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Steve Israel Retirement Sets Up GOP Takeover Opportunity

Democrats can't take the race to fill Israel's seat for granted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel spent years defending competitive open seats, but now his retirement leaves one behind.  

Israel announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in November after 16 years in the House. His retirement wasn’t a complete surprise, considering there isn’t an empty rung on the Democratic leadership ladder. But the congressman’s exit is notable considering his past leadership roles.  

Top Races in 2016: Mid-Atlantic States

A cardboard sign points to a polling place in Philadelphia on Nov. 6, 2012. (Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images File Photo)

This is the second in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch in 2016.  

The Mid-Atlantic region includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  

Democratic Prospects Improve in 2 New York House Races

Maloney's seat looks safer now than it did in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If House Democrats want to get back to the majority, they’re going to have to do better in New York.  

Republicans currently hold nine of Empire State’s 27 House districts — a third of the state’s delegation, even after a great election cycle in 2014. After the 2008 elections, when Democrats expanded their House majority nationwide, Republicans held just three of New York’s 29 seats (10 percent).  

A Modest Proposal: Timeshare Congressional Districts

In Illinois' 10th District, former Rep. Schneider is trying to win back the seat he lost to Dold after having beaten him two years before. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The sharing economy is all the rage. People are sharing homes and cars, books and tools. Why not congressional districts?  

Republicans and Democrats sink millions of dollars into a quartet of races that regularly flip from one party to the other. Over the last four election cycles, New Hampshire’s 1st District and Texas’ 23rd District have changed hands three times and New York’s 24th District has flipped all four. Illinois’ 10th District flipped back and forth in 2012 and 2014 and could do it again in 2016.  

Democratic Primary to Challenge Zeldin Will Be Competitive (Updated)

Democratic groups have targeted Zeldin as a vulnerable incumbent Republican. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated August 4 11:05 a.m. | The Democrat who challenges GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin in New York’s 1st District will face a close race. But the eventual nominee will have a primary shaping up to be just as competitive, political handicappers say.  

The only two declared candidates for the Democratic nomination are Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and former federal prosecutor and venture capitalist David Calone. They are locked in a tight race, with each candidate drawing on different bases of support in the Long Island district, and both having raised close to a half million dollars so far.  

A Brief Electoral History of Recently Indicted Congressmen

Grimm won re-election by a dozen points with a 19-count indictment hanging over him. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

   

It might be easy to scoff at Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania for talking about his re-election bid on the same day he faced a 29-count indictment on corruption charges , but the most recent members of the House to be indicted held their own at the ballot box, at least initially. The last two members of the House to be indicted won their next election.  

Top Races to Watch in 2016: Mid-Atlantic States

The Senate race in Pennsylvania will likely be a rematch of the 2010 race between Toomey, above, and Sestak. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor's note: This is the third in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch in 2016. The Mid-Atlantic region includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Pennsylvania Senate:  Democrats are on a quest to gain five seats and the Senate majority, and the Keystone State looks like one of the key contests. Republican Patrick J. Toomey defeated Democrat Joe Sestak in 2010, 51 percent to 49 percent. Even though some Democrats are unconvinced Sestak is the best candidate for 2016, no credible alternative has emerged, and the former congressman looks likely to be the nominee once again. Skepticism about Sestak doesn’t mean he can’t win. The Democrat will be a credible nominee and gets the chance to run in a presidential year this time, when Democratic turnout should be better. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race as a Tossup/Tilts Republican .  

New York’s 24th District:  Republican John Katko defeated Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei, 58 percent to 40 percent, in one of the late-breaking races of 2014 and with one of the most stunning margins of victory. Katko now represents a district which President Barack Obama won with 56 percent in 2008 and 57 percent in 2012. Democrats are still searching for a challenger after Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner declined to run. But this is a top-tier takeover target and a must win for House Democrats. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race as a Pure Tossup .  

Democrats Search for Katko Opponent in New York Swing District

Democrats have targeted freshman incumbent Katko but haven't yet come up with a candidate to challenge him. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As political parties pick up the pace of recruiting candidates ahead of next year's congressional elections, Democrats are searching for a candidate in NY's 24th Congressional District to challenge what they see as a vulnerable incumbent.  

Considered one of only 10 Tossup  districts in the country by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call, both parties have made winning the seat a top priority. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted first-term Rep. John Katko on its “One-Term Wonders ” list of Republican freshmen, and the National Republican Congressional Committee placed Katko in the party’s Patriot Program , which is meant to protect its most at-risk incumbents.  

Why Special Elections Really Matter

Pelosi and Hoyer both came to Congress thanks to special elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Special elections matter, but not for the reasons you might think.  

It's an annual sport in politics: arguing whether special elections serve as bellwethers. But while special elections often poorly portend results around the country, they can produce potential leaders. They're also excellent predictors of voter behavior inside that particular district.