Twenty-Four House Races to Watch

Article excerpt

The Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats in order to gain control of the House of Representatives. These 24 races will be particularly important in determining the character of the next House.

ARIZONA

[] Giffords (D)

[] Graf(R)

In the southeastern 8th congressional district bordering Mexico, popular incumbent Republican Jim Kolbe is not seeking re-election. Randy Graf, who won the Republican primary in a vote that highlighted divisions on immigration, is a hardliner on illegal immigration, and will face off against former Democratic State Senator Gabrielle Giffords in a district where 18% of the population is Hispanic. While the district voted for President Bush in both of the last presidential elections, he received only 50% of the district's vote in 2000, and 53% in 2004.

COLORADO

[] O'Donnell (R)

[] Perlmutter (D)

Incumbent Republican Bob Beauprez has retired from his seat in the 7th congressional district in central Colorado to run for governor, creating an open competition in a district that voted for Kerry over Bush in the 2004 election by 51% to 48%, and where almost 20% of the residents are Hispanic. The new Republican candidate, State Education Chairman Rick O'Donnell, is opposed by State Senator Ed Perlmutter (D) in a contest in which immigration has become an issue, with O'Donnell criticizing Perlmutter for refusing to rule out a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

CONNECTICUT

[] Courtney (D)

[] Simmons (R)

In eastern Connecticut's 2nd congressional district, Republican Rob Simmons, who won re-election by an 8-point margin in 2004, is competing with former State Representative Joe Courtney (D). The outcome will show whether the unpopularity of President Bush in this district, which was won by John Kerry in 2004, will outweigh Simmons's efforts on its behalf, such as saving the New London submarine base from closure.

[] Farrell (D)

[] Shays (R)

In the fourth district in southwestern Connecticut, liberal Republican incumbent Chris Shays faces a well-funded campaign by Democratic nominee Diane Farrell. The district voted for Kerry in the last presidential election, and the unpopularity in Connecticut of President Bush and the war in Iraq (which Shays once strongly supported) make this a tight race.

[] Johnson(R)

[] Murphy(D)

In the 5th congressional district of northwest Connecticut, Republican incumbent Nancy Johnson, who won the district with at least 60% of the vote in 2004, is running a well-funded campaign against State Senator Chris Murphy (D). Bush administration policies and negative sentiment toward the current Congress will be an issue in this district, which voted narrowly for John Kerry in the 2004 election.

FLORIDA

[] Klein (D)

[] Shaw (R)

In Florida's 22nd congressional district, which stretches from Fort Lauderdale to the town of Jupiter, Republican incumbent Clay Shaw faces a major and well-financed challenge from former State Senate Minority Leader Ron Klein (D). Both national and local issues will feature prominently in the election campaign in this district, which voted for Kerry over Bush by 50% to 48% in 2004.

GEORGIA

[] Collins (R)

[] Marshall(D)

Republican redistricting has increased the number of Republicans in Georgia's 8th congressional district. Democratic incumbent Jim Marshall faces a strong challenge from former Congressman Mac Collins, who represented an adjacent district from 1993 to 2005. While African Americans (30% of the district) offer solid support for Marshall, voters in the new district lines voted in favor of Bush over Kerry by 61% to 39% in 2004, so this is a seat Republicans hope to gain.

ILLINOIS

[] Duckworth (D)

[] Roskam (R)

In the 6th congressional district of Illinois, from which Henry Hyde (R) is retiring, there is a competitive race between the Republican candidate, State Senator Peter Roskam, a personal injury lawyer, and Democratic candidate L. …