Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

It’s a Roller Coaster for Some House Hopefuls

One of the interesting things about elections is how races ebb and flow. Some incumbents who seemed to have no chance to survive a couple of months ago are still hanging in there, even giving themselves a real chance to win. On the other hand, some presumably safe incumbents suddenly look to be in serious trouble.

Arizona Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick looked all but cooked six weeks ago, but she has a chance to squeeze out another term, in part because the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s on again, off again commitment in the Phoenix market appears to be on once again.

Republican Paul Gosar, a dentist with little political experience, has proven to be a mediocre fundraiser, forcing the National Republican Congressional Committee to carry the advertising load in the 1st district race. Both parties agree that the race is now within the margin of error, a dramatic reversal from earlier, when the Congresswoman trailed badly.

Also in Arizona, 5th district Rep. Harry Mitchell (D) has rallied and now has a chance to win. GOP challenger David Schweikert hopes that his third run for Congress is the charm, and the changed political environment from 2008 — when he lost by 9 points to Mitchell — could be enough to help him to victory. But if the challenger wins, it will be a much heavier lift than it appeared just a month ago.

In North Dakota, veteran Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) is proving that initial reports of his demise were exaggerated. Weeks ago, I spoke with someone who told me that Pomeroy had privately acknowledged that his chances of surviving this midterm were small, and early polling suggested that GOP challenger state Rep. Rick Berg was headed to a relatively clear victory.

While the two parties have different polls showing who is ahead, they agree Pomeroy and Berg are in a dogfight. The cycle still favors the Republican challenger, but the Congressman is not going away.

Rep. Frank Kratovil also isn’t going quietly into the night. The Maryland Democrat faces a 1st district rematch against Republican Andy Harris, who lost a squeaker to Kratovil two years ago. Given the Republican and conservative nature of the district, Kratovil wouldn’t seem to have much chance of surviving, even though he hasn’t always toed his party’s line. But Kratovil still has a fighting chance to survive, and that alone is a noteworthy accomplishment.

Rep. Travis Childers is a terrific politician whose retail skills have never been in doubt. But the Mississippi Democrat’s district — combined with the nature of the midterm as a referendum on President Barack Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — seemed to guarantee his defeat. However, Republican challenger Alan Nunnelee isn’t setting the world on fire, and recent polling suggests Childers has a chance to win another term in the Magnolia State’s 1st district.

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