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Grand New Party

"Grand New Party" Continued...

Issue: "Four horsemen of the apocalypse," Oct. 4, 2008

Minnesota

U.S. House, 3rd District: Erik Paulsen (R) v. Ashwin Madia (D)

Unlike with Shadegg, the best efforts of Republican lawmakers fell short of convincing incumbent Rep. Jim Ramstad to reconsider his retirement. Instead, a seat the GOP has occupied for 48 years is left open for one of the tightest congressional races in the country, pairing state House Majority Leader Erik Paulsen against Iraq War veteran Ashwin Madia. Madia, who served in a non-combat role to help develop Iraq's criminal justice system, was once an ardent supporter of Republican presidential contenders Bob Dole in 1996 and John McCain in 2000. He switched parties in 2002 over disagreements on Iraq and gay marriage. Madia has since earned the support of partisan Democrats like Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who helped funnel $50,000 into the campaign-money Paulsen says Madia should give back due to Rangel's recent admission of ethics violations. Advantage: Paulsen

Indiana

U.S. House, 7th District: André Carson (D) v. Gabrielle Campo (R)

The second Muslim ever to serve in the U.S. Congress, Rep. André Carson of Indianapolis will face little to no challenge this fall for a seat he first secured in a special election last March. Carson ran for the office to replace his grandmother Julia Carson, who died of lung cancer late last year. Though he has since expressed solidarity with fellow Muslim congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Carson is free of the controversial associations that have plagued Ellison throughout his brief tenure in public office. For example, Carson has never defended Louis Farrakhan or worked with the Nation of Islam. In fact, he describes himself as a "secular Muslim," having grown up attending a Catholic school and two evangelical churches, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church and Calvary Temple. Carson has also taken positions outside of conservative Islam, announcing in June that he was joining the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Equality Caucus of Congress. Advantage: Carson

New Jersey

U.S. Senate: Frank Lautenberg (D) v. Dick Zimmer (R)

Former Sen. Dick Zimmer wants his old job back a dozen years after losing to Democrat Bob Torricelli. The New Jersey lawyer has faced an uphill climb since assuming the role of challenger after Republican favorite Anne Estabrook suffered a minor stroke in March. It appeared in June as though the 84-year-old incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg might be fading when a Rasmussen report showed Zimmer within a single point of the lead. But the latest polls put the margin back near 10 points, as the talk of age surrounding GOP presidential nominee John McCain has somehow missed blowing back to New Jersey. What's more, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama maintains a slight edge on McCain in the battleground state, lending further support to Lautenberg, who, like Obama, possesses one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate. Advantage: Lautenberg

Louisiana

U.S. Senate: Mary Landrieu (D) v. John Kennedy (R)

Many Republicans are hanging the party's best chance to unseat an incumbent Senate Democrat on the back of a man who ran as a Democrat four years ago. Louisiana state treasurer John Kennedy finished third in the race for Louisiana's other Senate seat in 2004. He has since defected to the GOP for a runoff with two-term moderate Sen. Mary Landrieu. The departure of thousands of Democratic voters from the state following Hurricane Katrina greatly improves Kennedy's odds, but the former attorney has not polled well of late, showing a double-digit deficit despite popular support for Republican governor Bobby Jindal and GOP presidential candidate John McCain. To Kennedy's detriment are past reports from his own party that conflict with the new more conservative image he now seeks to construct. The Landrieu campaign has seized on that inconsistency, running an ad based on a 2004 National Republican Senatorial Committee reports that accuses Kennedy of squandering taxpayer dollars. Advantage: Landrieu

North Carolina

U.S. Senate: Elizabeth Dole (R) v. Kay Hagan (D)

In a state that has voted Republican for the past seven elections, any candidate named Dole holds a sizable advantage. But in her first bid for reelection, Sen. Elizabeth Dole has a tight race on her hands due largely to the fundraising ability of Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan, who has managed to generate enough in-state funding to compete with Dole's national financial backing. Hagan has also drawn support from national groups such as MoveOn.org and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, both of which have produced attack ads on Dole as Democrats around the country smell an opportunity for an upset victory-one necessary if the party is to reach the 60-seat threshold. Recognizing her precarious position, Dole skipped the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis to stay at home and campaign, perhaps signaling to voters that her role in national politics will no longer distract from the needs of North Carolina. Advantage: Dole

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