With Republican fortunes on the rise in House races across the nation, the media has focused on high-profile contests where Democratic incumbents find themselves in serious trouble. Jim Geraghty takes the opposite tack, highlighting a baker’s dozen of races few are watching at all because of perceived invincibility of incumbent Democrats. If these seats start flipping on November 2nd, we know that Democrats are having a very, very bad night:
By some counts, the GOP has a shot at 103 currently Democratic seats in the U.S. House of Representatives this year.
You have probably marveled at Florida GOP House candidate Allen West’s speeches on YouTube. You’ve been amused to learn about the offbeat biography of Sean Duffy — MTV reality-show star, world-champion lumberjack, and a successful district attorney. You’ve chuckled at the thought of Jon Runyan plowing through New Jersey Democrat John Adler the way he used to plow through defensive lineman. And when North Carolina’s Bob Etheridge attacked that kid who asked him whether he supports the Obama agenda, you probably noticed how Renee Ellmers answers questions in a pleasant, informative, and non-strangulating manner.
But with so many promising Republican challengers this year, a bunch of potential upsets are flying well under the radar. And with the political environment going from bad to worse for Democrats, it is increasingly likely the night of November 2 will include some winners that almost no one saw coming. If you’re searching for some of these long shots who are looking shorter these days, here is a dirty baker’s dozen of GOP challengers to keep an eye on. They’re underfunded, unrecognized, rarely mentioned, and given no chance . . . and they may just win anyway.
There are lots of interesting nuggets in this overview, so be sure to read it all. For instance, the vice-chair of the DCCC, Bruce Braley (IA-01), only got six contributors from inside his district in the past quarter, and narrowly got outraised by GOP challenger Benjamin Lange. A win in that race would send a shock wave through Democratic leadership in the House.
My favorite, though, comes closer to home:
11. Theresa Collett vs. Betty McCollum, Minnesota’s 4th District.
Reasons the challenger should have no chance: This is a D+13 district; McCollum won it in 2008 by 37 percentage points.
Reasons the challenger has a chance: Upon winning the primary, Collett, a University of St. Thomas law professor,challenged McCollum to four debates. She’s still waiting for a reply. On the stump, Collett makes her points in a crisp, clear, direct style. Outgoing governor Tim Pawlenty is giving Collett some help. Collett is severely underfunded, but McCollum has only $160,634 in cash on hand as of July 21, which is fairly low for an incumbent.
I’ve interviewed Teresa a number of times, mainly because she’s a great guest; she’s sharp, knowledgeable, and thoughtful. If McCollum takes Teresa up on her debate challenge, she’s going to get dismantled. McCollum appears to have slept through this campaign so far, just the way her Budget Committee has slept through its obligations to present a budget for FY2011. The district is D+13, as Jim notes, but it encompasses plenty of first-ring St. Paul suburb neighborhoods that won’t necessarily rubber-stamp McCollum in this year.
Keep this link handy as a scorecard. If the GOP takes a few of these races, I’d expect the night to be a huge triumph for the GOP.