Last Wednesday, I wrote a long and rambling diary summarizing the races where we can pick up seats from the GOP (updating the initial look from a month ago), and ranking them in order of likelihood of victory based on various empirics and my gut. That diary is here. Today, I do the same with the seats we are defending. That list has shrunk due to lackluster GOP recruiting. While it includes 27 seats, only the first eight are considered competitive at this time, with the next nine on the bubble.
1. Georgia 08 (Prev. Rank: 3) (Rep. Jim Marshall (D) vs. Former Rep. Mac Collins (R))
This race moves up to the top spot because Collins has officially entered the race since my last writing. Marshall is pressed because his old lean-Dem 3d district was DeLaymandered out of existence and he's left running in a district suspiciously similar to the pre-2002 8th District, where Marshall lost 57-43 to then-Rep. and now-Sen. Saxby Chambliss in 1998. One addition, though: Collins' house. Now Marshall is the incumbent, and he'll need all of the advantages that provides. Both candidates will be well funded and this race will be close.
2. Texas 17 (1) (Rep. Chet Edwards (D) vs. Iraq war vet Van Taylor or Attorney Tucker Anderson (R))
This race slid down because of events in Georgia; it is still a tough defense. The GOP has a rare Iraq war vet as a candidate on their side. Taylor is the better funded of the two and more likely primary victor. Still, I have to believe Edwards is better off facing him than a local elected official, of which the GOP have many.
3. Louisiana 03 (4) (Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) vs. State Sen. Craig Romero (R))
Romero was just squeezed out of the 2004 runoff for this seat when it was open, and he's back for a second bite in this lean-GOP seat. He has raised $322,000 to Melancon's $793,000.
4. Illinois 08 (6) (Rep. Melissa Bean (D) vs. One of six GOPers (R))
This is a tough district for Bean--one of the most GOP in the state. Among the Republicans running are a state Rep. and three well-funded businesspeople, including the wife of moonbat 1996 U.S. Senate and 1998 Sec'y of State nominee Al Salvi. Bean is geared up for a fight, however: she's raised over $1.4 million and has over $1.1 million on hand. That fundraising total is the highest of any candidate in a competitive or potentially competitive race who is not named Tom DeLay. That includes NRCC chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY).
5. Ohio 06 (5) (State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D) vs. One of 4 GOPers (R))
This is the seat held by Gov. candidate Ted Strickland in the southeastern part of the state. Wilson is an excellent candidate who is very much in line with Strickland and should benefit from his coattails. On the other side, state House Speaker Pro Tem Chuck Blasdel is running and has to be considered the strong favorite. This will be a very close race. Thus far, Blasdel has raised $237,000 to Wilson's $221,000.
6. Colorado 03 (7) (Rep. John Salazar (D) vs. Pottery Co. Owner Scott Tipton (R))
This is a lean-GOP seat that Salazar captured when it opened up in 2004. He is on much firmer ground than fellow freshmen Bean and Melancon, however, and Tipton is a third tier opponent. No word yet on whether '04 GOP nominee Greg Walcher will seek a rematch.
7. Georgia 12 (10) (Rep. John Barrow (D) vs. Former Rep. Max Burns (R))
Barrow is another intended target of the Georgia DeLaymander, but obliquely. The new district is still lean-Dem, about as much as the old one, but its composition has been altered: the district lost Athens and its white liberals and instead picked up more heavily-African American areas. The GOP intent is for a black Dem to knock off Barrow in the primary and then lose to Burns in the general. Supposedly former Rep. and '04 Senate nominee Denise Majette is considering challenging Barrow. If Barrow is the nominee, he will be favored. If Majette or someone else defeats him in the primary, all bets are off.
8. Iowa 03 (20) (Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) vs. State Sen. Pres. Jeff Lamberti)
One of the few GOP recruiting successes thus far, Lamberti should give Boswell a good race in this swing district. Still, Boswell has been around since 1998 and has turned back tough challenges before.
9. Utah 02 (2) (Rep. Jim Matheson vs. Consultant Joe Tucker (R))
Matheson has worked hard to become entrenched in this ridiculously GOP district. If the nominee is the unknown and apparently underfunded Tucker, Matheson will be favored, but there are stronger candidates considering. Matheson will never win big here, however, and can never be considered safe.
10. Vermont at Large (26) (State Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Peter Welch (D) vs. State Adj. General and Air Force Maj. Gen. Martha Rainville or Retired Businessman and Vet Dennis Morrisseau (R) vs. State Rep. David Zuckerman (Prog))
This is Bernie Sanders' seat; he's running for the Senate. The GOP doesn't win in Vermont unless there is a strong third party challenge from the left. Lo and behold, there is a stronger than usual third party candidate in Zuckerman. Welch, however, looks pretty strong, outraising Rainville $270,000 to $7,000 (Morrisseau and Zuckerman did not file FEC reports). This one bears watching.
11. South Dakota at Large (8) (Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D) vs. Former Rapid City Councilman Larry Partridge or Salesman Thomas Bixler (R))
The GOP has third-tier candidates against Herseth, who won a special election narrowly and then the 2004 general by a slightly larger margin.
12. Kansas 03 (12) (Rep. Dennis Moore (D) vs. Banker and vet Chuck Ahner (R))
Moore has done a good job entrenching himself here, and Ahner is far from a top-tier challenger. He has, however, reported strong fundraising ($110,000 with $109,000 on hand), and Moore will still have to work for it.
13. Pennsylvania 17 (11) (Rep. Tim Holden (D) vs. Frank Ryan (R))
Holden unexpectedly ousted fellow Rep. George Gekas (R) from this seat in 2002 and absolutely destroyed highly touted challenger Scott Paterno last year. I have no clue who Ryan is, but he's raised $109,000 (but only has $3,000 on hand).
14. Texas 28 (36) (Rep. Henry Cuellar or one of 3 other Dems (D) vs. Francisco Canseco (R))
This is kind of a mystery race to me. Canseco is listed on the FEC website as having raised a whopping $1,030,000 with $299,000 on hand, yet I've never heard of him and politics1.com does not list him as a candidate, either actual or potential. On the Dem side, Cuellar will face a tough primary. Cuellar ousted former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the 2004 primary by 128 votes. Politics1 is reporting that Rodriguez is back again, although my understanding is that he's still mulling the possibilities. State Rep. Richard Raymond is in, however, and has outraised the incumbent ($507,000 to $487,000) and has more cash on hand ($430,000 to $290,000). Rodriguez has reported raising $104,000 with $71,000 on hand. College student John Webb is also in the Dem race. Contrary to what some have said, this district is winnable for the GOP under the right circumstances; W. won it in 2004, 53-47, and a no-name GOPer took 40% against Cuellar.
15. Tennessee 04 (14) (Rep. Lincoln Davis (D) vs. '02 State Sen. candidate Alan Pedigo (R))
Davis won this gerrymandered slight lean Dem seat in 2002. The GOP targeted this seat in both '02 and '04. This time, Davis appears to have an easier time; Pedigo is relatively unknown and has raised only $9,000 through end of September.
16. Ohio 13 (not rated) (Former Rep. Tom Sawyer (D) (?)vs. Businessman Joe Ortega (R))
This is the seat Sherrod Brown is leaving to run for Senate. It is a fairly solidly Dem district, but the GOP can win it under the right circumstances. The Dem field is far from set, but there has been much speculation about Tom Sawyer, the odd man out when GOP redistricters cut a district in 2002 (he lost to Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-17) in a primary that year). Politics1 lists him as an announced candidate--the only one so far. Ortega has raised $49,000 through the end of September.
17. Washington 02 (33) (Rep. Rick Larsen (D) vs. Businessman and Fmr. Navy Officer Doug Roulstone (R))
Roulstone is a touted GOP recruits in a district that was among the closest in every election from 1994-2002. Larsen was first elected in 2000 when GOPer Jack Metcalf honored his three-term pledge. Larsen's original election and his first reelection were close, hard-fought affairs, but he cruised in 2004. Larsen has raised $443,000 with $484,000 on hand; Roulstone has raised $156,000 with $136,000 on hand.
18. Arkansas 02 (24) (Rep. Vic Snyder (D) vs. Fmr. State Official Andy Mayberry (R))
Snyder is one of those longtime Southern Dems who hold Bush districts but generally have done so comfortably. Snyder reports no fundraising, however, if the FEC site is to be believed. If true, it indicates retirement, which would set up a very competitive open seat race. Mayberry has raised $47,000.
19. South Carolina 05 (25) (Rep. John Spratt (D) vs. Businessman Park Gillespie or State Rep. Paul Norman (R))
Like Snyder, Spratt keeps winning his conservative district. Unlike Snyder, Spratt has raised $267,000 and has $559,000 in the bank. Gillespie reports $30,000 raised; Norman did not file a report.
20. Indiana 07 (34) (Rep. Julia Carson (D) vs. Financial Consultant Bob Croddy or Salesman Richard Reynolds (R))
Carson has a history of unperforming in this solid blue Indianapolis district. So far, she's raised only $61,000, with $271,000 on hand. Neither Croddy nor Reynolds appears particularly strong, however.
21. Pennsylvania 13 (29) (Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) vs. Attorney Marina Kats (R))
Schwartz romped in the open seat contest in this suburban Philly swing district in 2004, winning 58-42 against a top GOP recruit who had held the previous incumbent, Joe Hoeffel to a 52-48 win in 2002. She's a prolific fundraiser, reporting just shy of $1.2 million raised and $842,000 on hand. GOPer Kats is an unknown.
22. California 47 (41) (Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) vs. Stockbroker Tan Nguyen or Angel Coronado (R))
Sanchez won an upset over Bob Dornan in 1996, and since then this Orange County district has turned reliably Dem. This year, however, Sanchez is facing two well-funded GOPers. It remains to be seen how much that matters.
23. Illinois 17 (40) (Rep. Lane Evans (D) vs. One of three GOPers (R))
24. Oregon 04 (42) (Rep. Pete DeFazio (D) vs. '04 Nominee Jim Feldkamp)
25. Washington 03 (32) (Rep. Brian Baird (D) vs. Contractor Tom Crowson (R))
26. Wisconsin 03 (39) (Rep. Ron Kind (D) vs. Realtor & Vet Paul Nelson (R))
27. Mississippi 02 (43) (Rep. Bennie Thompson or state Rep. Chuck Espy (D) vs. Minister James Broadwater or Bob McDonald (R))
None of these look competitive. The GOP has bodies in place in theoretically winnable districts, but little more.