Close Congressional Races

Everyone’s eyes are on the presidential election, but the House of Representatives and the Senate will also have their fair share of drama on Nov. 4. Here are some races to watch out for on Election Day.

House of Representatives

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo.

Musgrave represents Colorado’s 4th District and is finishing up her third term, which she won by only 6,000 votes. Her opponent is Democrat Betsy Markey, a former staffer for Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo. Markey has had strong fund raising and is attacking Musgrave’s policies on veterans and the environment in a district where social issues are typically the deciding factor.

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn.

Shays has served 10 terms in his district, which is located in the southwest corner of Connecticut. His opponent, Democrat Jim Himes, is very well-funded and is trying to tie Shays to President George W. Bush.

Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan.

Boyda represents Kansas’ 2nd District, located in eastern Kansas. She has just completed her first term and is challenged by Republican Lynn Jenkins, a former Kansas treasurer. Despite being a Democrat, Boyda represents a conservative congressional district where Bush won by 20 percentage points in 2004. Jenkins may attract the same independent voters who elected Boyda four years ago.

Minnesota’s 3rd District

The current representative, Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., is retiring, which has left Democrat Ashwin Madia and Republican Erik Paulson to compete for the spot. Madia is an Iraq War veteran. Paulson is a state representative and former Ramstad staffer. Both candidates have spent more than $2 million on the race.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.

Shea-Porter just completed her first term in a district that covers the southeast corner of New Hampshire. In 2006, she beat her Republican opponent, Jeb Bradley, who had served two terms before he was defeated. Bradley is running in this election to win his spot back.

New Jersey’s 3rd District

Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., is retiring after 12 terms in the House. The Democratic contender for the seat is state senator John Adler. Medford, N.J mayor Chris Myers is the Republican candidate and was endorsed by Saxton. Myers is a Navy veteran and worked for Lockheed Martin.

Ohio’s 15th District

Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, is retiring after eight terms of representing Columbus and its western suburbs. The Democratic contender is Mary Jo Kilroy, a county supervisor who ran against Pryce in 2006. The Republican candidate is Steve Stivers, a state senator and Iraq War veteran.

Senate

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.

Coleman is finishing his first term in the Senate. His opponent is Democrat Al Franken, a comedian who won a three-person primary race. Franken is well-funded and challenging Coleman’s support of the Iraq War and Bush.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.

Dole is running for her second term. Six years ago, she won with 53 percent of the vote. Her Democratic opponent is Kay Hagan, a state senator who has had strong fundraising and is attacking Dole on her absentee rate and her ineffectiveness. Dole has outspent Hagan almost 2-to-1, but polls are still very tight in this race.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska

Stevens is finishing his sixth term. When the Republicans had control of the Senate and the presidency from 2001-2007, he was the president pro tempore of the Senate. He was recently convicted of seven counts of lying on financial disclosure forms. He is running against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

Chambliss is finishing his first term in the Senate after winning more than 52 percent of the vote in 2002. His opponent is former Democratic state Rep. Jim Martin. Past controversies have made this seat a target for Democrats this election cycle, but Chambliss continues to outspend his opponent in a conservative state. While polls have tightened in recent months, they continue to place Chambliss in the lead.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

McConnell, in his fourth term, is the Senate’s minority leader. His opponent is Democrat Bruce Lunsford, who has done well in an atmosphere that favors Democrats. Meanwhile, McConnell has been under fire for his use of power in the Senate. He continues to lead in the polls, which have tightened in recent weeks.

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