Moving from my first set of battle ground seats for the next House of Representatives, my second look moves east across the Great Basin and the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Here things are actually looking better for Democratic pick-up and many of the seats owe there leanings to the way in which the states are viewing the top of the ticket at this moment in times. From Nevada through Utah to Colorado, there are five seats worth looking at.
A) This is an open seat encompassing the south side of Las Vegas. It's open because it's Republican incumbent has stepped out to run for Senator--(a race that is very close, but that I predict he will loose in a squeaker.) Running in this race is a perennial Republican candidate, Danny Tarkanian. He is the son of a very famous UNLV basketball coach, Jerry Takanian, and is a real estate developer in his right. He has run for various elective offices in the past and in spite the name recognition and never won. His opponent on the Democratic side is a local community activist and first time politician, Jackie Rosen. She was personally asked to run by outgoing Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid. To longtime prognosticators in local politics, her campaign is a seen as a grand surprise. One described her as "extremely knowledgeable on the issues and well prepared" in interviews. Currently polling gives Rosen the lead. I hope she can get the support she needs to win. I won't argue with the polls--I give this one to the Democrats
B) Is the district that encompasses the northern side of Las Vegas all the way up the state to the edges of the Reno/Carson City environs. The incumbent is Republican Cresent Hardy who is a freshman having defeated one term Democrat Steve Horsford (the only African American ever elected from Nevada) and that's the depth of this seat which was newly created after the 2010 census when Nevada was granted a fourth House seat. Hardy, besides having one of the coolest names in Congress, has little else to show for his time in Washington, brief as it is. He serves on three lack luster committees, the most interesting of which is Transportation and Infrastructure--and we all now how productive they've been! Besides voting no on Obamacare ad infinitum he's really got nothing to show the folks back home. His democratic challenger is Ruben Kihuen. Kihuen is the minority leader of the Nevada state Senate with lots of positive press with experience on crafting legislation effecting state education policy. Most pundits see Kihuen as the winner.
C) Utah's 4th is what passes for a swing district in bright red Utah. It was also created after the 2010 census and was first held by a Democrat, Jim Matheson. The Republican incumbent's election was seen as milestone in conservative Republican politics as Mia Love is the first African American to be elected to congress from Utah. This is election is a total rematch of the previous one that brought Love to office. The Democrat in this rematch is Doug Owens. In the previous election, Love defeated Owens by 4,250 votes or so out of 125,709 ballots cast. This is simply a referendum on the national scene with possible racist undertones. As pendulums swing, the weight favors Owens this time, but I just don't see where the fulcrum is in this one--too close to call.
I will preface the last two seats with this overriding notion: Colorado is NOT a swing state in this election cycle. It's rated as more likely to go for Clinton than Minnesota! It's incumbent Senator, Michael Bennet is leading his Republican challenger by 16%! This is a Democratic tsunami in the Centennial State.
D) The first of two deeply respected state politicians from the Democratic party taking on a very conservative NRA puppet on the Republican side is Gail Schwartz. She has strong community, environmental and educational credentials on the ground from her years of service as a state Senator. Her Republican opponent is the incumbent Scott Tipton who is a highly ranked conservative elected in the wave of mid-term conservative fervor from Obama's first term. She is someone that would make an excellent progressive voice (and truth in advertising, I have contributed to her campaign). I put my call behind my dime.
E) The second is one of the most powerful and successful state politicians in recent years, Morgan Carroll. She is taking on ultra-conservative Mike Coffman who was also elected in the midterm Republican boost of 2011. The district has since tracked further into the Democratic column. Coffman is an anomaly in blue turning Colorado and a long time target of Democratic strategists. Between the demographics, Coffman's ultra conservative record and the rising tide of a Democratic sweep crossing the state, I think, if I were him, I'd be vetting my resume with the NRA, the Fracking Industrial Complex, Big Pharma or some other corporate interest that he's been representing in Washington for a fall-back position. I give this seat to Carroll hands down.