- Edwards Releases Senate Fundraising Totals
- Academics Say Higher Education Prepared Them for Higher Office
- Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Mountain Region
- Top Races to Watch in 2016: New England
- Top Races in 2016: The Midwest
Frequently mentioned as a possible replacement to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) whenever Reid leaves Congress, Durbin is expected to skate to a third term in November. Further helping him: the increasing likelihood that fellow home-state Sen. Barack Obama will sit atop the Democratic ticket.
But Durbin, who had more than $7.5 million in the bank as of March 31, may have to contend with widespread voter discontent with controversy-plagued Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). The governor, who is not up for re-election this year, continues to face corruption allegations. He could become a liability for Durbin and Land of Lincoln Democratic House candidates if a recall measure winds up on the ballot legislation that is making its way through the state Assembly.
La Grange physician Steve Sauerberg (R) is the lone challenger on the ballot. He had about $1 million in the bank on March 31 after recently cutting his campaign a big check.
Considered a competitive district just two years ago, poor recruiting by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a solid first term by Roskam may be edging the district out of reach for Democrats.
Roskam in 2006 battled up to Election Day with Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraq War veteran and a top recruit of then-DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). But Duckworth passed on a rematch and House Democrats reached out to Jill Morgenthaler, a retired Army colonel and another Iraq War vet.
So far, Morgenthaler has proved to be a lukewarm candidate and a mediocre fundraiser, raising just $300,000 all cycle and sitting on just $163,000 in cash at the end of March. Roskam, in contrast, had raised $1.4 million and had $967,000 on hand.
Beans suburban Chicago district is a GOP nuisance, wrapped in a headache, inside of a nightmare. President Bush won the district handily twice, but Bean won the seat in 2004 by narrowly beating a longtime GOP incumbent; since then, its become a sore subject for Republicans.
In the previous cycle, the GOP cast its lot with self-funder David McSweeney, a poor campaigner who spent $5 million-plus to get 44 percent of the vote. Until recently, the National Republican Congressional Committee was hyping local businessman Steve Greenberg, a 40-ish wealthy former professional hockey player.
But a recent New York Times profile of NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) combined with his own dismal first-quarter fundraising numbers have made Greenberg the poster boy for current NRCC ills.
In the piece, Cole called Greenberg a top recruit. But weeks later, Greenberg admitted he hasnt done much fundraising and his top political hand quit the campaign.
He also disclosed his first-quarter cash total: $5,000.
Bean had $1.35 million in the bank going into the homestretch and had raised more than $2.2 million for the cycle. Democrats also like new-voter turnout totals from Marchs special election in now-Rep. Bill Fosters (D) district, which they suggest shows that Democratic turnout will be up everywhere in the Land of Lincoln.
Kirk continues to break fundraising records this cycle, an acknowledgement that hes expecting the fight of his Congressional career this fall in the rematch with marketing consultant Dan Seals (D).
The incumbent has raised almost $3 million so far, finishing out the first quarter with almost $2.3 million in the bank. But Seals, who spent heavily and lost in the previous cycle albeit without much help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is well on his way to surpass the $1.9 million he raised in the last go-round.
Seals primary with Clinton White House aide Jay Footlik (D) flamed out; Footlik, a competent fundraiser, never emerged as a credible candidate despite spending $640,000.
Soon after Seals Super Tuesday primary victory, his campaign released a survey showing Kirk with a slight lead. In a ballot test of 400 likely voters conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group Feb. 7-8, Kirk was ahead 46 percent to 39 percent, with 15 percent undecided.
The survey had a 5-point margin of error.
Since then, the DCCC has added Seals to its Red to Blue infrastructure and fundraising program, and Seals should benefit further from the likely presence of Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) at the top of the Democratic ticket.
Weller called it quits last fall after the Chicago Tribune profiled his questionable land deals in Nicaragua. Republicans quickly enlisted New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann, a once-promising recruit who won the Super Tuesday primary.
But Baldermann soon bowed out after proving to be a reluctant fundraiser. Democrats cleared the field early for state Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson, and she has since raised more than $860,000.
Since Baldermanns departure, local GOP bosses sorted through dozens of possible ballot replacements and finally decided on Martin Ozinga, a wealthy local concrete contractor, as his successor. The selection of Ozinga, however, could prove to be a risky bet for his party. An untested candidate and fundraiser, he is not expected to devote more than a few hundred thousand dollars of his own money to the race. And Ozingas questionable use of Chicago set-aside contracts for minority businesses also has been scrutinized by local media.
But Halvorsons path to victory in November is not without obstacles of its own. Republicans already are blasting her for ties to Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), whose scandal-dogged administration may provide some much needed help in 2008 for Land of Lincoln Republicans and perhaps in no place more than in Wellers central Illinois district.
Fosters unexpected special election upset in March over Chicagoland dairy magnate Jim Oberweis (R) continues to haunt Republicans, who watched a safe GOP seat evaporate in a matter of months.
Democrats now have the wind at their backs, and it remains to be seen whether Oberweis, who is set for a rematch with Foster and House Republicans, who have turned bearish on his nomination will continue to devote the many more millions of dollars it likely would take to win back the seat.
After all, Oberweis has spent millions of dollars in recent years to lose four high-profile races, and the National Republican Congressional Committee spent heavily to defend this seat in the ill-fated special election.
Republicans are hailing a bright star emanating from Peoria, where 26-year-old GOP wunderkind state Rep. Aaron Schock continues to turn heads. He raised $1.1 million by April 1 and had $188,000 in cash after the primary.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee officials thought they had their man with former Indiana Pacers coach Dick Versace, a celebrity from his coaching days at local Bradley University.
But Versace unexpectedly dropped out late last year and Democrats recently replaced him with local farm broadcast personality Colleen Callahan, who has posted respectable fundraising numbers since, but came to the race late in the game.
Callahan has raised about $138,000 so far and had $108,000 in the bank as of April 1.
Outlook: Likely Democratic
After originally dismissing a campaign for Congress, businessman Luke Puckett (R) decided to go for it and take on Donnelly. He must first get through a Republican primary against two minor, little-known candidates.
The 2nd district is an awkward one for Republicans, stretching from South Bend all the way to rural southern counties. Puckett might get a boost from presidential year turnout in Indiana, which likely will vote Republican as a state in 2008. But Hoosier State voters are known for their ticket-splitting ways, which means that Donnelly more than likely is headed for re-election.
Burton has a credible primary challenge from former Marion County Coroner John McGoff (R). In one of the most Republican districts in the country, thats probably the only way Burton could lose his seat.
McGoff has slammed Burton for playing in a celebrity golf tournament during Congressional voting. Whats more interesting, however, is that Burton has responded, first by going on the air with a very positive television advertisement at the beginning of the year and later responding directly to McGoff with a negative radio ad.
The winner of the May 6 primary, likely Burton, almost surely will keep the seat in Republican hands this November.
In one of the strangest electoral sequences this cycle, Carson won the March special election to serve out the term vacated by his grandmother, the late Rep. Julia Carson (D).
Meanwhile, three Democratic primary candidates were waiting in the wings to challenge Carson in the May 6 primary for a full term: state Rep. David Orentlicher, state Rep. Carolene Mays and former state Health Commissioner Woody Myers.
Myers wasted no time dumping a great deal of his own cash into the race, topping $1.2 million in self-funding with two weeks to go before the primary. A poll conducted for his campaign about two weeks out showed those television buys paid off, putting him within striking distance of Carson.
Carson will benefit, however, from his famous name, the expected large voter turnout because of the heated presidential primary, which draws more casual voters to the polls, and the fact that the Democratic White House frontrunner, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), cut a late radio spot for him.
The winner of the primary will face state Rep. Jon Elrod (R), whom Carson defeated in the March special election. The district, however, is expected to remain in Democratic hands this November.
Ellsworth defeated the Republican incumbent easily in 2006, making him the freshman Democrat least likely to be targeted by Republicans in the Hoosier State. While there was initially some GOP hope for university lobbyist Greg Goode, so far his fundraising has been lackluster.
The district, which voted for President Bush with 62 percent in 2004, emulates the states history of ticket-splitting. Ellsworth is on track to keep his seat this fall.
In the merry-go-round election of the decade, Hill faces former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R) for a fourth time in 2008. This likely will be the most competitive House race in the state once again.
Hill had $991,000 in his campaign coffers through April 16, compared with Sodrels $309,000. But Sodrel also has the ability to throw some of his own money into this race. He did it in his first race for the seat in 2002, but he has not done so since. This cycle, hed like to stay away from the image of Millionaire Mike Sodrel that Democrats spent millions attaching to him in past campaigns.
Its also possible that voters are ready to throw in the towel on these two candidates, now that theyre on their fourth matchup. Sodrel has only won once, but it was in 2004, which was another presidential year.
Levins re-election chances got even easier this fall if thats possible. One of the two little-known Republicans running against him, 2006 nominee Andrew Rocky Raczkowski, declined to run again.
State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk is favored to win the GOP nomination against another little-known candidate, but its hard to imagine any scenario in which he wins this November.
Walberg, a freshman who barely won his seat against a Democratic nobody in 2006, just does not like to raise money that much is apparent by his fundraising totals. But he once again has the help of the Club for Growth this cycle, aiding his chances for re-election.
State Sen. Mark Schauer (D) initially declined to run for the seat, but later changed his mind. So far, hes proved to be a good fundraiser who finds a way to win in GOP districts. Hes outraised Walberg significantly in the past two financial quarters, and Democrats are excited about his prospects.
While the district naturally leans Republican, Walberg has yet to erase doubts about whether he can win a second term. Meanwhile, it seems Schauer is only building momentum, as this district has become Democrats best opportunity to pick up a seat in the Wolverine State.
Democrats have long touted former state Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters as a top-tier recruit in the state. Peters doesnt appear to have the momentum that his Democratic colleague in the 7th district has, but hes still a strong challenger.
Also, unlike the incumbent in the 7th district race, Knollenberg is a battle-tested campaigner and strong fundraiser with a proven track record of service to his district. Peters has a tough challenge this fall.
Meanwhile, Jack Kevorkian, otherwise known as Dr. Death after he was convicted and served jail time for assisted suicide, entered the race as an Independent. If Kevorkian makes it to the general election, its unclear what his effect will be. With such an unpredictable name on the ballot, Kevorkians could bring death to Knollenberg, but more likely to Peters.
In what might be the most competitive Senate race in the country this cycle, this campaign already has proved to be the most expensive so far. In a state that has been trending blue over the past few cycles, a moderate Republican like Coleman has a real race on his hands against comedian Al Franken (D).
Franken, despite initial doubts from Democratic leaders, has put together a solid campaign that recently forced his main primary opponent, attorney and 2000 Senate candidate Mike Ciresi (D), out of the race. Now only a minor challenge from anti-war activist and peace studies professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer stands in Frankens way of getting his partys endorsement this June.
Assuming that Franken is the Democratic nominee, Coleman will have a fight on his hands to win a second term. Publicly released polls have shown a dead heat and Franken even leading in some cases.
Coleman needs to make sure he isnt tied too closely to President Bush and conservative Republicans; Franken needs to make sure some of the more controversial statements hes made as a comedian and author dont come back to haunt him. Coleman is a tough and savvy politician, but Franken is proving to be no shrinking violet himself.
Its not a safe bet to put money on either candidate this cycle: The race and the state are too unpredictable. But you can bet your bottom dollar that this will be a particularly negative campaign, perhaps one of the nastiest in the country.
Freshman Walz so far does not appear to have a significant challenge on his hands for re-election in November, despite the Republican lean of his district.
Republicans had trouble settling on one of three candidates this spring. Even though the 1st district GOP endorsed Mayo Clinic physician Brian Davis, state Sen. Dick Day has decided to go against his party and run in the Republican primary on Sept. 9.
In other words, Republicans wont have their candidate until after the summer and will have a primary on their hands in the meantime. Davis has shown that hes willing to put his own money into the race, but Day has the benefit of being an elected official.
In a district like this, a GOP primary fight works to Walzs advantage.
Ramstads retirement is a major opportunity for Democrats, who have been salivating over his district for years. While this suburban district leans slightly to the right in presidential elections, Ramstad, a moderate, always won by large margins.
Republicans settled early on their nominee: state Rep. Erik Paulsen, a longtime member of the Legislature who so far has boasted great fundraising numbers. However, insiders see him as more conservative than Ramstad, and that could come into play in the general election.
Democrats initially had three candidates going for the nomination, but the party in April endorsed attorney and Iraq War veteran Ashwin Madia. Early on in the race, it appeared that state Sen. Terri Bonoff (D) was going to get her partys nod, but Madia came from behind with a lot of grass-roots support to win the nomination at the 3rd district convention.
Unlike Paulsen, Madia is fairly untested as a candidate. In the end, the candidate that appears the most moderate and the most like Ramstad likely will take this district in one of the most competitive races in the country this cycle.
Freshman Bachmann might have an easier time winning this time around, but it may not be of her own doing. Bachmann has made at least two well-publicized gaffes since taking office in 2007.
Democrats have chosen former state Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg as their candidate this cycle, and hes more conservative than 2006 Democratic nominee Patty Wetterling. The two Democrats also ran against each other in the 2006 nomination battle.
Its possible that the 6th district might still be too conservative for a Democrat to take it. But if any Democrat is conservative enough to win, its Tinklenberg.
Democrats had high hopes for their 2006 challenger, Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley, who ended up losing to Chabot by 4 points. It could be said that Democrats have even higher hopes now for state Rep. Steve Driehaus, who is a different kind of candidate.
Driehaus is a local and comes from a part of the district that could enable him to cut into Chabots base. He also opposes abortion rights; Cranley did not. So perhaps this is the year that Democrats really make Chabot sweat in the downtown Cincinnati district.
However, Democrats could not have asked for a better year in Ohio than 2006. Perhaps they have missed their chance because in a presidential turnout year, its unlikely the electoral circumstances will be so much in their favor in southern Ohio.
Considering this is her third stab at the seat, insiders have so far been somewhat disappointed with physician Victoria Wulsin (D), who was hampered earlier this cycle by a primary challenge from a wealthy attorney that included some of the most negative advertisements seen this cycle.
Despite this, however, she continues to raise more money than Schmidt, who has never been a fundraising powerhouse. Local Democrats and Republicans also have said that Schmidt has improved as a candidate over the three races that both women have run, while Wulsin has lagged behind.
Its also possible that Wulsin, who isnt the ideal candidate for the district, missed her best shot at the seat in 2006, when Democrats made huge gains across the state. Her task will be much more difficult in a presidential turnout year in the same region that arguably gave President Bush his re-election victory in 2004.
State Sen. Steve Austria (R) was hand-picked by Hobson to succeed him, and so far it seems Democrats are not getting in the way of this line of succession. The district leans heavily to the right but could be competitive for Democrats with the right candidate in the right year. President Bush carried the district with 57 percent in 2004.
Attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D) is running against Hobson in November and raised a humble $173,000 for the bid through March 31. Austria had raised $477,000, however, and its difficult to see this district going anything but Republican in 2008.
This district is once again home to one of the mostly hotly contested elections in the country this cycle. This time, however, its an open-seat race.
That should be an advantage for Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, who was the 2006 Democratic nominee and is running again after losing to Pryce by 1,000 votes. But Republicans are not ready to concede the seat: After what seemed like a never-ending search for a top-tier candidate, the GOP recruited state Sen. Steve Stivers to be Pryces opponent.
Stivers is arguably one of the National Republican Congressional Committees best recruits of the year. He initially turned down the chance to run but changed his mind last fall.
Kilroy has many things in her favor in 2008: She did not have a primary this cycle and does not need to raise her name identification. But its possible that she might have had a better chance against Pryce, who could have been painted as a Washington politician in what many observers foresee to be a change election.
Stivers, on the other hand, might be a Columbus insider, but doesnt necessarily have all the negatives that Pryce would have coming into 2008. His committee in the state Senate, banking and insurance, has also helped him raise money, though Kilroy has outraised him slightly in both quarters since he got into the race.
In a district that split evenly in the last White House election, this race should be a tossup to the end.
Regulas retirement gives Democrats a huge pickup opportunity. One of their most highly touted recruits of the cycle, state Sen. John Boccieri, stepped up to the plate to run for the seat. After a somewhat competitive primary, state Sen. Kirk Schuring became the Republican nominee.
National Republicans are not as high on Schuring as they are about other candidates in the state and across the country. Boccieri outraised him in the first quarter of this year, but Schuring had a primary to endure. Considering that Regula anointed Schuring before the primary, its a wonder why national dollars have not been sent his way more often.
The district voted for President Bush with 54 percent in 2004, but recent trends toward Democrats in Ohio make the national party optimistic that they can pick up this seat. Most of all, Democrats are confident that Boccieri, an anti-abortion Air Force Reserve pilot, is the right kind of candidate to win.
Space outraised his opponent, former state Agriculture Director Fred Dailey (R), by about five times in the first quarter of this year. Hes also got more than 27 times Daileys cash on hand.
Its hard to believe that the Congressman started the cycle with a big, fat target on his back.
Republicans tried to recruit for this district, but it appears all the top potential candidates serving in the state Legislature deferred until 2010, when they are term-limited out of the state House and Senate. The party was left with four candidates with poor fundraising in a GOP primary to take on Space in this Republican-leaning district. Dailey has held statewide office, but he has yet to show hes put together any kind of operation worth challenging Space.
Space won the seat in 2006 after then-Rep. Bob Ney (R) was sentenced to prison on corruption charges. Even if Republicans had recruited a top-tier candidate, Democrats might still have had the upper hand in a district still in recovery from the betrayal by their longtime Member.
Initially, Republicans were on full watch for Kagen, who started off his term with a few too many gaffes to make Democrats comfortable in 2008. After all, Kagen won this Republican district in the previous cycle mostly because he was willing to put a lot of his own money into the race.
Kagen is likely to do so again this year when he faces a rematch with former state Speaker John Gard, the 2006 Republican nominee. This time, his money could go even further without national Republicans pumping money into the race.
But so far, this race has been relatively quiet, especially compared to last time. Gard has kept up a decent fundraising pace for a second- time candidate, raising $194,000 in the first quarter of this year and finishing March with $428,000 in his bank account. Kagen raised $230,000 and had about $760,000 in cash on hand.