Wednesday, March 29, 2006

2006 Open Seat Congressional Districts

I just read today that Lane Evans (Illinois 17th, Democrat) is going to retire from Congress this year. This was first going to be a post about his district, but I decided to expand this to all of them in alphabetical order with the more competitive races listed first.

Likely Competitive Districts:

Arizona’s 8th District: (Vacated by Jim Kolbe)
This district covers Southeastern Arizona. Bush received 53% of the vote in 2004 and 50% in 2000. Tuscon is not nearly as conservative as the Phoenix area. Overall Pima County went 52.64% for Kerry. Conchise County went 59.70% for Bush. Santa Cruz County went 59.21% for Kerry.

It doesn’t contain most of the democrat areas of Pima or Santa Cruz County (which is in Grijalva’s District), but this seat is still not a gimme for Republicans, especially if there is major infighting. Over 21 possible major party candidates are listed, so expect a major battle here on both sides.

California’s 50th District (Vacated by Duke Cunningham)

Duke Cunningham’s forced resignation due to criminal convictions gives us two races here. A special election in June, as well as the regular November election. Bush won 54% in 2000 and 55% in 2004 here, which were lower than most California Bush districts. This is tied with David Drier’s seat for the sixth closest district partisan wise in the state, behind districts held by Democrat Dennis Cardoza (50% Bush), Democrat Loretta Sanchez (50% Bush), Democrat Jim Costa (51% Kerry), Democrat Bob Filner (53% Kerry), and Republican Richard Pombo (54% Bush).

This district covers much of the City of San Diego and its Northern Suburbs. This is a sleeper race that leans Republican, but the special election aspect to it always makes things interesting. Fourteen Republicans and Two democrats are battling it out here. As a whole San Diego County went 52.52% for Bush, but the most democrat areas are in Susan Davis’ and Bob Filner’s districts.

Colorado’s 7th District (Vacated by Bob Beauprez)

Bob Beauprez had two tough races in this district. He won the first time by 121 votes and the second time by 12%. He is stepping down to run for governor. This was created as a 50/50 district and it is close to that. Kerry won with 51% here. Gore won with 50% here. Beauprez won twice. This district is in suburban Denver and contains most of Adams County, part of Jefferson County, and Aurora in Araphoe County. Most of the land is in Adams, but most voters are in Jefferson. Adams County is traditionally democrat, but new residents may change that. Arapahoe County was Republican but is changing to Democrat. Jefferson County swings, and narrowly gave Beauprez his first win. In 2004, Kerry won Adams County as a whole with 50.57%, while Bush won Araphoe County as a whole with 51.42% and Jefferson County as a whole with 51.75%. Three democrats are battling out in the primary, while Republicans rally behind Rick O’Donnell. This is a true toss-up race.

Florida’s 9th District (Vacated by Michael Bilirakis)
This Tampa Bay area district with Clearwater and some suburban areas leans Republican, but not overwhelmingly so. This covers parts of Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties, although it does not contain St Petersburg, Bradenton, or Tampa itself. Bush won 57% in the district. There are contested primaries in both parties for this seat. It should stay Republican, but may be a sleeper.

Florida’s 13th District (Vacated by Katherine Harris)
This district contains all of Sarasota, DeSoto, and Hardee Counties. It also has most of Manitee County and part of Charlotte County. Katherine Harris is a two term rep here stepping down to run for senate. She’s hated by democrats and had two competitive races here, but winning both times with 55%. Bush received 54% of the vote here in 2000 and 56% in 2004. This district has been Republican for 14 years, and will probably continue to be. Bush won Sarasota with 53.51%, DeSoto with 58.09%, Hardy with 69.65%, Manatee with 56.62%, and Charlotte County with 55.68%. Open seats may make this a sleeper however. There are contested primaries in both parties.

Illinois 6th District (Vacated by Henry Hyde)
After 32 years, Henry Hyde is retiring. The Chicago Suburbs used to be staunchly Republican, but are becoming more and more democrat. Bush carried this district twice, but with only 53% of the vote. Henry Hyde’s winning percentage dropped to 56% in 2004. Part of that is demographics, but part of that is also due to Bush writing off Illinois twice, and the current shambles (Thanks to corrupt RINO governor George Ryan) of the state party there. This district covers part of the Cook County burbs which are more democrat, and the now marginally republican DuPage County burbs. As a whole DuPage County went 54.39% for Bush. The Cook County burbs went for John Kerry. This race will probably be a very close contest in 2006.

Illinois 17th District: (Vacated by Lane Evens)
This is a gerrymandered lean-democrat open seat, but winnable with the right candidate. Kerry won 51% here. Gore got 54% in 2000. Evans won easily in 2002 and 2004, but had tough races here in 1996 and 1998 with 52% wins. This area is mostly rural, but covers the Illinois part of the Quad Cities area (Rock Island - where my gun was made, and Moline) which are heavily union. The rural areas are more democrat than most rural areas as well. The gerrymander gave it part of Springfield and Decatur which are democrat, while leaving out the rest of Sangamon and Macon Counties which went slightly Republican. This could be a sleeper race however with a good populist candidate.

Iowa’s 1st District: (Vacated by Jim Nussle)

Nothing comes easy in Iowa for either party, and this is going to be one of the toughest open seats to defend. Jim Nussle won in a 53% Kerry and 52% Gore district. He always had tough races, but found a way to win due to his cross party appeal. Only two small rural counties here with for Bush. Kerry won the rest, including Dubuque County with 56.46%, and Scott County (Davenport) with 50.92%. Scott County is the largest county in the district, and if we are going to save this seat, it has to start there. Seven major candidates are vying for this seat. This is a tossup, but I suspect may go democrat. That said, Iowa has a LOT of ticket splitters.

Minnesota’s 6th District: (Vacated by Mark Kennedy)

Nothing really comes easy in Minnesota either. This is a suburban and exurban Twin Cities areadistrict. This was Bush’s best district in 2004. Bush did well in this district with 52% in 2000 and 57% in 2004. That said, democrats are still competitive here. Mark Kennedy had three tough races, beating incumbent David Minge in 2000 with 48%, Janet Robert with 57% in 02, and Patty Wetterling with 54% in 2004. This district is treading more Republican, but Wetterling’s taking another shot here and got 46% in 2004. So are several republicans and one other democrat.

New York’s 24th District (Vacated by Sherwood Boehlert)

Upstate New York is nowhere near as Republican as it used to be. New York State is more old-style New England “Rockefeller” Republicanism than Livingston County Republicanism. This district is a rural district spread across 11 counties in upstate New York. Sherwood Boehlert is a “Rockefeller Republican” who is retiring after 24 years. President Bush narrowly won this district twice, with 48% in 2000 and 53% in 2004. Several candidates in both parties are running for this open seat.

Ohio’s 6th District (Vacated by Ted Strickland)

The 6th District is a mostly rural district in eastern Ohio. This district was taylormade for Democrat Ted Strickland who was a natural fit for its populism. Strickland was a critic of NAFTA and gun control. He won narrowly in 1992, lost in 1994, won in 1996, and won easily since. President Bush won this district narrowly with 49% in 2000 and 51% in 2004. This district’s politics is similar to Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. Eight people are running for this district. Five of the counties went for Kerry. The rest for Bush. This should be a tossup, and the Steubenville area will probably decide the winner.

Wisconsin’s 8th District (Vacated by Mark Green)

Nothing comes easy in Wisconsin either. The 8th District of Wisconsin covers Northeastern Wisconsin, including Green Bay and much of the border along the UP. President Bush won this district with 52% and 55% of the vote. Bush won every county except Menominee, which is a small Indian Reservation and went 82% for John Kerry. However, most of his wins were about 53%, so this is not a gimme. Seven candidates are taking a shot at representing the heart of Packers’ Country.

Less likely to be competitive districts:
Colorado’s 5th District (Vacated by Joel Hefley) – 63% and 66% for Bush – Based in Colorado Springs

Minnesota’s 5th District (Vacated by Martin Sabo) – 63% Gore and 71% Kerry – Based in Minneapolis

California’s 22nd District (Vacated by Bill Thomas) – 64% and 68% Bush – Based in Bakersfield and part of Lancaster

Florida’s 11th District (Vacated by Jim Davis) – 61% Gore and 58% Kerry – Based in Tampa and part of St Petersburg

Hawaii’s 2nd District (Vacated by Ed Case) – 56% for both Gore and Kerry – Based in Honolulu

Idaho’s 1st Distrct (Vacated by Butch Otter) – 68% and 69% Bush – Based in Western Idaho

Maryland’s 3rd District (Vacated by Ben Cardin) – 55% Gore and 54% Kerry – Based in Baltimore (although this may be a sleeper and less democrat than it used to be)

Nebraska’s 3rd District (Vacated by Tom Osborne) – 71% and 75% Bush – Based in Western Nebraska

Nevada’s 2nd District (Vacated by Jim Gibbons) – 57% Bush twice – Based in Rural Nevada and Reno

New York’s 11th District (Vacated by Major Owens) – 83% Gore and 86% Kerry – Based in Brooklyn NY,

Ohio’s 4th District (Vacated by Mike Oxley) – 62% and 65% Bush - Based in Lima and Findlay

Ohio’s 13th District (Vacated by Sherrod Brown) – 53% Gore and 56% Kerry – Based in Lorain, Elyria, Western Akron/Suburbs, and West Cleveland Suburbs

Oklahoma’s 5th District (Vacated by Ernest Istook) – 62% and 64% Bush – Based in Okalahoma City

Tennessee’s 1st District (Vacated by Bill Jenkins) - 61% and 68% Bush – Based in Northeastern Tennessee and Kingsport

Tennessee’s 9th District (Vacated by Harold Ford Jr) – 63% Gore and 70% Kerry - Based in Memphis

Vermont’s Statewide District (Vacated by Bernie Sanders) – 51% Gore and 59% Kerry

In the senate, Paul Sarbanes is retiring as Maryland Senator. Mark Dayton is retiring as Minnesota Senator. Bill Frist is retiring as Tennessee Senator, Jumpin’ Jim Jeffords is retiring as Vermont Senator.

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