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    November 07, 2006

    Election watch: U.S. House

    Posted by: Chris

    All eyes are on the U.S. House today, where experts say Democrats are likely to gain between 20 and 40 seats. They only need 15 to take control, which could mean a green light for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and hate crimes legislation, and possibly even repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The first two pieces of legislation face better odds in the Senate, no matter who contorls there, than does the third. All bets are off as to whether President Bush would use his veto for the second time in six years on any of the above.

    1.    Vulnerable pro-gay Republicans: To win back the House, Democrats will have to knock off a lot of Republicans, and the weakest will inevitably be those running in moderate to Democrat-leaning districts, and those Republicans are likely to be the moderate in the GOP.

    Case in point is in Connecticut, where three Republican incumbents — Nancy Johnson, Rob Simmons and Chris Shays — are all endorsed by both HRC and Log Cabin, and are trailing or are very vulnerable.

    Several other Log Cabin-endorsed GOP incumbents are also in trouble. Deborah Pyrce has been the victim of a nasty smear campaign by Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy over her non-role in Foley-gate, all with HRC's imprimatur. Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania's 6th District is also in trouble, though HRC chose not to endorse either the GOP incumbent or Lois Murphy, his Democratic challenger.  HRC and Log Cabin go head to head in one other race, pitting moderate Republican incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick (R) challenged by Democrat Patrick Murphy in Pennsylvania's 8th District. Fitzpatrick opposed the federal marriage amendment and backed hate crimes legislation but opposed repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

    2.   Vulnerable anti-gay Republicans: The biggest anti-gay target among House incumbents is Colorado's Marilyn Musgrave, who has been the lead sponsor behind the federal marriage amendment. Polls show her in much more trouble than expected, though still with a slight lead going into Election Day.

    Other key races with vulnerable Republicans challenged by HRC-backed Democratic challengers include Clay Shaw facing Ron Klein in Florida's 22nd; Gil Gutknecht facing Tim Walz in Minnesota's 1st; Heather Wilson facing Patricia Madrid in New Mexico's 1st;  Steve Chabot facing John Cranley in Ohio's 1st; Curt Weldon facing Joe Sestak (Pennsylvania's 7th); and Dave Reichert facing Darcy Burner (Washington's 8th).

    3.    Key open seats: In a number of closely contested open seats, HRC has endorsed the Democratic candidate: Gabrielle Giffords over Randy Graf in Arizona's 8th District; Ed Perlmutter over Rick O'Donnell (Colorado's 7th); Christine Jennings over Vern Buchanan (Florida's 13th); Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth over Peter Roskam (Illinois' 6th); Bruce Braley over Mike Whalen (Iowa's 1st); Patty Wetterling over Michele Bachmann (Minnesota's 6th); and Michael Arcuri over Ray Meier (New York's 24th).

     4.    Vulnerable pro-gay Democrat: Even in this very pro-Dem election year, there is one: HRC-backed Melissa Bean in Illinois' 8th District, who is being challenged by Republican Dave McSweeney. Log Cabin has not endorsed in the race.

    5.    The gay seats: Openly gay Democrats Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Barney Frank (Mass.) will coast to re-election. The only out gay Republican, Jim Kolbe of Arizona, is retiring, and HRC is backing the Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, running for his seat. The Washington Post has listed the race as one of 35 close contests nationwide.

    The other openly gay House Republican, Mark Foley, came out a few days after resigning his seat in disgrace. HRC has backed Democrat Tim Mahoney against GOP write-in Joe Negron. Republicans initially wrote off the race, but kicked in money the last week as polls showed it close.



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