THE SOUTH: The South Has Risen Again as the No. 1 Battleground for Control of Next Year’s Senate

Posted May 13, 2004 at 3:46pm

ALABAMA
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: June 1
Runoff: June 29

Senate
Incumbent: Richard Shelby (R)
3rd term (63 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Although there was talk of former Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore challenging Shelby in a primary — and polling that showed the race to be a dead heat — the challenge never materialized, and Shelby is expected to cruise to a fourth term.

As of March 31, Shelby had $11.2 million in the bank. He will face either businessman Johnny Swanson (D) or perennial candidate Wayne Sowell (D) in November.

House
3rd district
Incumbent: Mike Rogers (R)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

Just before the state’s filing deadline last month, former state Department of Human Resources Director Bill Fuller (D) filed to challenge the freshman Rogers this fall.

Fuller’s decision produced a sigh of relief from Democrats, who were facing the embarrassing prospect of watching Rogers coast to re-election after narrowly winning in this swing district two years ago.

Democrats tout Fuller as a conservative who has the ability to raise the funds needed to make the contest competitive.

Fuller served 18 years in the Alabama state House before being appointed Human Resources commissioner in 2000. While in the Legislature, Fuller chaired the Judiciary Committee as well as the Ways and Means Committee.

Strategists have estimated that Fuller will need to raise $1.5 million to be competitive in a district that spans three media markets. Rogers has been one of the most prolific fundraisers in the freshman class, raising $1.4 million since coming to Congress.

Rogers will likely be helped by the presence of President Bush at the top of the ballot, but the mostly rural, socially conservative district is 32 percent black, which will help the Democrat.

ARKANSAS
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: May 18
Runoff: June 8

Senate
Incumbent: Blanche Lincoln (D)
1st term (55 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

This race has fallen off the national radar screen, as Republicans were unable to recruit a first-, second- or even third-tier challenger to face Lincoln.

State Sen. Jim Holt, former Benton County Sheriff Andy Lee and Rosemarie Clampitt are competing for the Republican nomination.

Holt is the only one of the three with any political base, which seems to make him the favorite in the primary.

Both Lee and Clampitt are colorful characters with little shot of winning. Lee was nicknamed “TV Lee” for his penchant to find his way into the public eye during his stint as sheriff. Clampitt lived in Los Angeles filming television commercials before moving to Arkansas two years ago.

Lincoln closed March with a hefty $3 million in the bank.

House
2nd district
Incumbent: Vic Snyder (D)
4th term (93 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

State Rep. Marvin Parks (R) formally filed to take on Snyder at the end of March in what could become a serious race for the four-term Congressman.

Much of Snyder’s vulnerability is due to his unwillingness to raise money in off-years. He raised no money in the final three months of 2003 and had just $332 in the bank.

He bounced back solidly in the first three months of 2004, raising $141,000 and ending the period with $116,000 on hand. Parks raised just $34,000 from Jan. 1 to March 31, with $104,000 on hand.

The Little Rock-based district is competitive between the parties, as President Bush would have won 49 percent there in 2000, his strongest showing in any of the three seats held by Democrats in the Razorback State. Even with these assets, Parks is rarely mentioned by national Republicans as one of their top-tier challengers.

Snyder’s unorthodox approach to holding this seat clearly appeals to voters.

FLORIDA
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: Aug. 31

Senate
Open seat: Bob Graham (D) is retiring
Outlook: Tossup

Six months after Graham announced his retirement, the crowded race to replace him has come into relatively clear focus, and both parties’ general election hopes rest firmly on the outcome of the winner-take-all primaries this summer.

The initial edge given to Democrats, however, is long gone.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Peter Deutsch, former state Education Commissioner Betty Castor and Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas are the major candidates.

Castor, a former state legislator and former president of the University of South Florida, is widely perceived as the party’s best, if not only, shot at winning in November.

Although she hasn’t been on the statewide ballot since 1990, her moderate profile and base in the Tampa media market will make her an attractive choice for swing voters in the general, party strategists argue. Castor got the early backing of EMILY’s List, and the organization has played a large role in the selection of her campaign team and its day-to-day operation.

Castor’s goal will be to stay above the fray in the primary. Deutsch and Penelas, who share the same South Florida base, have gone after each other early and there is little doubt that the primary will be ugly.

Polls have shown Castor with a sizable lead in the primary and strongly positioned in the general.

After her sluggish fundraising last year began to worry party strategists, Castor outraised her two opponents in the first quarter, taking in $1.3 million. Still, she trails both Deutsch and Penelas in cash on hand, although she benefits from better statewide name recognition.

And while Deutsch has trained his public attacks on Penelas so far, look for him to spend some of his $4.6 million to pull Castor down if polls continue to show her ahead.

There is somewhat less clarity on the Republican side, where former Rep. Bill McCollum and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez appear poised to battle it out for the GOP nomination.

State House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman, millionaire businessman Doug Gallagher and wealthy tax-cut advocate Karen Saull are the other major Republican candidates.

While Byrd has a cash advantage and a strong following among some movement conservatives, the two wealthy wild cards in the race are Saull and Gallagher, the brother of the state’s chief financial officer who has pumped $1.25 million of his own money into the race already. While neither Gallagher nor Saull is expected to win the nomination, party strategists are keeping close tabs on the support their resources may be able to drain from the top contenders.

Martinez, who entered the race at the urging of the White House, could ultimately benefit from the fractured base of movement conservatives, who are aligned with McCollum or Byrd. His opponents, however, are working aggressively to introduce him to GOP voters as a former Democrat and one-time chairman of the Florida Association of Trial Lawyers.

National party strategists see Martinez as the best possible nominee and, like Castor, one who can appeal to swing and Hispanic voters.

And while many party insiders view McCollum, who lost to now-Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in 2000, as a weak nominee, he argues that many of Florida’s statewide elected officials lost a statewide race before winning one. McCollum says he has learned from the mistakes of his last campaign and is more focused on grassroots support this time around.

Watch the level of involvement from Senate leaders, who hosted a kickoff reception for Martinez’s campaign, and the not-as-blatant involvement of the White House as the primary grows closer. Washington’s worst-kept secret may be that the president’s advisers want him campaigning with Martinez come October, and it will be interesting to see what they’re willing to lay on the line to ensure that scenario.

House
2nd district
Incumbent: Allen Boyd (D)
4th term (67 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

This could wind up as the state’s most competitive general election House contest, as Boyd faces his toughest opponent yet in this rural Panhandle seat. Republicans tout state Rep. Bev Kilmer as one of their best recruits of the cycle.

Kilmer, elected to the state House in 1998, has consistently been one of the top fundraisers among House challengers this year. She ended the first quarter with a little more than a half-million dollars in the bank. Boyd, meanwhile, had about $1 million.

Boyd has easily won re-election since 1996, and he’s never been targeted by the national GOP or faced an opponent with any money. This time he faces both in a presidential election year.

While registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by an almost 2-to-1 margin, the district voted 53 percent for President Bush in the 2000 presidential election.

Still, Boyd, a farmer with an audible Southern drawl and a conservative voting record, is well-liked in the district. It’s hard to see how Kilmer tarnishes Boyd’s appeal to the good ol’ boys in the rural Panhandle.

13th district
Incumbent: Katherine Harris (R)
1st term (55 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Harris’ closer-than-expected 2002 winning margin gives Democrats a glimmer of hope there, when the former Florida secretary of state will be on the ballot with President Bush for the first time.

Attorney Jan Schneider (D), who lost to Harris last cycle, is running again. But Democratic insiders appear to be more excited about the potential of bank President Christine Jennings, who ended the first quarter with a little less than $100,000 in the bank after loaning her campaign $50,000. Schneider had about the same amount in cash on hand, while Harris, who has a national fundraising base, showed about $820,000 on hand.

Attorney C.J. Cazia and Manatee Community College professor Jay Winters are also running in the Democratic primary.

Harris appears to be a safe bet for now, but as all eyes turn to the presidential race in Florida down the stretch, her re-election campaign might also catch some attention.

14th district
Open seat: Porter Goss (R) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Republican

The GOP race to succeed Goss is heating up, with the “insider versus outsider” theme likely to only become more prevalent down the stretch. Observers are already predicting an all-out nasty battle before it’s all over.

The top Republicans in the race are former state Rep. Connie Mack IV and state Rep. Carole Green, who have engaged in a heated exchange of charges over campaign financing. Mack has attacked Green for accepting campaign funds from a health care group impacted by legislation that Green and other state legislators were considering.

Meanwhile, Green and her supporters have charged that Mack, the son of former Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), is relying on outside influences — namely his father’s connections in Washington, D.C. — to buy the election.

Mack also faces residency issues, after resigning from the Legislature and moving across the state to run for the House seat once held by his father, who retired from the Senate in 2000. Still, Mack has roots in the district, and it remains to be seen how much weight the residency issue will carry with primary voters.

Mack has raised more than $800,000 for the race. Still, he had only about half of that total left in the bank on March 31. Green showed $240,000 in cash on hand at the end of the first quarter.

Lee County Commissioner Andy Coy and cardiologist Frank Schwerin are also running on the Republican side. This is a heavily Republican seat, and whoever does win the primary is almost assured of winning the general election.

20th district
Open seat: Peter Deutsch (D) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Democratic

State Sen. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz might as well begin measuring the drapes for her new Congressional office. She is unopposed in the primary to succeed Deutsch in this heavily Democratic South Florida district. She will face unknown Republican Margaret Hostetter in November.

Wasserman-Schultz has the broad backing of party leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), and is viewed as a rising star in Democratic circles.

22nd district
Incumbent: Clay Shaw (R)
12th term (61 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Democrats appear enthusiastic about the candidacy of former Wilton Manors Mayor Jim Stork, even though the party’s desired first-choice contender passed on the race.

Stork, who is openly gay, raised an impressive $330,000 in a little more than a month and showed $280,000 left in the bank at the end of the first quarter. Shaw had a little more than a half-million dollars on hand.

Stork is also the owner of Stork’s Café and Bakery in Wilton Manors.

The South Florida district slightly favors Democrats, and the party has made defeating Shaw a top priority in the previous two cycles.

After an extremely close race in 2000, Shaw easily beat Palm Beach County Commissioner Carol Roberts (D), who spent $1.1 million and got a disappointing 38 percent of the vote in 2002.

Shaw could see his vote percentage drop some in a presidential election year (Al Gore won this district with 52 percent), but Stork still has a long way to go to move the race against this battle-tested incumbent into the top tier of competitive contests.

GEORGIA
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: July 20
Runoff: Aug. 10

Senate
Open seat: Zell Miller (D) is retiring
Outlook: Likely Republican

The race to replace Miller is largely viewed, at least in Washington, D.C., circles, as Rep. Johnny Isakson’s (R) to lose.

But Isakson must first get past Rep. Mac Collins and Godfather’s Pizza magnate Herman Cain in the GOP primary. Both men are working to pin the moderate label on Isakson.

Collins has been more aggressive, focusing almost solely on abortion. While the two men have different voting records on that issue, Isakson’s campaign is seeking to illustrate how similar the two men are on almost all other matters.

Isakson, who enjoys a large cash-on-hand advantage, recently went up with television ads to defend his conservative credentials.

Cain, meanwhile, has already run six television ads in his attempt to introduce himself to voters as a conservative political outsider with traditional family values.

Cain is getting high marks for his campaign so far, leading some observers to suggest the potential may be greatest for an Isakson/Cain runoff if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the primary vote.

Cain scored the endorsement of the influential, anti-tax Club for Growth, although it’s still not clear what level of resources the group is willing to commit to the race. He’s also getting some high-powered support from conservative icons like former GOP vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp and one-time presidential candidate Steve Forbes.

Polling in the race so far has confirmed Isakson’s frontrunner status, but his campaign is taking little for granted since Isakson has run unsuccessfully for statewide office twice before. Isakson can benefit if only Collins and Cain continue to battle it out in the next few months for the conservative label in the race. If, however, Isakson is forced into a runoff with either, he could face some problems.

Meanwhile, the Democratic side of the race can be summed up as one large morass.

After attempts to woo all of the state’s big-name Democrats into the race failed, party leaders looked for a self-funding candidate to fill the void. Democrats thought they had found a person who fit the bill in millionaire technology entrepreneur Cliff Oxford, who was encouraged to run by the likes of Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Corzine (N.J.) and former President Jimmy Carter.

Oxford flirted with running for more than a month, telling leaders in Washington he was in the race but stopping short of announcing his candidacy. Finally, with the state’s filing deadline a day away, he announced he would not run. That night he changed his mind and filed the next day.

Democratic strategists have since backed away from Oxford, after details of his messy second divorce came to light. He has since reconciled with his wife, and she is supporting his Senate bid. Still, many observers see the divorce issue as catastrophic political baggage and doubt Oxford’s ability to self-fund his way out of the primary.

As Oxford’s name continued to dangle in the race, freshman Rep. Denise Majette (D) surprised her colleagues and staff by announcing she would seek the Senate seat.

While Majette is the highest-profile lawmaker in the race, and she is the nominal favorite to win the nomination, she is given little to no chance of winning in November.

Majette, who ousted controversial Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D) in a 2002 primary, faces an uphill battle in raising the resources necessary to run a competitive statewide campaign. Many observers are still scratching their heads, wondering why Majette would give up a safe House seat for such a seemingly quixotic bid.

House
3rd district
Incumbent: Jim Marshall (D)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Marshall faces a rematch with former Bibb County Commissioner Calder Clay, whom he narrowly beat in 2002. Marshall flirted with running for Senate but, to the relief of party strategists, instead is focused on his re-election.

After getting off to a sluggish fundraising start last year, he had about $500,000 in the bank at the end of March. Clay, who outspent Marshall by a 2-to-1 margin last cycle, had $230,000.

Insiders say Clay is having some trouble generating excitement for another bid against Marshall, and his fundraising so far appears to reinforce that idea.

Still, Clay argues he will be helped by having President Bush, who won the district in 2000, at the top of the ticket this year.

But it’s also hard to see how much yardage he can gain after the banner year Georgia Republicans had in 2002, when district natives now-Gov. Sonny Perdue and now-Sen. Saxby Chambliss were leading the ticket.

4th district
Open seat: Denise Majette (D) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Five Democratic women are competing in the race to succeed Majette, who ousted outspoken Rep. Cynthia McKinney in a 2002 primary. McKinney is now running to regain her old seat, and a runoff is likely with the current crowded field of candidates.

McKinney’s most formidable challenger is state Sen. Liane Levetan, a former DeKalb County CEO. Levetan and Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard are the only white candidates in the race. Woolard is also openly lesbian.

Also running are state Sens. Connie Stokes and Nadine Thomas, who abandoned her long-shot Senate bid and dropped back to the House race after Majette’s announcement.

A poll conducted last month for Levetan showed her and McKinney virtually tied in the primary, with 28 percent and 27 percent, respectively. The survey results also showed Levetan as the candidate best positioned to compete with McKinney in a runoff. In a two-way runoff matchup, Levetan received 54 percent to 36 percent for McKinney.

Early handicapping of the race suggests it would be hard for McKinney, who lost to Majette by 16 points, to win a two-way runoff.

Whoever wins the primary or runoff is expected to cruise to victory in November against little-known Republican Catherine Davis.

6th district
Open seat: Johnny Isakson (R) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Republican

Once commonly handicapped as a two-person Republican primary race between state Sens. Chuck Clay and Tom Price, observers are now keeping an eye on free-spending state Sen. Robert Lamutt.

Lamutt has put in $900,000 of his own money so far and also scored the endorsement of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), who represented the district for 20 years.

Price, who had the most money in the bank as of March 31, has been endorsed by Georgia Reps. Charlie Norwood and John Linder.

State Rep. Roger Hines, software engineer Chris Chatwood, defense analyst Al Beverly and planning director Kevin Johns round out the primary field, increasing the likelihood of a runoff.

Price, a physician and former state Senate Majority Leader, is virtually assured a runoff spot as the only north Fulton candidate in the race.

The population of the suburban Atlanta district is split between portions of Cobb and Fulton counties.

Clay and Lamutt are both based in Cobb. Clay has higher name recognition because he ran for lieutenant governor in 2002, but observers say Lamutt is campaigning more aggressively.

Price has consistently led his rivals in cash on hand, and at the end of the first quarter he had $870,000 in the bank. He has loaned his campaign $200,000.

Clay, meanwhile, has loaned his campaign $500,000, and he still had $715,000 left in reserve at the beginning of April. Lamutt reported $660,000 in cash on hand.

Whoever wins the primary or runoff will be essentially guaranteed a seat in the 109th Congress.

8th district
Open seat: Mac Collins (R) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Republican

The real fight to replace Collins, like the race to replace Isakson, will take place in the primary.

State Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, state Sen. Mike Crotts and Dylan Glenn, a former aide to Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), are the leading Republicans in the race.

Westmoreland is still considered the frontrunner — the only question is whether he’ll be able to get more than 50 percent of the primary vote and avoid a runoff.

Westmoreland, who has the backing of Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) and the conservative Club for Growth, has raised a little more than $1 million for the race so far and had $770,000 left in reserve on March 31.

Glenn, who has run for Congress twice before in the neighboring 2nd district, has been endorsed by conservative icon and former Rep. Bob Barr (R). He has worked in both Bush administrations and has strong Washington, D.C., ties.

With the help of some of those D.C. connections Glenn has raised an impressive $750,000 for his campaign. He showed $630,000 in the bank at the end of the first quarter.

11th district
Phil Gingrey (R)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Gingrey is now solidly favored to win a second term in this seat, which was drawn to help elect a Democrat in 2002. He faces a second-tier Democratic opponent in Polk County Chief Magistrate Judge Rick Crawford.

Gingrey has been one of — if not the most — prolific fundraiser in his class, having raised more than $1.7 million this cycle. He had a little more than $1 million left in the bank at the end of March. Crawford had about $20,000.

12th district
Incumbent: Max Burns (R)
1st term (55 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Burns began the cycle as perhaps the most marked of all House freshmen, simply because he won a seat that was tailor-made for a Democrat.

Three Democratic attorneys are the leading contenders to face Burns in November, none of whom appears to carry the catastrophic baggage that 2002 nominee Champ Walker, who turned out to be unelectable, did.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow is the Democratic frontrunner so far, and he is the favorite of national party strategists. Former state Sen. Doug Haines and attorney Tony Center (D), who lost the 2002 primary, are also running.

The last-minute entry of businessman Robert Finch (D) in the race has irked some party strategists. Finch, the only black candidate, could make it into a runoff, but he is considered a weak nominee. The district has a 42 percent black population.

Barrow holds sizable leads in fundraising and cash on hand so far. He has also landed some key endorsements, including that of former Sen. Max Cleland (D) and the Sierra Club. Cleland carried the 12th district in 2002, even as he went down to defeat statewide.

The Sierra Club endorsement was surely a disappointment for Haines, who has specialized in environmental law.

Barrow has raised $640,000 for his campaign and had $437,000 in cash on hand as of March 31. Haines ended the first quarter with just less than $60,000 in the bank.

Burns, meanwhile, had a spate of unwanted press last fall but has since kept a relatively low profile. Vice President Cheney will headline a Burns fundraiser today.

KENTUCKY
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: May 18

Senate
Incumbent: Jim Bunning (R)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Although even Republicans admit that Bunning on paper is one of their most endangered incumbents, the likely Democratic nominee — state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo — has done little to make the case against the freshman Senator.

Mongiardo, who has served in the state Senate since 2000 and briefly held two seats simultaneously due to a redistricting snafu, began raising money late last year though he didn’t formally enter the race until early 2004.

His money gathering has been underwhelming at best: From Jan. 1 to March 31 he raised $174,000 with $243,000 left to spend. Bunning, on the other hand, has raised money at a ferocious clip, with $3.7 million in the bank at the end of March.

Though his fundraising has been solid, Bunning has not run a flawless campaign to this point. He drew heavy criticism from Mongiardo as well as a number of national Democrats when word leaked in March that Bunning had said his opponent resembled one of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s sons. Bunning initially denied he made the comment and then said it was meant as a joke.

Seeking to capitalize on the misstep, Mongiardo demanded an apology from Bunning and asked that the Senator release the videotape of his remarks. Bunning sent a written apology to Mongiardo but did not authorize release of the tape.

It remains to be seen whether this slip-up will linger, but it clearly opened the door for Mongiardo. He has failed to push it open, however, hobbled by a combination of poor fundraising and staff changes (his campaign manager resigned very publicly in late April). Rumors abound that Mongiardo may leave the race. As a result, Bunning is now a strong favorite.

House
3rd district
Incumbent: Anne Northup (R)
4th term (52 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

For as long as Northup holds this Louisville-based seat, she will draw attention from national Democrats. Heavily targeted since defeating then-Rep. Mike Ward (D) in 1996, Northup is one of the most battle-tested members of the Republican Conference.

Her re-election prospects are stronger now than perhaps they have ever been since coming to Congress, which, given the swing nature of the seat, is not saying all that much.

Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Tony Miller (D) was highly touted when he entered the race but has disappointed so far. He has held elected office in Jefferson County for the past 17 years and ran for lieutenant governor in 2003, nearly upending the ticket led by now-Rep. Ben Chandler (D).

Miller raised a decent $199,000 between January and the end of March, with $212,000 in the bank. That total puts him well behind where 2002 nominee Jack Conway (D) was at this point. Northup, an outstanding fundraiser, had more than $1 million in the bank through March.

Despite these advantages, expect a close race. The 3rd is the most Democratic district in the state and will likely perform even more so in a presidential year.

Polling conducted in early February for the Louisville Courier-Journal showed Northup with a 9-point lead. That margin has likely changed little in the intervening months.

4th district
Open seat: Ken Lucas (D) is retiring
Outlook: Tossup

Lucas’ retirement creates one of Republicans’ best open-seat pickup opportunities this cycle. The Northern Kentucky 4th district has a strong Republican tilt, which is likely to be accentuated by the presence of President Bush and Sen. Jim Bunning (R), who held the seat from 1986 to 1998, leading the ticket.

Republicans face a primary between their 2002 nominee, businessman Geoff Davis, and attorney Kevin Murphy.

Davis entered the race as the favorite after his near-miss challenge to Lucas in 2002, for which he received almost no attention.

Circumstances have changed considerably since then, however, as the National Republican Congressional Committee has made it clear it is supporting Davis in the primary this time around.

Following Lucas’ surprise retirement late last year, Democrats quickly coalesced around former television news anchor Nick Clooney — the father of actor George Clooney and brother of the late singer Rosemary Clooney. Not surprisingly, Clooney has used his connections both in Northern Kentucky and the Hollywood community to put together a very impressive fundraising start.

In the first three months of 2004, he raised $479,000, with $425,000 in the bank.

By contrast, Davis showed $612,000 on hand and Murphy had $165,000.

Though Clooney presents an intriguing profile, the demographics of the district make it a very difficult hold for any Democrat.

Republicans believe material mined from columns Clooney wrote for the Cincinnati Enquirer for a number of years coupled with the funds he has raised from Hollywood make him easily tagged as a liberal.

Davis is the likely primary victor and enters the general election with a slight edge.

6th district
Incumbent: Ben Chandler (D)
1st term (55 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Chandler, the former state attorney general, won this seat in a Feb. 17 special election to replace Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R), who was elected governor in November 2003.

He defeated state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr (R) by 12 points in the Lexington-based, Republican-leaning district, a victory touted by national Democrats as a sign of their ability to win in swing seats in the south.

That victory has given Chandler a clear leg up in November; two days after her defeat Kerr said she would not challenge the Congressman in the fall.

State Sen. Tom Buford is the leading GOP candidate at this point, though he faces nominal opposition from two others. National Republicans appear to be taking a wait-and-see attitude about Buford’s candidacy.

Buford reported raising $29,000 in his April quarterly filing with $26,000 on hand. Chandler raised nearly $1 million for the special election, ending March with $116,000 on hand.

This district remains a potential target for Republicans, but with Chandler’s convincing win in February they may wind up looking elsewhere.

LOUISIANA
Filing deadline: Aug. 6
Primary: Nov. 2
Runoff: Dec. 4

Senate
Open seat: John Breaux (D) is retiring
Outlook: Tossup

While Breaux’s decision not to seek a fourth term came as little surprise to political observers, the number of candidates in the race to replace him is noteworthy.

For Democrats, Rep. Chris John, state Treasurer John Kennedy and state Sen. Arthur Morrell are all running.

Rep. David Vitter is the only announced candidate on the Republican side, although former Gov. Buddy Roemer (R) has also expressed an interest in the race.

Under Louisiana election law, all of the candidates will run in an open primary on Nov. 2. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two votegetters regardless of party advance to a Dec. 4 runoff.

Given this free-for-all, any number of scenarios remain possible. If Roemer enters the contest, some have suggested that two Republicans could advance to the runoff. But seeing as how Louisiana has not elected a GOPer to the Senate since Reconstruction, this seems unlikely.

The more likely scenario is that one Democrat and one Republican make the runoff with Vitter the clear GOP frontrunner and John a favorite on the other side.

Vitter and John led the field in fundraising over the first three months of the year.

Vitter brought in $2.8 million in the quarter — $1.6 million of which came in the form of a transfer from his House campaign committee. He had $2.6 million in the bank.

John raised $1.2 million from Jan. 1 to March 31, ending the period with $2.1 million on hand. Kennedy had a solid fundraising quarter of his own, raising $769,000 with $709,000 in the bank. It remains unclear whether he will be able to continue bringing in significant money given the clear preference national Democrats — and Breaux — have indicated for John.

Because the primary will not take place until what is Election Day for the rest of the country, both national parties are likely to stay out of the race until the runoff participants are chosen.

This race is almost certain to end in a runoff, attracting nationwide attention — with control of the Senate possibly hanging in the balance — come December.

House
1st district
Open seat: David Vitter (R) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Republican

After running a near-miss bid for governor in 2003, former Health and Human Services Department official Bobby Jindal appears to be a sure thing to win this suburban New Orleans seat. Jindal is opposed by state Rep. Steve Scalise (R) and state Sen. Tom Schedler (R) as well as construction worker Michael Armato (D).

In polling and fundraising, Jindal has a huge lead. He brought in a whopping $814,000 in the first three months of the year and banked $764,000. Scalise raised $190,000 in the period, ending March with $167,000 on hand. Neither Schedler nor Armato filed a finance report with the Federal Election Commission.

In an independent poll conducted by Southern Media and Opinion Research, Jindal led Scalise 66 percent to 6 percent. Schedler received 4 percent.

Jindal carried this district easily in his 2003 race against then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D). He lost that race 52 percent to 48 percent.

Barring a huge turnabout, Jindal will be the next Congressman from the district.

3rd district
Open seat: Billy Tauzin (R) is retiring
Outlook: Tossup

No House seat has received more national attention than this southeastern Louisiana district, as speculation has run rampant for more than a year that Tauzin would resign to take a high-profile lobbying job.

That possibility has grown more remote, though the race to replace the retiring Tauzin is likely to emerge as one of the nation’s top open-seat contests.

Three candidates are currently in the race. Former state Rep. Charlie Melancon and former Senate aide Charmaine Caccioppi are running as Democrats, while state Sen. Craig Romero is the lone Republican.

BellSouth executive Billy Tauzin III (R) — son of the Congressman — is expected to run as well.

Melancon is the current favorite among Democrats given his extremely strong fundraising in the first quarter of 2004. He raked in $323,000 in the period, banking $310,000.

Caccioppi only formally entered the race April 1 and did not file a financial report with the Federal Election Commission. Fundraising should not be a problem, however, given her connections to former Louisiana Sen. Bennett Johnston (D).

Romero hails from the far western portion of the district and while he is seen as a credible candidate, he is likely to be pushed aside for the younger Tauzin.

Given that all the candidates will run Nov. 2 in an open primary, it is unlikely any will receive 50 percent. If no one wins a simply majority, then the two top votegetters, regardless of party, advance to the Dec. 4 runoff.

5th district
Incumbent: Rodney Alexander (D)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Just as Alexander’s victory in a 2002 runoff was a potential boost for House Democrats going into the 2004 cycle, his near-party switch in March would have been as large a downer if he had gone through with it. Even as national Democrats admitted that Alexander was all but gone, the Louisiana freshman decided to stay in the party. That decision ensures that Alexander will be one of the top Republican targets this cycle.

Former 5th district Rep. John Cooksey is at the top of Republicans’ wish list and appears likely to enter the race. Cooksey’s campaign released a poll in late April showing Alexander with a 3-point lead.

That ran contrary to a survey conducted for Alexander in January that showed him with a 16-point lead. The discrepancy between the poll numbers, Democrats allege, is that the GOP poll significantly undersampled blacks, who make up more than a third of the district’s population.

Although Alexander has to this point run a strong re-election effort, the Republican tilt of the district makes it a tough fight for him.

President Bush won 57 percent in the district in the 2000 presidential election, and Cooksey is the only other person to represent the seat since it was created in redistricting in 1996. Couple those numbers with Alexander’s 974-vote December 2002 runoff victory, and he becomes one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the party.

He has done a solid job of fundraising, ending March with $498,000 in the bank.

7th district
Open seat: Chris John (D) is running for Senate
Outlook: Tossup

The 7th district has been the spawning ground for some of the state’s most legendary politicians, including former Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) and retiring Sen. John Breaux (D).

With John now moving on in hopes of following in Breaux’s footsteps, Republicans believe they may finally have the right climate to win this traditionally Democratic seat.

Former state Rep. Woody Jenkins (R) and former state Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell (R) both carried the district in their races against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in 1996 and 2002. President Bush won 55 percent in the district in 2000.

Three Democrats are expected to run: state Sens. Willie Mount and Don Cravins, as well as former state Court of Appeals Judge Ned Doucet. For Republicans, physician Charles Boustany and 1996 candidate David Thibodeaux are in the contest.

At this point, fundraising is the only way to measure the relative strength of the candidates. Under that criteria, Boustany wowed many in the D.C. community by raising $341,000 in the first three months of 2004. He retained $330,000 in his bank account. Though he has significant personal wealth, he has yet to make a personal donation.

Boustany has an interesting political profile, as he is married to a niece of Edwards, the imprisoned former four-term governor; he is also of Lebanese descent, which even Democrats admit will help him in this district where Arab-Americans have a major political voice.

Thibodeaux, who missed out on making a runoff in 1996 by just eight votes, is not expected to be a major factor in the race.

Among Democrats, Mount posted a solid $272,000 raised in the first quarter with $270,000 on hand. She is a close personal friend of Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) and has a strong base in the western end of the district, which is anchored by Lake Charles.

Doucet raised $219,000 for the period but is seen as being the most organized for the race at this point.

Born and raised in Vermillion Parish — in the district’s far eastern reaches — Doucet served one term in the state Legislature from 1976 to 1978. The following year he took the judgeship in which he represented five of the eight parishes that make up the 7th district.

The X-factor in the race remains Cravins, a black state legislator currently in his third Senate term. Many Democrats have speculated that Cravins will not ultimately make the race, citing his flirtation with a challenge to Landrieu in 2002.

If he does make the race, Cravins could be a potential Democratic spoiler. The district’s population is roughly 25 percent black along with a much larger percentage of Democratic primary voters.

MISSISSIPPI
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: passed
Runoff: passed

House
2nd district
Incumbent: Bennie Thompson (D)
5th term (55 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Thompson faces a rematch with 2002 GOP nominee Clinton LeSueur in the majority-black 2nd district, primarily situated in the state’s Delta region.

LeSueur, who held the incumbent to 55 percent last cycle, has vowed he will have the resources to make a truly competitive run against Thompson this year.

He began April with just $6,000 in the bank, however. Thompson had $425,000.

NORTH CAROLINA
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: July 20
Runoff: Aug. 17

Senate
Open seat: John Edwards (D) is retiring
Outlook: Tossup

If anything can be said of this race, it is that this will likely be the longest general election campaign of any Senate contest this cycle.

Both parties did a good job of clearing their respective fields for Rep. Richard Burr (R) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles (D), and the two have been campaigning full throttle since Edwards announced he would not run last fall.

Bowles won the Democratic Senate nomination in 2002 but emerged bruised from the late primary and lost in November to now-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R).

This time around Bowles says he’s a more comfortable campaigner, and he’s vowed to learn from mistakes he made the last time. It also helps that he’ll be facing a five-term Congressman with a voting record instead of a legendary political matriarch.

Independent and Democratic polls have consistently shown Bowles in the lead, although much of his support at this point is based on residual name recognition from the 2002 race. The latest poll, conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, showed Bowles at 47 percent and Burr at 38 percent.

Burr, meanwhile, still must introduce himself to voters, and the $5.7 million he had in the bank on March 31 should help. Recent polling has shown the Winston-Salem lawmaker is known by only about half of likely voters, and Burr has yet to match his impressive fundraising performance on the campaign trail.

The two candidates have sparred over who would be more effective in passing a proposed tobacco quota buyout and their support, or former support, for free trade policies.

Bowles has posted impressive fundraising numbers the previous two quarters and had about $3.4 million left at the beginning of the second quarter. Last cycle, Bowles spent $6.5 million in personal funds and he will likely have to spend again down the stretch.

While Republicans have long been given a slight edge in picking up this seat, Bowles’ performance in the race so far — coupled with polling that shows President Bush’s popularity dwindling in the state — makes Democratic prospects look a lot better than they did six months ago.

House
1st district
Open seat: Frank Ballance (D) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Democratic

The field of Democrats vying to replace Ballance might have been even larger had the freshman Congressman given his would-be successors more time to act. But Ballance pulled his candidacy just hours before the state’s filing deadline May 7.

The leading candidates in the race for the nomination to replace him are former state Supreme Court Judge G.K. Butterfield and Snow Hill Mayor Don Davis, who just stepped down as chairman of the 1st district Democratic Party. Butterfield, who recently resigned as judge, had considered challenging Ballance in the primary. Davis, 32, is believed to be the youngest mayor in the state.

Also running are East Carolina University professor Christine Fitch, Elizabeth City businessman Sam Davis and attorney Darryl Smith, a one-time aide to then-Rep. Eva Clayton (D-N.C.). Ballance defeated both Fitch and Sam Davis in the 2002 primary.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, an Aug. 17 runoff will be held.

Sam Davis, the only white candidate in the primary, won 26 percent of the vote last cycle in the four-way race and would have faced Ballance in a runoff had the state not eliminated it last cycle.

Early handicapping suggests this will largely be a battle between Don Davis and Butterfield, both of whom are black, although either could wind up in a runoff with Sam Davis. The district is 51 percent black.

One factor to watch will be whether Ballance decides to endorse in the primary. While Ballance has personal relationships with both Butterfield and Don Davis, observers say the Congressman would likely back Davis if he endorses anyone in the race. Last cycle Ballance was aided by the support of Clayton, his longtime friend and ally, who endorsed him after announcing her retirement in 2001.

Whoever wins the primary is all but assured a seat in the 109th Congress. Greg Dority and Jerry Williford are squaring off for the GOP nod. Dority lost to Ballance in 2002, 64 percent to 35 percent.

5th district
Open seat: Richard Burr (R) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Republican

The circus-like primary to succeed Burr may go down as the nastiest and most expensive open-seat contest this cycle.

Republicans can’t be pleased that they are being forced to endure two more months of mudslinging because the state pushed back its primary calendar this year.

Still, the party has little to worry about since the seat will remain safely in its hands come November.

The leading Republicans in the race are businessmen Ed Broyhill, Jay Helvey and Nathan Tabor, as well as Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson and state Sen. Virginia Foxx.

Broyhill has been considered the nominal frontrunner in the race, based almost solely on his name. He is the son of former Rep. and Sen. Jim Broyhill (R-N.C.) and his grandfather, J.E. Broyhill, is considered the founder of the modern GOP in North Carolina. The family’s last name is synonymous with the furniture industry in the western part of the state.

Ed Broyhill was the finance chairman for Burr’s first Congressional bid, and the two were fraternity brothers at Wake Forest University. He has been endorsed by all of the state’s living former Republican Senators, including his father, as well as former President Gerald Ford and a host of other party leaders.

Meanwhile, Tabor and Robinson are catering their campaigns toward social and Christian conservatives.

Tabor, 30, is an executive in the family business, a company that makes soy-based nutritional products. Earlier this year, Tabor was the target of a disparaging e-mail from a fictitious “Pastor Randy.” The e-mail was later traced to a Robinson supporter by Tabor’s campaign, but Robinson and his supporter denied any involvement with the e-mail.

Robinson is embracing this quote from the Winston-Salem Journal: “Jesse Helms is back! This time, he’s black.” He features it prominently in his campaign literature, even though the former North Carolina Senator is backing Broyhill.

Foxx, who recently went on television with ads, is emphasizing her background as the only experienced lawmaker in the race.

No one has used television advertising as much as Helvey and Broyhill, though — the two candidates with the most personal wealth.

Robinson has raised and spent more than any candidate in the race. He has collected $1.6 million but has spent $1.1 million of that already. He showed $475,000 remaining in his account at the end of March.

Helvey has also raised more than $1 million for his campaign, more than $300,000 from his own pocket. He ended the first quarter with $380,000 in the bank.

Broyhill has donated $650,000 to his campaign and had $230,000 left at the end of March.

The two top votegetters will head to an inevitable runoff.

8th district
Incumbent: Robin Hayes (R)
3rd term (54 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

In a last-minute save for Democrats, 27-year-old Beth Troutman (D) filed to challenge Hayes, a perennial target for Democrats in this swing seat. Troutman, a former “Miss Raleigh” who like Hayes is a native of Concord, hails from a prominent Cabarrus County family. Democrats had at one point recruited her father, businessman Wayne Troutman, to run for the seat.

Most recently, she ran an executive producer’s office of the television series “The West Wing,” and she previously worked in the office of the state House Speaker.

Hayes has been tested before in this marginal district, and he has won his past two re-elections by decisive margins. Last cycle, 32-year-old attorney and political newcomer Chris Kouri (D) garnered 45 percent against Hayes.

Without an anti-incumbent or anti-Republican wave developing later this year, it’s hard to see how Troutman does much better.

10th district
Open seat: Cass Ballenger (R) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Republican

Businessman Sandy Lyons (R), who was urged into the race by Ballenger, is the clear frontrunner to succeed the 77-year-old Congressman in this western North Carolina district. Ballenger is now appearing in a television ad introducing Lyons to voters. What more does an open-seat hopeful need?

Lyons, a graduate of West Point, is the former president of Corning Cable Systems. Aside from Ballenger, Lyons has compiled an impressive list of Congressional endorsements.

Other Republicans running are Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman, state Rep. Patrick McHenry and textile company chairman George Moretz.

So far this race has been about as quiet as an open-seat contest can be. With Ballenger’s help, Lyons can only hope it stays that way for the next two months. He had $270,000 in the bank as of March 31.

Democrats are not competing in the district, which stretches between the South Carolina and Tennessee borders.

11th district
Incumbent: Rep. Charles Taylor (R)
7th term (56 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Taylor will likely face Buncombe County Commissioner Patsy Keever (D), a challenger Democratic strategists believe could cause headaches for the incumbent down the stretch.

In 2000, as Taylor faced a dispute over unpaid local property taxes, he got a stronger-than-expected challenge from lawyer Sam Neill. Still, he won 55 percent to 42 percent.

Taylor’s ethical problems seem to have quieted since then, and he has successfully avoided liability in an ongoing criminal investigation into loan fraud at his bank.

Still, Keever’s campaign touts polling numbers that show Taylor under 50 percent and argues that voters in the western Asheville-based district are ready for a change. In a hypothetical matchup Taylor garnered 49 percent and Keever got 41 percent.

Keever, 56, has served on the Buncombe County Commission for 12 years but is largely unknown outside of the county. Clyde Michael Morgan (D) is also running.

Keever had a little less than $150,000 in her campaign coffers at the end of the first quarter.

Taylor, who has self-funded previous re-election campaigns to a large extent, has spent about $500,000 so far this cycle and he had just $60,000 in his campaign account on March 31. Last cycle he spent $1.4 million.

13th district
Incumbent: Brad Miller (D)
1st term (55 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Miller helped craft this seat for himself from his perch atop the state Senate’s redistricting committee last cycle, and he’s heavily favored to win re-election to it in November.

Miller will face either former House staffer Virginia Johnson or North Carolina Tobacco Growers Association Executive Director Graham Boyd, who are squaring off in the GOP primary. Boyd, who had $2,000 in his campaign account at the end of March, ran and lost in the 2002 GOP primary.

Johnson, meanwhile, has raised more than $80,000 for her campaign and had $45,000 in the bank on March 31. She has been aided by her former bosses and colleagues on the Hill, although there is little evidence that this race is on the radar screen of party strategists.

Miller is still dealing with the fallout from his 2002 race, when Miller’s opponent sued him, claiming she was defamed by false television ads his campaign ran. Unless the case proceeds to a highly publicized trial, it’s hard to see how it could impact this year’s election.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: June 8
Runoff: June 22

Senate
Open seat: Fritz Hollings (D) is retiring
Outlook: Leans Republican

The biggest development in the past six months in this race was the candidacy of former Gov. David Beasley (R) and his extremely strong fundraising performance in the first three months of 2004.

Beasley, who served as the Palmetto State’s governor from 1994 to 1998, officially declared his candidacy Feb. 11. From then to March 31 he raised $1.2 million, ending the period with a little more than $1 million on hand.

Beasley’s strong fundraising and high name identification probably assure him a spot in the all-but-certain Republican runoff.

The battle at this point is between Rep. Jim DeMint, former state Attorney General Charlie Condon and real estate developer Thomas Ravenel to see who will join Beasley.

DeMint is the best-funded candidate ($1.5 million on hand as of March 31) and the tacit choice of national Republicans.

Condon has run an issues-oriented campaign focused on what he calls the big-spending ways of politicians in Washington, D.C.

Ravenel’s campaign has been extremely low-key (the candidate is producing his own ads) but remains a factor because of his personal wealth and famous last name. Ravenel gave $1 million to his campaign last summer; his father is a longtime state Senator who served eight years in Congress representing the Charleston-based 1st district.

At this point, DeMint seems the most likely of the three to advance to a runoff. His base in the Up Country, which is the most reliably Republican area of the state, coupled with his extended ad buy should deliver him a second place showing. He would enter the two-week runoff as a decided underdog to Beasley, however.

Waiting in the wings is state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum (D). She ended March with $1.2 million on hand after raising $922,000 from Jan. 1 to March 31.

House
4th district
Open seat: Jim DeMint (R) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Republican

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R) remains the clear frontrunner to replace DeMint and reclaim the Up Country seat he held from 1992 to 1998. With a solid fundraising effort, Inglis has thinned the field of Republicans challenging him, with only former state Rep. Carole Wells (R) running an even semi-credible campaign.

Inglis had $271,000 on hand at the end of March; Wells retained just $10,000. Just after reports covering contributions and expenditures from Jan. 1 to March 31 were due at the Federal Election Commission, former state Public Service Commissioner Phil Bradley (R) dropped out of the race, citing an inability to raise the necessary funds.

Inglis left the seat after three terms to challenge Sen. Fritz Hollings (D). He lost that race 53 percent to 46 percent, hamstrung by his refusal to accept political action committee contributions.

Two Democrats — funeral home executive Brandon Brown and former Capitol Police Officer Andrew Wittman — are also running, though they have little chance given the district’s strong Republican tilt.

TENNESSEE
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: Aug. 5

House
4th district
Incumbent: Lincoln Davis (D)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Republicans were unable to come up with a top-tier challenger in this swing district, and Davis, a freshman, appears likely to win a second term.

The 2002 nominee, Janice Bowling, is the most serious Republican in the race. Cumberland Mayor Brock Hill was expected to give her a serious test in the primary but dropped from the race in late March.

Bowling came within 10,000 votes of defeating Davis in 2002, but Davis appears to have strengthened his political hand since that race. He ended March with $290,000 in the bank; Bowling had just $62,000.

Given the demographics of the district, Bowling will benefit from President Bush leading the ticket in November. Bush won 50 percent in the district in 2000 and is likely to improve on that showing this time around. Even with that potential boost, Bowling seems likely to come up short.

VIRGINIA
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: June 8

House
8th district
Incumbent: Jim Moran (D)
7th term (60 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

For the first time in more than a decade in Congress, Moran has drawn a primary challenge in this suburban Washington, D.C., district. After several better-known Democrats decided to forgo challenging the controversial incumbent, Moran will face attorney Andy Rosenberg on the ballot next month.

Moran drew the primary challenge after he suggested at an anti-war forum in March 2003 that Jews were pushing the United States toward war with Iraq. The remarks, which he later apologized for, created a storm of protest.

Moran, a former mayor of Alexandria and current member of the Appropriations Committee, has faced conflict-of-interest controversies and had public temper flare-ups throughout his Congressional career.

Rosenberg is running a grassroots-centered campaign, working Metro stations and highlighting his strong ties to the “Kennedy clan.” Rosenberg is a former aide to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Moran and Rosenberg have met for at least two debates so far, and things could get downright dirty in the final two weeks of campaigning.

At the end of March, Moran had $256,000 in the bank, not an impressive total for a senior appropriator. Still, his loyal following among many of the party faithful in the district cannot be discounted. The 8th district Democratic Party apparatus is largely part of Moran’s machine.

Rosenberg had $146,000 in the bank at the end of March.

The race has yet to generate an onslaught of media coverage, from which Rosenberg would benefit. The Washington Post declined to endorse Moran in the general election last cycle, and it will be interesting to watch what the paper decides to do in the primary.

A handful of little-known Republicans are also running for this safe Democratic seat, but it’s hard to see any scenario in which they could make the race competitive — even if a bloodied Moran emerges from the primary.

9th district
Incumbent: Rick Boucher (D)
11th term (66 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Former NASCAR executive Kevin Triplett (R) has gotten more help from national GOP heavyweights than most unknown first-time challengers. But it remains to be seen if he can parlay their support into ousting Boucher, who was first elected in 1982.

Triplett held a fundraiser headlined by Vice President Cheney last month and also received a visit from a top White House political staffer earlier this year. He has also received considerable support from NASCAR drivers and owners.

Triplett, who quit his job and moved back to the district to run in June, has raised $340,000 for his campaign so far. He had $220,000 left in the bank in early May.

Boucher, who hasn’t had a competitive race in two decades, reported $1.1 million in his war chest. The Congressman remains popular in this conservative, rural district that President Bush easily carried in the 2000 presidential race. Triplett has his work cut out for him in convincing longtime ticket splitters to retire Boucher this time around.