State by State

West Virginia

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), met last month with state Sen. John Unger (D-W.Va.), a potential candidate to run against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

Kyra Jennings, a spokeswoman for the DCCC, said the chairman found Unger to be “an exciting potential candidate.”

“He [has] already shown us that he has strong, early, local support, which we’re excited by,” Jennings said.
Capito is said to be a top target of state and local Democrats in West Virginia, as she is the last remaining Republican member of a delegation that boasts two Democratic House members and two Democratic senators.

For her part, Capito has said before she has not ruled out a senatorial run against Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D).

— Sam Youngman



Minnesota

When former Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) put up his Capitol Hill condo for sale in February, it was reported that there was no chance he would run for his old seat in 2008.

Gutknecht denied that report to The Hill last month, saying he was still mulling his options, and added that there was a chance he would seek a rematch with Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), who beat him in November.

But now Gutknecht has made it official. In an e-mail to The Hill, the ex-member from the class of 1994 said he is having a wonderful time as a private citizen and has “no plans to run for anything in 2008.”

Gutknecht, known for bucking his party on a range of issues, is doing some consulting work for several companies, including Bixby Energy.

Republicans who have announced their plans to run for the Walz seat include state Sens. Dick Day and Randy Demmer, as well as Mark Meyer, who sits on a local school board.

 — Bob Cusack



Ohio

Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), who is the subject of constant retirement rumors, is not exactly revealing when he’ll make the decision of whether to seek reelection.

“I’m not even going to comment on it,” Regula said. “We’ll see.”

If Regula retires, Democrats are expected to target his seat this cycle.

— Bob Cusack



Iowa

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Friday that he will run for a sixth term in 2010, according to the Associated Press.

Grassley’s announcement comes on the heels of a similar decision by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), another septuagenarian fifth-termer up for reelection in 2010. Grassley’s Iowa colleague, Sen. Tom Harkin (D), also is set to make a public decision about running in 2008.

Grassley, 73, ceded the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee when the new Congress convened, but he cited his seniority as motivation for running again.

“With my seniority, I am worth more to my employer, the people of Iowa, than I was before,” Grassley said, adding that it will be valuable in dealing with the upcoming farm bill and issues such as Medicare and Social Security.
Grassley was first elected in 1980 and has won at least 66 percent of the vote in every election since, including 70 percent in 2004.

— Aaron Blake



Oregon

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) signaled late last week that he would defer to fellow Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio (D) in Democrats’ bid to unseat Sen. Gordon Smith (R) in 2008, according to the Portland Oregonian.
DeFazio, who as an 11th-termer has been in Congress for about twice as long as Blumenauer, recently said he would consider the race after having ruled it out initially. DeFazio said he would make a decision by next month.
Blumenauer told the Oregonian that he was weighing the pros and cons of a run but would wait to see what DeFazio says.

“I’m in no hurry; I hope Peter does it,” Blumenauer said. “If it reaches that point, we would look at it, take a poll and talk to some people.”

DeFazio has cited money and seniority concerns as reasons for not running, but Democrats have pushed his candidacy hard. Last month, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a poll showing him beating Smith 42–38.

— Aaron Blake