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.
Democrats believe this could be a competitive race if ex-Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) decides to run for her old seat — but that’s a big “if.” Not only did the three-term Democrat already close her campaign account after losing last fall, she told Roll Call earlier this year that she’s enjoying her new work on K Street and looking forward to more of it.
There are a couple more potential candidates floated to challenge Noem if Herseth Sandlin declines — such as Matt Varilek, a top staffer for Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) — but none boasts the same stature as Herseth Sandlin in a potential rematch.
If Herseth Sandlin is out, it’s hard to imagine the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spending significant resources here when there are more competitive races elsewhere.
Vermont: Safe Democratic
Rep. Peter Welch, a three-term Congressman, is sitting on more than $974,000 in an overwhelmingly Democratic state with President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket.
It would take a perfect storm — a personal scandal, perhaps, combined with the emergence of a well-funded challenger — for this seat to be competitive in 2012.
Republicans, who don’t yet have a candidate, do not expect that to happen and neither do we.
Wyoming: Safe Republican
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) has just $44,000 in the bank and carries $36,000 in debt, but it would be difficult for a Democrat to defeat the two-term lawmaker in this heavily Republican state. It was President Barack Obama’s worst-performing state in 2008, and Roll Call Politics rates this race Safe Republican.
The closest a Democrat has come to winning this seat in recent years was Gary Trauner, who lost his 2006 challenge to then-Rep. Barbara Cubin (R) by just 1,012 votes. In that race, a libertarian took 4 percent of the vote in part because Cubin was unpopular after 12 years in Congress. Despite a strong push in 2008, Trauner lost the open-seat race to Lummis by 10 points.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.