Thursday, May 08, 2008

Roll Call, Cook: MI-07 Is A Toss-Up

Short post tonight, but more this weekend.

There are about four major political publications that "insiders" and wanna-be "insiders" follow-- Congressional Quarterly, Roll Call, the Cook Political Report, and the Rothenberg Political Report. And, of course, as a wanna-be "insider," I check them all every now and again, plus a few others sources. All four of them rate House and Senate races along a scale from "Safe Republican" to "Safe Democrat," and levels of "likely" and "lean" between them, and "toss-up" means they haven't if today were Election Day, it could go either way.

Incumbents are almost always safe or likely, with those recently elected or facing unusually strong challengers are labeled lean. Toss-up is a rating usually reserved for competitive open seats, corrupt incumbents, or representatives in districts which heavily favor the other party. I'm sure most of you already know this, but it's worth it to emphasize the point that you've got to be in trouble if you're an incumbent rated as "toss-up."

Rothenberg rates the Michigan 7th as "Lean Republican," as does CQ. Cook and Roll Call did, too, up until recently. But from Roll Call earlier this week:
7th district
Incumbent: Tim Walberg (R)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Tossup
The conservative Walberg ousted Rep. Joe Schwarz, a one-term moderate, in a hard-fought Republican primary in 2006, then barely won the general election against a Democratic nobody. This time the Democrats have a somebody running: state Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, who recently cleared the field of his two toughest opponents. Organic farmer Sharon Renier, who was the Democratic nominee in 2004 and 2006, is running again, but she doesn’t figure to be much of a factor. Meanwhile, Schwarz also is weighing a comeback — as a Republican or a Democrat. But the chances of him running become more remote as time marches on.
(Emphasis added.)

Eric B. at Michigan Liberal brings us more:

How long into this do we need to move before the 7th swings into "leans Democratic" categories? From Roll Call:

Walberg, a freshman who barely won his seat against a Democratic nobody in 2006, just does not like to raise money — that much is apparent by his fundraising totals. But he once again has the help of the Club for Growth this cycle, aiding his chances for re-election.

State Sen. Mark Schauer (D) initially declined to run for the seat, but later changed his mind. So far, he's proved to be a good fundraiser who finds a way to win in GOP districts. He's outraised Walberg significantly in the past two financial quarters, and Democrats are excited about his prospects.

While the district naturally leans Republican, Walberg has yet to erase doubts about whether he can win a second term. Meanwhile, it seems Schauer is only building momentum, as this district has become Democrats' best opportunity to pick up a seat in the Wolverine State.

(Emphasis added.)

That's one, and that alone is enough to make any incumbent cringe. Then Charlie Cook offered his take:
House Ratings Changes:

AK-AL Young Lean Republican to Toss Up

CA-11 McNerney Lean Democratic to Toss Up

CT-02 Courtney Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic

FL-21 L. Diaz-Balart Solid Republican to Likely Republican

FL-24 Feeney Likely Republican to Lean Republican

KS-02 Boyda Lean Democratic to Toss Up

KY-03 Yarmuth Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic

IN-02 Donnelly Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic

IN-07 Carson Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic

MI-07 Walberg Lean Republican to Toss Up

MI-09 Knollenberg Likely Republican to Lean Republican

MO-06 Graves Likely Republican to Lean Republican

NY-13 Fossella Likely Republican to Toss Up

NC-11 Shuler Likely Democratic to Solid Democratic

OH-02 Schmidt Lean Republican to Likely Republican

OH-14 LaTourette Likely Republican to Solid Republican

(Emphasis added.)

This doesn't matter to most voters. It does, however, matter to the political insiders who run the National Republican Congressional Committee, some Club for Growth members, and local party leaders.

At what point do they conclude that Tim Walberg is a lost cause?

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Didn't Walberg just hold a bunch of Town Hall meetings about helping people with foreclosures.

Well, look what he voted against...surprise, surprise.

House approves $15B foreclosure aid

WASHINGTON -- The House has approved sending states $15 billion to buy and fix up foreclosed properties. The vote Thursday was 239-188 to approve the bill, which most Republicans opposed. It would provide loans and grants to areas hit hardest by the housing crisis. Supporters say the legislation will prevent neighborhoods around foreclosed homes from sliding into blight. The measure is separate from a broader housing package to provide $300 billion in refinanced mortgages for struggling homeowners. On that program, which passed 266-154, all of Michigan's six Democrats voted for it. The nine Republicans split: Voting against it were Pete Hoekstra of Holland, Dave Camp of Midland, Tim Walberg of Tipton and Candice Miller of Harrison Township; for it were Joe Knollenberg of Bloomfield Hills, Thad McCotter of Livonia, Fred Upton of St. Joseph, Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids, and Mike Rogers of Brighton.
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