[Last update 2002nov03]

A Spectator's Guide to Election 2002

TheGreenPapers.com Staff

What follows is a listing of the key races for someone watching on TV- or listening on the radio (or even monitoring the Internet [perhaps even this site!])- to well keep an eye (or ear) on as the Midterm Election Returns begin coming in come the evening (Eastern Standard Time) of Tuesday 5 November. This listing is arranged by poll closing times (in States where the polls may close at different times in different parts of the State, the poll closing time utilized in this listing is that generally used by the major over-the-air and cable TV networks as those after which they can comfortably begin calling races in a given State) for the convenience of the armchair political observer: these times are simply the earliest a victor in the races mentioned can be perceived; keep in mind that many of these races, if very close, may not be called for several hours after the polls have actually closed (it is even quite possible that close races- particularly those for the U.S. House- might not be callable for days or even weeks!)

NOTE: Those races which appear in the listing below in RED are those which have been added to this piece since the original version of same went out on the morning (U.S. time) of Sunday 3 November to all those who have subscribed to 'TGPDirect'.

6 PM Eastern/3 PM Pacific (2300 UTC)... most of the polls close in the first two States: Indiana and Kentucky...

The most interesting race this early in the evening's proceedings is the one in Indiana's 2d Congressional District: when Republican Indiana Senator Dan Quayle (remember him ?) resigned to become Vice-President in January 1989, Republican Congressman Dan Coats was appointed to fill the vacancy in the Senate; in the resultant Special Election for the House, a Democrat [!],a woman named Jill Long, was elected and remained in Congress until she became a casualty of the GOP landslide in the 1994 Midterm Elections. Now known as Jill Long Thompson, she is attempting a return engagement as a Hoosier Member of Congress in the contest for this Open Seat. Her victory would be an early sign that the Democrats' chances of winning control of the House are not necessarily all that outside, pending- of course- the outcome of other bellwether House races listed herein later in the evening.

In Kentucky, a race to watch is that in the 3d Congressional District: if Democrat Jack Conway can take this one from incumbent Republican Congressman Anne Northrup, it- too- could be a rather early indication that the Democrats have more than an outside chance to take control of the U.S. House.

7 PM Eastern/4 PM Pacific (0000 UTC)... most of the polls close in six more States:

Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia...

in Florida, all eyes will be on two races: that for Governor and the race against producing yet another voting debacle in a State that has virtually become a laughing stock of late come election time! As for the Governor's race: although a loss suffered by Republican Governor Jeb Bush would certainly be an embarrassment to his brother, the President-- at the same time not all that much should be made of it by Democrats who would be dancing on the grave of 'Florida 2000' as a result-- for, should this happen, it will- indeed- have no lasting impact on the eventual outcome of Presidential Election 2004, especially if the Democrats then make the mistake of well confusing Action with Accomplishment.

in Georgia, the race to watch is that for the U.S. Senate: incumbent Democrat Max Cleland is being heavily challenged by Republican Congressman Saxby Chambliss... if the Democrats want to hold onto the Senate, let alone possibly pad their majority in that body, then this is one they can't really afford to lose!

in New Hampshire, keep an eye on the race for U.S. Senate: if Democrat Governor Jeanne Shaheen can defeat Republican Congressman John E. Sununu in what is normally a conservative stronghold, it would be a BIG pick-up by the Dems and, thus, potentially bad news- early!- for a Republican Party hoping to win back control of the Senate. The other key race to watch is that for the U.S. House in the 1st Congressional District, the seat that Congressman Sununu is giving up for his Senate bid: if Democrat Martha Fuller Clark can defeat Republican Jeb Bradley, it would be another early sign that the Democrats at least have a shot at taking control of the House.

South Carolina's race to watch is the one for Governor: incumbent Democrat Jim Hodges faces a strong challenge from Republican Mark Sanford. Also worth watching is the race for the U.S. Senate: Republican Congressman Lindsey Graham and Democrat Alex Sanders duke it out for an Open Seat held for nearly half a century by retiring Senate icon Strom Thurmond. A Democrat upset could go a long way toward the Dems padding their majority in the Senate- let alone merely maintaining control of that body!

Vermont's race for Governor is interesting: Democrat Doug Racine faces Republican Jim Douglas. Vermont was once a GOP bailiwick (famous as one of only two States to vote for Alf Landon against FDR in 1936); now it is more progressive-- the Republicans have not elected a Governor since 1990.

7:30 PM Eastern/4:30 PM Pacific (0030 UTC)... most of the polls close in three more States:

North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia...

North Carolina's big race is that for the U.S. Senate: Republican spouse of a former Senator Liddy Dole and Democrat former Clinton Administration insider Erskine Bowles battle it out for the Open Seat being vacated by super-conservative GOP icon Jesse Helms; it would be a BIG early pick-up for the Dems if Bowles can yet pull this one out!... the bellwether race in the State, however, is that in the brand new 13th Congressional District: a defeat of Republican Carolyn Grant by Democrat Brad Miller would be a HUGE boost to Democrats' chances of winning control of the U.S. House because it might possibly bode well for Democrats running in other marginally GOP districts throughout the SOUTH, a region which Republicans now dominate.

Ohio's important races are for the U.S. House... in the 3d Congressional District: a battle for what had been a Democratic seat recently vacated between Democrat Richard Alan Carne and Republican Michael Turner; a loss by the Democrats here would be a MAJOR setback in the Democrats' chances of taking control of the House (especially if other early races mentioned in this listing were to also go against the Dems)... in the 17th Congressional District: Independent expelled former Democrat Congressman Jim Traficant, running his campaign from behind bars, is the big "unknown" as a factor in what is otherwise a race between Republican Ann Wormer Benjamin and Democrat Timothy Ryan for what should normally be a Democratic seat: another one the Democrats can't very much afford to lose in a region- the MIDWEST- where they are competitive with the Republicans!

in West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District- a repeat bellwether as to which Party may hold control of the U.S. House in the new 108th Congress: in 2000, when Republican Shelley Moore Capito defeated Democrat Jim Humphreys for what was then an Open Seat (because then-Congressman Bob Wise was running for- and would be elected- Governor) and became the first GOP House member elected from this otherwise heavily Democratic State in 20 years, it was a sure sign that 7 November 2000 was likely to be a long night for the Democrats when it came to their hopes of taking control of Congress. Now, two years later, comes the rematch-- this time Congresswoman Capito could become the first Republican re-elected to the House from West Virginia since Arch Moore left Congress for the Governor's Chair at the end of the 1960s; if she succeeds, it does not at all augur well for Dick Gephardt becoming the next Speaker of the House!

8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific (0100 UTC)... most of the polls close in the District of Columbia and sixteen more States: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas...

Alabama has a tight race for Governor to keep an eye on: incumbent Democrat Don Siegelman seeks to fend off Republican Congressman Bob Riley. In addition, in the State's 3d Congressional District- basically the seat Riley is giving up in order to seek the Governor's Chair: Democrat Joe Turnham is giving Republican Mike Rogers a run for his money; a Turnham victory would be a good sign for the Democrats in the SOUTH and might indicate an early trend possibly offsetting other possible losses to the GOP in House races elsewhere in the region.

in Connecticut's 5th Congressional District- another important bellwether of the battle between the Parties over the House: here, two House incumbents are duking it out for survival- Democrat Jim Maloney and Republican Nancy Johnson; if Congresswoman Johnson wins (especially if Congresswoman Capito is also re-elected in WEST VIRGINIA) the Democrats can probably kiss any chance of taking control of the U.S. House goodbye because it is a sign of potential Democratic Party weakness in a region- the NORTHEAST- where they usually do well and where they certainly would have to hold their own this election. The 2d Congressional District also provides a somewhat lesser barometer as to how well the Democrats might- or might not- do overall in Congressional races this night: incumbent Republican Rob Simmons is here being challenged heartily by Democrat Joe Courtney.

Illinois' race for Governor is of some interest: Democrat Congressman Rod Blagojevich is trying to fend off a strong challenge from Republican Attorney General Jim Ryan--but of much more interest is the race in the State's 19th Congressional District where two incumbents are fighting it out in what is another bellwether of Democrats' chances of taking control of the U.S. House in a region- this time, the MIDWEST- where they will have to be able to hold their own: Democrat Congressman David Phelps is facing Republican Congressman John Shimkus.

Kansas provides an interesting race for Governor: Democrat Kathleen Sebelius is facing Republican Tim Shallenburger.

Maryland has a few "barn burners" to keep an eye on... for Governor: Democrat Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend- a daughter of the late Bobby Kennedy- is facing a strong challenge from Republican Congressman Robert Ehrlich, who is vying to be the State's first Republican Governor since former Vice-President Spiro Agnew!-- two U.S. House races also provide potential cliffhangers- the 2nd Congressional District: where Republican Helen Bentley seeks to return to Congress and the 8th Congressional District: where incumbent Repubican Constance Morella seeks to stay in Congress.

Massachusetts has its only interesting race, the one re: Governor: Republican Mitt Romney, the former organizer of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the son of former Michigan Governor George Romney, faces Democrat State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien.

Michigan has an interesting Governor's race: Democrat Attorney General Jennifer Granholm faces Republican Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus.

Mississippi has an incumbent vs. incumbent race for the U.S. House that might very well portend Democrats' chances of taking control of the House by measuring the Republican Party's own strength in the SOUTH, no longer such a friendly region for the Democrats-- this one is in the State's 3d Congressional District: Republican Congressman Chip Pickering facing Democrat Congressman Ronnie Shows.

Missouri has a U.S. Senate race that could change the balance of power in the Senate during the rest of this Congress, as this one is a Special Election to fill out the remaining four years of an otherwise six year term: incumbent Democrat Jean Carnahan, who was appointed to fill the Senate seat posthumously won back in 2000 by her husband, is facing a strong challenge from Republican former Congressman Jim Talent. IF Talent should win, he would take office as soon as the election results can be certified: this would give the Republicans 50 seats to the Democrats' 49 (with one Independent- Vermont's Jim Jeffords)- and note that the Democrats would only have 49 if Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura should appoint a Democrat to replace the late Paul Wellstone- in the lame-duck session of Congress coming up after the election; with the GOP's Dick Cheney, as Vice President, holding the potential tie-breaking vote, the Republicans would regain control of the Senate for at least two months (pending the outcome of the other Senate races, which will determine control of the Senate in the next Congress).

New Jersey's U.S. Senate race will be watched for much the same reason as New Hampshire's, though for the opposite effect: if Republican Doug Forrester can yet drum up enough righteous indignation against the fact that the Democrats were able to replace scandal-ridden incumbent Bob Torricelli with former Senator Frank Lautenberg on the ballot late in the game, this could be a BIG pick-up for the GOP. The other race to watch in the Garden State is that in the 5th Congressional District, an Open Seat: a rather nasty catfight between Republican Scott Garrett and Democrat Anne Sumers for what had been a safe Republican seat.

Oklahoma will have a lot of eyes on its Governor's race: former NFL star wide receiver/former Republican Congressman Steve Largent is being challenged by Democrat Brad Henry-- but most observers best pay attention to the race for the U.S. House in the 4th Congressional District: Democrat Darryl Roberts taking this Open Seat away from Republican Tim Coles would be a BIGGIE for the Dems in a region of the country where Democrats are not expected to do so well.

Pennsylvania has an interesting race for Governor: Democrat Ed Rendell, former DNC chairman and Philadelphia Mayor, tries to hold off a strong challenge from State Attorney General Mike Fisher-- but pay attention to a couple key early races for the U.S. House in the Keystone Commonwealth: in the 17th Congressional District, yet another of those incumbent vs. incumbent battles that may provide an early clue as to the eventual fortunes of each of the two Major Parties in the next Congress: Republican Congressman George Gekas faces Democrat Congressman Tim Holden; in the 6th Congressional District: Democrat Dan Wofford- son of a former U.S. Senator- tries to win an Open Seat against Republican Jim Gerlach.

Tennessee's two most interesting races to watch are the Statewide ones... for Governor: Democrat Phil Bredesen faces Republican Congressman Van Hilleary... for the U.S. Senate: Republican former Governor and Presidential candidate Lamar Alexander faces Democrat Congressman Bob Clement... the interest in both these races (besides a Bob Clement victory being BIG in the Democrats' attempt to hold on to/pad their Senate majority) is in how well the Democrats actually do in this State this time round: local Dem weakness becoming apparent here could have a residual negative impact on the future Presidential aspirations of another Tennessee Democrat who happens to be named Al Gore!

Texas' most interesting race is that for the U.S. Senate: Democrat Ron Kirk, the Mayor of Dallas, could be the first African-American Senator popularly elected from any State in the SOUTH but he has something of an uphill battle against Republican John Cornyn. Kirk is more conservative than the average Black politician, even in Texas (though his brand of conservatism well fits the definition of 'Texas Democrat')... but it may not be enough against a GOP candidate for whom home Stater President George W. Bush has campaigned heartily; nevertheless, a Kirk win- besides its inherent historic nature- would be a BIGGIE re: the Democrats' holding onto/padding their majority in the Senate. In the Lone Star State's 5th Congressional District, an Open Seat: Democrat Ron Chapman and Republican Jeb Henslarling duke it out in this one; a Democrat gain of a U.S. House seat here (assuming Dems are also proving to be successful- for the most part- in other close races listed herein) might be HUGE!

8:30 PM Eastern/5:30 PM Pacific (0130 UTC)... the polls close in Arkansas...

Arkansas provides yet another "barn burner" which will go a long way to determining which Party will ultimately control the U.S. Senate in the 108th Congress: incumbent Republican Tim Hutchinson is heavily challenged by Democrat State Attorney General Mark Pryor, himself the son of a former U.S. Senator.

9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific (0200 UTC)... the polls close in eleven more States: Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming...

Arizona's race for Governor is the one to watch in this State: Democrat State Attorney General Janet Napolitano versus former Republican Congressman Matt Salmon. In the Grand Canyon State's 1st Congressional District, an Open Seat: Republican Rick Renzi tries to fend off a string bid from Democrat George Cordova in a race which would be a BIG gain for the Dems if they should end up taking this one.

Colorado's race for the U.S. Senate is the main event here: incumbent Republican Wayne Allard is being challenged by Democrat Tom Stirckland-- but also keep an eye on the brand spanking new 7th Congressional District: Democrats still clinging to hope of taking control of the U.S. House (depending on the outcome of earlier races, of course) would be heartened by their Mike Freeley being able to defeat Republican Bob Beauprez here.

Louisiana's race for the U.S. Senate could mean the "whole enchilada" as to who ends up controlling the U.S. Senate come January 2003: Utilizing the State's unique "Open Primary" to its fullest, Louisiana Republicans have decided to "flood the coverage" and thereby also "beat the spread" by fielding several viable GOP candidates as challengers to incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu in an obvious attempt to deny her at least 50% of the vote and, thus, force a Runoff come Saturday 7 December... if neither Party has 50 Senate seats in the bag and this one goes to a Runoff, we could have a month of uncertainty not all that unlike that following the previous Federal election back in 2000! Also watch the State's U.S. House races, though not so much for results as for margins of victory: Louisiana elects its Governor in 2003 (the incumbent, Republican Mike Foster, is term-limited) and- while no current Members of Congress from the Pelican State seem to have, as yet, openly applied for the job- those who are particularly successful in their re-election bids in the "Open Primary" this year could have their eyes then turned toward that Governor's Chair in Baton Rouge fairly quickly!

Minnesota already had one of the more interesting Governor's races to see who will succeed outgoing Independent Jesse Ventura: as with the election that elected Governor Ventura four years ago, it's a three-way-- Independent Tim Penny, a former Congressman, faces Republican Tim Pawlenty and Democrat Roger Moe--but the recent death of incumbent Democrat Paul Wellstone in a plane crash has also made the race for U.S. Senate one to watch: former U.S. Senator and Vice President Walter "Fritz" Mondale is the Democrats' replacement to take on Republican Norm Coleman.

New Mexico's 2d Congressional District is the one to watch in the Land of Enchantment: If Democrat John Arthur Smith can outduel Republican Steve Pearce, it would be an important pickup for the Democrats, assuming they have won most- if not all- of the early bellwethers already mentioned, in the WEST, another region where the Republicans are predominant.

Rhode Island has an interesting race for Governor: Republican Dan Carcieri faces Democrat Myrth York, who has run for the office before.

One of the later bellwether races re: control of the U.S. Senate is in South Dakota: incumbent Democrat Tim Johnson tries to fend off Republican Congressmen John Thune-- the Democrats would really hate to lose this one from a State whose other Senator happens to be Democrat Senate Leader Tom Daschle. Also watch the race for the State's sole U.S. House seat: outgoing Republican Governor William Janklow is strongly challenged by Democrat Stephanie Herseth... a BIG pickup for the Dems if they can take it!

Wisconsin has an interesting race for Governor: incumbent Republican Scott McCallum tries to fend off a strong challenge from Democrat Jim Doyle.

Wyoming also provides an interesting race for Governor: Republican Eli Bebout faces Democrat Dave Freudenthal for this Open Chair.

10 PM Eastern/7 PM Pacific (0300 UTC)... most of the polls close in six more States: Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Utah...

in Iowa, watch the race for Governor: incumbent Democrat Tom Vilsack was once- not all that long ago, in fact!- talked about as real Presidential Timber in 2004; now, however, he would be lucky indeed to pull out his re-election bid: if Vilsack should still win... well... the eventual 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee will still need a running mate! The U.S. House race in the State's 3d Congressional District is also worth a look-see: incumbent Democrat Leonard Boswell is trying to fend off Republican Stan Thompson: this is not one the Democrats can afford to lose if they want to retain a realistic shot at winning control of the House (again, depending on the outcome of earlier races) ... and in the Hawkeye State's 2d Congressional District: incumbent Republican Jim Leach tries to fight off a strong challenge from Democrat Julie Thomas. Democratic Party hopes for gaining the necessary number of seats to gain control of the U.S. House may well come down to keeping Iowa's CD 3 while, at the same time, taking CD 2 away from the GOP.

in Nevada, the race to watch is that in the 3d Congressional District, an Open Seat which the State gained as a result of Reapportionment: if Democrat Dario Herrera can wrest this one from Republican Jon Porter, it might go a long way towards the Democrats having a realistic shot at taking control of the U.S. House (again, depending on how earlier races already mentioned in this listing have gone by the time this one is called).

Utah has two races for the U.S. House to watch... in the 1st Congressional District: Democrat Dave Thomas seeks to upset Republican Rob Bishop but such would all be for naught if, in the 2d Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Congressman Jim Matheson is defeated by Republican John Swallow... if the Democrats should happen to lose BOTH, it will not augur at all well for the Dems' chances of gaining control of the House, even were most of the bellwether races already mentioned to go their way.

11 PM Eastern/8 PM Pacific (0400 UTC)... the polls close in four more States: California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington...

With all due respect to the late Democrat Congresswoman Patsy Mink (who should easily be posthumously elected to her vacated 2d Congressional District seat), the race to watch in Hawaii is that for Governor: Linda Lingle is vying to be the first Republican elected to the Governor's Chair since the State's very first Election back in 1959; her Democrat opponent is Lieutenant Governor Mazie Hirono. Regardless of the outcome, it is still an historic election- as Hawaii WILL elect its first woman Governor.

Oregon has an interesting race for Governor: Democrat Ted Kulongoski faces Republican Kevin Mannix.

Midnight Eastern/9 PM Pacific (0500 UTC)... most of the polls close in the last of the 50 States still voting at this hour, Alaska...

There is actually one quite interesting race left (though it won't have any direct effect on the make-up of the U.S. Senate per se)-- that for Governor of Alaska: if Republican Senator Frank Murkowski should be elected over Democrat Lieutenant Governor Fran Ullmer, Mr. Murkowski will have to resign his Senate seat upon taking the Oath of Office as Governor-- he will then be able to appoint a temporary replacement of himself pending the regular General Election for his seat in 2004... it might well be quite interesting to see who actually will be sitting in the "Class 3" Senate seat from Alaska come 3 January 2003 when the 108th Congress elected this evening convenes!

Logical Conclusions...

In the main, the end results (once the "dust" has finally settled on the Midterm Elections and the victors, even in the closest races, are certfied) of U.S. House races are woefully bad barometers of success for a given Party in the very next Presidential Election: while it is true that, historically, the Party that holds the White House tends to lose House seats in a Midterm Election, this does not mean that this same Party will not still be holding the White House at the time of the next Midterm Election (just ask Bill Clinton post-1994/1996 or Ronald Reagan post-1982/1984, to take two rather obvious recent examples). In races for the House, we are truly faced with the late House Speaker "Tip" O'Neill's dictum that "Politics is Local".

The same cannot necessarily be said for the U.S. Senate in the Midterm Elections, however. Americans have- more often than not- tended to elect Governors or ex-Governors as their Presidents; yet they still seem to love Senators as Presidential candidates! After all, the Senate- moreso than the House- is where the types of issues with which Presidents are expected to deal seem to be the more deliberately discussed (for example, Foreign Policy- largely a Senate bailiwick due to that body's constitutional power to ratify treaties and confirm ambassadors).

Thus, herewith my own take on what Midterm Election 2002 might very well portend for Presidential Election 2004 and, perhaps, even beyond:

Back during the Fall General Election campaign in Election 2000, I felt that- should the Democrats not hold onto the White House- it still would not be as "bad" a loss as if the Democrats did not take control of a U.S. House of Representatives that was well within their grasp (regardless of who ended up winning the Presidency). Al Gore well leading in the Popular Vote and still not being elected President- putting aside all that took place re: the debacle in Florida that year- did not at all change my opinion- for the House was, indeed, winnable by the Dems in 2000 and the fact that they did not take control of that body (especially given the way that this same Party managed to force a tie in the Senate in those very same Elections) was a glaring defeat for the Party of Clinton because, due to Reapportionment (in which some 10 House seats shifted from Regions friendly to Democrats to Regions which were much more Republican territory), it would then become that much harder to gain control the next time, even with a Republican now in the White House!

This year, and largely because of Reapportionment, I honestly don't think not taking control of the House in 2002 would be as bad a defeat for the Dems (though, yes, it will still sting them mightily) as their failing to do so was two years ago. I think just barely hanging on to- let alone possibly losing!- control of the Senate in this year's elections would be the much bigger defeat for the Democrats, especially going into the Presidential Election cycle just as the new 108th Congress formally takes office this coming January-- and particularly because the leading contenders for the 2004 Democratic Presidential Nomination all seem to be sitting U.S. Senators!-- but no less because, of the three Electoral "Classes" of Senators currently occupying the seats in that body as I type this over the weekend before the 2002 Elections, THIS one that is "all up" for election right now- Class 2- is the only one of the three that has more (and so MANY more at that!) Republican seats up for election than those of Democrats. Just as I once thought re: Democrat chances to take control of the House back in 2000, re: the Senate in 2002 it will be that much harder for the Dems to keep- or, should this Midterm Election make it necessary, regain- control of the Senate next time or, truth be told, the next two times- in both 2004 and 2006 (when Classes 3 and 1, respectively, will be up for election).

And this is precisely why Election 2002 is- no less than Election 2000 turned out to be- one to watch come Election Night, Tuesday 5 November!


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  2002 Partisan Composition by State  
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