We should closely watch voting results in three of 10
key U.S. Senate races and five of 35 key U.S. House
races to see if a voter tidal wave is going to toss
out Republican control of Congress in both houses.
If Democratic candidates win Senate seats currently
held by Republicans in Missouri, Tennessee, and
Virginia, watch for a tidal wave that will give the
donkey party control of the Senate.
Likewise, if donkeys fell elephants in four key House
districts held by battle-tested Republicans for many
years in Kentucky, Ohio, Connecticut, and North
Carolina, head for solid tornado-proof basements. The
electoral storm that follows would surely wipe out
Republican control on Tuesday, making President George
W. Bush not only a lame-duck but a dead duck.
There are some important caveats that some pundits
have noticed, but here's a scorecard that seems to
make a lot of sense.
In Senate races, Missouri incumbent Republican Jim
Talent and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill, the
state auditor, are neck-a-neck in the polls and
McCaskill has blitzed the state in a final campaign
tour after being endorsed by the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch on Sunday. This is a key bellwether race
to watch after big guns for both parties have
repeatedly gone to Ohio to affect the outcome.
In Tennessee, the battle for retiring Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist's seat between Republican
businessman Bob Corker and U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr.
is another squeaker, according to latest polling.
The same in Virginia, where incumbent Sen. George
Allen has repeatedly flubbed on the campaign trail in
his effort to thwart a tight challenge from moderate
Democrat James Webb, a Marine who graduated from the
U.S. Naval Academy and served as Navy secretary for
President Reagan. The race is billed by competing
pollsters as too close to call, and will obviously be
decided, as will all races, by which party gets out
Polls are actually meaningless. It's boots on the
ground, who shows up at the polls and actually votes.
This year, both parties and their vested interest
groups are working furiously and spending a lot of
money to get out the vote for their respective
So let's fasten our seat belts. All the bloviating on
TV and in the print press will be crossed out on
Tuesday, November 7, 2006.
If Republican-held Senate seats are won by Democrats
in Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia, Democrats will
surely ride a tidal wave to take control and install
Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada as majority leader.
The caveat that could change that outcome is if the
very popular black Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele
of Maryland beats Democratic Rep. Ben Cardin for the
seat of veteran retiring Democrat Paul Sarbanes, which
looks quite likely.
Double that if Republican State Sen. Tom Kean Jr. of
New Jersey, son of his popular former governor father,
beats appointed Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez in an
equally tight race laced by corruption allegations
Other hard-fought bellwether Senate outcomes to watch
on Tuesday night:
Michigan's tight race between incumbent Democrat
Debbie Stabenow and Republican sheriff of Oakland
County Michael Bouchard (a possible Republican
pickup); the battle for Montana's seat held by
Republican Conrad Burns, considered a dead duck some
months ago, but who has recently surged against a
fierce challenge by Democrat John Tester (a possible
Democratic pickup); tight races between incumbent
Republican Mike DeWine and Democratic challenger
Sherrod Brown in Ohio, incumbent Republican Lincoln
Chafee and challenger Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode
Island, and incumbent Republican Rick Santorum and
Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr. in Pennsylvania
(all possible Democratic pickups).
Republican challenger Michael McGavick hopes to knock
off Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington in a tight race
pollsters say leans to Cantwell.
The five bellwether House races include:
Florida's Rep. Clay Shaw in the southeast
Congressional District 22, neighboring that of
disgraced Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned amid a
homosexual scandal involving a former teenage House
page. Shaw faces a strong challenge by Democrat Ron
Klein as news of the Foley scandal has saturated area
media. Foley remains on the ballot, although
Republicans chose candidate Joe Negron to defend the
seat against Democratic challenger Tim Mahoney.
The two neighboring Florida districts are likely
Democratic pick-ups as a result of the Foley scandal.
In Kentucky's left-leaning Congressional District 3
that encompasses part of Louisville and Jefferson
County, incumbent five-term Republican Anne Northup
faces Democrat John Yarmuth, who has brought in former
President Bill Clinton and other big guns to help
finance a Democratic pickup.
Ohio is afire with Democratic challenges.
In Ohio's House District 1, incumbent Republican Steve
Chabot faces a fierce challenge by Democrat John
Rep. Deborah Pryce, the fourth-ranking House
Republican in Ohio's district 15, is in a close battle
with Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy, a Franklin County
And in Ohio's District 18, where six-term incumbent
Republican Rep. Bob Ney was forced to resign amid
corruption and bribery charges involving Jack
Abramoff, convicted lobbyist for Native American
casino interests, GOP candidate state Sen. Joy Padgett
faces a strong challenge by Democrat Zack Space that
pollsters say is too close to call.
Rep. Rob Simmons in Connecticut's Congressional
District 2 is in another bellwether race against
Democrat Joe Courtney. Also, in another race to watch,
veteran moderate Republican Rep. Chris Shays of
Connecticut District 4 has enjoyed endorsements for
years from the New York Times, which this year
endorsed his Democratic opponent Dianne Farrell.
In North Carolina's Congressional District 11, serving
Asheville, veteran Republican Rep. Charles Taylor, one
of the wealthiest members of Congress worth more than
$55-million, has been hit with accusations that he
used his Appropriations subcommittee chairman post to
send federal funding to companies with which he and
family members were associated. Taylor's Democratic
opponent is former National Football League
quarterback Heath Shuler, a popular figure in
Asheville, making this another race to watch closely.
Other tight House races, according to pollsters, that
might result in Democratic pickups and ultimate
Democratic control of the House:
District 5 - Incumbent Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth
versus Democratic challenger Harry Mitchell. The
Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix has endorsed
District 8 - The open seat in predominantly Democratic
Tucson-Pima County of retiring Republican Rep. Jim
Kolbe, who has refused to endorse the Republican
candidate Randy Graf, who faces Democrat Gabrielle
Giffords. The state Republican Party has already
conceded the race to Giffords.
District 4 - Incumbent Republican Rep. John Doolittle
faces a strong challenge from Democrat Charlie Brown.
District 5 - An open seat represented for many years
by Republican Rep. Joel Hefley, who has refused to
endorse Republican candidate Douglas Lamborn, a state
senator, in his rece to keep the seat for the GOP
against Democratic challenger Jay Fawcett. A recent
Denver Post/Mason Dixon poll said the race is tied 37
percent for each candidate with 26 percent of voters
District 7 - An open seat represented by Republican
Rep. Bob Beauprez, who is lagging in his current race
for governor. Republican candidate Rick O'Donnell
faces Democrat Ed Perlmutter and a recent Zogby poll
said the race was too close to call leading up to the
District 13 - An open seat of Republican Rep.
Katherine Harris, who ran for the Senate against
Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. The district leans
Republican, but GOP car dealer Vern Buchanan is in a
fierce contest with Democrat Christine Jennings, who
has out-distanced Buchanan 50-38 in recent independent
District 8, redrawn by the state legislature, has
former Rep. Mac Collins running against incumbent
Democrat Jim Marshall, another race too close to call,
so a possible Republican pickup.
District 6 - Open seat represented for decades by
retiring Republican Rep. Henry J. Hyde, the House's
champion of pro-life legislation. Republican
businessman Peter Roskam has lots of money in his race
to succeed Hyde, but faces Democrat Iraqi war veteran
Tammy Duckworth, a double leg amputee after she
piloted a Blackhawk helicopter downed by a
rocket-propelled grenade. Duckworth has mounted an
aggressive challenge for the seat, making it a
possible Democratic pickup.
District 8 - Incumbent Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean
faces a strong challenge from Republican David
McSweeney in affluent Chicago suburbs of Schaumburg
and Lake County. A possible Republican pickup.
District 1 - Republican Michael Whalen versus Democrat
Bruce Braley, in a Republican-leaning district with
conflicting polls showing the race is a toss-up.
District 3 - Five term Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell
faces Republican challenger Jeff Lamberti in a race
that pollsters say is too close to call.
District 6 - An open seat represented by Republican
Rep. Mark Kennedy, running for the Senate, has
Republican Michele Bachmann running again Democrat
Patty Wetterling, who has an eight-point lead
according to a recent poll by the Minneapolis
Star-Tribune. A possible Democratic pickup.
District 1 - Incumbent Republican Rep. Heather Wilson
faces state Attorney General Patricia Madrid in a
swing district. Madrid has hit Wilson heavily for her
consistent support of Bush administration policies,
particularly in Iraq.
District 7 - Incumbent Republican Rep. Curt Weldon,
facing accusations by Democratic challenger Joseph
Sestak, a retired Navy admiral, that he has fostered a
climate of incumbency corruption, is seen as another
possible Republican casualty.
District 17 - A possible Republican pickup as
incumbent Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards faces
accusations of tax evasion. His Republican opponent,
Van Taylor, is an Irag war veteran.
District 22 - The resignation of former House
Majority Leader Tom DeLay has caused turmoil in this
race as DeLay remains on the ballot. Votes for him
will apparently go to Republican write-in candidate
Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who is opposed by former
Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson.
At-large District - An open seat as Independent Rep.
Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist who
caucused with Democrats, is running for the Senate.
Republican candidate Martha Rainville, an Air Force
officer and adjutant general of the Vermont National
Guard, is running six points ahead of Democratic state
Sen. Peter Welch, according to recent polls. A
possible Republican pickup.
District 1 - Incumbent Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan
resigned his post as senior Democratic member of the
House Ethics Committee amid charges that he used his
seat on the House Appropriations Committee to secure
more than $150 million for five non-profit groups in
his district - one run by a former congressional aide.
He is opposed by Republican businessman Chris Wakim in
a conservative-leaning district that voted 68 percent
for President George W. Bush in 2004. A possible
Watch these Senate and House races. My media and
political brethren on all sides of the ideologlical
and political divide are talking about Democratic
takeover of the House as a probable certainty and
reserving the Senate for Republicans with perhaps a
four-seat gain by Democrats.
I simply urge you to watch these listed Senate and
House races as a more likely gauge of what will