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At-Large Seats Seem Safe for Both Parties

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Freshman Rep. Kristi Noem is in a strong position for re-election at this early point in the cycle. The South Dakota Republican has cultivated a national profile that is giving her a boost in her safe seat back home.

Freshman Rep. John Carney defeated Republican Glen Urquhart by more than 15 percent in one of the partyís only pickups last fall.

Carney has done little to scare off a serious challenge so far this cycle. He reported less than $8,500 in the bank as of the end of March. Republicans think they could put this seat in play if Carneyís sluggish fundraising totals persist, but that isnít likely. Plus, no candidates have emerged.

Montana: Likely Republican

Businessman Steve Daines (R) was raising money for a Senate bid until swapping races with Rep. Denny Rehberg (R), who opted to challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D) this year. That gave Daines a clearer shot at coming to Washington.

While several other Democratic state legislators are considering bids, state Rep. Franke Wilmer is so far the only member of her party to step forward. Wilmer raised just over $10,000 in the first quarter, while Daines raised close to $200,000 and had $330,000 on hand.

Even though an open seat could eventually make the race more competitive, Roll Call Politics rates this race Likely Republican because of the Republican lean of the state and Dainesí fundraising head start.

North Dakota: Safe Republican

Freshman Rep. Rick Bergís (R) recent announcement that heíll run for Senate opens up the district that had been held by former Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) for almost two decades until last year. But donít expect that to mean there will be a competitive open-seat race here in 2012. Willing and talented Democratic candidates in this state are few and far between.

Senate Democrats are already struggling to find a candidate for retiring Sen. Kent Conradís (D) seat. Itís hard to imagine any viable Democratic candidate opting to run for the House instead of the Senate.

On the other hand, thereís no shortage of GOP candidates looking to run for either chamber in this state in 2012 ó state Speaker Al Carlson, state Sen. Tony Grindberg, state Treasurer Kelly Schmidt, Tax Commissioner Cory Fong and state GOP Treasurer Bob Harms, to name a few. A few days after Bergís Senate announcement, Public Services Commissioner Brian Kalk (R) announced he would run for Bergís House seat instead of the Senate.

More good news for Republicans: Despite the plethora of GOP candidates who might run for the House, the party will most likely avoid a primary battle for the seat. Traditionally, only the winner of the GOPís endorsement at the state convention goes on to the primary.

Finally, itís highly unlikely that Democrats will try to compete here on a national level given the state has consistently supported GOP presidential candidates. Democratic nominees will be on their own through November.

South Dakota: Safe Republican

The House race here has the potential to be more competitive than the open-seat contest in North Dakota, but thatís not saying much. Freshman Rep. Kristi Noem (R) has quickly cultivated a national profile and is widely viewed to be an effective campaigner following her victory in November.

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