The last time Democrats took the White House, they managed, in the immortal words of George W. Bush, a "heckuva job." During the Clinton administration's famously rocky transition, one White House alumna saw signs of trouble early. "The day after the election, we were getting calls from leaders all over the world," she says, but apparently Clinton's team hadn't realized the State Department now worked for them. Martha Kumar, founder of the bipartisan White House Transition Project, recalls the story of one Clinton flack who "walked into his office and saw there were six phone lines and all of the phones were ringing." Tellingly, only one question came to his mind: "If I answer them, what do I say?"
Who: Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) vs. State Sen. Kay Hagan (D)
Why: Hagan, a state senator from Shelby, North Carolina, is the underdog for a seat that's gone Republican every year since 1972. While not the first choice of Washington Democrats, she kept pace with Dole in polls throughout the summer -- at one point holding a slim lead over the first-term incumbent. Dole certainly appears on the defensive -- lowering her profile as a Republican by joining around a dozen other incumbents in skipping the GOP convention in Minneapolis. Smelling blood, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hopes to invest up to $7 million in Hagan's campaign.