South: Road to House Majority Winds Through Dixie

Alabama


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: June 1 | Runoff: July 13

Senate

Incumbent: Richard Shelby (R)
4th term (68 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

It’s getting to the point where the most interesting thing about
Shelby’s re- election race is seeing how high his cash-on-hand total
climbs.

As of March 31, the Senator had just less than $17 million in his war
chest and showed no sign of slowing down despite having no real Democratic
challenger to speak of. Shelby raised more than $700,000 in the first
quarter of the 2010.

He will cruise to a fifth term.

House

2nd district
Incumbent: Bobby Bright (D)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

The National Republican Congressional Committee recruited Montgomery
City Councilwoman Martha Roby early this cycle to win back the district
that Bright won in an open-seat contest in 2008.

Roby, who was first elected to the City Council in 2003, is one of 23
GOP challengers to attain the highest level in the NRCC’s “Young Guns”
program.

But Roby hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype on the fundraising
front.

Roby failed to break the $100,000 fundraising barrier during the third
and fourth quarters of 2009 and brought in just $127,000 from January to
March. Those are underwhelming numbers at a time when other top GOP
recruits are posting multiple hundred thousand dollar quarters.

But regardless of whether Roby ever catches fire in her fundraising,
Bright is in for a tough fight this fall in a district that went for Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz.) by a 26-point margin in 2008.

Roby is a solid conservative, and that may well be enough in a cycle
where the environment has tipped decidedly in the GOP’s favor.

Bright, who grew up in the southeast Wiregrass Region of the district
and served as mayor of Montgomery before running for Congress, is banking
on his popularity and personal connections in the district. He also boasts
one of the most conservative voting records in the Democratic Caucus, not
to mention a nearly 3-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage over Roby.

5th district
Incumbent: Parker Griffith (R)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

This Huntsville-based district is likely to remain in Republican hands
this fall, but there’s a very real chance that Griffith won’t be the
Congressman come next year.

After being elected as a Democrat, Griffith announced on Dec. 22 that he
was leaving the party to become a Republican.

The move was welcomed by national GOP leaders even though they spent
more than half a million dollars trying to defeat Griffith in 2008. But not
every Republican is willing to forgive and forget. Griffith is facing a
serious primary challenge from Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks and
businessman Les Phillip.

Brooks, who had more than $200,000 in the bank at the end of the first
quarter, is the bigger threat. In March, Brooks earned the endorsement of
Wayne Parker, the 2008 GOP nominee.

Since his party switch, GOP leaders have already worked to raise money
for Griffith, but that move has also stoked the outrage of some local tea
party and county Republican groups who have come out strongly against
Griffith.

It’s unclear whom the winner of the GOP primary will face this fall. The
top fundraisers in the Democratic primary are political consultant Steve
Raby and former state Board of Education member Taze Shepard, who is the
grandson of former Sen. John Sparkman (D-Ala.).

National Democrats have yet to signal whom they like in the primary, and
it’s likely party officials will be too busy playing defense elsewhere to
make a serious effort to win the conservative district this fall.

7th district
Open seat: Artur Davis (D) is running for governor
Outlook: Safe Democratic

In a majority black district where President Barack Obama won more than
70 percent of the vote in 2008, the Democratic primary will be the only
election that matters in the race to replace Davis.

But the four-way primary may not be decided until a July runoff.

The top two Democrats in the race are attorney Terri Sewell and state
Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr.

Hilliard, the son of the incumbent Davis defeated in 2002, brings his
well-known family name to the contest. Sewell brings an impressive campaign
war chest.

Sewell held a more than 3-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage over Hilliard at
the end of March, and she’s using that money to go on the air early in the
Birmingham and Tuscaloosa-based district. She launched her first broadcast
television ads in early May to complement cable and radio ads that were
already running. Hilliard was only up on radio at that point.

Sewell has earned the backing of the powerful and well-funded
pro-abortion-rights group EMILY’s List while Hilliard has picked up the
endorsement of the Congressional Black Caucus political action committee.
He has also found a key ally in Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

Arkansas


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: Tuesday | Runoff: June 8

Senate

Incumbent: Blanche Lincoln (D)
2nd term (56 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

Republicans have had Lincoln in their cross hairs since the beginning of
the cycle and have become increasingly optimistic about their chances of
defeating her as the national environment has tilted heavily in their favor
and Lincoln’s approval ratings have continued to founder.

While Lincoln describes herself as a moderate, the National Republican
Senatorial Committee and the state GOP have worked hard to paint her voting
record as too liberal for a state that went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
by 20 points in 2008.

But before Lincoln can turn her full attention to the general election,
she has to beat back a high-profile primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill
Halter (D). Halter is backed by powerful labor and other national
progressive groups, who are upset with Lincoln’s lack of support for the
Employee Free Choice Act and what can only be described as tepid support
for the health care overhaul bill she eventually voted for.

Late polling in the three-way primary shows that Lincoln may not be able
to break the 50 percent mark that would allow her to win the nomination
outright Tuesday. If she can’t, she and Halter will head to a June 8
runoff.

Republicans would be happy to see the Democratic primary go on as long
as possible to continue to drain the eventual nominee’s resources.

Meanwhile, a runoff seems less likely on the Republican side, despite
the fact that eight candidates are competing for the Senate nomination.

Rep. John Boozman, who entered the contest in February, appears to be
well-positioned to break the 50 percent barrier, but if the contest does
somehow go to a runoff it’s likely Boozman would face off against either
state Sen. Gilbert Baker or former state Sen. Jim Holt, who was the GOP
nominee against Lincoln in 2004. Even if that happens, Boozman appears
well-positioned to win the runoff.

House

1st district
Open seat: Marion Berry (D) is retiring
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Republicans made a lot of noise about their chances in northeast
Arkansas after Berry announced his retirement in late January. Among the
reasons for their excitement was the fact that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
won the district by 21 points in the 2008 presidential election.

But by filing deadline, Princella Smith, an unknown and untested former
aide to freshman Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-La.), was the only new Republican
to join the race. Smith will face off against the equally unknown Rick
Crawford, an Army veteran, farm broadcaster and businessman who entered the
contest in May 2009.

Among the six Democrats running are state Rep. David Cook, state Sen.
Steve Bryles, former state Sen. Tim Wooldridge and Chad Causey, who served
as Berry’s chief of staff.

Causey is a Jonesboro native who worked for Berry for a decade, and he
got a boost in April when Berry endorsed him.

But Causey has also drawn the ire of officials at the National
Republican Congressional Committee, who have made it clear that if he wins
the Democratic nomination they will attempt to paint him as just another
Washington insider.

2nd district
Open seat: Vic Snyder (D) is retiring
Outlook: Leans Republican

Five Democrats and a pair of Republicans are vying in a conservative
district that Snyder was able to hold with relative ease for 14 years.

But with Snyder headed for the exit, Republicans believe the Little
Rock-based district presents one of their best pickup opportunities in the
country.

Former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin is clearly the establishment choice.
Griffin was among the first group of GOP challengers to achieve the highest
ranking in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns”
program.

But before he can turn to the general election, Griffin will have to
face down restaurant owner Scott Wallace. Wallace earned a high-profile
endorsement this spring from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), but he
doesn’t appear to have raised the funds needed to be competitive. One
public poll in early April put the primary at a dead heat, but Griffin had
also yet to fully leverage his large cash-on-hand advantage at that
point.

On the Democratic side, the top candidates are state Speaker Robbie
Wills and state Sen. Joyce Elliott. Former Snyder Chief of Staff David
Boling is also in the race.

Wills and Boling are the most competitive financially. Elliot has
received support from the labor community and jumped out to an early lead
in one public poll in April.

This race is expected to head to a June runoff.

3rd district
Open seat: John Boozman (R) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Republican

This is a Republican stronghold where the GOP primary will be the only
competitive race this cycle.

Eight Republicans quickly jumped into the race to replace Boozman after
he announced his Senate bid. Among them are Rogers Mayor Steve Womack,
state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, former state Sen. Gunner DeLay (a distant cousin
of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas), former state Rep. Doug
Matayo and attorney Steve Lowry.

Womack released a poll in early April that showed him well ahead in the
primary, with Bledsoe and DeLay as his closest competitors.

Bledsoe, Lowry and Gravette City Councilman Kurt Maddox have all put
their own money into their campaigns.

Bledsoe has been endorsed by former 3rd district Rep. Asa Hutchinson
(R). Matayo has the support of ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee (R).

Attorney David Whitaker is the lone Democrat in the race.

Florida


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: Aug. 24

Senate

Open seat: Appointee George LeMieux (R) is not seeking election
Outlook: Leans Republican

Everything you need to know about the dynamic of this race was on
display in the early days of the oil slick crisis in the Gulf of
Mexico.

Gov. Charlie Crist, the Independent candidate, said he had changed his
mind about supporting offshore drilling. Republican Marco Rubio said the
disaster doesn’t change the need for energy independence. And Democratic
Rep. Kendrick Meek had to decide which one to attack, settling on
Crist.

The questions revealed by this issue are the questions of the race: Will
voters see Crist as a populist freethinker or an empty opportunist? Can
Rubio transcend his conservative identity and attract voters across the
spectrum? Can Meek break through the din of the Crist-Rubio rivalry well
enough to capitalize on it?

Florida is usually rough terrain for candidates making their first
appearance on a statewide ballot. And Meek has the added challenge of a
billionaire primary opponent in developer Jeff Greene. But Rubio has the
unique benefit of going into Election Day as a giant-slayer for having
pushed Crist out of the Republican Party. Crist, on the other hand, has
high name recognition and excellent retail campaigning skills.

At the moment, the GOP infrastructure gives Rubio an edge, exemplified
by popular ex-Gov. Jeb Bush’s recent endorsement. But the race may evolve
into a referendum on Crist.

House

2nd district
Incumbent: Allen Boyd (D)
7th term (62 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Boyd is a Blue Dog Democrat in a Panhandle district that’s proud to be
part of Dixie, and in seven elections nobody has come close to beating him.
He’s sitting on more than $1.5 million in cash, 10 times more than his
nearest competitor.

So why are Republicans even talking about him?

Health care.

Boyd is one of several House Democrats who voted against the health care
overhaul bill last November but supported passage of the final legislation
this spring. The National Republican Congressional Committee has labeled
him a member of the “Flip-Flop Five” and has promised to target him this
fall.

Boyd faces a primary challenge from state Senate Majority Leader Al
Lawson. Lawson, who is black, is running to the left of Boyd, but so far he
has failed to establish a serious fundraising operation.

If voter discontent with the health care law peaks later this year, and
if national Republicans choose Boyd as a test case, as they appear ready
to, this district’s natural conservatism could come into play. A fleet of
Republicans, including Steve Southerland, a funeral home owner, and realtor
Barbara Olschner are vying for the chance to be in the right place at the
right time. Not to mention, this is a relatively cheap district when it
comes to TV air time, which is another reason this may look like an
inviting target for the GOP.

5th district
Open seat: Ginny Brown-Waite (R) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Republican

Brown-Waite’s surprise retirement announcement on April 30, the last day
to qualify, will have little effect on the solid red cast of this seat. She
cited health concerns as the reason for her decision to retire. In her
announcement, she said she has encouraged Hernando County Sheriff Richard
Nugent to run. He qualified for the seat and will face Jason Sager, an
audiovisual engineer who had been pursuing a challenge to Brown-Waite, in
the GOP primary.

Brown-Waite’s first race in 2002, against then-Rep. Karen Thurman (D),
was close, but the district seems to be trending Republican. Some Democrats
believe the right candidate could make it interesting, but they aren’t in a
position to test that theory this cycle. The only Democrat in the race is
mortgage broker Jim Piccillo, who fell into political fame in 2008 by
accidently introducing then-Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) at a campaign rally
as “John McCain.”

8th district
Incumbent: Alan Grayson (D)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Republicans held this Orlando-area seat for years before Grayson
capitalized in 2008 on Barack Obama’s presidential momentum and an
underlying trend toward the Democratic Party fueled by growth in the
Hispanic population.

Grayson would be a target no matter what, but he made the bull’s-eye
bigger when he took to the House floor to say the Republican Party’s health
care plan was “don’t get sick.” And if you get sick, “die quickly.”
Republicans blasted him for his rhetoric, and Democrats sent him campaign
money. He’s raised more than $3 million and has half that in cash on
hand.

Republicans would love to knock off a loudmouth like Grayson. The
National Republican Congressional Committee recruited local businessman
Bruce O’Donoghue, who is “On the Radar” in its “Young Guns” program. State
Rep. Kurt Kelly was already in the race, and late last month former state
Speaker Daniel Webster joined, too. The list of GOP contenders goes on and
includes tea party organizer Patricia Sullivan. Peg Dunmire is running
under the tea party flag.

Grayson seems content to test the limits in this newly Democratic-held
district. National Democrats are running ads thanking him for his health
care vote, and liberal lightning rod Michael Moore has helped with
fundraising.

12th district
Open seat: Adam Putnam (R) is running for state agriculture
commissioner
Outlook: Likely Republican

Democrats say Lori Edwards has the potential to exploit the retirement
of a Republican incumbent and flip the seat. Putnam was never challenged in
the largely rural district east of Tampa, but Barack Obama nearly carried
it in the 2008 presidential election.

Still, the Republicans have seen little to worry them. So far Edwards, a
moderate county elections supervisor who served in the state House, hasn’t
caught fire as a fundraiser.

The top Republican in the race is former state Rep. Dennis Ross. He’s
raised more than $620,000 and has about half that in cash on hand. He’s
secured the endorsement of Associated Industries, a powerful business group
that doesn’t dole out campaign money but carries valuable credibility among
big-name donors. GOP rivals include Polk County Commissioner Randy
Wilkinson.

The Democrats’ conservative Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed Edwards, but
the Republican terrain of this district is sloped against her.

17th district
Open seat: Kendrick Meek (D) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Democratic

No fewer than nine Democrats qualified for the chance to take Meek’s
Miami-based House seat. And while campaign finance filings demonstrate a
wide disparity in fundraising success ($4,000 in cash on hand at the low
end to $252,000 at the high), the range of candidates doesn’t represent all
that wide a spectrum in political philosophy.

The winner of the Democratic primary, which pits physician Rudy Moise at
the top of the money chart against former state Rep. Phillip Brutus at the
bottom, will be headed to Congress. The slew of Democratic candidates also
includes state Sen. Frederica Wilson and state Rep. Yolly Roberson.

This majority black and heavily Democratic district is less likely to
turn on national policy than individual attributes and personality. That’s
why little things like the fact that Brutus and Roberson once were married
create the possibility for some real fireworks.

21st district
Open seat: Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Republican

This solidly Republican district in Miami is so favorably drawn that
when Diaz-Balart announced he would retire earlier this year, his brother,
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, abandoned his own seat to replace him. This is an
open seat in name only, and almost not even that.

A Diaz-Balart will represent the 21st district in Congress next year
because no other candidate entered the race to challenge Mario Diaz-Balart
before the April 30 filing deadline.

24th district
Incumbent: Suzanne Kosmas (D)
1st term (57 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Kosmas never was going to be a safe incumbent this cycle, given that she
took a traditionally Republican seat from a scandal-weakened Tom Feeney in
2008. But she steepened the hill for herself when she voted for the
controversial health care overhaul bill. Kosmas is another one on the
National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Flip-Flop Five” list of
vote-switchers because she voted against the bill in November.

Five Republicans are vying for a spot on the general election ballot
against Kosmas, who faces a primary challenge from former Winter Springs
Mayor Paul Partyka. GOP leaders weren’t thrilled with any of the party’s
early candidates and recruited Craig Miller, the former CEO of the Ruth’s
Chris Steakhouse chain. He’s a political outsider with a sizable wallet, so
he must be considered the GOP frontrunner for now.

Kosmas leads the field with more than $1 million in cash on hand. But
with Miller in the game and willing to spend his own money, this one could
get expensive.

This is where we’re likely to see the real effect of the health care
bill, without the baggage that Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) brings.

25th district
Open seat: Mario Diaz-Balart (R) is running in the 21st district
Outlook: Leans Republican

After a tough race in 2008, Diaz-Balart sought greener pastures this
year, hopping to the nearby 21st district left open by the abrupt
retirement of his brother, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R).

Democrats see turnover potential with Joe Garcia, former chairman of the
Democratic Party in Miami-Dade County, officially announcing April 14 that
he will take another shot at this seat. Garcia did well against Mario
Diaz-Balart in 2008.

Last cycle, Garcia proved to be a prolific fundraiser, and party
operatives are optimistic because voter registration has been trending in
their direction. Since Garcia just entered the race, he has yet to report
any fundraising activity.

Meanwhile, Republicans expect a much better environment this time, and
state Rep. David Rivera is hoping to take advantage of it.

Rivera raised $700,000 in six weeks of campaigning. That total is the
major reason why he’s already been bumped up to the second-highest level of
the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program.

This could be a war of demographics. Mario Diaz-Balart bolted because
the population, while solidly Hispanic, is becoming less Cuban, a group
that tends to vote Republican. Democrats have a strong candidate in Garcia,
but the question may be whether the trends that favor him have reached the
tipping point.

Georgia


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: July 20 | Runoff: Aug. 10

Senate

Incumbent: Johnny Isakson (R)
1st term (58 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

A week before the April filing deadline, state Labor Commissioner
Michael Thurmond, one of only two Democrats who hold statewide office,
announced he would challenge Isakson.

Thurmond had been mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant
governor, the 12th district or re-election. But he passed on those
opportunities after reportedly being urged to enter the Senate race by
national party officials.

The effort to recruit Thurmond came less than a month after Isakson was
hospitalized multiple times in late March because of a blood clot in his
leg, an irregular heartbeat and a bacterial infection. The 65-year-old
lawmaker was released from the hospital in early April, and national party
officials have since said they have no concern about his ability to wage a
vigorous re-election campaign.

While Thurmond certainly can’t be taken lightly, Isakson isn’t expected
to have too tough a time winning a second term, as long as he isn’t
sidelined by further health issues.

7th district
Open seat: John Linder (R) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Republican

Linder announced in February that he would not run for a 10th term,
prompting a number of candidates to take a look at the race in the heavily
Republican district.

After several potential leading candidates passed, state Rep. Clay Cox
emerged as the early GOP frontrunner. But then Linder’s former chief of
staff, Rob Woodall, jumped into the race in late March, and the Congressman
endorsed him.

Several other Republicans are in the race, but it now appears the
primary will be a contest between Cox and Woodall.

On the Democratic side, 2008 nominee and Iraq War veteran Doug Heckman
is running again, but the winner of the GOP nomination shouldn’t have much
trouble securing the seat in November.

8th district
Incumbent: Jim Marshall (D)
4th term (57 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

For most of the cycle, it appeared that Marshall was going to face only
a token GOP challenge in 2010, but that changed the day before the Peach
State filing deadline when state Rep. Austin Scott dropped his
gubernatorial ambitions to run for this seat.

Scott was elected to the Georgia House in 1997 and represents several
counties in the southern end of the district. His announcement was
immediately heralded by the National Republican Congressional Committee,
which had previously been relatively quiet when it came to the possibility
of giving Marshall a serious challenge.

Scott’s entry helped thin the GOP primary field. Former Bibb County
Republican Party Chairman Paul Rish quickly dropped out of the race and
gave his support to Scott.

In the coming months, Scott will have to prove that he can raise the
money necessary to compete with Marshall, who had $850,000 in the bank on
March 31.

9th district
Vacancy: Nathan Deal (R) resigned
Outlook: Safe Republican

The special election to fill Deal’s unexpired term is headed to a June 8
runoff after no candidate was able to break the 50 percent mark in last
week’s crowded all-party contest.

Former state Rep. Tom Graves (R) finished first in that contest a full
12 points ahead of state Sen. Lee Hawkins (R), who will join him in the
runoff.

Graves, a developer, built much of his campaign around courting the tea
party vote and touting his endorsement from the powerful anti-tax group the
Club for Growth. But Hawkins, a dentist, has geography on his side. He,
along with several of the candidates who did not make the runoff, hails
from the population center in the southeast portion of the district near
Gainesville. Graves is from Ranger, Ga., in the lightly populated central
portion of the district.

But even with the runoff looming, none of the candidates will be resting
easy anytime soon. All the Republicans who competed in the special election
are also seeking the GOP nomination in the regular July primary. The winner
of that contest — which seems likely to go to an August runoff — will be
all but certain to win a full term in November in the safely Republican
seat.

12th district
Incumbent: John Barrow (D)
3rd term (66 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Although he beat her soundly last cycle and she had just $4,000 in the
bank at the end of March, it would be a mistake for Barrow to take former
state Sen. Regina Thomas lightly in their primary rematch.

Barrow, who represents a district that is 44 percent black, beat Thomas,
who is black, with the aid of an endorsement from then-Sen. Barack Obama
(D-Ill.) and the support of several members of the Congressional Black
Caucus.

But that endorsement and support isn’t expected to be forthcoming this
time after Barrow chose to vote against the health care overall legislation
that was Obama’s top legislative priority.

Barrow had a hefty $825,000 in the bank at the end of March, but some
Democrats in the district believe he will need to spend a good portion of
that to overcome the anger that continues to linger in the party’s base
after his health care vote.

National Republicans have shown little interest in targeting the seat
this fall, but that would certainly change if Thomas somehow pulled off an
upset in the primary.

Kentucky


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: Tuesday

Senate

Open seat: Jim Bunning (R) is retiring
Outlook: Tossup

The higher-profile Senate primary is the GOP fight that features
Secretary of State Trey Grayson and eye surgeon Rand Paul duking it out. In
that contest, many of the most powerful GOP players in the state and around
the country are taking sides.

Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), is running as a political
outsider and has harnessed the power of the tea party movement. He has used
the same Internet-based fundraising network that helped his father collect
gobs of money for his 2008 presidential run. Most public polling has shown
Paul, who has landed endorsements from Bunning, former Alaska Gov. Sarah
Palin (R) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), with a substantial lead.

Grayson has long been known to be the choice of the GOP establishment —
which in Kentucky and on Capitol Hill is led by Senate Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell. McConnell formally endorsed Grayson in late April, and now
he’s starring in a TV commercial to try to boost the secretary of
state.

Regardless of who wins, the GOP primary has been a cash-draining affair,
which comes as good news to Democrats, who are in the midst of their own
expensive and nasty battle.

Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and state Attorney General Jack Conway have
hammered each other on everything from Conway’s room service bills to
Mongiardo’s questionable use of a state housing stipend.

Throughout the campaign, both men have tried to distance themselves from
the Democratic-written cap-and-trade bill, which is viewed with fear and
skepticism throughout Kentucky, especially in the coal-rich and heavily
Democratic eastern portion of the state.

Public polling has shown Mongiardo leading the contest for most of the
primary. But Conway, who has outraised and outspent Mongiardo over the
course of the campaign, has closed that gap at the right time, and the
contest is a tossup.

3rd district
Incumbent: John Yarmuth (D)
2nd term (59 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Some Republican Party operatives are hoping this race will be a
late-breaking sleeper that could get competitive with the help of a GOP
wave on Election Day.

Republicans have a candidate in place to take advantage of that wave if
it develops. Pizza restaurant franchise owner Jeff Reetz has been
aggressively attacking Yarmuth for being a foot soldier of Speaker Nancy
Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The Louisville-based district is certainly the most Democratic district
in the state, but it’s not overwhelmingly so. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
took 43 percent of the vote in the district in 2008.

Still, Yarmuth is well-funded (he had almost $550,000 in cash on hand as
of April 28) and he’s battle-tested. He knocked off then-Rep. Anne Northup
(R) in 2006 and beat back her bid to reclaim her seat in 2008.

6th district
Incumbent: Ben Chandler (D)
4th term (65 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Chandler, the grandson of the Bluegrass State’s former governor and
Senator, is well-known, has a huge campaign war chest and hasn’t had a
serious challenge since being elected in 2004.

But he still has to remain on guard in this Lexington-based swing
district that voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008.

Republicans believe they have found a weakness in Chandler’s armor on
the issue of coal.

The district contains a sizable number of companies and families who
make their living off the coal industry — a constituency that was
particularly irked by Chandler’s vote last year to support the House
cap-and-trade bill.

Republicans will likely make that vote a front-and-center issue this
fall. But first they have to get past a primary in which attorney Andy Barr
and retired coal company executive Mike Templeman are the top
contenders.

Barr appears to be the frontrunner and has the establishment support in
the state. Templeman is running an outsider campaign that he hopes will
attract the interest of the tea party movement.

Louisiana


Filing deadline: July 9 | Primary: Aug. 28 | Runoff: Oct. 2

Senate

Incumbent: David Vitter (R)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

Vitter’s re-election will likely to come down to whether voters care
more about the Senator’s personal flaws or his pledge to lead the fight
against the Democratic-controlled government in Washington, D.C.

State and national Democratic operatives have worked hard to keep
Vitter’s ties to the 2007 “D.C. Madam” prostitution scandal fresh in
voters’ minds. They bring up the incident often as they attempt to
highlight the Senator’s insensitivity to women’s issues and drive a wedge
between Vitter and female voters.

As an alternative to Vitter, Democrats are offering Rep. Charlie
Melancon, who represents the party’s best chance of knocking off Vitter in
a state that has trended more Republican in recent years. He’s an
anti-abortion, pro-gun-rights Blue Dog Democrat who ran unopposed in
2008.

Vitter has cast himself as a solid conservative voice that will stand up
to the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress. The Senator has
mostly ignored Democrats’ attempts to start a character debate, focusing
instead on constituent services and promoting his conservative policy views
in a state that heavily favors Republicans on the national level.

2nd district
Incumbent: Anh “Joseph” Cao (R)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Cao’s New Orleans-based district is Democrats’ top takeover target in
the fall. The majority black district is a Democratic stronghold, and party
strategists believe their loss of the seat last cycle was a fluke.

Cao, who is the first Vietnamese-American Member of Congress, won the
district by fewer than 2,000 votes against scandal-plagued Rep. William
Jefferson (D) in an unusual December general election that saw extremely
low turnout.

Since arriving on the Hill, Cao has tried to cast himself as an
independent who is willing to work with President Barack Obama to improve
New Orleans. But Democrats have targeted him early and often, painting him
as just another Republican who falls in line with his party leadership
whenever he is called on.

Democrats have hit Cao for not supporting the president’s economic
recovery efforts and for not backing the health care bill when it came to
the floor in March, after he supported the legislation initially in
November. Cao has said his support for the bill hinged on the issue of
federal funding for abortion.

State Rep. Juan LaFonta will face fellow state Rep. Cedric Richmond in
the Democratic primary. Richmond came in third in a seven-way primary in
2008.

Richmond has the early cash advantage. He reported about $279,000 in the
bank at the end of March while LaFonta had just $54,000. Cao had
$309,000.

3rd district
Open seat: Charlie Melancon (D) is running for Senate
Outlook: Leans Republican

Former state Speaker Hunt Downer (R) appears certain to run in this
Republican-trending district in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun country.

Downer is a retired major general in the National Guard who has been
setting up his run for several months.

He appears to have the backing of the party establishment, but he will
still have to win a primary that includes attorney and former state Senate
candidate Jeff Landry, who had raised more than $250,000 by the end of
March.

Attorney Ravi Sangisetty is the only Democrat running. Sangisetty has
likely kept the field clear by virtue of his impressive bank account. He
had more than $372,000 in his campaign war chest as of March 31.

Mississippi


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: June 1 | Runoff: June 22

House

1st district
Incumbent: Travis Childers (D)
2nd term (54 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Childers won a stunning special election victory in 2008 to put this
conservative seat in the Democratic column. It had previously been held by
Republicans since 1994.

But Republicans are itching to win the northern Mississippi district
back, and state Sen. Alan Nunnelee is the man that party officials believe
can make that happen.

Nunnelee has the support of key state officials, including Gov. Haley
Barbour (R), and in May the National Republican Congressional Committee
named Nunnelee to the highest level of its “Young Guns” program.

Nunnelee will have to defeat former Fox News analyst Angela McGlowan and
former Eupora Mayor Henry Ross in the GOP primary. Both are trying their
best to paint Nunnelee as a career politician and the choice of Washington,
D.C., insiders rather than the voters of the district.

If, and more likely when, Nunnelee gets past McGlowan and Ross, he’ll
find a much tougher challenge in Childers.

Childers has a down-home style that seems to perfectly match his
district, and his voting record is among the most conservative in Congress,
even when compared to Republicans. Childers won a full term in November
2008 by running 17 points ahead of President Barack Obama in the district.
But this November there won’t be any other races at the top of the ballot
to help drive Democratic turnout, which is likely to be a big problem for
the Congressman.

As of March 31, Childers had more than $700,000 in his campaign war
chest while Nunnelee had just less than $300,000.

North Carolina


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: Passed | Runoff: June 22

Senate

Incumbent: Richard Burr (R)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

After the defeat of the much-better-known Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008,
North Carolina Democrats had high hopes for unseating Burr in the next
go-round.

But a series of first-string candidates declined to run, leading to a
low-interest primary fight between Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and
former state Sen. Cal Cunningham.

Cunningham, who has been the favorite of the Democratic Senatorial
Campaign Committee, outraised and outspent Marshall in the primary and was
able to keep her under the 40 percent that she needed to avoid a runoff in
late June.

While the Democrats continue to duke it out over the next few weeks —
and spend precious resources — Burr is continuing to build his war chest.
He reported $4.9 million in cash on hand in mid-April.

Burr has low approval ratings, but he continues to lead against either
Democratic opponent in polls, and the continued primary fight will only
give him more of an advantage.

House

8th district
Incumbent: Larry Kissell (D)
1st term (55 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

A first-term Democrat with weak fundraising, Kissell should be a top
target for Republicans.

But first the GOP will need to sort out who is running against him.

A runoff is under way between entrepreneur Tim D’Annunzio and retired
sportscaster Harold Johnson.

It’s no secret that party leaders prefer Johnson, an upbeat former
Marine with a conventional Republican message.

D’Annunzio, on the other hand, has called for 10 Cabinet-level agencies
to be dismantled and posts regularly on a blog called “Christ’s War.”

Still, D’Annunzio has already given his campaign $1 million in
contributions and loans, while Johnson reported giving his campaign
$240,000 by mid-April.

How the fall race goes will depend a lot on what happens in the June 22
runoff.

11th district
Incumbent: Heath Shuler (D)
2nd term (62 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

A fiscally conservative Blue Dog, Shuler did well enough in his 2008
re-election campaign that he briefly flirted with running for Senate.

But he was blessed that time around with a weak opponent and a strong
Democratic tide in the state.

This year, Republicans believe nonprofit founder Jeff Miller, who won
his crowded May primary without the need for a runoff, will provide much
stiffer competition in the conservative mountain region.

A surprisingly weak showing by Shuler against an unknown challenger in
the Democratic primary could also signal discontent from his own party.

Still, Shuler reported almost $1.3 million in cash on hand as of
mid-April, and he’s avoided giving opponents any obvious cudgels by voting
against the health care overhaul, among other bills.

South Carolina


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: June 8 | Runoff: June 22

Senate

Incumbent: Jim DeMint (R)
1st term (54 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

With $3.5 million in the bank, a favorable political environment and a
growing national reputation as a conservative champion, DeMint has little
to fear in his re-election race.

National Democratic officials tried to generate some excitement earlier
this year about the candidacy of Democrat Chad McGowan, a lawyer from Rock
Hill.

But McGowan ended his uphill campaign in February.

In early March, former state Rep. Vic Rawl (D) decided to step in to
carry the party mantle. But, Rawl isn’t expected to be any less of a
sacrificial lamb than McGowan would have been.

House

1st district
Open seat: Henry Brown (R) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Republican

The GOP primary here was a crowded affair even before Brown announced
his retirement plans in early January. By filing day in late March, the
contest became a nine-way affair that includes some legendary names in
South Carolina politics.

Carroll Campbell III, the namesake son of a late former governor, is in
the race, as is Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond, the son of the
late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).

But state Rep. Tim Scott appears to be the frontrunner for the
Republican nomination. Scott dropped his lieutenant governor bid to run for
the open seat. He quickly earned the backing of the Club for Growth and
brought in nearly a quarter of a million dollars in less than two
months.

Two other Republicans competing for attention in the primary are Stovall
Witte, formerly Brown’s chief of staff, and Katherine Jenerette, an Army
veteran and former district field representative for Brown who challenged
her ex-boss in the 2008 primary.

On the Democratic side, retired Air Force Col. Robert Burton is facing
Ben Frasier in the primary.
Democrats have hopes of being competitive
in the district this year after their 2008 nominee, Linda Ketner, came
within 4 points of knocking off Brown. But the national political mood
looks likely to make that pretty much impossible.

3rd district
Open seat: Gresham Barrett (R) is running for governor
Outlook: Safe Republican

The GOP primary will decide who will replace Barrett in Congress. But
the crowded contest will probably require a June 22 runoff.

Out of the half-dozen Republicans running, state Reps. Rex Rice and Jeff
Duncan appear to be the best bets to make the runoff.

Both candidates are touting the backing of various fellow state
legislators, and Duncan can claim the support of former Tennessee Sen. Fred
Thompson (R) and the Club for Growth.

The club has not only been a vocal supporter of Duncan in the primary
but also a vocal opponent of Rice, who the group has hit for his tax
positions in the state Legislature.

Rice is promoting his endorsement from 2008 GOP presidential candidate
and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

A late addition to the primary is Air Force veteran and wealthy
businessman Joe Grimaud, who ran for Congress once before in the 2nd
district. Grimaud filed for the race at the end of March and then promptly
loaned his campaign $300,000.

4th district
Incumbent: Bob Inglis (R)
3rd term (60 percent; previously served three terms)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Some conservatives have criticized Inglis, who previously served from
1992 to 1998, for moving too far to the center during his second stint in
Congress. Inglis’ vote in early 2007 supporting the Democratic resolution
opposing the “surge” in Iraq was a key reason that he attracted a primary
opponent last cycle. Inglis beat back that challenge with relative ease,
but this year’s primary challenge is much more serious.

Spartanburg County Solicitor Trey Gowdy has been able to keep pace with
Inglis in the fundraising battle and is now using his cash to run ads
suggesting that Inglis has been changed by his time in Washington, D.C. One
ad paints the Congressman as an Obama apologist.

Inglis has fired back with a vigorous TV campaign of his own touting his
conservative credentials.

State Sen. David Thomas, whose legislative district is based in
Greenville, is also in the primary, and some observers believe his presence
may serve to keep down Inglis’ vote total in the western part of the
district to help ensure a June 22 runoff between the Congressman and
Gowdy.

Tennessee


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: Aug. 5

House

3rd district
Open seat: Zach Wamp (R) is running for governor
Outlook: Safe Republican

The race to replace Wamp will be decided in the Republican primary in
this Chattanooga-based district.

Eleven GOP candidates are on the ballot, but the contest is coming down
to a fight between well-funded attorney Chuck Fleischmann and
well-connected former state Republican Party Chairwoman Robin Smith.

Smith has earned endorsements from several top GOP state and national
officials and the Club for Growth.

Fleischmann’s biggest endorsement has come from former Arkansas Gov.
Mike Huckabee (R).

He also has given his campaign more than half a million dollars from his
own pocket.

4th district
Incumbent: Lincoln Davis (D)
4th term (59 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Republicans sought to play up retirement rumors about the Middle
Tennessee Congressman, but Davis has declared that he’ll run for
re-election “come hell or high water.”

Davis is not a blockbuster fundraiser; he had just $359,000 in the bank
at the end of March. But he can probably expect to be in a better position
financially than whoever emerges from the competitive August GOP
primary.

Physician Scott DesJarlais entered the GOP race last summer and was
touted by national Republican officials at the time. But that enthusiasm
has seemed to shift to Jack Bailey, an attorney and former Congressional
staffer, who entered the race in January. Bailey worked on Capitol Hill as
chief of staff for Rep. Todd Akin, a conservative Missouri Republican.

Bailey had $163,000 in his campaign account at the end of March compared
with DesJarlais’ $143,000.

6th district
Open seat: Bart Gordon (D) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Republican

After Gordon unexpectedly announced his retirement plans in
mid-December, Democrats expressed confidence that the party would hold the
strongly Republican Middle Tennessee district.

But recruitment efforts never panned out, and Democrats have been left
with a little-known political newcomer who will simply be outgunned by
whoever emerges from the GOP primary. National Democratic insiders
privately acknowledge the seat is gone and won’t waste their resources on
it.

State Sens. Diane Black and Jim Tracy and former Rutherford County GOP
Chairwoman Lou Ann Zelenik are the top candidates vying for the Republican
nomination.

Tracy is raising big money, Zelenik is putting in big money and Black is
doing a bit of both. The winner of the primary will cruise to victory in
November.

8th district
Open seat: John Tanner (D) is retiring
Outlook: Tossup

Farmer and gospel singer Stephen Fincher (R) was considered a good
recruit, but still a long shot, when party officials persuaded him to
challenge Tanner last fall.

But then Tanner announced his retirement in December, and the
conservative district suddenly became a political battleground.

Republicans quickly found themselves with several more interested
candidates, including Jackson physician Ron Kirkland and Shelby County
Commissioner George Flinn Jr.

Kirkland and Flinn have been working to paint Fincher as the choice of
the Washington establishment, and the mud is already starting to fly.

Democrats have found a good recruit in state Sen. Roy Herron, who
dropped his gubernatorial bid to run.

Fundraising reports indicate this may be one of the most expensive House
races in the country.

Virginia


Filing deadline: Passed | Primary: June 8

House

2nd district
Incumbent: Glenn Nye (D)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

That six Republicans are competing for a shot against Nye speaks to the
party’s confidence of capturing a military-heavy southeastern Virginia
district that historically has leaned more Republican than Democratic.

Car dealer Scott Rigell is the preferred candidate of the National
Republican Congressional Committee and has acquired some influential local
endorsements. He has supplemented his fundraising with some of his
significant personal wealth.

Rigell’s $1,000 contribution to Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic
primaries has come under fire from his detractors, though Rigell said he
made the donation to stop Hillary Rodham Clinton from winning the
presidential nomination.

Given Rigell’s significant contributions to GOP candidates and
committees over the years, that donation probably won’t be enough to knock
him from his frontrunner’s perch in a race in which his chief competitors
appear to be Bert Mizusawa, a Harvard-educated Army brigadier general, and
Ben Loyola, a wealthy businessman.

Nye, meanwhile, is preparing to emphasize a record of tending to the
concerns of military personnel, veterans and their families as a member of
the Armed Services Committee.

5th district
Incumbent: Tom Perriello (D)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Tossup 

Perriello’s voting record puts him closer to the centrist than the
liberal wing of the Democratic Caucus, though you wouldn’t know it from his
votes on the most prominent bills of the 111th Congress.

His votes in favor of the economic stimulus, climate change and health
care bills endeared Perriello to base voters and helped him raise ample
campaign funds, but the votes stirred up significant GOP opposition.

The seven-candidate Republican field includes state Sen. Robert Hurt,
whose vote for a 2004 budget overhaul that included some tax hikes has come
under criticism from anti-tax conservatives. Hurt says that was an
aberration in a long record of supporting tax relief and fiscal restraint,
but that vote and his recent underwhelming fundraising have made the GOP
primary worth watching even though none of Hurt’s primary opponents are
well-known.

Businessmen Laurence Verga and Jim McKelvey are self-financing their
campaigns, and teacher Feda Morton has ties to conservative activists in
the district.

Democrats hope that one or more independent conservative candidates
siphon votes from the Republican nominee and help Perriello win, perhaps
with a plurality of the vote.

9th district
Incumbent: Rick Boucher (D)
14th term (97 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

A focus on economic development and a pro-gun voting record have helped
make Boucher politically impregnable in this culturally conservative but
ancestrally Democratic area of southwestern Virginia. A senior member of
the influential Energy and Commerce Committee, Boucher had more than $1.9
million in his campaign account as of April 25.

But Republicans think they can finally make a serious run at Boucher
this year with their likely nominee, state House Majority Leader Morgan
Griffith, who began raising money only after the state legislative session
ended in March.

Griffith, who is likely to be nominated at a May 22 convention, has
homed in on Boucher’s backing last year for a global climate change bill
that calls for a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions.

Griffith says the measure would devastate the local coal industry;
Boucher says he secured important concessions for coal in the measure.

11th district
Incumbent: Gerry Connolly (D)
1st term (55 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Republicans in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., are
nearing a decision about whether they want their previous nominee against
Connolly to oppose him again or whether they should go with a new face.

Keith Fimian, who founded a home inspection company, is gunning for
Connolly again after losing by 12 points in pro-Democratic 2008. His
supporters note that his margin of defeat was smaller than Arizona Sen.
John McCain’s 15-point loss to Barack Obama in the district.

But Fimian faces serious competition in the primary from Pat Herrity,
who entered the 2010 campaign months after Fimian but has name recognition
derived from his service as an elected supervisor in Fairfax County, the
most populous jurisdiction in the district.

Taxes and spending are big issues in this fiscally conservative,
upper-income district, and Fimian says that Herrity raised some taxes as a
county supervisor. Herrity has defended his credentials as a fiscal
conservative. Connolly has ignored his GOP opposition for the time
being.