Congressional diary: One more difficult GOP open-seat

The House GOP will have to defend one more difficult open-seat next November, as Rep. Tom Reynolds will soon announce his retirement. Reynolds was the chairman of the NRCC in the last cycle, and for a few weeks at the beginning of October 2006 he seemed headed for a sure loss after news broke that he was involved in the scandal surrounding Mark Foley's flirtations with teenage pages. But Reynolds recovered in time to eek out a win with 52% of the vote.

NY-26 is a Republican-leaning district: Bush won 52% to 45% in 2000 and 55% to 43% in 2004. But considering the recent difficulties of New York Republicans -- symbolized by how close they are to losing the state Senate after Democrats picked-up a special election seat that had been in GOP hands as long as anyone could remember -- Democrats have to feel very good about their chances here, particularly in a presidential year. There already was a candidate in the race, Iraq War Veteran Jon Powers.

On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether the Spitzer scandal changes the dynamics of New York politics enough to prevent Democrats from completing their take-over of state politics. They easily won the open seat NY-24 in 2006, and also narrowly defeated incumbents in NY-19 and NY-20. They are hoping to take out some of the few remaining Republican seats in 2008, starting with the open seat of NY-25. If the state's GOP can find some winning formula again after the downfall of Spitzer, it will be in a place like NY-26 that it would be most useful.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, Rasmussen released a new general election poll that shows the race as tight as ever -- though this is the first Rasmussen survey in which Mark Udall leads:

  • He is up 46% to 43% against Republican Bob Schaffer, following a February and December poll in which Schaffer was up 1%. All these margins are naturally within the margin of error.
At the end of the summer, Colorado appeared to be clearly leaning Democratic -- and was rated as such in my Senate Rankings. Democrats believed that Mark Udall was such a strong candidate that any Republican would have difficulty beating him, let alone Bob Schaffer. But Republicans are kept the seat more than competitive and all polls taken show a tight race with no favorite -- which led me to downgrade the race to a "toss-up" in my last Senate rankings.

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