Top 10 House Races for Conservatives in '06

10. Minnesota-6th

With Rep. Mark Kennedy seeking the GOP nomination for Senate, three Republicans (all of them conservatives) are running to succeed him in his suburban St. Paul district.  Democrats are likely to have a strong candidate in former State Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg.

9. South Carolina-5th

After 24 years and many spirited attempts, Republicans finally feel they can take out Democratic Rep. John Spratt.  They have a strong contender in State Rep. Ralph Norman, who has early backing from state and national GOP leaders. 

8. Texas-17th

In the one Democratic district that survived the Republican-led redistricting of 2004, narrow ’04 winner Rep. Chet Edwards (D.) faces a strong challenge from Republican Van Taylor, a 33-year-old U.S. Marine captain and Iraqi War veteran. 

7. Oklahoma-5th

The most Republican district in Oklahoma is vacant, thanks to Rep. Ernest Istook’s running for governor.  Five Republicans are vying for the nomination and the conservative favorite appears to be former State Rep. Bill Graves, a Pat Buchanan Republican and former candidate for state attorney general. 

6. Indiana-9th

Republican Rep. Mike Sodrel narrowly lost to incumbent Democrat Baron Hill in ’02, narrowly beat Hill in ’04, and they are now in a rubber match. 

5. Indiana-8th

After 12 years, GOP Rep. John Hostettler still has trouble holding onto his Evansville-area district and this time faces a well-known Democrat in Vandenburg County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth.

4. Colorado-7th

Two-term Rep. Bob Beauprez is leaving this suburban Denver district to seek the GOP nomination for governor.  The conservative favorite among Republicans is Rick O’Donnell, close ally of former Sen. Bill Armstrong (R.-Colo.), but he will have a tough November fight in a district won by Al Gore and John Kerry.

3. Georgia-3rd

Former Rep. Mac Collins, who left the House to run unsuccessfully for the GOP Senate nod in ’04, is trying to make a comeback in the Macon district against Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall.  GOP-orchestrated redistricting put much of Collins’ former turf in Marshall’s district. 

2. Arizona-8th

With the retirement of moderate GOP Rep. Jim Kolbe, former State House Majority Whip Randy Graf, who drew 43% against Kolbe in the primary in ’04, is the favorite for GOP nomination.  But the conservative Graf could face a strong challenge from Democratic State Sen. Gabriel Gifford in the Tucson-area district. 

1. California-50th

Six Republicans are vying for the San Diego district vacated by Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R.) in the special primary April 11 (with the election to fill the seat in June).  The favorite of state and national conservatives is former State Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, one of the early leaders of the successful movement to recall former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.