July 26, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen House Seats for 2010

Regular readers of this column know that I’ve been rating the most vulnerable House seats — open and incumbent — for years. It’s that time again, and since there aren’t yet enough competitive open seats to rate by themselves, this list includes the dozen most vulnerable seats in the House.

There are two caveats that go with the list. First, there are strong arguments for including at least half a dozen other districts on the list. So, not being on this list doesn’t mean a contest is not extremely competitive. Second, since the midterm elections are still almost a year off, this list is likely to change significantly before November.

Louisiana’s 2nd: Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, the only Republican to vote for the House’s health care reform bill, had no business winning this majority-black district. He won only because of the timing of the 2008 elections and the unique problems of then-Rep. William Jefferson (D). This time, Democrats are likely to have an unindicted nominee, which should end Cao’s service in Congress at one term. Two state Representatives have already announced they are running. Expect a turnover.

Delaware’s At-Large: Rep. Mike Castle’s decision to run for Senate was great news for the National Republican Senatorial Committee but bad news for House Republicans. Former Lt. Gov. John Carney (D) was already running when Castle made his announcement, so Democrats have a serious candidate in the race. Since the state leans Democratic, Republicans will need to find a formidable nominee even to contest the seat seriously.

Louisiana’s 3rd: With Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) running for Senate, this open seat gives the GOP an excellent takeover opportunity. The district gave President Barack Obama only 37 percent of the vote in 2008, so the Republican nominee should benefit from normal midterm dynamics. Of course, with a late August primary, the race won’t shake out for months.

Virginia’s 5th: Freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D) seems more interested in doing what he thinks is right than getting re-elected. That’s the only way to explain his votes supporting House Democrats’ cap-and-trade and health care reform bills. State Sen. Robert Hurt (R) is expected to challenge Perriello, and the Congressman is in deep, deep trouble. Obama’s 48 percent showing last year in this district understates Perriello’s challenge next year.

Maryland’s 1st: Unlike Perriello, Rep. Frank Kratovil (D) has voted as if he is trying to be re-elected. But he barely scraped by Republican Andy Harris in an open-seat contest last time, and the midterm electorate will make his re-election bid more difficult. He has a chance to win another term, but the odds aren’t in his favor. Obama drew only 40 percent of the vote in the 1st in 2008.

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