The House Landscape
There are 89 Republicans and 73 Democrats (the Brown seat is vacant, but will presumably be filled by a Democrat). Democrats would need an 8-seat pick-up in the 2010 elections to win back control of the House.
Open seats: there are 55 legislators (36 Republicans, 19 Democrats) who will be termed out in 2010. That’s a third of the body. So with that kind of turn-over, there will opportunities. But tempering a map full of open seats is the resurgent Republican Party. Having a Democrat in the White house has re-energized the Republicans. Aside from the Tea Parties, they are having an easier time of recruiting and, should the environment remain like this in 2010, they’ll have an easier time juicing their turn-out.
It’s been about three months since I did this run-down. There are three categories of races. The first are the races which I no longer expect to be competitive. They were on my “watch list” last spring, but I’m dropping them – for now. The second group is the new “watch list.” They probably won’t change hands, but there’s at least the possibility that if things drop a certain way, they could. The last group is the races that look to be most competitive at the present. As always, your feedback is welcome.
Dropping from Competitive List – Don’t Expect to be Targeted by Either Side
HD-5 – King City – Rep. Jim Guest (termed) – This was a top target, but Republicans have recruited former state senator Glenn Kippenstein. He’s a well established name and should win election. Democrats say they’re working on their own superstar recruit and I’ll have to add it back to the watch list if he comes through. Stay tuned.
HD-10 – Pike County – Rep. Terry Witte (termed) – His wife, Linda Witte, is running. Several people have said that they think she’s a stronger candidate than Terry. No longer competitive.
HD-24 – Columbia – Rep. Chris Kelly (freshman, kind of) – Always an expensive district to run in. Most think Kelly is safe, and I’ve yet to hear of an identified Republican candidate.
HD-28 – St. Joe – Rep. Rob Schaaf (termed) – Mike Sheehan will be back, but he lost by 11% last cycle. And this time without Schaaf to run against, he won’t have the Hospital Association money. Republican candidate Mik Chester, a pastor and former policeman, is already working and will win the solid Republican district.
HD-33 – Clay County – Rep. Jerry Nolte – He’s in a solid Dem district, but it’s hard to see how Dems can beat him after missing last time. The higher turn-out presidential cycle with a strong gubernatorial candidate at the top of the ticket was their chance. Not the lower turn-out, mid-term cycle.
HD-36 – Excelsior Springs – Rep. Bob Nance – same as above.
HD-85 – St. Louis County – Rep. Vicki Englund (freshman). Englund looks safe, but as a freshmen from a seat freshly taken from Republicans, Dems will be on guard. Neither of the two Republicans in the mix right now should worry Democrats.
HD-91 – St. Louis County – Jeanne Kirkton (freshman) – Although this district only leans Democratic, it’s leaning more and more that way every year.
HD-94 – St. Louis County – Rep. Rick Stream – Deb Lavender will be back again, but it’s hard to see what has changed in the past two years to close the 8% she lost by last cycle, particularly since Republicans will probably have a better environment and Stream’s position as vice-chair of Budget may appeal to constituents.
HD-107 – Bonne Terre – Rep. Linda Fischer (freshman) – This is a solid Democratic district. Republicans had their best chance last cycle with the Brad Robinson scandal and semi-celeb Louie Seiberlich. They took an impressive 48%, but that’ll be a high-water mark in that district for years to come.
HD-111 – Rep. Charlie Schlottach (termed). Tod Deyedt scored 44% against the incumbent with little cash. Some Dems think with no incumbent and some financial help, this could be competitive. But it’s a pretty reliably Republican district, so that’s unlikely.
HD-116 – Benton County – Rep. Tom Self (termed) – Republicans’ recruit Marlin Hammond is a basketball coach who’s in the Missouri High School Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s been coaching kids in the district for decades. Democratic recruit, Mike Stevenson, former superintendent, may be good, but like rock-scissors-paper, coach beats superintendent. Also in the Republican primary, Wanda Brown, the mother of Rod Jetton’s assistant, Nicole Brown. Still, Hammond is the next rep.
HD-119 – Dallas County – Rep. Larry Wilson (termed) – Pretty simple: it’s a solid Republican district. The Republican candidate, Sandy Crawford is a solid Republican.
Here are the Districts which look possibly competitive.
Possibly Competitive – Likely Party in Control Holds, But Worth Watching
HD-1 – Adair County – Rep. Brian Munzlinger (termed) – Without the incumbent, Dems are hopeful that this seat could be in play. But a lot remains uncertain here. The Dem candidate from last cycle, Keri Cottrell, is running again, but it’s unclear if she will be their preferred candidate this time. Republicans say they’re recruiting, but no name has surfaced.
HD-7 – Rep. Mike Lair (freshman) – It looks like Dems will be sending Harry Wyse back into battle in 2010. He scored an impressive 48.6% in 2008. But Lair is now an incumbent and the environment will be easier on Republicans, so I expect he’ll win re-election.
HD – 15 – St. Charles – Rep. Sally Faith – Democrats salivate at St. Charles, parts of which are slowly becoming more Democratic. But they need to strike before redistricting draws them tougher lines. District leans Republican and Democrats are still looking for their recruit. Faith should hold.
HD-18 – St. Charles – Rep. Anne Zerr (freshman) – Dem candidate last cycle imploded, but the district is 50-50. This time Gary McKiddy is Dem candidate, had 100 people at his kick-off, but it’s harder to beat an incumbent than take an open seat.
HD-19 – St. Charles – Rep. Cynthia Davis (termed) – Dems are putting up Matt Simmons who they describe as “perfectly fitted” to the district. Meanwhile Republicans have two candidates headed for a primary with rumors are that there is a third Republican waiting to jump in. Still this is the least Democratic of all the St. Charles seats on the list.
HD-35 – Clay County – Rep. Doug Ervin (termed) – The DPI is okay in this district (47ish) and will be competitive with the right candidate. Dem candidate from last cycle, Jim Baldwin, has an accident, but they say they are close to confirming a new candidate. It’s wait and see here.
HD-52 – Independence – Rep. Paul LeVota (termed) – Although Democrats have two candidates and a possible primary ahead, one of them – Robbie McKinnon – has garnered significant endorsements (including incumbent LeVota’s) and is poised to be their nominee. Republicans are looking for a candidate and say they will take a run at it if they get the right one.
HB-98 – Franklin County – Rep. Brian Nieves (termed) Dems say that this district is much less conservative than Nieves and that the DPI (which they peg around 49%) could put it in play. On the other hand, Republicans are jazzed that Paul Arand is a “rock-star” candidate who will put this one in the bank before it gets started.
HD-110 – Hillsboro – Rep. Belinda Harris (termed) – Harris has started a hand-off to her son, Ben, but county commissioner Ed Kemp is being tapped by other Dems as a better successor. Neither are star candidates. The Republicans have a great candidate, but I doubt it’s enough to overcome the Democratic nature of the district.
HD-113 – Jefferson City – Rep. Mark Bruns (termed) – only won with 52% when he entered office in 2002. Dems hope that it’ll be competitive again as an open seat. Their candidate is Cy Dashtaki; Dan Klindt is the Republican nominee.
HD-122 – Odessa – Rep. Mike McGhee – Rumors that he won’t be running for re-elect have Dems looking at this seat. Stay tuned I guess.
HD-153 – Alton - Rep. Mike Dethrow – had a close call in 2006, so Dems think it might be a target now that it’s open. Dems are said to be looking at that 2006 candidate Kenny Burke. Republicans aren’t acting worried.
Likely Competitive – Greatest Chances for Seats to Change Party
HD-6 – Marion County - Rep. Rachel Bringer (termed). District leans Republican so it’s one to watch now that it’s open again. Candidate recruitment will determine which way this race goes.
HD-17 – St. Charles – Rep. Kenny Biermann – Biermann took this seat in a very close race last cycle. The incumbent he beat Vicki Schneider is vowing a return. The district saw exponential growth which may have contributed to Schneider’s loss – her name ID wasn’t important when there were hundreds of new voters. Will a better 2010 environment bring Schneider back?
HD-21 – Mexico – Rep. Steve Hobbs (termed) – Kelly Schultz ran well last cycle, got good reviews, Dems are eager to try to win the seat of Joe Maxwell back. Republicans are said to be having troubles finding a strong candidate issues in this district.
HD-22 – Moberly – Rep. Therese Sander (termed) – This was a close one last cycle. Dems are probably going to trade in their candidate, Gail Brown, for a younger candidate who can do more door-knocking. District is ripe for taking. Both sides are still looking for the right candidate here.
HD-30 – Rep. Jason Brown (termed) – Lexi Norris, the Democratic recruit, is getting high marks. Dems say she’s 6th-generation from the district. Dems peg DPI at 49%. Still waiting on Republican recruit.
HD-54 – Blue Springs – Rep. Gary Dusenberg (termed) – never look competitive before, but might be as an open seat. It’s a Republican-leaning district. There are two Republican names in the mix right now, but Dems have coalesced around John Bullard, said to be one of the hardest working candidates they have.
HD-100 – South St. Louis County – Rep. Sue Schoemehl (termed) – Schoemehl has said that she’s working on a candidate, but this may be one of the toughest defenses for Democrats as the district leans Republican. Also Dems have yet to settle on their candidate. The first one out of the gate, Marty Zuniga, is a hard worker, but not the preferred candidate. Republicans hint that they’ll have a strong candidate here.
HD-120 – Clinton – Scott Largent (freshman) – Kristi Kenny has run for this seat twice and lost each time. She won’t be back for a third time. Instead it’s another lawyer who works in the same building as her. Dems say that he’s more personable and has stronger ties throughout the district. It’s a 50-50 district so could be interesting.
HD-121 – Johnson County – Denny Hoskins (freshman) – Just like Largent (above) Hoskins was given legislation to pass and given a pass on tough votes. As incumbents, they won’t be easy for Dems to beat. But here Democrats think their candidate, Courtney Cole, is doing everything right.
HD-152 – Eminence – Rep. J C Kuessner (termed) – it’s a conservative rural district, the kind that makes Dems nervous and has Republicans thinking they have a shot. Dems have a primary, but expect that Logan Merrill, an Iraq vet, will emerge as a strong general election candidate.
A great numbers of variables are undetermined including the final recruiting picture, the 2010 political environment and the extent to which Governor Jay Nixon helped out financially in leveling the playfield which has slanted against Democrats in recent cycles.
But given the above analysis, my current forecast would be for a two seat pick up for Democrats.