New Print Edition: Virginia Senate, Pennsylvania 7, & New House Ratings
May 18, 2006 · 5:10 PM EDT
Virginia Senate: Common Goal, Common Wealth
By Nathan L. Gonzales
Democrats in Virginia and the nation’s capital are determined to re-take the majority in the U.S. Senate, and increasingly they are focusing on a new target: Sen. George Allen (R) of Virginia. Democrats realize that defeating Allen would not only increase their chances of getting to 51 seats on Election Night, but also destroy Allen’s presidential prospects in 2008.
Businessman/party activist Harris Miller and former Secretary of the Navy James Webb are battling for the Democratic nomination that will be decided in the June 13 primary. Neither man has held elective office, but both candidates have significant personal resources to spend in the race.
Democrats are trying to portray Allen has an inattentive Senator who is too conservative and looking beyond his current office. But the Republican is well-known commodity in a state he has represented for almost a decade. He defeated an incumbent to get to the Senate and has surrounded himself with a talented consulting team.
The national environment remains sour toward President Bush and the Republican Party. But both Miller and Webb were late entries into the race and start with very little name identification. The race could develop, but right now, it’s more rhetoric than reality for the Democrats, who still have seven better opportunities nationwide than knocking off George Allen.
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Pennsylvania 7: Shopping for Opportunities
Democrats are targeting Republican districts all over the country, but a couple of geographic areas could be the key to Democratic success on Election Night in November.
Connecticut is one obvious state with three vulnerable Republican incumbents, but just a few hours south, Democrats are hoping to knock off a trio of Republicans in suburban Philadelphia.
Seventh District Cong. Curt Weldon (R) hasn’t had a serious reelection race in two decades, but he could face a tough fight with retired Vice Admiral Joe Sestak (D).
Weldon is the third potentially vulnerable incumbent in the area along with Cong. Jim Gerlach (R-PA 6) and Cong. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA 8). Add in a competitive race for governor and for U.S. Senate, and the Philadelphia area will be a non-stop stream of campaign messaging come the fall.
Weldon clearly understands he is in the fight of his life. He has ramped up his fundraising, but made an early mistake in the campaign that could symbolize an incumbent who hasn’t run a race in a while.
But while Sestak has an interesting military-laden resume, he is virtually unknown in the district and will need considerable money to get known across the Democratic-tilting district.
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