Tom DeLay's ill-timed pullout from this suburban Houston race left the GOP with only a write-in candidate to oppose former congressman Nick Lampson. To elect a Republican, voters in this conservative district will have to type on the voting machine the name of Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.
- Sekula-Gibbs (R)
- Lampson (D)
The "Bloody Eighth" has booted six incumbents in the past 50 years-a record that should embolden Democratic challenger Brad Ellsworth, a local sheriff. Democrats have pumped cash
into Ellsworth's campaign, but Republican John Hostettler is counting on grassroots support from conservative evangelicals.
- Hostettler (R)
- Ellsworth (D)
At least the mudslinging will stop on Election Day. Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Mike Whalen have attacked each other's professional careers: Democrats say Whalen built his business empire on the backs of illegal immigrants, while Republicans charge Braley, a trial lawyer, with making a fortune on frivolous lawsuits.
- Whalen (R)
- Braley (D)
Ohio's 18th district seemed lost to Republicans when disgraced congressman Bob Ney insisted on running. Then, when he finally pulled out and made way for Joy Padgett, experts predicted an easy GOP win. But Democrat Zack Space's sophisticated campaign has successfully linked Padgett with Ney, unpopular GOP governor Bob Taft, and President Bush.
- Padgett (R)
- Space (D)
Democratic candidate and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth's mismanagement of her campaign war chest may end up throwing the race to late-charging Republican Peter Roskam. A half-month before Election Day, Duckworth had just over $200,000 left, but Roskam sat on a stash of over $1.5 million to close the deal in this suburban Chicago district.
- Roskam (R)
- Duckworth (D)
If Democrat Patty Wetterling manages a comeback victory in this moderately conservative district, she'll have Mark Foley to thank for it. After the Foley scandal became public, Wetterling aired television ads accusing Republicans of "victimization of this child and [putting] other children at risk." The ads seemed to work, putting her within striking distance of Republican Michele Bachmann.
- Bachmann (R)
- Wetterling (D)
Washington politics has created an uphill climb for Republican Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle to replace outgoing Democrat Tom Vilsack. Like many other races, Democrat Chet Culver has worked hard to tie Nussle to the sagging popularity of President Bush and the Foley scandal.
- Nussle (R)
- Culver (D)
Election Day will determine what money and technology can buy for Republican challenger Dick DeVos. The wealthy businessman poured his own cash into a sophisticated get-out-the-vote system that he hopes will ultimately lead to triumph over incumbent Jennifer Granholm.
- DeVos (R)
- Granholm (D)
Some Republican leaders consider Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty a rising star in the GOP and a possible presidential candidate one day. Now he's having trouble hanging onto his own job. State Attorney General Mike Hatch has surprised many with a strong campaign that has Pawlenty and GOP leaders antsy about the 45-year-old's chances.
Republican challenger Rep. Mark Green has been inching closer to incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle for the past few months, but it could be too little too late. Green has positioned himself as the next Tommy Thompson, a former GOP Wisconsin governor, while Doyle has lambasted Green for having a conservative social agenda.
- Green (R)
- Doyle (D)
The ethically challenged incumbent Democrat, Rod Blagojevich, appears vulnerable, but Republican opponent Judy Baar Topinka has struggled to gain momentum. Since June, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has looked into "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" in Blagojevich's government. For Topinka, the investigation can't progress quickly enough.
- Topinka (R)
- Blagojevich (D)
Texas incumbent Rick Perry doesn't excite the state's broad Republican base, but voters have not coalesced around an alternative. Democrat Chris Bell's lack of appeal has allowed independents Carol Keeton Strayhorn and songwriter/humorist Kinky Friedman to attract some support, but observers expect Perry to win a plurality of the vote and keep his job.
- Perry (R)
- Bell (D)
- Strayhorn (I)
- Friedman (I)
This is one of the seats Democrats hope to grab in order to control the Senate. GOP incumbent Jim Talent won statewide office in a 2002 special election and last year seemed a solid pick to win reelection. Talent built a big cash and endorsements advantage on his Democratic challenger, state auditor Claire McCaskill, but Republican popularity in this swing state has dropped. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star have both reported substantial voter registration fraud designed to aid Democrats.
- Talent (R)
- McCaskill (D)
Republican Senator Mike DeWine didn't ingratiate himself with his GOP colleagues when he forged a separate peace with filibustering Democrats during the Senate debate on Bush judicial nominations. Without a conservative base to turn to, it's unclear where DeWine will gain enough support to save the GOP seat from Democrat Sherrod Brown, a strong campaigner, but in October national Republicans were promising to pour cash into the incumbent's struggling campaign.