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New England

Connecticut| Maine | Massachusetts
New Hampshire | Rhode Island | Vermont

Connecticut

Filing deadline: June 10

Primary: Aug. 12

House

2nd district
Incumbent: Joe Courtney (D)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Courtney won the closest House race of 2006 by fewer than 100 votes, which sets him up for another challenging race against former Naval Cmdr. Sean Sullivan (R).

Republicans argue that Sullivan has a strong résumé for the district with his military background, but he had raised just $132,000 through the end of September, and Courtney had a huge cash advantage at that point, having raised $972,000.

The best thing Sullivan has going for him is just how close this race was last year. But this district gave Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) a 10-point advantage over President Bush in 2004, giving Courtney a major edge in his re-election campaign. If Courtney continues to have the fundraising edge, he’s got a very good chance of keeping his seat for a second term.

4th district
Incumbent: Christopher Shays (R)
11th term (51 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Shays narrowly escaped defeat the past two cycles against Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell (D). But the 2004 and 2006 Democratic nominee is not running this time, and instead Greenwich Democratic Town Committee Chairman Jim Himes (D) is taking a stab at Shays in 2008.

Himes is well-connected financially because of his career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. He raised $263,000 in the third quarter of the year and finished September with $547,000 in cash on hand. Shays had a comparable number in the bank with about $594,000 in cash on hand, $362,000 of which he raised in the third reporting period.

Himes, who grew up in Latin America and has been involved in local anti-poverty programs, believes he is uniquely equipped to reach the district’s black and Latino voters in ways that other Democratic candidates haven’t.

Shays is the only Republican House Member left in New England, and some observers wonder if Democrats missed their chance to take him down in the great wave of 2006. But some Democrats say Farrell herself was to blame for her double losses.

Shays seems to have found the formula for victory. If he can keep reminding voters of his independent streak and not get outspent in 2008, he might be able to hold onto his seat for another term.

5th district
Incumbent: Christopher Murphy (D)
1st term (56 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

State Sen. David Cappiello (R) is all the things a Republican needs to be in this district — a social moderate, anti-war fiscal conservative with a solid background in the state Senate. Although he had a weak third quarter for fundraising, he has managed to raise $269,000 through Sept. 30. That number is healthy to start, but still small compared with Murphy’s $944,000 in cash on hand.

Murphy is a savvy, attractive young pol who really hasn’t committed a fireable offense. It’s also hard to believe that any Republican could win this district, after longtime Rep. Nancy Johnson (R), who seemed to fit it so well, was ousted by Murphy in 2006. But Cappiello is the best challenger Republicans have in the state when it comes to fundraising and electoral chances.

Maine
Filing deadline: March 15
Primary: June 10

Senate

Incumbent: Susan Collins (R)
2nd term (58 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

Maine’s younger sister is up for re-election this cycle and should expect much more of a fight from Rep. Tom Allen (D) than senior Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) got from her little-known opponent in the previous cycle.

But so far polls have shown Collins with a sizable lead over Allen. In any other Northeast state this cycle, a Democratic Congressman would have a much better chance of taking down a Republican Senator. But Mainers proved last year that they’re more than willing to re-elect their trademark moderate Republicans.

In what likely will be one of the most expensive and targeted races in the country, Collins had a $1 million cash-on-hand advantage over Allen as of Sept. 30. But MoveOn.org and other liberal groups are targeting the race and putting their money where their ads are.

If they can successfully portray Collins as a close ally of President Bush — a label she desperately is trying to avoid, in contrast to her 2002 re-election race when he was riding high in the polls — then Collins could be in trouble. Collins is as safe as a Republican can be in New England this cycle — but that doesn’t say much. As long as Allen doesn’t catch fire, she should be able to ride a rough road to re-election.

House

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

The Democratic primary for the first open Congressional seat race in the state since 2002 seat resembles a who’s who guide to aspiring Maine politicians. Former state Senate Majority Leader Michael Brennan, Iraq War veteran Adam Cote, 2000 Senate nominee Mark Lawrence, former Common Cause President Chellie Pingree and state Sen. Ethan Strimling are all battling it out for the Democratic nod.

Many pundits point to Pingree as the likely favorite because she’s run statewide before, though it’s anyone’s guess who could take this free-for-all primary in the Democratic-leaning district. Pingree, who also was a state Senate Majority Leader, raised the most in the third quarter, $247,000, but that was just $23,000 more than Strimling. Pingree did have nearly twice as much cash on hand as Strimling did as of Sept. 30, with $300,000 in the bank.

On the Republican side, 2004 nominee and Naval Reserve officer Charlie Summers is making another run for the seat, while businessman Dean Scontras is making his first political bid in this race. Steve Abbott, the chief of staff to Sen. Susan Collins (R), also still is considering a bid. Because of his political connections, he could be the best candidate to run against whoever emerges from the Democratic field.

Massachusetts

Filing deadline: May 6
Primary: Sept. 16

Senate

Incumbent: John Kerry (D)
4th term (80 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Senate incumbents don’t get much safer than Kerry in Massachusetts — except maybe for his senior Bay State colleague, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D).

The only thing Kerry has going against him is the possible backlash former presidential candidates get in their home states after they lose nationwide. But even this is surmountable — just ask Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.). The fact that Kerry has more than $6 million in cash on hand certainly will help.

In a state that has an entirely Democratic Congressional delegation, Kerry is as safe as they get for re-election.

House

5th district
Incumbent: Niki Tsongas (D)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

In an October special election that was supposed to be a blowout, Tsongas’ 6-point win probably was too close for Democrats’ comfort. She might be aided somewhat by incumbency in 2008, but she probably has exhausted any advantages she got in the special from her relatively high name identification, which was courtesy of her husband, the late Sen. Paul Tsongas (D).

Yet if Republicans can win one seat in Massachusetts, it is, under the right circumstances, this one. And highly regarded 2007 GOP nominee Jim Ogonowski has not ruled a second run against Tsongas.

Ogonowski’s chances might have been better in a low turnout special election than in a presidential year in a state that almost surely will have high Democratic turnout. The top of the ticket is going to be major plus for Tsongas, who barring any major changes in her candidacy probably will coast to re-election.

New Hampshire

Filing deadline: June 13
Primary: Sept. 9

Senate

Incumbent: John Sununu (R)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) is taking a second turn at Sununu in a state that saw a Democratic landslide in 2006, leaving both incumbent GOP Congressmen by the wayside. Until a few months ago, many politicos — perhaps including the candidate herself — thought Shaheen would decline to run a second time against the Senator and instead would keep her top post at Harvard University.

But Shaheen announced her Senate bid in mid-September — and soon after almost the entire multi-candidate Democratic primary field cleared way. She has one primary opponent in former astronaut Jay Buckey, but it would be near impossible for even an astronaut to blast off higher than the highly touted ex-governor.

Shaheen raised $188,000 in the two weeks after her announcement and had $178,000 on hand through Sept. 30. Sununu raised $713,000 in the third quarter but had $2.7 million in cash on hand.

A recent poll showed Shaheen with a solid 15-point lead over Sununu, though Republicans maintain that’s because voters need to be reminded of Shaheen’s gubernatorial record. But it’s going to be tough for Sununu to hold onto his seat as New England becomes the anti-war bastion of the country.

House

1st district
Incumbent: Carol Shea-Porter (D)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

If a Democratic wave hit last year’s Congressional races, the crest was in New Hampshire, where both moderate Republican incumbents fell to liberal Democrats.

Shea-Porter was not favored to win her primary in 2006, let alone the general election against two-term Rep. Jeb Bradley (R). But despite lackluster fundraising, her grass-roots organization delivered her the seat by a thin margin.

Now Bradley’s looking to win his old job back, though first he’ll have to get through a Republican primary against former state Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen. Bradley raised $118,000 in the third quarter and Stephen raised $151,000, though the former Congressman had about twice as much cash on hand at $293,000.

Shea-Porter raised $151,000 this past quarter and had $377,000 in cash on hand, but it’s going to be hard to match Bradley’s fundraising network dollar-for-dollar in the long run. Shea-Porter will benefit from a presidential election year turnout, which may be enough to give her the edge she needs to keep her seat.

2nd district
Incumbent: Paul Hodes (D)
1st term (53 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Hodes was able to knock off six-term Rep. Charles Bass (R) in 2006, but in contrast to the 1st district, the former Member is not looking for a rematch.

Bass’ absence leaves a large hole for Republicans to fill in the district, which went 52 percent for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004. Concord attorney Jim Steiner announced his candidacy in late October, while state Sen. Bob Clegg (R), former Sununu staffer Grant Bosse and others are said to be still considering a bid.

Nonetheless, the 2nd district tends to vote more Democratic than the 1st. It’s going to be tough for Republicans to find a competitive candidate with a presidential election looming.

Rhode Island

Filing deadline: March 4
Primary: Sept. 9

Senate

Incumbent: Jack Reed (D)
2nd term (78 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

The Ocean State’s senior Senator couldn’t get any safer as a Democrat in New England during a presidential cycle. Even without an opponent, he was sitting on almost $2.8 million in his campaign coffers as of Sept. 30.

Barring a major scandal or two, Reed is one of the safest of Members of Congress up for re-election this cycle.

House

2nd district
Incumbent: James Langevin (D)
4th term (73 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Just when you thought Langevin could not get any safer, his 2006 Democratic primary opponent, Brown University professor Jennifer Lawless, does not seem to be eyeing a rematch in 2008.

Langevin had a healthy but not overwhelming $220,000 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

Vermont

Filing deadline: July 21
Primary: Sept. 9

House

At-large
Incumbent: Peter Welch (D)
1st term (53 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Incumbent Welch is the only candidate to file thus far for the race. He defeated Martha Rainville (R), the head of the Vermont National Guard, in 2006 by a less-than-comfortable margin, but so far Republicans have yet to come up with a candidate for this cycle.

Welch had $567,000 in cash on hand at the end of September.

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