher and far more expensive primary race.

4th district
Open seat: Albert Wynn lost the Democratic primary and is resigning
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Wynn suffered a devastating 25-point defeat at the hands of nonprofit executive Donna Edwards (D) in February. Now Edwards, who was backed by several powerful liberal groups, is the prohibitive favorite to win the general election over computer consultant Peter James (R).

But six weeks after his primary loss, Wynn announced he would resign in June to take a lucrative job at a Washington, D.C., law firm.

To fill the seat quickly, the Maryland General Assembly gave Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) the authority to hold a special election — without holding a primary — on June 17.

That special election will presumably put Edwards in office several months early and allow her to accrue seniority over freshmen who come to Capitol Hill for the 111th Congress.

New Jersey

Filing deadline: Passed for Democrats and Republicans, June 3 for Independents
Primary: June 3

Senate

Incumbent: Frank Lautenberg (D)
1st term (54 percent; previously served three terms)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Rep. Robert Andrews’ 11th-hour decision to challenge Lautenberg in the Democratic primary set off a family feud among Garden State Democrats.

That division mostly has fallen along geographical lines, with Andrews solidifying support in Camden and the southern part of the state and the 84-year-old incumbent holding down the Democratic-heavy north.

Andrews has some influential party leaders on his side and will be promoting his relative youth — he’s 50. But Lautenberg has money, name recognition and institutional support. In fact, the rest of Andrews’ Garden State Democratic House colleagues have stuck with Lautenberg — be it because of their genuine love for the man or their own interests in taking his Senate seat one day — and they have called on Andrews to end his upstart bid for the good of the party.

With both sides digging in, this fight could get ugly. But the Democrat who wins — and the race still is Lautenberg’s to lose — will almost certainly prevail.

On the Republican side, GOP leaders were high on Anne Evans Estabrook, a political moderate, real estate developer and former head of the state Chamber of Commerce, but she dropped out of the race in early March after suffering a mini-stroke. Then financial consultant and former Goya Foods executive Andy Unanue got in the race, only to end his candidacy less than a week after the April filing deadline had passed. So Republican leaders gave his spot on the ballot to 63-year-old former Rep. Dick Zimmer. Zimmer was the GOP Senate nominee in 1996. He was beaten in that race by Democrat Robert Torricelli by 10 points.

Zimmer, who has the party establishment behind him, will face conservative state Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio and college professor Murray Sabrin in the GOP primary.

House

1st district
Open seat: Robert Andrews (D) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Andrews’ last-minute decision to challenge Sen. Frank Lautenberg in the Democratic primary left party leaders scrambling to find a replacement in his heavily Democratic Camden-based district.

Andrews’ wife, Camille Andrews, an associate dean at Rutgers University School of Law, was tapped by party bosses to file as his replacement. But many political insiders view her as a placeholder whose spot on the ballot guarantees that those same party leaders can eventually fill the slot with whomever they wish — maybe even the Congressman himself, assuming he loses the primary to Lautenberg.

In the meantime, Camille Andrews will face two unknown opponents in her Democratic primary race. But with the local party machine at her back, she isn’t expected to have much trouble.

2nd district
Incumbent: Frank LoBiondo (R)
7th term (62 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Cape May Councilman David Kurkowski (D) entered the race to take on LoBiondo just before April’s filing deadline.

But Kurkowski is the party’s backup choice after state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D) said he would not run. State and national party leaders have been keen on Van Drew, who was Minority Leader of the New Jersey Assembly before being elected to the state Senate last year in one of the state’s most competitive races.

Even without Van Drew in the race, LoBiondo has to be on guard in a district that President Bush won by fewer than 2,500 votes in 2004. LoBiondo had amassed a massive $1.4 million war chest by the end of the first quarter of the year.

3rd district
Open seat: Jim Saxton (R) is retiring
Outlook: Leans Democratic

After 13 terms, Saxton’s retirement gave Democrats a juicy target in this south-central New Jersey district that went for President Bush in 2004 by just 8,000 votes.

State Sen. John Adler is a formidable candidate and he is not being challenged in the Democratic primary. Besides his high name recognition, Adler has the experience of having run for this seat once before, in 1990, when he lost to Saxton by 19 points. He’s sure to do a lot better this time around.

Meanwhile, Republicans are split between Lockheed Martin Vice President Chris Myers — who has Saxton’s support and that of two out of the three Republican county parties in the district — and Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly.

Any sort of Republican primary battle isn’t good news, especially when the winner will have to face the well-funded Adler, who raised more than $500,000 in the first quarter of the year and ended with more than $1 million in cash on hand. Both Myers and Kelly reported a little more than $280,000 at the end of March.

5th district
Incumbent: Scott Garrett (R)
3rd term (55 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Although the 5th district does include several liberal communities, Garrett beat former gubernatorial aide Paul Aronsohn (D) by 11 points in 2006, and President Bush won the district with 57 percent of the vote in 2004. But Democrats say the anti-incumbent, anti-Republican environment makes Garrett a ripe target this year in northern New Jersey.

In a lively Democratic primary battle, Dennis Shulman, a Harvard-educated psychologist and ordained rabbi who has been blind since he was a teenager, appears to be the frontrunner. He is facing businessman Roger Bacon and attorney and community activist Camille Abate in the primary. Abate is a repeat candidate who lost the primary two years ago to Aronsohn.

Shulman, whose fundraising prowess has not gone unnoticed by national Democrats, ended the first quarter of 2008 with $246,000 in cash on hand to Garrett’s $458,000.

7th district
Open seat: Mike Ferguson (R) is retiring
Outlook: Tossup

In what continues to be a narrowly split district, Democrats had been optimistic about state Assemblywoman Linda Stender’s chances this year, but they became downright giddy after Ferguson made a surprise announcement in November that he plans to retire at the end of his term.

The decision by the 37-year-old Congressman hands Democrats one of their best pickup opportunities of the cycle.

Stender lost by just 1 point to Ferguson in 2006, and she began ramping up her fundraising operation even before Ferguson disclosed his retirement plans. She has raised more than $1 million so far this cycle and had $845,000 in cash on hand as of the end of the first quarter.

Meanwhile, Republicans are facing a battle between two top-tier candidates in the GOP primary: state Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance and Kate Whitman, the 30-year-old daughter of former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R).

Whitman reported more than $307,000 at the end of the first quarter while Lance had $256,000 in cash on hand.

New York

Filing deadline: July 10
Primary: Sept. 9

House

13th district
Incumbent: Vito Fossella (R)
6th term (57 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Democrats always talk big about knocking off Fossella, the lone Republican in the massive New York City delegation, but their efforts usually fizzle out well before Election Day.

This time, Democrats believe they have found the right candidate for Fossella’s conservative Staten Island-Brooklyn district in New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia. Recchia’s fundraising hasn’t been stellar — he collected $130,000 in the first three months of 2008 and finished with $325,000 in the bank — but then, neither has Fossella’s. The Congressman raised $150,000 in the period and banked just $248,000. There continue to be whispers out of New York and Capitol Hill that Fossella might be looking to do something else, and just as this preview was going to press, news began circulating that the Congressman had been arrested for drunk driving in Virginia.

Recchia, meanwhile, faces a Democratic primary race against lawyer Steve Harrison, Fossella’s 2006 challenger who remains surprisingly resilient despite limited resources and zero support from the national Democratic establishment.

19th district
Incumbent: John Hall (D)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

National Republicans’ interest in Hall’s Hudson Valley seat dropped dramatically when their prize recruit, businessman and philanthropist Andrew Saul, abruptly quit the race around Thanksgiving.

Now the leading GOP candidate probably is Westchester County Legislator George Oros, who was endorsed recently by former Gov. George Pataki (R), who lives in the district, and ex-Rep. Sue Kelly (R), whom Hall ousted in 2006. Iraq War veteran Kieran Michael Lalor is also seeking the Republican nomination.

Hall, a brainy former pop star, does not appear to have committed a fireable offense, and his district is trending Democratic anyway. Republicans appear to have stopped recruiting there.

Through March 31, the incumbent had more than $1.1 million in the bank; Lalor had $63,000 and Oros had $60,000.

20th district
Incumbent: Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
1st term (53 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Even with a top-tier opponent in an upstate district that leans Republican, Gillibrand seems strong. She has proved to be a prodigious fundraiser with boundless energy, and she has made herself ubiquitous in her large district — even as she raises her opponents’ hackles by raising money (from Americans) overseas.

Gillibrand raised more than $600,000 in the first quarter of 2008 and finished March with more than $2.4 million on hand.

Her likely GOP opponent is ex-New York Secretary of State Sandy Treadwell, a former state GOP chairman who is personally wealthy. Treadwell has seeded his campaign with almost $1 million from his own pocket, and he is methodically lining up the support of local Republican leaders. But the endorsement of the small but influential New York Conservative Party isn’t guaranteed yet, Treadwell still faces a primary against two lesser-known Republicans, and his $929,000 in cash on hand — while impressive for a challenger — doesn’t begin to compare to the Gillibrand juggernaut.

Gillibrand was one of the fluke winners of 2006, having run against a badly damaged incumbent, and she can’t take anything for granted. But she’s looking formidable right now.

21st district
Open seat: Mike McNulty (D) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Democratic

With all the seasoned and skilled politicians in the Albany area, the wonder is that more big-name Democrats aren’t seeking McNulty’s seat, which is vacant for only the second time in half a century.

For months, the frontrunner was Tracey Brooks (D), the former capital region office director for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) who entered the race as soon as Clinton won the New York presidential primary in February. Brooks has many of McNulty’s politically powerful family members already in her corner.

But at press time, former state Assemblyman Paul Tonko (D) was poised to enter the race and will be a serious contender. Although a handful of other Democrats are running, the most noteworthy besides Brooks and Tonko is Albany County Legislator Phil Steck.

On the Republican side, the leading candidate is Schenectady County Legislator Jim Buhrmaster.

24th district
Incumbent: Michael Arcuri (D)
1st term (54 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Republicans are waiting for word from wealthy construction company owner Richard Hanna on whether he will challenge Arcuri. If he does, the race could be reasonably competitive, even though the Utica-based district appears to be trending Democratic. If he doesn’t, Arcuri, who won by a surprisingly wide margin in 2006, should skate to re-election.

25th district
Open seat: Jim Walsh (R) is retiring
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Walsh won time and time again despite the Democratic lean of his Syracuse-based district. He had his toughest race ever in 2006 when he beat former Capitol Hill staffer Dan Maffei (D) by just 2 points.

After Election Day 2006, Maffei basically never stopped running, and now, with Walsh’s decision to retire, he seems poised to be elected to Congress. Republicans have two credible candidates running in state Assemblyman Bob Oaks and former Onondaga County Legislator Dale Sweetland. How their nomination fight shakes out remains to be seen.

But the district may simply be too Democratic, and Maffei may have gotten too big a head start, for either Republican to be a serious contender in November. This looks like one of House Democrats’ best pickup opportunities.

26th district
Open seat: Tom Reynolds (R) is retiring
Outlook: Tossup

Reynolds has been a fixture in Western New York politics for three decades, so his surprising retirement announcement in late March still is hard for state and local political insiders to digest.

After several easy victories, Reynolds had two surprisingly tough scuffles in 2004 and 2006 with Jack Davis (D), a millionaire factory owner who made his opposition to free-trade agreements and illegal immigration the cornerstone of his campaigns. Now, with Reynolds leaving, House Democrats smell another pickup opportunity in the Empire State, a place where they have done very well in recent cycles.

But it isn’t clear who will carry the Democratic mantle into November. Davis, who is 75 years old and by most accounts a very unconventional candidate, is trying again and has pledged to spend $3 million of his own money on the race. (Davis, incidentally, has taken his challenge of the legality of the “Millionaires’ Amendment” of campaign finance law to the Supreme Court.)

But he faces a potentially formidable opponent in Jon Powers (D), an Iraq War veteran who is two generations younger than Davis and appears to be the choice of most national Democratic leaders. Attorney Alice Kryzan also is seeking the Democratic nomination.

All three Democrats caught a break when Kathy Hochul, the popular and politically connected Erie County clerk, recently announced that she would not seek the seat. Most party leaders in the district have lined up behind Powers, but a primary fight seems inevitable.

The Republican race is tough to read at this point, with two wealthy political neophytes, Christopher Lee and Rick Lewis, the apparent frontrunners.

Author and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia is also seeking the GOP nod.

Just how the GOP nomination battle shakes out is tough to predict. The New York Conservative Party, which seems to favor Lewis, may have a say.

Although this district leans Republican in most elections, the race to replace Reynolds seems like a pure tossup at this point.

29th district
Incumbent: Randy Kuhl (R)
2nd term (51 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Kuhl should not be in this position.

The sprawling Southern Tier district is one of the most Republican in the state, and Kuhl spent two dozen years in the state Legislature before his election to Congress.

Yet Kuhl is not a warm and fuzzy figure, to say the least, and his fundraising has been sluggish. His Democratic challenger, retired Navy officer Eric Massa, was raw and untested in 2006 and still finished just 2 points behind the incumbent. This time he seems to be running a much savvier campaign, and he has all the Democratic institutional and activist support lined up behind him.

Through March 31, Massa had $565,000 in the bank compared with Kuhl’s $366,000. The incumbent raised just $112,000 in the first three months of the year.

Given the district’s demographics, Kuhl could still win. But he is in big trouble right now.

Pennsylvania

Filing deadline: Passed
Primary: Passed

House

3rd district
Incumbent: Phil English (R)
7th term (54 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Looking at the numbers, this northwestern Pennsylvania district should be competitive for Democrats. Despite being a longtime Member, English won with just 54 percent of the vote in 2006 against a little-known, badly underfunded Democrat.

But can the Democrats ever find a candidate who will really make English sweat?

This cycle, party leaders initially backed an Erie County councilman, who ended up running a poor campaign and losing to businesswoman Kathy Dahlkemper in the April 22 Democratic primary.

Dahlkemper is the first serious candidate to take on English in a long time. Her fundraising is not overwhelming, but she put together a solid operation in the primary. She also can count on a boost from presidential turnout in Pennsylvania, which has voted Democratic in the past few White House elections.

English might always be considered vulnerable because of the political makeup of his industrial district, but it’s hard to see how he loses his seat without a scandal or another damaging surprise coming to light. Dahlkemper has a chance if she can put together a strong campaign and has the financial backing of the national party, but this race, as always, is English’s to lose.

4th district
Incumbent: Jason Altmire (D)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Former Rep. Melissa Hart (R) is back this cycle, and this time she’s not afraid to go negative after refusing to do so in the 2006 race. Hart’s decision not to engage Altmire last time, along with her close association with the unpopular then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R), proved to be her undoing.

Hart appears to have significant support from Washington, D.C., for her rematch, raising a great deal of money inside the Beltway and bringing out big names such as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) to campaign for her in the district.

Nonetheless, Altmire supporters believe this will be an uphill battle for Hart, who has to show voters in suburban Pittsburgh that the freshman Congressman deserves to be fired.

5th district
Open seat: John Peterson (R) is retiring
Outlook: Likely Republican

After winning one of the strangest and most expensive primaries in state history, Glenn Thompson (R) is on track to win this seat in November.

The former chairman of the Republican Party in Centre County, the largest county in the district, barely won the nine-way GOP contest. In the waning days of the campaign, Peterson’s endorsement carried a poorly funded Thompson across the finish line. Spending around $20,000 on the primary, he defeated two well-funded millionaire businessmen with a range of personal and legal problems by about 1,000 votes.

Democratic leaders initially were high on one of their candidates in the race, but former journalist Bill Cahir lost to Clearfield County Commissioner Mark McCraken in the primary. Democrats had a chance if one of the two damaged millionaire Republicans won the nomination. But barring some kind of scandal coming to light, Thompson should be fine.

6th district
Incumbent: Jim Gerlach (R)
3rd term (51 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

For a while it looked like Gerlach would get a free pass for 2008. He defeated attorney Lois Murphy (D) by microscopic margins in the past two cycles, yet Democrats had a hard time coming up with a worthy candidate for this suburban Philadelphia district that has voted Democratic in the past two presidential elections.

After both high- and low-profile Democratic candidates turned down the opportunity, the party eventually settled on businessman Bob Roggio. Although he is completely untested electorally, some Democratic strategists believe Roggio has the geographical base in Chester County and the background to give Gerlach a tough race.

But Democrats might also be tired of dumping millions into this district after doing so three cycles in a row.

7th district
Incumbent: Joe Sestak (D)
1st term (56 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Sestak has been a fundraising machine since he was elected in 2006, raising $2.4 million through early April. It’s going to be difficult for cash-strapped national Republicans to compete with a campaign bank account like that.

After facing the prospect of an empty slot on the ballot in 2008, Republicans recruited former Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Williams to run against Sestak.

But so far he’s shown he’s not on the same tier as some of the other Republican in the state that national party leaders have referred to as their top recruits.

And while Williams’ fundraising has been decent, so far it doesn’t appear to be on the level that a challenger needs it to be to take on moneybags Sestak.

8th district
Incumbent: Patrick Murphy (D)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

National Republicans are excited about retired Marine Corps Col. Tom Manion. And so far, he’s proved to be worthy of their attention by raising more than $400,000 in the first three months of the year.

Murphy won his first term in one of the closest races in the country in the previous cycle. But since then, he’s been doing all the right things when it comes to fundraising and constituent services.

What’s more, Murphy has become something of a mini-Democratic celebrity as the one and only Iraq War veteran elected to Congress and as a top surrogate in his home state for the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). But that’s also why Manion, whose son died in Iraq, could present a unique and complicated challenge to Murphy.

10th district
Incumbent: Christopher Carney (D)
1st term (53 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

After winning a very negative primary against another millionaire businessman who outspent him, Chris Hackett has earned the honor of facing one of House Republicans’ No. 1 targets in November.

Hackett presents a unique Republican profile for the district. He’s an outsider who has never held political office, but he has the backing of the Club for Growth.

Hackett also can put more money into his campaign this fall if necessary. He’ll need it, too, because Carney had raised a whopping $1.3 million for the cycle through March 31.

The district is one of the most Republican in the state, but Carney won it in 2006 after a scandal erupted surrounding then-Rep. Don Sherwood (R). Even if Carney wins again this November, in a heavily Republican district he’ll have to work hard to defend his seat every cycle.

11th district
Incumbent: Paul Kanjorski (D)
12th term (72 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Republicans scored major bonus points for recruiting Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta for this district. That’s because if anyone can defeat Kanjorski, it’s Barletta.

Known for enacting tough anti-immigration policies in his town, Barletta is extremely popular. He was nominated by both Democrats and Republicans for his mayoral re-election in November.

Kanjorski has not had a good challenge since the last time Barletta ran against him, in 2002. But it’s also still difficult to see how such an entrenched Member like Kanjorski loses in a presidential year.

15th district
Incumbent: Charlie Dent
2nd term (54 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Insiders had many reasons to doubt Allentown Democratic Chairwoman Sam Bennett’s chances for victory this cycle. Her early fundraising was anemic and her campaign all but nonexistent.

Since the turn of the year, however, Democrats say Bennett has gotten her act together. Her campaign raised a respectable $118,000 through early April, an improvement over the $104,000 she raised in the last quarter of 2007.

Democratic presidential candidates carried the Lehigh Valley district in both 2000 and 2004, giving the party hopes for taking it over someday. But past attempts to win the seat with candidates who were hyped more frequently than Bennett proved fruitless. Dent is a very lucky man.

18th district
Incumbent: Tim Murphy (R)
3rd term (58 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

This suburban Pittsburgh district could be competitive with the right Democratic candidate facing Murphy, who has yet to have a real challenge for his seat.

The local party’s choice, businessman Steve O’Donnell (D), won the contested primary over consultant Beth Hafer (D), who had high name identification because of her mother, a former statewide official. Local Democrats say they chose O’Donnell because he appeared to be the better candidate to challenge Murphy this fall — but the $260,000 he poured into his own campaign likely helped his case.

Insiders point to the fact that Murphy has never had to fight for his seat as proof that he’s vulnerable. Like his former colleague in a neighboring district, ex-Rep. Melissa Hart (R), Murphy could be caught off guard in the waning weeks of his campaign. But most of all, it depends on the quality of O’Donnell’s campaign. So far, the Democrat is relatively untested on the campaign trail.

West Virginia

Filing deadline: Passed
Primary: May 13

Senate

Incumbent: Jay Rockefeller (D)
4th term (63 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

With $3.8 million in the bank as of March 31, a vast family fortune at his fingertips and no serious opposition in his way, Rockefeller should cruise to victory again this year.

In early 2007, 2nd district Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s name was mentioned as a potential challenger by some state Republicans, but Capito announced last spring that she would seek another term in the House. Two-time Senate candidate Jay Wolfe, a former state Senator, has taken up the GOP mantle again this cycle, but Rockefeller should have little trouble dispatching him again.

House

1st district
Incumbent: Alan Mollohan (D)
13th term (64 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Despite an ongoing federal investigation into his finances, no major party candidate filed against Mollohan by the January deadline. As such, the entrenched appropriator who hasn’t been in a close election in more than 20 years should cruise to victory unless the investigation turns very bad for the Congressman before November.

Mollohan reportedly is being probed for funneling millions of federal dollars to nonprofit groups in his district whose leaders include campaign contributors to the Congressman or people with close ties to him.

Although Mollohan has not been charged with any crime, he did step down from his post on the House ethics committee in 2006 as a result of the investigation. Mollohan has spent tens of thousands of dollars from his campaign account on legal fees — but he won’t need any cash for his political operation this year.

2nd district
Incumbent: Shelley Moore Capito (R)
4th term (57 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

House Democrats lost one of their most touted recruits of the cycle when state Sen. John Unger opted out of the 2nd district race in January on the last day to file for office in the Mountain State. But they have been quick to talk up the woman who hastily jumped into the race, Anne Barth, a former top aide to beloved Sen. Robert Byrd (D).

By the time he dropped out, Unger had raised an unimpressive $126,000 for the race in a Republican-leaning district where President Bush won 57 percent of the vote in 2004.

Republicans touted Unger’s aborted candidacy as a signal of just how strong Capito is in a district where Democrats repeatedly have tried and failed to knock her off.

But Byrd has given Barth his wholehearted endorsement, which could mean everything in West Virginia.

Despite his physical decline, Byrd has appeared at fundraisers on Barth’s behalf. In a little more than two months, Barth raised more than $330,000 for her campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted her race in its “Red to Blue” fundraising and infrastructure program.

She’ll need all the help she can get. Capito reported more than $926,000 in cash on hand in her first-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission.

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