WASHINGTON — During the Tuesday evening deluge, pay particular attention to these stories:
South Carolina Rep. John Spratt, second-ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, is seeking a 15th term. Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of Armed Services, is seeking an 18th term. Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, 13th-ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, is seeking an 11th term. Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is seeking a 19th term. In 2008, they won by 25, 32, 7 and 36 percentage points, respectively. In 2010, all are vulnerable, so voters in four districts could subtract 118 years of seniority.
For 55 years, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., 84, has occupied the seat his father held for 22 years before him. The son received 71 percent in 2008. His district includes Ann Arbor, which requires conservatives to leave town at sundown. (Just kidding. Sort of.) He beat his 2008 Republican opponent by 46 points. Dingell probably will win while setting the 2010 record for the largest shrinkage of a 2008 majority.
Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., who got 75 percent in 2008, voted against Obamacare and is the only Democrat who has signed the discharge petition that would allow the House to vote on repealing the law. He lost his house to Hurricane Katrina, and may lose his quest for a 12th term.
Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., whose younger brother was a Colorado senator before becoming interior secretary, won in 2008 by 22 points. In Congress, Salazar has opposed cap-and-trade and TARP and supports a one-year extension of all the Bush tax cuts. The National Rifle Association has endorsed him. Nevertheless, he may lose.
At age 10, in 1975, Van Tran escaped from South Vietnam the week before Saigon fell. Now he is running against Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., who seems to think immigration has gone too far: "The Vietnamese and the Republicans are, with an intensity, trying to take away this seat." Polling is difficult in this district, where many speak scant English, but the fact that Sanchez, who received 70 percent in 2008, has played the ethnicity card suggests a highly competitive contest.
Marco Rubio will be the next senator from Florida. Susana Martinez probably will be New Mexico's next governor. If so, the two freshest Hispanic faces in national politics will be potential Republican vice presidential nominees.
Republicans hold no statewide office and neither Senate seat in Illinois, where Barack Obama trounced John McCain by 25 points. This year, the races for governor and Senate are close. If Republicans win either, it will be the first time since 1998 they have won either the governorship or a Senate seat.
In Washington, one of nine states without an income tax, public employees unions (abetted by two people too rich to care about taxes — Bill Gates Sr. and his son) support an initiative that would give the state government more money to give to public employees: It would impose an income tax of up to 9 percent on high earners. The unions are opposing another initiative that would require a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature to raise taxes. The former would please those who like the tax system to be codified envy. The latter would be a firewall against rapacious government employees, who are a majority of union members nationwide.
In 2011, California may come as a mendicant to Congress, seeking a bailout from the economy-suffocating consequences of loopy policies such as the law — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's pride and joy — that preposterously aims to cool the planet by requiring a 30 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2020. If Californians reject the initiative that would suspend this law until the unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent (it now is 12.4 percent), this latest act of self-impoverishment will be a (redundant) reason for making Californians clean up the mess they have made.
The Rangers (payroll: $55 million) reached the World Series by thrashing the Yankees ($206 million), thereby demonstrating the limited potency of money. If Meg Whitman's campaign ($163 million) against Jerry Brown in California's governor race fails, this will refute hysterics who deny the declining marginal utility of political dollars.
Finally, Maryland's 8th Congressional District, a Washington suburb, is a dormitory for federal workers. Hence it is incorrigibly Democratic. But Mark Grannis, the Libertarian Party's congressional candidate, deserves many votes of gratitude for his slogan, the year's best: "Less we can."
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