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U.S. House vulnerabilities?

The opening piece of analysis from this site about the 2004 U.S. House races in the Northwest is a default to status quo. Even the one House seat we know will be open (the Idaho 1st) probably will stay with its current party. For every other House seat in the Northwest, barring unexpected retirements or something else out of the blue, the larger probability is that the incumbent will be returned in 2006 for another term.

Probable but not a lock, of couse – these things never are a lock until election day, and sometimes even then. Still, you have to look hard for many chinks in the armor. Probably only two members of the House delegation are representing districts whose partisan leanings are just a bit at odds with the incumbent’s situation. And neither of those – Republican Dave Reichert in the Washington 8th, and Peter DeFazio in Oregon’s 4th – look weak. Both won decisively in 2004.

Analysts over at the Democratic Daily Kos site, however, do list a few Northwest seats – three altogether, those two and one more – on their roster to watch, of potentially vulnerable Republican and Democratic seats.

The only vulnerable Republican in the region on the list is Reichert; the comment there is this:

Reichert is a freshman who narrowly won this swing district when it was open last time. The Dem challengers, former Microsoft executive Darcy Burner and attorney Randy Gordon are unknowns who must build name recognition. Neither has had great fundraising (not bad, but not great). Still, you gotta figure that this one will be tight when all is said and done.

On the Democratic side, Representative Brian Baird is listed as 25th most vulnerable (against businessman Tom Crowson (whom Baird beat in 2004 with 61.9%), and DeFazio 24th in a rematch with Jim Feldkamp (who is, to be sure, hustling hard early in the season).

The 17th most vulnerable Democrat, the analysis says, is a little bit of a surprise:

Washington 02 (33) (Rep. Rick Larsen (D) vs. Businessman and Fmr. Navy Officer Doug Roulstone (R)) Roulstone is a touted GOP recruits in a district that was among the closest in every election from 1994-2002. Larsen was first elected in 2000 when GOPer Jack Metcalf honored his three-term pledge. Larsen’s original election and his first reelection were close, hard-fought affairs, but he cruised in 2004. Larsen has raised $443,000 with $484,000 on hand; Roulstone has raised $156,000 with $136,000 on hand.

Larsen has been prepared and organized for a challenge for some time, as his fundraising indicates. Historically, though, the 2nd has been a marginal district. 2006 could be an indicator of whether it really is trending Democratic, or whether the last few elections (including last week’s) just happened to make it look that way.

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