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.