New England

Posted November 7, 2003 at 9:29am

Connecticut

Filing deadline: June 8
Primary: Aug. 10

Senate

Incumbent: Chris Dodd (D)
4th term (65 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic


After taking himself out of contention for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year, Dodd appears to be a shoo-in for a fourth term.

Republicans Miriam Masullo, who ran in the 1st district in 2002, author Paul Steitz and Taco Bell manager William Bentley have all filed the necessary papers with the Federal Election Commission to begin raising money for the race.

Masullo has the highest profile of the three, although none is given a serious chance of defeating Dodd. She lost to attorney Phil Steele (R) in a September 2002 House primary in the 1st district despite having secured the party endorsement earlier in the year.

In 1998, Dodd defeated former Rep. Gary Franks (R) 65 percent to 32 percent. In that race he outspent Franks at a better than 2-to-1 clip. Dodd showed more than $3 million in his bank account at the end of September.

House

2nd district
Incumbent: Rob Simmons (R)
2nd term (54 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican


Despite a strong showing against a touted opponent last cycle, expect Simmons to again be one of the top targets for House Democrats in 2004.

The reason for Democrats’ optimism is the partisan makeup of the district, which would have given then-Vice President Al Gore 54 percent of the vote in the 2000 presidential election.

While that showing may have been inflated somewhat by the presence of home-state Sen. Joe Lieberman (D) on the ballot as Gore’s running mate, the district is still clearly quite competitive.

Currently, only former state Rep. Shaun McNally is in the race on the Democratic side, but both the state and national party are still shopping for candidates.

McNally served in the state Legislature from 1986 to 1992, when he left his seat and took over as the head of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. He briefly entered the House race in the 2002 cycle but dropped out in favor of eventual nominee Joe Courtney.

Another Democrat being frequently mentioned for the seat is former Norwich City Councilman Jim Sullivan, who also ran in 2002 and bowed out after party support coalesced around Courtney.

Sullivan has met with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.) to discuss a potential race.

Regardless of whom Democrats nominate, Simmons has shown he is a tough campaigner and solid fundraiser.

After ousting longtime Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D) in a huge upset in 2000, Simmons showcased his crossover appeal in his first re-election bid. He raised and spent nearly $1.9 million to Courtney’s $1.2 million.

Maine

Filing deadline: March 15
Primary: June 8

House

2nd district
Incumbent: Mike Michaud (D)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic


Michaud won this swing Democratic seat with 52 percent in a hotly contested open-seat race last cycle, and he will be a target for Republicans again in 2004 if they can recruit a strong candidate.

Michaud, a paper mill worker who was president of the state Senate before being elected to Congress, won in 2002 with the strong support of labor while being fiercely opposed, both in the primary and general elections, by groups supporting abortion rights.

Maine was not required to complete redistricting until this year, and the new court-drawn lines approved this summer benefited Michaud by changing the district’s makeup only slightly, leaving its political balance roughly intact. This district is the largest east of the Mississippi.

Michaud is assured of another competitive race if Republicans are able to recruit a top-tier candidate, but so far none has stepped forward.

Last cycle’s Republican nominee, Kevin Raye, a former chief of staff to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), is considering whether to run again and has said he will make a decision later this fall. Former Bangor Mayor Tim Woodcock, who lost to Raye by only 319 votes in the 2002 GOP primary, is also mentioned as a potential candidate.

National Republicans are keeping an eye on Michaud, but until a challenger emerges there is no evidence he’s in the top tier of their 2004 hit list.

Massachusetts

Filing deadline: June 1
Primary: Sept. 14

House

1st district
Incumbent: John Olver (D)
7th term (68 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic


Olver averted what could have been a competitive rematch when former acting Gov. Jane Swift (R) announced in August that she would not challenge him in 2004.

The moderate Swift ran against Olver in 1996, garnering 47 percent and holding the incumbent to his second lowest re-election tally since winning a special election in 1991.

Swift eventually was elected lieutenant governor, and after becoming governor in 2001, she decided not to run to keep her job in 2002. Still, she was the first western Bay Stater to hold the state’s top office in 40 years.

But the western 1st district remains a Democratic stronghold, and Swift would have again faced an uphill battle in trying to unseat the unassuming former chemistry professor and current Appropriations member.

The district, which includes the college town of Amherst, voted heavily for 2002 gubernatorial candidate Shannon O’Brien (D), even though she lost the statewide race to now-Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

Olver has been mentioned among the potential retirees that Democratic leaders are keeping an eye on.

Although he got off to a slow fundraising start this year — the $34,000 he had in the bank at the end of March helped to fuel retirement speculation — Olver showed a healthy $269,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30.

Two-term Orange Selectman Steven Adam (R) recently announced plans to run against Olver next year, but Olver — who has never lost an election — doesn’t look likely to have that streak broken in 2004.

New Hampshire

Filing deadline: June 11
Primary: Sept. 14

Senate

Incumbent: Judd Gregg (R)
2nd term (68 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican


While the Democratic presidential candidates are paying particular attention to this first-in-the-nation primary state this fall, the Granite State’s 2004 Senate race has hardly registered on the national party’s radar screen.

After being first elected to the Senate with only 48 percent of the vote, Gregg easily won re-election in 1998, and there is little reason to believe that the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee won’t repeat that performance in 2004.

State Sen. Burt Cohen (D), who had $188,000 in the bank at the end of September, is the only announced challenger to Gregg.

There has been some speculation that former Sen. Bob Smith (R), who was defeated in a 2002 primary by now-Sen. John Sununu (R), might run again in 2004, but at this point that doesn’t look likely.

Seeking to quell speculation that he was looking to leave the Senate, Gregg announced last year that he would run for re-election in 2004. But due in part to his close relationship with President Bush, rumors about Gregg’s future political course have persisted and he continues to be mentioned as a potential appointee to the Cabinet or a federal judgeship if Bush wins a second term.

More recently, however, Gregg’s wife, Kathleen, has generated the most national news after she was abducted from their Northern Virginia home last month by robbers. She escaped the incident unharmed.

If, as expected, Gregg is elected to a third term, he will become the first New Hampshire Senator to do so since then-Sen. Norris Cotton (R) in 1968.

House

1st district
Incumbent: Jeb Bradley (R)
1st term (58 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican


Bradley won a surprisingly large 58 percent to 39 percent victory over Martha Fuller Clark in last cycle’s race to succeed Sununu.

He emerged from a crowded GOP primary after billing himself as a moderate, then was outspent 3-to-1 by Clark, who had previously run against Sununu and was one of national Democrats’ favorite candidates in 2002.

Democrats had high hopes for challenging Bradley again in 2004, but then their top recruit, state Rep. Corey Corbin (D), announced in September that he would run for state Senate instead of Congress. Other Democrats mentioned as possible candidates include former state Rep. John Kacavas, union leader Mark MacKenzie, party activist Steve Marchand and state Rep. Peter Sullivan.

Still, Bradley’s biggest threat next year in the Republican-leaning 1st district, which covers the New Hampshire coast and the eastern tier of the state, appears to be the potential for a primary challenge from the right.

Conservative businessman and radio talk-show host Bob Bevill (R) has said he is considering running again. Bevill, 41, placed last in the eight-way 2002 GOP primary.

But neither of Bradley’s most formidable opponents in last year’s GOP primary — John Stephen, the state’s new health and human services secretary, and 33-year-old self-made millionaire Sean Mahoney — appears set to run again.

2nd district
Incumbent: Charles Bass (R)
5th term (57 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican


While this district is more marginal than the 1st, the entrenched Bass is on considerably more solid ground there after being targeted and outspent but still winning his largest re-election victory yet in 2002.

Bass defeated Katrina Swett, wife of former New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Dick Swett (whom he had defeated in 1994) and daughter of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), 57 percent to 41 percent.

After her defeat last year, Swett said she might run again next year, but little has been heard from her since.

Democrats are hopeful that state House Democratic Leader Peter Burling will run, but his candidacy is questionable right now.

Unless the party is able to recruit a candidate with the name ID and fundraising ability of Swett, an unlikely proposition, Bass should have no trouble coasting to a sixth term.

Rhode Island

Filing deadline: June 30
Primary: Sept. 14

House

1st district
Incumbent: Patrick Kennedy (D)
5th term (60 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic


Although Kennedy dipped to his lowest re-election percentage last year since first being elected in 1994, 60 percent of the vote is not exactly considered shaky ground for an incumbent.

After a series of imbroglios that garnered unwanted national attention and polling that showed Kennedy’s standing back home was suffering, Republicans began talking about making a serious challenge to Kennedy in 2002.

But Kennedy started focusing more attention on his district and spent $2.9 million in his effort to defeat technical analyst and former Navy SEAL David Rogers (R), the surprise winner of a hotly contested primary.

And while there was a vigorous GOP primary contest to determine who would challenge Kennedy in 2002, no Republican challengers have yet to step forward in an attempt to take on the 36-year-old Congressman next year.

A Brown University poll conducted in mid-September found Kennedy’s job approval ratings lagged well behind those of fellow Rep. James Langevin (D), although Kennedy had higher name recognition. The poll found that 37 percent of those surveyed thought Kennedy was doing an excellent or good job, while 50 percent rated his work as fair or poor.

Still, Kennedy seems to run better in presidential election years, and barring any major dust-ups, he should be in fine shape for re-election.

Vermont

Filing deadline: July 19
Primary: Sept. 14

Senate

Incumbent: Patrick Leahy (D)
5th term (72 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic


While Republicans are hoping to make the holdup of Bush judicial nominees in the Senate a wedge campaign issue in 2004, they don’t appear to be targeting Leahy, now the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee who chaired the panel in the 107th Congress.

The most formidable Republican running is wealthy businessman Jack McMullen, who was upset in the 1998 GOP primary by dairy farmer Fred Tuttle, who eventually endorsed Leahy in the general.

In that race, McMullen endured considerable criticism over his residency because he had owned property in the state for years but had lived in Massachusetts.

Now, his residency is more established and he has been active in state Republican politics.

Still, unless McMullen pours millions of his own money into the race, Leahy does not look vulnerable. McMullen had just $49,000 in the bank at the end of September. Leahy, meanwhile, had a little more than $1 million.

Civil engineer Peter Moss, a former Environmental Protection Agency employee who moved to the state two years ago, is also seeking the GOP nomination.

House

At-Large
Incumbent: Bernie Sanders (I)
7th term (64 percent)
Outlook: Safe Independent


Since Vermont elected its first Republican governor in more than a decade in 2002, speculation has swirled that Sanders could look toward running for the state’s top executive job in 2004 (Vermont has two-year gubernatorial terms).

But Sanders has made no such movement just one year removed from the election, and it is presumed that he will instead be seeking an eighth term in the House next November. Vermont is one of two states that still hold biennial gubernatorial elections.

Sanders has not had a Democratic opponent since 1996, and the self-described socialist has easily won re-election with more than 60 percent since then.

Sanders considered running against Sen. Jim Jeffords (I), then a Republican, in both 1994 and 2000 but decided against a bid both times. He flirted with running for governor in 2001 after then-Gov. Howard Dean (D) announced he would not seek re-election.

Jeffords is up for re-election in 2006, but it’s not likely that Sanders, who has advocated for Democrats and progressives working together, would seek to challenge the Republican-turned-Independent who now caucuses with Democrats.