Incumbent: Jeff Sessions (R)
2nd term (59 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican
Though some Alabama Democrats were hoping state Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks (D) would take on Sessions this cycle, Sparks passed on the race and state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures has taken up the party mantle. And to say that Figures grass-roots campaign hasnt really caught fire is an understatement.
As of the end of June, Figures had raised nearly $250,000 for the cycle but had just $22,000 in cash on hand compared with $4.3 million for Sessions. And while national Democrats are excited about several Senate races around the country this cycle, Alabama just isnt one of them.
Sessions is expected to cruise to victory in November.
Open seat: Terry Everett (R)
After being courted by both sides to enter the 2nd district race last year, Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright is running as a conservative Democrat and has found a home in the Blue Dog wing of the party.
Democrats believe the popular mayor now gives the party a good chance of flipping a seat deep in the heart of Dixie into their column. But Bright has to pull off a delicate balancing act in 2nd district.
No matter how much he plays up his conservative credentials and tries to divorce himself from the more liberal leaders of his party, Bright will still have a D next to his name on the ballot this fall. And in a district that President Bush won by 34 points in 2004, that will be a problem.
Republicans are working hard to convince voters that state Rep. Jay Love will be a better representative of the districts conservative interests in Washington, D.C.
Although Everett stayed on the sidelines in the contentious GOP primary earlier this year, hes been a vocal supporter of Love now that the general election is under way.
Everett cut an ad for Love in September in which he said that in Washington ... the teams we choose matter most. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the liberals are financing Bobby Brights campaign and they expect something in return. ... Join me in supporting Jay Love a real conservative.
Republicans are also attacking Brights record as mayor, hitting him for raising taxes and overseeing a spike in homicide rates in Montgomery. Freedoms Watch, the conservative 501(c)(4) that is seeking to boost Republican candidates, has also gotten into the mix in the 2nd district, financing ads attacking Bright beginning in late September.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is also committing serious cash to this contest. The committee has reserved more than three-quarters of a million dollars in TV time leading up to Election Day.
Another factor that could give Bright a major boost in November is the fact that the Montgomery-based 2nd district is nearly 30 percent black. And with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on the ballot, Bright could be helped by a surge in black voter turnout.
Open seat: Bud Cramer (D)
In a cycle in which Republicans have been hit hard by retirements, Cramers decision in March not to seek another term gave the GOP a juicy target in a very conservative Southern district.
Republicans have turned to commercial insurance broker Wayne Parker as their candidate to try to flip the district. Parker was the GOP nominee against Cramer twice in the mid-1990s. Democrats have tapped state Sen. Parker Griffith, who began his career as a doctor, to try to keep the seat out of Republican hands.
The campaign turned heated in late September when Parker and the National Republican Congressional Committee began releasing documents that called into question Griffiths medical credentials.
Parker and the NRCC have pointed to documents filed with the board of trustees of Huntsville Hospital that allege Griffith under-treated cancer patients while working as a radiation oncologist at the hospital in the mid-1980s in an effort to increase profits.
The state Senator and national party have vigorously pushed back against those attacks, releasing ads of their own. Griffith has said that the documents Republicans are pointing to were part of a smear campaign begun by some hospital officials who saw him as a competitor after he began work to open a separate cancer treatment center in Huntsville.
But Republicans dont seem like theyre going to let the issue go. Democrats also arent simply playing defense; they have begun hitting Parker over his lobbying ties.
This race is only going to get more heated and ugly leading up to Election Day.
Incumbent: Mark Pryor (D)
1st term (54 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic
The most exciting race in the world of Arkansas politics these days may well be Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincolns re-election which doesnt take place until 2010.
Thats because neither Pryor nor any of the states four House Members drew a major-party challenger in the 2008 cycle.
Pryor is one first-term Senator who can already start planning for his second. With $3.6 million in his campaign coffers and only token third-party opposition in his way, hes set to cruise to victory in November.
Incumbent: John Boozman (R)
4th term (62 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican
Boozman gets some attention in Arkansas political discussions because hes the only Republican in the states Congressional delegation. But that distinction hasnt made him vulnerable.
Boozman hasnt had trouble winning re-election in the conservative 4th district since he won a special election in 2001. And though he raised a meager $68,000 during the second quarter of the year and reported just $175,000 in cash on hand at the end of June, he should have little to no problem dispatching the Green Party candidate in November.
Incumbent: Ric Keller (R)
4th term (53 percent)
Even Republicans acknowledge Kellers course correction earlier in the cycle on the Iraq War may not be enough to help him emerge with his job after Election Day. Running uphill against what Democrats claim is a shifting electorate in central Florida, Keller survived a close call with lawyer Todd Long (R) in the late-August primary and could have his hands full with wealthy businessman Alan Grayson (D) on Election Day.
Grayson defeated Kellers 2006 challenger, Charlie Stuart (D), by more than 20 points in the primary, spending more than $850,000 of his own money in the process. Despite his ability to self-finance, Republicans claim that Graysons unpredictability, ties to liberal groups and lack of experience will seal his fate no matter how inhospitable the political terrain is for Keller.
Call it a race to the bottom. Democrats are hitting Buchanan hard this cycle on a recent series of lawsuits filed by former employees alleging campaign finance violations and other possible misdeeds at his Florida automobile dealerships. Still, polls continue to suggest that ethical dents in Buchanans armor are matched only by the electorates distaste for his challenger, bank executive Christine Jennings (D).
Jennings lost to Buchanan by 369 votes last cycle, but the result was soon challenged by Democrats amid allegations that faulty voting machines purged 18,000 votes in Democratic-dominated Sarasota County. After a lengthy and expensive investigation, the House finally put the issue to rest in February 2008, issuing a report that the machines did not malfunction.
Republicans quickly branded Jennings a sore loser who wasted taxpayer money on a politically motivated investigation. And the label appears to have stuck. Still, Buchanan seems to be faring not much better. In a recent Research 2000 poll, 32 percent of those interviewed had a favorable impression of Jennings compared with 37 percent for Buchanan.
Also not helpful for Jennings is the fact that Jan Schneider, the Democratic nominee in 2002 and 2004, is running as an Independent on the November ballot. Schneider is not a fringe candidate, taking 45 percent of the vote in her previous campaigns, and she is likely to siphon votes away from Jennings.
Open seat: Dave Weldon (R)
Outlook: Safe Republican
Republicans played Weldons retirement perfectly, quickly lining up behind state Sen. Bill Posey and clearing the primary field for his nomination. The charismatic Posey, who also races automobiles, is expected to easily defeat physician Steve Blythe (D), who had only $6,000 in the bank on Aug. 6.
Incumbent: Tim Mahoney (D)
1st term (50 percent)
Mahoney won the seat formerly held by disgraced Rep. Mark Foley (R) after allegations emerged that the lawmaker engaged in inappropriate behavior with House pages. After struggling early, the freshman Democrat realized he would be a top GOP target in 2008 and began raising an impressive sum that now tops $2.5 million. As of July 1, Mahoney had $1.2 million in the bank.
Still, Republicans emerged from the late-summer primary in the best situation they could possibly hope for: Despite three credible GOP candidates vying for the nomination, the trio appears to have avoided ripping each other to shreds in the process.
In the end, Republican voters chose former Judge Advocate General and scion of the famed Pittsburgh Steelers family Tom Rooney to challenge Mahoney in the general election. Given the current political climate, Republicans claim Rooneys relative inexperience and outsider status could help them flip the seat in this conservative-leaning district, which President Bush won by 8 points in 2004.
But Democrats arent going to give up without a fight, and this race will likely be ugly and close right up to Election Day.
Incumbent: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R)
10th term (62 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican
Once lumped into a trio of vulnerable Republicans in South Florida seats, Ros-Lehtinen now appears better-positioned than colleagues Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart.
In a recent Research 2000 poll, Ros-Lehtinen was well ahead of local businesswoman Annette Taddeo (D), 58 percent to 31 percent. And as of Aug. 6, the incumbent also had a substantial cash-on-hand advantage over her opponent, $1.9 million to $444,000.
Incumbent: Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R)
10th term (59 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican
Former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez (D) is shaking Diaz-Balarts moorings in a late-developing race that has some Republicans too scared to look in what is normally a GOP stronghold.
For Democrats, Martinez appears to be a political mixed bag, popular in portions of the district that remember the gregarious mayor for his more than two decades in City Hall, but who also perhaps recall his highly publicized 1990s corruption trial. Polling has shown that Martinez has high negative ratings, so look for Republicans to try to drive those numbers even higher.
Adding to the likelihood of a donnybrook, both candidates will have plenty of money to sling mud. As of Aug. 6, Diaz-Balart had $1.7 million in the bank, while Martinez had $1.1 million.
Incumbent: Tom Feeney (R)
3rd term (58 percent)
One of Roll Calls 10 most vulnerable Members in 2008, Feeney acknowledged as much recently when he aired a television ad apologizing for a 2003 golf junket to Scotland he took with now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Democrats picked former state Rep. Suzanne Kosmas to challenge Feeney this cycle, and now even Republicans are admitting that the seat will be difficult for them to retain. Adding to Feeneys woes, through Aug. 6, Kosmas had more money than the incumbent, $836,000 to $804,000, and the lawmaker is undoubtedly high on the cash-strapped National Republican Congressional Committees Member-retention list.
Polling also suggests Feeney is widely unpopular in his central Florida district. According to a recent Democratic poll, only 37 percent of those interviewed had a positive impression of him.
Incumbent: Mario Diaz-Balart (R)
3rd term (58 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican
Considered by Republicans to be more vulnerable than his brother, Diaz-Balart appears to have been somewhat blindsided by Miami-Dade County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcias challenge this cycle.
Diaz-Balart raised $1.2 million through Aug. 6, while Garcia brought in about $1 million. But perhaps more startling to the incumbent, a recent poll conducted for the liberal Web site DailyKos.com showed that Garcia was in striking distance of Diaz-Balart.
In the late-September ballot test conducted by Research 2000, 45 percent of those polled chose Diaz-Balart and 41 percent chose Garcia.
Chambliss boasts a high net approval rating and a massive cash-on-hand advantage, and some polls have shown him up by wide margins. But national Democrats have shown an interest in playing in the Peach State Senate race in part because they believe Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) could boost turnout among the states large black population.
About 28.5 percent of Georgias population is black, and according to exit polls from the 2004 election, black voters made up 25 percent of the electorate that year.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee got behind former state Rep. Jim Martin during a crowded primary, and Martin will need the committees help to make up the financial disparity in the race.
But Democrats are excited about recent polling that showed the race closing. However, Martin definitely remains the underdog and with the clock ticking, time appears to be on Chambliss side.
Incumbent: Rep. Jim Marshall (D)
3rd term (51 percent)
While national Republicans were quick to hype the 8th district race early in the cycle, even some GOP operatives on Capitol Hill admitted over the summer that retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddards campaign had fallen off the national radar.
Indeed, by early September the most notable press Goddard was getting was of the negative variety when he received flak in local papers for using the term uppity to describe an African-American newscaster at the Republican National Convention.
But Goddard went on a bit of an ad blitz in September, and he still has a good profile to fit this conservative district. Republican operatives also say that Goddard was busy throughout the summer bringing in campaign cash. They say he was saving his powder (and money) in the expectation that the 8th district race would break late in the cycle.
Goddard is not only a decorated veteran but also a former commander of the massive Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, which is a major employer of 8th district residents.
But Marshall is also a decorated veteran who has proved over his three terms that he can hold onto a district that President Bush carried with 61 percent of the vote in 2004. Marshall narrowly escaped defeat in 2006, a banner year for Democrats nationally, and Republicans hope that turnout in a presidential election year will help push Goddard over the top.
At this point, the race could still go either way.
Incumbent: John Barrow (D)
2nd term (50 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic
Barrow has won two narrow general election victories, but he will have an easier time in November, particularly with the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) working hard to turn out the states large population of black voters. Georgias eastern 12th district is nearly 45 percent black.
Obama endorsed Barrow in the primary and the Congressman easily won that race against a black state Senator.
Now Barrow is well-funded and better-entrenched than he was in 2006, when he was still consolidating support after having his seat redrawn in 2005.
Barrow is facing John Stone (R), a radio personality and former Congressional aide who, despite ties to ex-Rep. Max Burns (R-Ga.) and the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), doesnt have a large base of support in the district and isnt seen as a top-flight candidate by the national party.
Democrats have tried to make McConnell a top target this cycle and they found a top-tier challenger to carry the party banner, but the Senate Minority Leader has maintained a lead in the polls so far. However, the contest appears to be getting tighter.
In the end, McConnell the de facto head of the GOP in Kentucky may just be too well-entrenched in a seat that he has held since 1984. But that doesnt mean he wont have to sweat his re-election down to the wire.
Wealthy businessman Bruce Lunsford continues to run a vigorous campaign that is being heavily supported by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Lunsford has also received fundraising help from party bigwigs such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
The Senators campaign released a poll in mid-September that showed him up by 17 points, but some other surveys have the race within the margin of error.
One reason the national Democrats are going all-out for Lunsford is that even if Lunsford loses his race, hes at least keeping McConnell busy in Kentucky this fall. That means that the GOP leader has less time and fewer resources to spread around the country to help his colleagues in other races that Democrats are targeting.
Open seat: Ron Lewis (R) is retiring
Outlook: Leans Republican
Recent polling has shown state Sen. David Boswell (D) leading the race, but some political observers have been skeptical of those numbers considering Boswell is running in a district that President Bush won by 31 points in 2004.
Also, Republican state Sen. Brett Guthrie, a military veteran whom party officials are high on, dominated the cash-on-hand battle in federal election reports through the first half of the year.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committees inclusion of Boswell in its Red to Blue fundraising and infrastructure program not to mention the fact that the committee has reserved nearly $1 million in airtime in the district appears to be a sign that the party is willing to commit the resources necessary to make up for any fundraising disadvantage on Boswells part.
Leading up to Election Day, fundraising will certainly be important as both candidates will be paying for airtime in the expensive Louisville media market, where most district voters live.
Guthrie is poised to get a bigger boost from having Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the top of the ticket than Boswell will from Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Kentucky was one of Obamas worst-performing states in the Democratic primaries.
Incumbent: John Yarmuth (D)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic
Anne Northup (R), the five-term Congresswoman who was swept from office in the anti-Republican wave of 2006, is looking to reclaim her old House seat from Yarmuth.
Yarmuth is ahead in recent polling, but Northup is closing the gap. This Louisville-based district favors Democrats, and Northups ability to hold onto it for so long was a testament to her political strength, even if it was an aberration.
The district leans Democratic in presidential elections, and the presence of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at the top of the ballot could boost turnout among the districts 20 percent black population, which should help Yarmuth.
But Northup is a skillful campaigner and solid fundraiser, and she shouldnt be counted out yet. The presence of Sen. Mitch
McConnell (R), a close confidant of Northups, on the ballot could boost her.
Incumbent: Mary Landrieu (D)
2nd term (52 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic
Landrieu is used to tight races, and her reelection this cycle isnt expected to be any different. In fact, her seat presents the one real pickup opportunity for the GOP during a cycle in which Senate Republicans are mostly playing defense.
National GOP officials are excited about the candidacy of John Kennedy, a former Democrat who switched parties in 2007 before winning re-election for a third term as state treasurer. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already spent heavily to support his campaign and hit Landrieu for being an example of politics as usual in Washington, D.C.
But Landrieu hasnt made any real missteps yet. In a state that is trending Republican, Landrieu is running as a political moderate whose rising seniority will help the Bayou State as it deals with energy challenges and the ever-present threat of natural disasters. That image was probably boosted by her work to help recovery efforts in the state following Hurricane Gustav.
Landrieu was the first on the air with ads in this race and some polling over the summer showed her opening up a lead on Kennedy. But it would be foolish to assume that this one wont go down to the wire.
Incumbent: William Jefferson (D)
9th term (57 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic
After Louisiana reshuffled its election calendar in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, the Democratic primary wont be decided until a runoff on Nov. 4. And that means the general election in the New Orleans-based district will not take place until early December.
Despite being the target of a federal corruption probe, Jefferson won one-quarter of the vote in a crowded Democratic primary on Oct. 4 and will face local TV news personality Helena Moreno in the runoff. Moreno, the one non-African-American on the ballot, took 20 percent.
Moreno is Hispanic and Jefferson is black, and some insiders think Jefferson will get a boost from the large number of black voters who are expected to turn out in November to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).
If he does win, Jefferson will head to the general election on Dec. 6. Thats just two days after the Congressman is scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., to begin his federal corruption trial. Hes been the subject of a federal probe since 2005.
The Republican in the race is Anh Cao, a New Orleans lawyer and former Jesuit seminarian. But hes seen mostly as a sacrificial lamb.
The 2nd district is a Democratic stronghold with a majority black population and a history of sending Democrats to Congress by wide margins. The 2nd district voted for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) by a more than 3-1 ratio over President Bush in 2004. And while the demographics of the New Orleans-based district have changed since 2005s Hurricane Katrina, its still very Democratic.
Open seat: Jim McCrery (R)
Physician John Fleming and trucking executive Chris Gorman emerged from the very close Oct. 4 Republican primary and will square off in a runoff on Election Day. Fleming took 35 percent of the vote to Gormans 34 percent, while former Bossier Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Thompson finished just out of the money with 31 percent. It will be interesting to see where Thompsons supporters who included McCrery and some national GOP leaders end up in the runoff.
On the Democratic side, Caddo Parish District Attorney Paul Carmouche, the choice of national Democrats, is heavily favored in his runoff with military veteran Willie Banks, who is seeking the support of the Congressional Black Caucus. Party leaders believe Carmouche will run a strong race in December regardless of who becomes the GOP nominee.
But Carmouche could be hurt by the reshuffled election calendar that moved the general election to December. Now he will no longer be on the ballot with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), which would have been a boon in a district where 33 percent of the population is black. But party officials say that by holding the contest in December, the race will take on many of the qualities of a special election. And they point to their undefeated record in competitive special elections this year as evidence that theyll be well-prepared for the December race.
Incumbent: Don Cazayoux (D)
1st term (49 percent)
After winning in a wild special election this spring, Cazayoux is now considered one of the most vulnerable Members of the House this cycle.
Not only is Cazayoux facing a much better Republican opponent in the general election than he did in the special election, but hell also have to fend off a well-known
Democrat-turned-Independent challenger in state Rep. Michael Jackson.
Cazayoux, who is white, beat Jackson, who is black, in the Democratic special election primary this spring. But Jackson is back and he is convinced that he has a real shot, especially if he can do well among the districts 33 percent black population.
The Republican nominee is state Sen. Bill Cassidy, a doctor who was quickly backed by state and national Republicans after announcing in June that he would run for the seat. Hes proved to be an effective fundraiser, and the National Republican Congressional Committee seems willing to spend its limited resources to try to reclaim this district.
Cazayoux is being backed up financially by national Democrats, and party officials hope the endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will shore up Cazayouxs support among those black voters whom Jackson is targeting. Cazayouxs campaign released polling that indicated hes ahead of Cassidy and that Jackson is polling in the single digits. But this is one campaign that should go down to the wire.
Incumbent: Charles Boustany (R)
2nd term (71 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican
State Sen. Don Cravins Jr. (D) faces an uphill battle in his campaign to knock off Boustany in Louisianas conservative southwestern 7th district.
But Democrats are high on the anti-abortion-rights, pro-gun state legislator, who is black. Cravins is also the son of Don Cravins Sr., who in the 2004 open primary for this seat finished just a few votes short of making the runoff. Now national Democrats hope Cravins conservative credentials, his high name recognition and the districts 25 percent black makeup might mean a winning combination this fall.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added Cravins to its Red to Blue fundraising and infrastructure program, although it hadnt reserved any television time in the district as of late September.
Boustany hasnt made any major missteps since being re-elected in 2006 with 71 percent of the vote. Cravins has hit Boustany for not doing enough for 7th district voters during hurricane recovery efforts in recent years and he has made Congressional pay raises an issue in the contest, but hell have to do more to make those attacks stick.
The only real drama of Cochrans re-election came last fall when rumors began to circulate that the 70-year-old Senator might not seek another term.
But after announcing last November that he would run again, the much-beloved senior Senator has been considered safely on track to win a sixth term.
Democrats have nominated state Rep. Erik Fleming to take on Cochran. After being beat by almost 30 points in 2006 by former Sen. Trent Lott (R), its hard to see Fleming doing any better this year.
Incumbent: Roger Wicker (R)
1st term (Appointed Dec. 31, 2007)
This special Senate election has tightened considerably in the last several months, especially since Democrats got a boost of confidence from a May House special election victory in the state and since national Democrats have begun to spend heavily in the Senate contest.
Wicker was appointed to the Senate to fill the vacancy created when Sen. Trent Lott (R) resigned at the end of 2007. And while the Democratic candidate, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, came into the race with greater name recognition, Wicker was viewed as the early frontrunner because of the strength of the Republican machine in the state and his strong fundraising.
But Democrats hopes were boosted by the special election victory of now-Rep. Travis Childers (D) in Wickers old House seat. National Democrats played heavily in that race, and after seeing their investment pay off they are now committing big-time resources to Musgroves campaign.
Republicans are doing their best to aid Wicker; state leaders recently tried to place the Senate special election at the bottom of the November ballot a move designed to produce an undervote that would undoubtedly help Wicker. But Democrats successfully challenged the ballot in the state Supreme Court, and the special election will be placed near the top of the ballot along with all other federal races.
Wicker is expected to benefit from appearing on a ticket that includes popular Sen. Thad Cochran (R) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Democrats say Sen. Barack Obamas (D-Ill.) candidacy will serve to boost black turnout in a state where 36 percent of the population is African-American, and that will help Musgrove. But in this contest the downballot effect will be complicated by the fact that Wicker and Musgrove will appear on the ballot without their party IDs, as state law requires for special elections.
With a month to go its still anyones game, and some pundits think Republicans may soon turn to an issue that has proved to be effective against Musgrove in the past. When he was governor, Musgrove overwhelmingly lost a much-publicized battle to change the state flag. Republican Haley Barbour benefited from using the issue in his 2003 gubernatorial race, when he ousted Musgrove.