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The White Whales Live Another Day

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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Robert Dold

In their most recent efforts, Democrats nominated two wealthy female technology executives, Darcy Burner in 2006 and 2008 and Suzan DelBene in 2010. Now both women are seeking the Democratic nod in the nearby competitive 1st district, a marginally Democratic seat — a sign the candidates know better than to try to unseat Reichert again.

House Republicans have hailed Reichert’s survivor skills in this competitive district, especially during the Democratic waves of 2006 and 2008. House GOP leaders often refer their most vulnerable Members to Reichert, who they believe can counsel imperiled Republicans through tough races.

In all likelihood, Democrats have missed their chance to defeat the famed former King County sheriff in this exurban Seattle seat. A bipartisan redistricting commission redrew the 8th district to include safer Republican territory, and now it’s probably out of reach for Democrats — at least in the near term.

Republicans’ White-Whale Districts

Kentucky's 6th district: Rep. Ben Chandler

Six-hundred-and-forty-seven votes. That’s how close Rep. Ben Chandler (D) came to losing to attorney Andy Barr (R) last cycle. It was the Blue Dog Democrat’s closest contest to date — and probably for the rest of his political career.

Chandler’s district got better for him after redistricting, even though it’s still conservative territory. Nonetheless, it’s clear the four-term Congressman has found a successful formula to survive re-election in the toughest of cycles.

A former statewide elected official, Chandler came to Congress following a 2004 special election. He’s won re-election with solid margins ever since except for the 2010 race.

House Republicans have indicated they want to target Chandler this year. The National Republican Congressional Committee’s first round of airtime reservations for after Labor Day included a $441,000 buy in the Lexington, Ky., media market earmarked for this race. But Republicans can pull that buy any time, and privately, they’re not too optimistic about Barr’s chances this second time around.

House Democrats aren’t worried about Chandler yet. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has placed more than $46.3 million in media buys across dozens of House districts but didn’t reserve anything for this race. It’s a sign that Chandler’s colleagues believe he can stand on his own this cycle, at least for now.

Pennsylvania's 12th district: Rep. Mark Critz
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