Sen. Conrad Burns (R) vs. Jon Tester (D)
Burns on Tester: “Montanans want to be safe from terrorists … but what does Jon Tester want?”
Tester on Burns: “Conrad Burns was the No. 1 friend of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates, taking $150,000.”
Base-pleasing political stunt: A third-generation farmer, Tester took six days off from his campaign to harvest his grain.
Game-changing Gaffes: Burns once said that the U.S. was up against a faceless enemy of terrorists who “drive taxicabs in the daytime and kill at night”; said that firefighters did a “piss-poor job” against local forest fires.
Latest handicap: Tester by four percentage points.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R) vs. Bob Casey Jr. (D)
Santorum on Casey: “Bob Casey loves running for office. Showing up to do the job, that’s a different story … Before running for a new job, should he show up for the one we’re paying him for?”
Casey on Santorum: “Rick Santorum says that both parents don’t need to work to support a family … He voted three times to raise his own pay … I would like Rick Santorum to come to our house at the end of the month … and tell me how we’re supposed to do it on one salary.”
Game-changing gaffe: Santorum’s ads depicted Casey’s campaign team as being made up of cigar-smoking crooks hanging out in a jail cell. As it happens, none of the crooks alluded to had donated to Casey; two had donated to Santorum, and one is dead.
Latest handicap: Casey by twelve.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D) vs. Tom Kean Jr. (R)
Kean on Menendez: “Menendez is just one scandal away from becoming the next Bob Torricelli.”
Menendez on Kean: “This campaign started with Tom Kean Jr. trying to ‘Swift Boat’ my history as a reformer, and [he] failed miserably. The bottom line is New Jerseyans will see through the Kean campaign on trying to play the politics of personal destruction.”
Politics as usual: Kean hired a specialist to dig up old dirt about an eighties corruption scandal to smear Menendez. In response, Menendez issued a new ad that features the mug shot of ex–Hudson County exec Robert Janiszewski saying, “Federal prisoner 25038-050. He’s Tom Kean Jr.’s newest adviser.”
Latest Handicap: Menendez by ten.
Sen. George Allen (R) vs. Jim Webb (D)
Allen on Webb: “Who is more modern in their attitude towards women: the Taliban or … Webb? Tough call.”
Webb on Allen: “George Allen—he thinks George Bush is right 97 percent of the time.”
Game-changing gaffe: Allen called an Indian-American Webb staffer “macaca”; is alleged to have used the word nigger; reacted angrily when asked by a reporter if he was Jewish, before admitting that he had Jewish grandparents.
Attempt at a checkers speech:Allen held what his campaign called a “diversity rally.”
Latest handicap: Allen by eleven.
Sen. Mike DeWine (R) vs. Sherrod Brown (D)
Brown on DeWine: “Did you get that big tax cut Mike DeWine’s been bragging about?”
Dewine on Brown: “Where does Sherrod Brown stand on protecting America? … Brown even voted against the death penalty for terrorists who kill passengers on trains and subways.”
Game-changing gaffe: DeWine used the firm that did the Swift Boat ads to attack Brown, but Brown’s team discredited their ads, showing that footage of the Twin Towers used in the spot had been doctored.
Latest handicap: Dead heat.
ARIZONA, DISTRICT 8 (OPEN SEAT)
Randy Graf (R) vs. Gabrielle Giffords (D)
Graf on Giffords: “Thinking about voting for Gabrielle Giffords? Giffords is a liberal extremist who su
pports Spanish ballots, amnesty, and even citizenship for illegals.”
Giffords on Graf: “Our ports: uninspected. Our borders: unprotected. And we’re still dependent on Mideast oil. Five years after 9/11, Washington failed to make us safer.”
Game-changing gaffe: David Duke prominently displays a photo of Graf—and a link to his campaign—on his Website.
Nail in the coffin: Jim Kolbe, the 22-year veteran vacating the seat, has refused to endorse Graf because he sees his views as too extreme, saying, “We can do better.” The GOP has pulled funding for Graf’s ads.
Latest Handicap: Giffords by eight.
INDIANA, DISTRICT 8
Rep. John Hostettler (R) vs. Brad Ellsworth (D)
Republicans on Ellsworth: “Can you imagine a suspected child rapist being captured in Vanderburgh County, but then mistakenly released by Brad Ellsworth’s Sheriff’s Department?”
Ellsworth on Hostettler: “It’s Hostettler’s record in Washington that puts us at risk. Hostettler … even opposed funding for the fight against sexual predators.”
Politics as usual: An anonymous automated telephone message accused Hostettler “of wanting gun rights for convicted sex offenders,” claiming he “voted against making it a crime to sell guns to convicted sex offenders—including child rapists.”
Game-Changing Gaffe: In 2002, Hostettler angered a group of breast-cancer survivors when he allegedly sought to link abortions to their disease. In 2004, Hostettler was detained at a Louisville airport after he “completely forgot” that he was carrying a loaded 9-mm. Glock pistol onto a US Airways flight.
Latest handicap: Ellsworth by fifteen.
CONNECTICUT, DISTRICT 4
Rep. Christopher Shays (R) vs. Diane Farrell (D)
Farrell on Shays: “Chris Shays is no independent; he’s a loyal Republican through and through.”
Shays on farrell: Shays accuses Farrell of allowing “shadow organizations” to make “robo-calls” on her behalf, including one claiming that Shays is “voting with religious extremists instead of Nancy Reagan and the medical experts.” Farrell denies any connection to the calls.
Hail mary: Shays made headlines last week when the moderate Republican broke ranks and called for Rumsfeld to resign.
Latest Handicap: Farrell by five.
ILLINOIS, DISTRICT 6 (OPEN SEAT)
Tammy Duckworth (D) vs. Peter Roskam (R)
Duckworth on Roskam: “I am sick and tired of the Republicans saying, ‘Either you agree with us on national security or you are not patriotic’ … It is total baloney—in fact, I have a better Army word, but I can’t use it.”
Roskam on Duckworth: “The Sixth Congressional District is not a cut-and-run district. It is not a timetable district … What the national Democrats are running on is a cut-and-run program.”
Game-changing Gaffe: A furor erupted over Roskam’s “cut and run” comments; Duckworth lost her legs when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq.
Latest handicap: Duckworth by five.
PENNSYLVANIA, DISTRICT 10
Rep. Don Sherwood (R) vs. Chris Carney (D)
Carney on Sherwood: “Holding happy-hour fund-raisers with people who cover up the cyber-molestation of children should be below even the questionable morals of Don Sherwood.”
Sherwood on Carney: “Chris Carney said when he first announced he was running that he was going to run on the issues and was not going to talk about the personal situation. But clearly his campaign has decided to do something different.”
Politics as usual: The race turns on an incident where Sherwood allegedly choked his mistress in his Washington apartment in 2004, putting what was once a guaranteed Republican seat up for grabs. Sherwood’s posture has been abject contrition. “I made a mistake that nearly cost me the love of my wife, Carol, and our daughters,” he said in an ad. “Should you forgive me, you can count on me to keep on fighting hard for you and your family.”
Latest handicap: Carney by nine.
VERMONT (OPEN SEAT)
Martha Rainville (R) vs. Peter Welch (D)
Rainville on Welch: “Politics has gotten ugly in America … I’m running a different kind of campaign that respects my opponent and respects you.”
Welch on Rainville: “I saw Martha Rainville, but what I heard was paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee.”
Politics as Usual: In Vermont, niceness counts, and both are trying to claim the Jimmy Stewart mantle. “You know what, I was married to the same woman for 28 years,” says Welch, a 59-year-old widower who campaigns with his dog. “I’ve had the same law partner for over 30 years, with no written agreement, just a handshake. I’m pretty boring. But they will find stuff, and if they don’t find it, they will make it up.”
Game-Changing Gaffe: Rainville fired her speechwriter after she learned that he was lifting from the speeches of Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton.
Latest handicap: Welch by three.
NEW YORK, DISTRICT 26
Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) vs. Jack Davis (D)
Reynolds on Davis: “If you want someone who has called himself a protectionist and would build a wall around western New York and hold us back, then choose Jack.”
Davis on Reynolds: “The career politicians remind me of the captain and deck officers of the Titanic. They sail on, oblivious to their mistakes and the dangers ahead.
Politics as Usual: Reynolds, when asked what he did when he found out about the Foley matter, said, “I did what most people would do in the workplace—I heard something and I took it to my supervisor.” Later, at a press conference, he surrounded himself with children. When reporters asked that he dismiss the kids so they could ask “adult” questions, he refused.
Latest handicap: Davis by five.
Democrats need six seats to take the Senate and fifteen seats for the House. At the time of publication, Democrats were leading in three of the seven most competitive Senate races and eleven of the fifteen most competitive House contests.