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It is three weeks before Election Day and a handful of incumbents are already seeing the writing on the wall. They wonít be coming back to Congress. Itís time to look for other gainful employment or merely enjoy the quiet pleasures of forced retirement.
North Carolina Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell hasnít been able to overcome strong Republican challenger Richard Hudson in a dramatically redrawn district that now favors the GOP. He is a sure bet to lose Nov. 6. The same fate awaits Maryland Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who remains a heavy underdog against John Delaney (D) in a district that doesnít resemble his old one.
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. John Tierney recently started running a good ad with him talking to the camera about his familyís legal problems, but it looks to be too little too late. Because of that, former state legislator Richard Tisei probably will be the first Republican to win a U.S. House election in the Bay State since 1996, when Republicans Peter Blute and Peter Torkildsen lost their House seats.
Other incumbents face more uncertainty.
In New Hampshire, Republican Reps. Charles Bass and Frank Guinta are in difficult re-election contests. Bass won an open seat (that he previously had held for six terms) only very narrowly in 2010 and started as an underdog this time against the Democrat he beat two years ago, Ann McLane Kuster. Guinta, whose district is more conservative and Republican than Bassí, has been unable to pull away from former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D), who is trying to regain the seat she lost two years ago.
Democrats now believe they will win both contests, and even they are shocked that Shea-Porter, who has never been regarded as a political heavyweight, is in a position to take back her seat. Republicans expect Guinta to win (and I see him as having an ever-so-slight edge), and while they agree that Bass is an underdog, they praise his TV ads and believe that he has a fighting chance.
In New York, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) faces a difficult rematch against the Democrat she beat in 2010, Dan Maffei. Polling shows the race about even, with voters having unfavorable opinions of both candidates. Democrats are already counting this seat as a takeover, while Republicans have become hopeful recently, noting that Maffeiís high negatives actually give the Congresswoman a chance.