Politics

GOP Will Cling to Control of House

In newspaper and television profiles, the liberal media are hyping Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) as the near-certain next speaker of the House, and polls give Democrats an edge over Republicans in the generic ballot for U.S. House candidates nationwide. But as former Secretary of State James Baker once said, “Overnight can be an eternity in politics.”

With a week to go before voters in 435 congressional districts elect the next House of Representatives (which now has 230 Republicans, 201 Democrats, one independent who votes with the Democrats, and three vacancies), there is evidence indicating a Democratic House and a Speaker Pelosi are not sure things. Veteran conservative activist Paul Weyrich of Coalitions for America told me last week that “a lot of grass-roots conservatives I spoke to were saying a few weeks ago that ‘I’m not voting for those bums’—meaning the Republicans in Congress. Now they’re saying, ‘I don’t like some things they’ve done, but we can’t let the Democrats take over.’” Connecticut Republican Chairman George Gallo, a moderate, said, “The scandal surrounding [disgraced former Florida Rep.] Mark Foley is fading here. People are talking a lot about North Korea and national security.”

Weyrich and Gallo agree that the Republican base will turn out November 7.

Because of post-2000 redistricting, there are relatively few competitive races. Two years ago, 98.7% of incumbents were re-elected, a post-World War II record. In addition, in the 21 districts where Republicans are stepping down or have resigned, George W. Bush won an average of 57% of the vote in 2004.

In my view, the Republicans will lose a net of 12 seats, resulting in a House that has a 220-to-215 Republican majority.

DISTRICT REPUBLICAN DEMOCRAT ANALYSIS
GOP Incumbents Likely to be Defeated By Democrats
California-4 John Doolittle Charlie Brown Doolittle’s wife’s ties to Jack Abramoff hurt badly.
Indiana-8 John Hostettler Brad Ellsworth County Sheriff Ellsworth has concealed his liberalism enough to beat Hostettler.
Indiana-9 Mike Sodrel Baron Hill Ex-Rep. Hill has edge in third match with Sodrel.
New York-26 Tom Reynolds Jack Davis Questions about Reynolds’ role in Foley scandal could be his downfall against millionaire Davis.
North Carolina-11 Charles Taylor Heath Schuler Ex-pro footballer Schuler set to run past Taylor.
Pennsylvania-6 Jim Gerlach Lois Murphy Ex-state NARAL head Murphy should overturn 6,400-vote loss to Gerlach in 2004.
Pennsylvania -7 Curt Weldon Joseph Sestak FBI raid on Weldon’s daughters’ home will help retired Adm. Sestak sink him.
Pennsylvania -10 Don Sherwood Chris Carney Sherwood sex scandal boosts Iraq veteran Carney.
Open GOP Seats Likely to be Won By Democrats
Colorado-7 Rick O’Donnell Ed Perlmutter Dems have edge in state’s most marginal district.
Iowa-1 Mike Whalen Bill Braley Warhorse Braley has Democratic voter registration edge over restaurateur Whalen.
Ohio-18 Joy Padgett Zack Space Default on husband’s $1-million business loan hurt Padgett.
Vacant GOP Seats Likely to be Won By Democrats
Florida-16 Joe Negron Tim Mahoney With Negron’s name blocked from appearing on the ballot after Foley’s fall, Mahoney wins by default.
Texas-22 Shelley Sekula-Gibbs Nick Lampson DeLay’s delay getting off the ballot forced Sekula-Gibbs to go the write-in route, letting Nick win seat.
Vacant Democratic Seat Likely to be Held by Democrats
New Jersey-13 John Guarini Albio Sires Ex-Assembly Speaker Sires is slam dunk for Menendez’s seat.
Vacant Independent Seat Likely to be Won by Republicans
Vermont-AL Martha Rainville Peter Welch Retired Gen. Rainville strong candidate against State Sen. Welch.