The national Republican Party canceled a large ad buy for GOP candidate Randy Graf in September, leaving the conservative Republican on his own against well-funded Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, a former state senator. Pundits say Graf's ties with the Minutemen turn off some voters in this southern Arizona district, a moderate Republican stronghold for more than two decades.
- Graf (R)
- Giffords (D)
Retired Air Force officer Charlie Brown has struggled to tie incumbent Republican Rep. John Doolittle to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. While Doolittle maintains he's not under investigation, he's been paying big fees to defense attorneys to deal with the Justice Department-an opening Brown has yet to exploit.
- Doolittle (R)
- Brown (D)
A late surge by Republican Rick O'Donnell has surprised Democrats and Republicans alike who figured months ago that the Colorado open seat would certainly end up in the Democrats' column. Despite the noise of the Foley scandal and pessimism regarding Iraq, O'Donnell's tough stands on taxes and national security seem to be cutting through. His television ads charge a vote for Democratic candidate Ed Perlmutter is effectively a vote for strident Democratic leaders Charles Rangel and Nancy Pelosi.
- O'Donnell (R)
- Perlmutter (D)
History suggests that Republican incumbent Rep. Heather Wilson will hold onto this seat, since the district hasn't elected a Democrat since it was formed in 1968. But through the years Democrats have made inroads, and NM-1 now has more registered Democrats than Republicans-good news for the challenger, state Attorney General Patricia Madrid.
- Wilson (R)
- Madrid (D)
Rep. Dave Reichert faces a surprisingly tough challenger in Democrat Darcy Burner. The 35-year-old Microsoft executive managed to raise over $1 million by midsummer and has shown staying power in what many consider Washington's most reliably Republican district. Though demographic trends point to Democratic gains, the 8th District has yet to elect a Democrat in its 26-year history.
- Reichert (R)
- Burner (D)
Former Gov. Tony Knowles seemed like a lock to retake his old job and knock off intensely unpopular incumbent Frank Murkowski, whose approval ratings had dropped below 20 percent. But Alaska Republicans launched a preemptive strike, casting out Murkowski in the primary for Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin. And while Knowles has made some headway attacking Palin's inexperience, Alaska voters might just be ready for a fresh face.
- Palin (R)
- Knowles (D)
In recent months Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has successfully portrayed himself as a politician who can collaborate across party lines with well-known Democrats. His Democratic challenger, Phil Angelides, has tried to distinguish himself by running even further to the left: Angelides has made filing lawsuits against the Bush administration to bring troops back from Iraq a central campaign plank (see p. 30). Angelides' lawsuit threats may excite West Coast liberals, but they give moderates almost no choice but to go with Schwarzenegger.
- Schwarzenegger (R)
- Angelides (D)
Did Republican candidate Jim Gibbons shove a cocktail waitress on Oct. 13? That question may just be the opening needed by state Sen. Dina Titus to overcome months of ineffective campaigning in the open gubernatorial race. Gibbons, a congressman, has been accused of assault by a Las Vegas woman, but police aren't investigating. Still, the accusations may be enough to erase the small lead he had built over the Democrat.
- Gibbons (R)
- Titus (D)
Republican challenger Ron Saxton has drawn so close to Gov. Ted Kulongoski that the incumbent resorted to mudslinging after making deliberate attempts to stay positive. Kulongoski showed weakness early, struggling through the primary season with just 54 percent of the Democratic vote. In the general election season, Saxton has owned the airwaves, pounding Kulongoski's pro-casino stance.
- Saxton (R)
- Kulongoski (D)
Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez has disappointed many conservatives in Colorado by running what some perceive as a weak race against Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter. And when Beauprez got tough and ran attack ads on his Democratic opponent, the move blew up in his face. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation opened an inquiry to see whether Beauprez illegally obtained the dirt on Ritter.
- Beauprez (R)
- Ritter (D)
Months ago, Democratic challenger Jim Pederson seemed to be climbing to within striking distance of popular Sen. Jon Kyl, but that surge is long gone and Pederson is now searching for Kyl's weaknesses. In a recent ad blitz Pederson attacked Kyl's take on the prescription drug benefit, minimum wage increases, and Social Security but did not appear to gain traction.
- Kyl (R)
- Pederson (D)
Montana voters might kick Republican Sen. Conrad Burns out of office simply because he embarrasses them. The aging Senate veteran has put his foot in his mouth numerous times during the 2006 election season. Opponent Jon Tester's everyman appeal appears vibrant next to Burns' verbal miscues, which have gained wide circulation through YouTube videos. In a video titled "Conrad Burns' Naptime," a drowsy Burns nods off during an Agriculture Committee field hearing.
- Burns (R)
- Tester (D)
Republicans might have lost the race when former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi declined to run against first-term Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell. Rossi's strong showing in 2004 gave Washington Republicans a spark-something former Safeco CEO and Republican challenger Mike McGavick has struggled to replicate. During the summer, Cantwell did an admirable job rallying the strong Democratic base across the state.
- McGavick (R)
- Cantwell (D)