The 2006 House Races in the Lower Midwest

Illinois Sixth District- With a competitive district, opened by the retirement of Henry Hyde, that leans Republican in the 2006 House race, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Rahm Emanuel (who happens to represent the Fifth District of Illinois) has taken an interest in his neighboring district. The presumptive nominee for the Democratic nomination is Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth, who was able to raise 100,000 dollars plus in the final quarter of 2005. Duckworth, an amputee with a compelling story, has excited the Democratic faithful and could steal the Iraq issue away from Republican state senator Pete Roskam. Roskam, however, has almost a ten-to-one fundraising advantage at this point. In this 2006 House race, Duckworth and Roskam will try to define their respective parties in the state and their visions for Illinois in the near future. Duckworth will have the ear of her future constituents far more than Roskam.

2006 House Projection- Tammy Duckworth is able to use her Iraq War experience and anti-Republican sentiment in the 2006 House race to defeat Pete Roskam, 51-49%.

Illinois Eighth District- Incumbent Melissa Bean did not win by much of a margin in the 2004 House race and she has an uphill battle if she wants to maintain her seat in a wealthy Republican district. The blue collar constituents in her district are upset with her vote in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (thought to damage domestic industry) and the middle and upper class are not wild about her moderate politics. Conservative activist Kathy Salvi, who won the endorsement of local politician Teresa Bartels after her exit from the race, has significant personal funds at her disposal and a favorable agenda for conservatives in the district. Despite Bean’s two-to-one fundraising advantage at this point, Salvi has a reserve of funds waiting when Bean’s funding runs dry.

2006 House Projection- Kathy Salvi is able to oust incumbent Melissa Bean in this 2006 House race, 54-46%.

Illinois Seventeenth District- Veteran Illinois politician Lane Evans is trying to maintain his seat in the 2006 House race, while former CNN reporter Andrea Zinga is trying to confront the district with an ultimatum, between a more youthful and vibrant leadership or more of the same in Lane Evans. Zinga has been seen as too blunt in her statements on Evans’ health and personal issues, but constituents of the Seventeenth District may find this to be what they need in a representative.
2006 House Projection- Lane Evans has had troubles with campaign finance issues and Parkinson’s Disease and Andrea Zinga has launched an aggressive campaign as to the future of the district, which will allow her to defeat Evans 55-45%.

Indiana Second District- While the Eighth and Ninth Districts of Indiana are in play for the 2006 House race, the Second District is far from in play. Incumbent Republican Chris Chocola is popular and has a significant fund raising advantage over his opponent, Democrat Joe Donnelly. Indiana may swing toward the middle of the road with an even distribution of Democrats and Republicans in the House, but it would take a miracle for Donnelly to defeat Chocola in this Republican district.

2006 House Projection- Chris Chocola is able to improve on his 10% winning margin in the 2004 race, defeating Joe Donnelly 58-42%.

Indiana Eighth District- John Hostettler has surprised many of his constituents as a representative for the Eighth District, including his nay vote for funding following Hurricane Katrina (in an effort to maintain his fiscal conservative stance) and his illegal weapons charge early in his House career. The Democrats have decided to put significant money into this campaign and they have a strong candidate in Brad Ellsworth, a county sheriff and popular law-and-order proponent in the district. Ellsworth has strong roots in the Eighth District and has a ten-to-one fundraising advantage at this point, due to his popularity and Hostettler’s refusal to actively seek campaign funds. In search of steady leadership, Ellsworth notches a win for the Democrats in this 2006 House race.

2006 House Projection- Incumbent John Hostettler’s eccentric representation of this moderate district yields a gain for the Democratic Party, with challenger Brad Ellsworth easily defeating Hostettler 57-43%.

Indiana Ninth District- Baron Hill lost his House seat in 2004 to Mike Sodrel and is trying to ride the Democratic wave to victory in the 2006 House race. The major policy debate between the two is Hill’s vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment while he was a representative but Hill has drawn even with Sodrel in fund raising and has significant local sentiment to return him to the House.

2006 House Projection- Baron Hill wins back his seat from Mike Sodrel, 53-47%.

Iowa First District- Popular Jim Nussle is leaving this seat open in order to run for the open governor’s seat and this 2006 House race may be one of the most hotly contested. The Democrats will most likely nominate prominent trial lawyer Bruce Braley, who has a solid fund raising network built in to his role as head of the Iowa Trail Lawyers Association. The Republicans are going to nominate state representative Bill Dix, who has stayed surprisingly close with Braley in terms of funds. The major issue may be whether or not Iowans in this district want a trial lawyer, generally disdained by Midwesterners, representing them in the House. However, it seems likely that as a toss up district, Braley will be able to keep his future constituents’ eyes on the issues.

2006 House Projection- Bruce Braley will win this 2006 House seat, despite his trial lawyer background and Midwestern disdain for trial lawyers, with a 53-47% defeat of Bill Dix.

Iowa Third District- Incumbent and long time representative Leonard Boswell should have a solid lock on this seat, if not for concerns over his health and advancing age. While it would seem to be unseemly to go after Boswell’s age or health, look for the Republicans to do something of the sort in this 2006 House race. State representative Jeff Lamberti will try to give off a more energetic and youthful feel to his campaign in order to trump Boswell on the perception issue. However, Boswell is popular enough and his incumbency is still significant enough to allow him to defeat the upstart Lamberti.

2006 House Projection- Boswell’s health and age will make this a close race but those two factors have not been compelling to voters in the past. Boswell defeats Jeff Lamberti 52-48%.

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