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New York Freshmen Most Vulnerable

Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (left) isn’t facing a competitive race this cycle, but his job will be focusing on protecting vulnerable incumbents such as Rep. Tim Bishop.

Maffei has the early edge in the race, even though a recent GOP poll showed Buerkle slightly ahead but at 42 percent. Empire State oddsmakers of both parties wouldn’t put any money on Buerkle.

25th district
Incumbent: Louise Slaughter (D)
13th term (65 percent)
Rating: Leans Democratic

Here’s a comfortable Democratic district with a well-liked incumbent, so why is it a race?

Only 38 percent of the 82-year-old’s current constituents are in the new district, and she faces a very serious Republican challenger in Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks.

Slaughter recently broke her leg, which Republicans note will highlight her age versus the younger Brooks.

Aides say Slaughter is definitely running, and national Democrats insist she’s ready for a real fight. “She’s still full of fire and going to be running a real campaign,” said one national Democrat familiar with the district.

But there are signs besides the obvious temporal ones — she was born in 1929 — that allude to why some Democrats believe that making this her last term might be a possibility she could consider.

“It’s a thing to run a modern Congressional [race] and some of these folks — even the younger of the more senior [New York] Members — have challenges being as nimble as it takes to run a modern campaign with the blogsophere and Twitter,” said one longtime Democratic observer of New York politics. “There’s a meta media game that happens every day that I think scares the bejesus of some of these senior Members.”

There’s a plenty-big opposition research book on Brooks; it’s a Democratic district and Slaughter is well-liked, so the Congresswoman has the edge right now. But watch for how this race evolves and how able Slaughter is to run a full-fledged campaign.

26th district
Incumbent: Brian Higgins (D)
4th term (61 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

The new map was extremely good to Higgins. His district went from being slightly competitive by the numbers to being staunchly Democratic. He can comfortably begin planning for his next term in Congress.

27th district
Incumbent: Kathy Hochul (D)
1st term (47 percent)
Rating: Tossup

In the most Republican district in New York, Hochul really should be toast. Her upset special election victory last year always appeared to be something of a fluke, and she was drawn into a district that would have voted only 44 percent for Obama in 2008.

But Hochul remains quite well-liked in the district, and Republicans managed to fumble recruiting.

The candidates in the race are former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, who hasn’t filed official federal paperwork yet, and Army veteran David Bellavia, who raised an embarrassing $11,000 in the first quarter.

“If it’s Collins, leave it to the Dems,” a longtime New York Republican operative admitted unhappily. “The thing with Collins is he’s pissed off a lot of people up there.”

Indeed he’s somehow managed to cross a lot of influential Republicans in the district, but he still has a massive edge in the primary because he’s expected to have significantly more money and starts with a base of name identification from his time as an Erie County elected official. Collins lost his re-election bid in 2011.

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