10 congressional races to watch on Election Day - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

10 congressional races to watch on Election Day

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Posted: Sunday, October 31, 2010 11:00 am | Updated: 7:37 am, Tue Nov 2, 2010.

 

WASHINGTON - As many as 100 races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives remain up for grabs in what many analysts anticipate will be a Republican tide on Nov. 2.

Here are 10 races to watch Election Day.

Remember: Republicans need to pick up 10 seats to regain control of the Senate and 34 to reclaim the House. Analysts expect Democrats to keep control of the upper chamber by a whisker and lose the House, perhaps by a substantial margin, with the over-under at about 50.

But that's why they hold the vote -- anything can happen. Expect surprises.

U.S. SENATE

Nevada -- Probably the most closely watched because of the unusually high stakes. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid trails Republican challenger Sharron Angle by a small margin but he remains within the margin of error. The big secret here is that Reid has never been that all popular with Nevadans; he squeezed out a 478-vote victory in 1998 and won with 51 percent in 1992 after outspending his main foe by more than 6-to-1. If his GOP opponent weren't, well, a little out there, this would be a Republican runaway.

Pennsylvania -- It appeared that former Republican congressman Pat Toomey, a noted fiscal conservative, had this race well in hand a few weeks ago, but a late surge by Rep. Joe Sestak has transformed it into a toss-up. Some analysts attribute Sestak's momentum to the fact that Delaware is in the Philadelphia media market and the GOP candidate for the Senate there, anti-masturbation activist Christine O'Donnell, is so unusual that it's affecting the outcome to the north.

Illinois -- In this race for the seat once held by President Obama, voters are screaming for none of the above. Former Republican congressman Mark Kirk saw his chances slide when it was revealed that he had embellished his military record. Meanwhile, the Democrat, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, had some explaining to do about his family's bank doing business with reputed mobsters. This one is swinging back and forth.

Colorado -- Another one where the Democrats were having last rites said over a body that miraculously sprang to life. Sen. Michael Bennett, appointed to the seat when Ken Salazar was appointed secretary of the interior, stumbled along for weeks in his race against Republican Ken Buck, a Tea Party favorite whose handling of a rape case during his tenure as Weld County district attorney has created some waves. Buck also might be held back by the GOP candidate for governor, Don Maes, who is polling below 10 percent.

West Virginia -- Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, was considered a shoo-in to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd -- especially because his Republican opponent, John Raese, a rich businessman without much of a portfolio, spent much, if not most, of his time in Florida. But there are few places in America where President Obama is more unpopular than in the Mountain State, and Raese held the lead for a while. Manchin has stressed his conservative bona fides, shooting a copy of the health care reform bill with his rifle in one ad.

U.S. HOUSE

Michigan, 15th District: -- Rep. John Dingell has represented the southeast corner of Michigan for 55 years, usually facing weak opposition. This time he has his hands full against Republican Rob Steele. It's been so tight that Dingell brought in former President Bill Clinton to campaign in his behalf.

Kentucky, 6th District -- This is a good one because polls close in the Bluegrass State at 6 p.m. It will be one of the first races called, offering a glimpse of whether Democrats might face a true Armageddon. Rep. Ben Chandler entered the race heavily favored but has been unable to shake Republican Andy Barr, a relative unknown in a district where the Obama administration is not playing very well. An upset here and it's Katie bar the door for Democrats.

Massachusetts, 4th District -- Rep. Barney Frank has been a liberal mainstay in the House for going on 30 years and was expected to have no trouble with Republican foe Sean Bielat, a business consultant. But reports are that the two are running neck-and-neck, that Frank has plopped a substantial portion of his own money in the race and that Republicans are optimistic, noting that Republican Scott Brown carried the district in his successful effort to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Pennsylvania, 11th District -- The long-time House member facing the toughest road might be Rep. Paul Kanjorski, who is seeking a 14th term against Republican Lou Barletta, a candidate he squeaked by before. The changing political climate has placed the incumbent in an underdog spot, with Barletta leading in the polls.

Indiana, 9th District -- Rep. Baron Hill has been in the House since 1998 and usually gets by with a vote in the low 50s. Once again he's running tight with a Republican, Todd Young, a deputy prosecutor, in what is expected to be a GOP year. This is another race where the results should come in fairly early, providing observers with a small clue about the size of the anticipated landslide.

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