In California's 27th district, in suburban Los Angeles, Republican incumbent James Rogan is especially vulnerable this year because he acted as House prosecutor during President Clinton's impeachment trial. But his seat was never very secure to start with. Although Rogan has won two terms (his last with only 51 percent of the vote), his district is 45 percent Democrat and only 37 percent Republican by registration. Rogan's challenger, state senator Adam Schiff, is respected and has raised $1.5 million. Rogan has raised $3.3 million in what is shaping up to be the most expensive House race in history. In the open California primaries held in early March, Schiff narrowly outpolled Rogan.
INCUMBENT: James Rogan
1998: Rogan 51%, Democrat 46%
1996: Clinton 49%, Dole 41%, Perot 7%
1992: Clinton 44%, Bush 36%, Perot 19%
fundraising as of 12/31/99: Rogan $3,331,079, Schiff $1,459,338
cash on hand as of 12/31/99: Rogan $758,804, Schiff $710,007
Michigan's eighth district (Lansing) is a classic swing district. Democrat Debbie Stabenow has held it since 1996, but she is leaving the House to run against Senator Spencer Abraham. A Republican represented the district before Stabenow, and historically candidates have won it by extremely narrow margins. Both parties have strong candidates: Democratic state senator Dianne Byrum versus GOP state senate majority floor leader Mike Rogers. The race is considered such a toss-up and so critical that House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt was in Lansing campaigning for Byrum 10 months before the election. The key issue in the campaign looks to be education. Byrum has the endorsement of the Michigan Federation of Teachers; Rogers is a champion of charter schools. Byrum has been leading in polls, but more than a quarter of voters--the swing of the swing district--are still undecided.
INCUMBENT: Open (Democrat)
1998: Stabenow 57%, Republican 39%
1996: Clinton 49%, Dole 40%, Perot 9%
1992: Clinton 40%, Dole 36%, Perot 23%
fundraising: Byrum $543,513, Rogers $672,959
cash on hand: Byrum $392,413, Rogers $605,139
Kentucky's Lexington-based sixth district features a rematch of 1996, but this time around the former incumbent is the challenger. In 1996 Democrat Scotty Baesler beat Ernie Fletcher handily, but in 1998 Baesler ran for Senate (he eventually lost to Jim Bunning by a single point), and Fletcher won the open seat. Now Baesler is trying to win it back. Health care will be an important issue in the campaign. Fletcher, a doctor, has been widely criticized for voting against an American Medical Associationsupported patient protection plan last October, and Baesler will continue to make an issue of it. Baesler will also campaign as a friend to small tobacco farmers, who, unlike Fletcher, will refuse to accept contributions from tobacco manufacturers who cut quotas on local farmers. Fletcher has responded by accusing Baesler of "trying to turn manufacturers into a scapegoat when the blame for tobacco troubles" should go to the Clinton administration.
INCUMBENT: Ernie Fletcher
1998: Fletcher 53%, Democrat 46%
1996: Clinton 46%, Dole 45%, Perot 8%
1992: Bush 42%, Clinton 41%, Perot 16%
fundraising: Baesler $520,412, Fletcher $849,594
cash on hand: Baesler $478,795,
When Republican Tom Coburn won in Oklahoma's second district (in the northeastern corner of the state) in 1994, he was the first Republican to hold the seat in more than 70 years. Coburn was easily re-elected twice, but he is limiting himself to three terms, and the open seat could go Democratic again. The Democrats have two candidates in the primary, an untested but highly regarded lawyer named Brad Carson and state representative Bill Settle. The Republican field is much more crowded, with five candidates. Although car dealer Andy Ewing has been endorsed by Coburn and is the clear favorite, there will almost certainly be a runoff, and the winner will have only six weeks to concentrate on the general election. The Republicans are hoping Coburn's overwhelming popularity carries over to their nominee, but the Democrats believe Coburn's election in 1994 was a combination of bad luck and bad circumstances, and expect the still Democratic district with a potentially debilitating Republican primary to again deliver a Democrat.
INCUMBENT: Open (Republican)
1998: Coburn 58%, Democrat 40%
1996: Clinton 47%, Dole 40%, Perot 13%
1992: Clinton 42%, Bush 36%, Perot 22%
fundraising: Carson $220,607,
cash on hand: Carson $175,247, Ewing $175,037, Settle $151,599
Utah's second district, Salt Lake City, leans Republican with the rest of Utah, but Republican incumbent Merrill Cook has earned such a bad reputation in the past few years that he is extremely vulnerable nonetheless. Shortly after Cook was re-elected in 1998, he fired two staffers; afterward, one wrote the staff that "Merrill has taken up permanent residence in wackoland," and the other told a newspaper that "the guy has a grenade in his mouth and is going to pull the pin." Cook has also twice been accused of ramming his car into other cars, including his daughter's boyfriend's car. But Cook still has the support of the Republican establishment in Washington, which should help him win the primary against several young and untested opponents (the most promising of which is venture capitalist Jeff Wright). The general election will be another matter. The Democratic recruit, Jim Matheson, son of former Governor Scott Matheson, is considered a strong candidate, and he has led Cook by as many as 17 points in the polls.
INCUMBENT: Merrill Cook
1998: Cook 53%, Democrat 43%
1996: Dole 47%, Clinton 41%, Perot 8%
1992: Bush 38%, Clinton 31%, Perot 29%
fundraising: Cook $388,125, Matheson $230,371, Wright $251,353
cash on hand: Cook $223,227, Matheson $200,314, Wright $219,643
California's 36th district, which includes many Los Angeles-area beaches, is a classic swing district. Moderate Republican Steve Kuykendall won the seat in 1998 with only 49 percent of the vote, and this year former gubernatorial candidate and Representative Jane Harman is contesting it. Because Kuykendall expected a strong challenge no matter who the Democrats put up, he has been raising money for his reelection ever since he was elected the first time and will be well-financed. Harman's personal wealth will make her financially competitive as well. In the March primaries, Harman was very narrowly outpolled by Kuykendall, but most observers say she had yet to start campaigning in earnest.
INCUMBENT: Steve Kuykendall
1998: Kuykendall 49%, Democrat 47%
1996: Clinton 47%, Dole 41%, Perot 8%
1992: Clinton 41%, Bush 35%, Perot 23%
fundraising: Harman $441,030, Kuykendall $537,139
cash on hand: Harman $392,435, Kuykendall $222,641
Virginia's second district, which includes Norfolk and Virginia Beach, has been held by conservative Democrat Owen Pickett since 1986. But the district has been trending Republican in recent years, and Republican state senator Ed Schrock announced in November that he would enter the race against Pickett. It looked like Pickett would have to run the first close race of his career, but in December he announced he would not run again, and an unprepared Democratic Party scrambled to find another candidate. It had a difficult time doing so. The two best possible candidates declined to run. The conventional wisdom in Virginia is that Pickett's hold on the district was anomalous and that the Republicans will almost certainly take it now that he is retiring. One of the would-be candidates who eventually opted not to run told a reporter, "I have little or no interest in just being a torch-bearer for the Democratic ticket, to say, 'Gee, I ran for Congress and got my clock cleaned.'" Another problem for a Democratic candidate is that with a Republican state legislature in Virginia, the district will most likely become even more Republican after redistricting in 2002, so any Democrat who happened to win this year would have an even harder time getting re-elected. The Democrats finally recruited an unknown lawyer from Virginia Beach named Jody Wagner.
Incumbent: Open (Democrat)
1998: Pickett unopposed
1996: Dole 48%, Clinton 45%, Perot 7%
1992: Bush 47%, Clinton 36%, Perot 17%
fundraising: Schrock $114,430
cash on hand: Schrock $109,832
Four-term Democrat Ron Klink is giving up his seat in western Pennsylvania's fourth district to run for Senate. The blue-collar district should vote solidly Democratic, but the Republican candidate, state senator Melissa Hart, is very respected and has a clear primary advantage, whereas eight Democrats are competing for their party's nomination (the favorites are Lawrence County District Attorney Matthew Mangino, who has the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's endorsement, and state representative Terry Van Horne, who has the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's endorsement). If Hart runs a strong campaign and the Democratic primary is brutal and costly, then Republicans think she can slip through.
INCUMBENT: Open (Democrat)
1998: Klink 64%, Republican 36%
1996: Clinton 47%, Dole 42%, Perot 10%
1992: Clinton 48%, Bush 31%, Perot 21%
fundraising: Hart $335,481, Mangino $139,755, Van Horne $44,755
cash on hand: Hart $241,733, Mangino $103,970, Van Horne $16,860
In Pennsylvania's 13th district, in suburban Philadelphia, freshman Democrat Joe Hoeffel should face a tough challenge from state senator Stewart Greenleaf. Although Hoeffel has a two-to-one fundraising edge and the district has been trending Democratic in recent years, it is still a strong Republican district. Many observers believe Hoeffel won two years ago only because his opponent was especially weak. But in recent weeks, Greenleaf's qualifications have been called into question as his campaign has been slow to get off the ground.
INCUMBENT: Joe Hoeffel
1998: Hoeffel 52%, Republican 47%
1996: Clinton 50%, Dole 41%, Perot 8%
1992: Clinton 44%, Bush 39%, Perot 16%
fundraising: Greenleaf $280,028, Hoeffel $578,293
cash on hand: Greenleaf $200,173, Hoeffel $418,516
Florida's Orlando-based eighth district has been Republican Bill McCollum's for 20 years. Even with McCollum stepping aside for a Senate run, a district that voted for George Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996 should be counted on to deliver another Republican. But the party has not been able to recruit a strong candidate, and the Democrats have well-known former Orange County Chairwoman Linda Chapin running. Chapin has raised almost as much as the three Republican candidates combined, and the leading Republican, state representative Bill Sublette, has fallen well-short of his fundraising goals. If Chapin can run effectively to the center (her opponents have scored points by attacking her as a liberal for pushing a penny raise in state sales tax in 1997), she may be able to steal the seat against inferior Republican competition.
INCUMBENT: Open (Republican)
1998: McCollum 66%, Democrat 34%
1996: Dole 47%, Clinton 44%, Perot 9%
1992: Bush 48%, Clinton 32%, Perot 20%
fundraising: Chapin $391,334, Sublette $209,079
cash on hand: Chapin $294,949, Sublette $160,158 ¤