| SSP's latest batch of House race ratings changes:
AZ-01 (Open): Tossup to Lean Democratic
With the Democratic and Republican fields now set after last night's primary, it's now safe to acknowledge the Democratic lean of this contest -- and it all comes down to candidate recruitment. The GOP's top choices to run in the place of retiring Rep. Rick Renzi, including former state Senate President Ken Bennett and state Rep. Bill Konopnicki, all bailed on this race. Instead, the GOP has nominated Arizona Mining Association President Sydney Hay.
Having only raised $342K as of August 13th (compared to Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick's $1.14 million), Hay is hardly a prolific fundraiser. Moreover, personal statements on the campaign trail and on her website reveal her to be part of the Bill Sali wing of the GOP party. Case in point: She has showered Alan Keyes with glowing praise. And despite being the front-runner for many months, Hay barely won her primary against physician Sandra Livingstone by a 40-36 margin. That's a serious warning sign for the GOP.
Democrats, on the other hand, have nominated state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a former prosecutor who has touted her law-and-order credentials in campaign advertising. Another tea leaf shows promise: Despite both primaries being contested, Democrats had a turn-out advantage of 51,248 to 41,646.
IN-02 (Donnelly): Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic
Two words sum up the campaign of mosquito-plagued Republican Luke Puckett: shit show.
I'd love to talk to you about fundraising and the like, but Puckett's campaign has been plagued by something more than just mosquitoes lately: managerial incompetence. After filing reports with the FEC that indicated that Puckett had -$72K cash-on-hand (yes, negative seventy-two grand), the Puck fired his campaign treasurer (as humorously noted in a document filed with the FEC) and has been trying to sort the mess out ever since. Of course, he has another hole to urgently fill, as his campaign manager abruptly quit earlier this week.
With a PVI of R+4.1, Indiana's 2nd CD was drawn to help elect a Democrat, and we have to believe that the top-of-the ticket dynamics are stronger than ever for Democrats here. Despite facing a tough road statewide in her gubernatorial race, Jill Long Thompson has unique strength in Northern Indiana and has been polling well in the region so far. Additionally, Barack Obama has been targeting the state as a bona fide swing state, and will likely post a stronger than usual performance in the state this November. Between the Democratic coordinated campaign and Puckett's dismal operation, it's hard to see how the GOP is in any condition to stage an upset here -- even remotely.
NY-25 (Open): Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic
The benefit of the doubt is quickly slipping away from Onondaga County legislator Dale Sweetland, who is running to replacing retiring GOP Rep. Jim Walsh in this D+3.4 district. Sweetland has raised a paltry $193,000 for his campaign so far, and has $104K on-hand -- a drop in the bucket compared to Democrat Dan Maffei's $1.44 million raised and $578K on-hand. Given Maffei's strong performance in 2006, and his heavy spending so far this summer on district-wide television advertising, Democrats are strongly favored to pick up this open seat. The GOP isn't poised to put up much of a fight for this one.