Joining Midterm Countdown is Shreyas Tirumlas, who is writing a series of profiles on close House races in the run-up to the midterms.

CA-07

Yet another absurdly expensive race is raging between Congressman Ami Bera (D) and former Congressman Doug Ose (R) over in California. Bera—who unseated incumbent Dan Lungren back in 2012—knows all too well how difficult winning in this district can be, but the race has still played out along predictable lines. Bera has criticized Ose for his wealth and alleged partisanship while Ose has tried to spin Bera as another cog in the gridlocked machine that is the 113th Congress. The latest polls put Bera up by about 4 points but, though the district doesn’t seem to lean toward either party, this race is definitely one to watch.

CA-52

The tale of the California 52nd district reads like something straight out of a TV show. Scott Peters (D-incumbent) and Carl DeMaio (R) have been duking it out in a fight that’s involved plagiarism, sex, and a whole lot of intrigue—all in a city whose mayor resigned last year over sexual harassment claims. Admittedly, Peters’ tenure has been pretty tame—certainly devoid of any large-scale scandals—and he has earned the endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce, a rare accolade for a Democrat. But in a year that’s shaping up to be a drag for Democrats, it’s been an uphill battle to campaign against a stereotype-defying Republican (DeMaio is openly gay) in this moderate, ancestrally Republican district. DeMaio, on the other hand, has had a whole host of problems to worry about. With plagiarism accusations and allegations of sexual misconduct with a staffer, DeMaio’s team has been doing damage control in recent weeks. Polling data puts both candidates neck-and-neck, but only time will tell whether yet another plot twist will appear in the ongoing saga of the California 52nd.

FL-02

Northern Florida’s 2nd District had never elected a Republican until incumbent Steve Southerland II nabbed the seat back in 2010. As such, Democrats see this district as a prime target for a political newbie, Gwen Graham, to grab. Gwen Graham, the daughter of a former Florida governor and senator, Bob Graham, has tapped into a vast network of political allies established by the family in her House bid, but Southerland is just as established. With both Republican and Democratic polls at odds as to who’s in the lead, this race is a toss-up if there ever was one.

IL-12

This race pits a National Guardsman against a Marine Corps veteran as former two-star general and incumbent Bill Enyart (D) faces State Representative Mike Bost (R). Naturally, both candidates have pledged to focus on military issues if elected, but what makes this race particularly interesting is the fact that southern Illinois has been a Democratic seat for generations. The political climate in the area has been shifting as of late, turning what would have once been a pretty comfortable victory for the Democrats into quite a battle. Predictably, the DCCC and NRCC have gotten heavily involved, meaning the rhetoric on both sides is now virtually indistinguishable from most other races in the country. Bost’s record in the State House—particularly his propensity for making angry speeches–has come under fire, while Enyart’s support for the ACA has been sharply criticized. The latest poll, taken early in October, gave Bost a 5 point lead.

NY-11

What do you get when you cross a GOP congressman charged with 20 felonies with a former city councilman whose penchant for babbling nonsense inspired a Jon Stewart segment? Why, you get the New York 11th District race, of course! I don’t think I’ve seen a race before that’s quite as farcical as this one. In what should have been an easy victory for the Democrats, Domenic Recchia (D) and incumbent Michael Grimm (R) are duking it out, with polls even suggesting that Grimm may have a slight edge. Recchia’s inelegant flubs regarding such topics as Grimm’s “44 percent record on labor,” have led many voters to overlook Grimm’s charges and the threats he made to a reporter back in January. Though at this point the race is too close to call, Stewart himself puts it best when he notes that the “real winners of this election are the people of New York’s 11th District.” They’ll certainly have an interesting representative either way.

 

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