Democrats lead in Senate recruiting; Republicans out front in House races

Four months after the 2006 election, Senate Democrats appear largely set on candidates for their top pickup opportunities, while Republicans likely will need to wait to determine theirs.

In the House, Republicans eager to regain several conservative House districts have led the early candidates, while few Democrats are getting in at this point.

In all, more than a dozen major House candidates and six major Senate candidates are signed up for 2008, 20 months before the general election.

Five major Democratic Senate candidates have declared they will run in Colorado, Minnesota and New Hampshire — three of the top pickup opportunities in a Senate year that, on its face, appears to favor Democrats — and Rep. Tom Allen (D) is expected to fill a fourth in Maine.

Republicans, meanwhile, appear to be playing the waiting game in three of their top pickup states. Only former Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo.) is carrying the party banner in a major Senate contest.

In Arkansas and Montana, former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Rep. Denny Rehberg, respectively, aren’t declaring early and appear to have the right of first refusal against Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.). In South Dakota, Sen. Tim Johnson’s (D) illness has slowed Republican recruitment efforts, and Gov. Mike Rounds (R) appears to hold a similar position to that of Huckabee and Rehberg.

No Republicans have declared in what is arguably the GOP’s top pickup state: Louisiana. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. this week opted out of a bid; Rep. Richard Baker and Secretary of State Jay Dardenne are the top potential candidates. A high-profile 2007 gubernatorial race could discourage early Senate activity, however, and both Baker and Dardenne have indicated they are prepared to wait.

Among Democrats declaring early: Rep. Mark Udall announced in 2005 he is running for retiring Sen. Wayne Allard’s (R-Colo.) seat; comedian Al Franken and attorney Mike Ciresi recently announced they would run against Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.); and Portsmouth, N.H., Mayor Steve Marchand and former congressional candidate Katrina Swett are running against Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.).

Colorado appears to be Allard’s state, and Franken and Ciresi look to be the top two contenders for the Minnesota nomination. Democrats also likely have their candidate in Maine, where Allen, who represents half the state in the House, has given nearly every indication he plans to challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R).

New Hampshire, on the other hand, is still in a state of flux. Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) could clear the field but is mum on her prospects.

In the House, Republicans are lining up against freshman incumbents including Reps. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.), Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.), Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), but have been slow to officially jump into some of the conservative districts lost in 2006 due to Republican scandals.

Of the six districts most touched by scandal in 2006 — Reps. Jerry McNerney’s (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.), Zack Space’s (D-Ohio), Chris Carney’s (D-Pa.), Nick Lampson’s (D-Texas) and Mahoney’s — only Mahoney has drawn a challenger thus far.

His 2006 opponent, former state Rep. Joe Negron, turned down a bid, but state Rep. Gayle Harrell (R) and attorney Tom Rooney have declared for the seat, and more contenders could be on the way.

The other districts have drawn interest but no official candidates at this point.

House Democrats, now on the defensive after having picked up 30 seats in November, have only a pair of high-profile candidates — both 2006 repeats — in top Republican-held districts: Charlie Brown has officially filed to run against Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and Larry Kissell has said he will challenge Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.).

Republicans have repeat candidates in former Reps. Jim Ryun (R-Kan.) and Jeb Bradley (R-N.H.), who will try to regain seats they lost in 2006. Ryun could face a primary challenge from state treasurer Lynn Jenkins.

GOPers are also flooding the June special election in former Rep. Charles Norwood’s (R-Ga.) district. Norwood died last month.

 


Official Senate candidates:

Colorado — Open Seat
• Sen. Wayne Allard (R), retiring
Former Rep. Scott McInnis (R)
Rep. Mark Udall (D), below
Idaho
• Sen. Larry Craig (R)
Robert Vasquez (R)

Illinois
• Sen. Dick Durbin (D)
Andy Martin (R)

Iowa
• Sen. Tom Harkin (D)
Steve Rathje (R)
Minnesota
• Sen. Norm Coleman (R), above
Mike Ciresi (D)
Al Franken (D)

New Hampshire
• Sen. John Sununu (R)
Steve Marchand (D)
Katrina Swett (D)

Oklahoma
• Sen. James Inhofe (R)
Stephen Wallace (R)

Oregon
• Sen. Gordon Smith (R)
Ty Pettit (D)



Official House candidates:

California-4
• Rep. John Doolittle (R)
Charlie Brown (D)

Florida-8
• Rep. Ric Keller (R)
Todd Long (R)

Florida-9
• Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R)
Bill Mitchell (D)

Florida-15
• Rep. Dave Weldon (R)
Bob Bowman (D)

Florida-16
•  Rep. Tim Mahoney (D)
Gayle Harrell (R)
Tom Rooney (R)
Hal Valeche (R)
Georgia-10 — Open Seat
(Special election June 19 for seat held by the late Rep. Charlie Norwood [R] )
Bill Greene (R)
Terry Holley (D)
Ralph Hudgens (R)
Jim Whitehead (R)

Kansas-2
• Rep. Nancy Boyda (D)
Former Rep. Jim Ryun (R)

Minnesota-1
• Rep. Tim Walz (D)
Dick Day (R)
Mark Meyer (R)
New Hampshire-1
• Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D)
Former Rep. Jeb Bradley (R), above

North Carolina-8
• Rep. Robin Hayes (R)
Larry Kissell (D)

Pennsylvania-4
• Rep. Jason Altmire (D)
Ron Francis (R)

Texas-23
• Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D)
Jim McGrody (R)

 

• -  incumbent; may not have declared candidacy