Races to watch if you like reruns

IA-GOV: Former Gov. Terry Branstad should easily reclaim his old office, possibly by a 20-point margin. Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, D, is one of the most hated governors in America, which is saying a lot. The  top-ticket blowout could be big enough to endanger one or two House Democrats currently believed safe. Iowa voters even appear poised to toss out a couple of Supreme Court justices after their 2009 decision on gay marriage.

IN-SEN: Former Sen. Dan Coats, R, chickened out when the popular Gov. Evan Bayh, D, came his way in 1998. He retired rather than stand against the tide. After some time as a lobbyist and as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, he has returned to Indiana to reclaim his old seat, now that Bayh is retiring from public life. His opponent, Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D, might have been a real contender, had this race occurred in 2008 instead of 2010.

MI-7: It’s one of the ugliest and most expensive House races in America. Democratic Rep. Mark Schauer faces the same man he defeated in 2008, former Rep. Tim Walberg, R. Walberg only won the seat in 2006 after wresting it from liberal Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz, who returned the favor by endorsing Schauer in 2008.

NH-2: Former Rep. Charlie Bass, R, saw the 2006 wave coming, but much too late to save himself from defeat. But the seat has come open in the right kind of year, with sophomore Rep. Paul Hodes, D, running for Senate. Bass is more or less an even bet against Democrat Ann Kuster.

NM-2: Former Rep. Steve Pearce, R, left this seat to make an ill-fated Senate run in 2008, and it was taken over by Harry Teague, D, a moderate and wealthy oilman. Now Pearce is back. Teague is getting huge help from outside environmental groups, but it doesn’t seem to be doing him much good.

OH-1: Former Rep. Steve Chabot, R, remains popular, despite his 2008 defeat at the hands of Rep. Steve Driehaus, D. Chabot is favored to win the rematch.

OR-GOV: Former Gov. John Kitzhaber, D, wants to succeed his own successor, Democrat Ted Kulongoski. He faces former NBA star Chris Dudley, R. When it comes to the governorship of Oregon, Republicans have a way of coming close but losing every four years.

PA-8: Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R, was swept away in 2006 despite seemingly doing everything right in terms of fundraising and political positioning in this moderate suburban Bucks County district. He’s up against Rep. Patrick Murphy, D, and this time he’s slightly favored to win, but an absentee ballot controversy could delay the results.

Beltway Confidentialelection 2010Pa.US

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