The Louisiana and Maine Races
First, lets look at the races in Louisiana- a state not exactly enamored of late with Barack Obama. With no gubernatorial race, the key statewide race is for david Vitter’s seat, the incumbent Republican. Despite being somewhat scandal-tainted having apparently solicited the services of prostitutes, this would, in a conservative state like Louisiana, be a recipe for disaster. Yet Vitter has consistently led his Democratic opponent Charlie Melancon by 14 points. This has to perplex and frustrate the Democratic Party in that state. Either the folks of Louisiana are forgiving or Melancon is just not a good choice. I cannot forsee Vitter surviving in a state like Indiana, Ohio, or Missouri. Perhaps it is just the political culture of that state.
While representing the 3rd District, Melancon’s votes seem to be what somewhat measured. Among the top 5 big ones, he voted against cap-and-trade and against Obamacare. However, he supported TARP, the stimulus, and Wall Street regulations. Possibly the biggest albatross around his neck is his co-sponsorship of Card Check legislation. Regardless, it would appear that Vitter is headed for re-election despite the baggage he is carrying into this election.
Melancon is the sole Democrat among Louisiana’s seven representatives. Ravi Sangisetty is the Democratic nominee while Republicans will choose their candidate in a n October 2nd runoff leaving one month exactly until the general election. Many pundits rate the district a Republican pick-up. Perhaps the only other race of interest is in the neighboring 2nd District currently represented by Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao. He won the seat with less than 50% of the vote against William Jefferson who was under federal indictment at the time. This district contains most of New Orleans and its large Afro-American population. For this reason alone, he should lose this seat. Having won with less than 50% of the vote in a District that favored Obama by more than 50 points (along with Kerry and Gore against Bush) and where Cao is the first Republican since 1890 to occupy the seat, the odds of Cao winning here are very long! In fact, many Republicans have written off this seat and view picking up the vacant 3rd District as a more viable option and offset to their losses here. Elsewhere, Republican incumbents should prevail. the most likely scenario is that the delegation will remain 6-1 Republican or 5-2 at worst if Democrats keep the 3rd District.
In Maine, Democratic Governor Joseph Baldacci is vacating the seat. For the Democrats is Libby Mitchell, a state legislator. She is opposed by Republican Paul LePage, a businessman and mayor of Waterville. Given his 9-point lead in the polls, many given him an edge.
There are no Senate campaigns this year although the 2012 race will involve moderate Republican (some would say “RINO”) Olympia Snowe. Say what you will about her her and Susan Collins, but they reflect an almost necessity in the Northeast and especially in New England among Republicans. The firebrand conservative Republican quite frankly has slim chances in Maine. Moderation and moderate credentials is necessary to victory. And to the hard core conservative out there, it is best to heed the words of Bill Buckley: “Elect the most conservative electable candidate.” If that comes down to a choice between Snowe and a staunch conservative in Maine’s 2012 primaries, one has to go with and endorse Snowe if the Republicans wish to retain that seat. View it as a necessary evil if need be until such time that losing the seat would not upset a Republican majority in the Senate.
The two Congressional districts should be no surprises and remain in the hands of the Democratic incumbents. Although there is a lot of polling data out of Maine in these races, it is largely to gauge the move of independents from the Democratic Party to the G.O.P. Such is not the case apparently in Maine. Both incumbents hold sizeable leads and this fact should be born in mind when the 2012 Senate race rolls around. This underscores the fact that locally-since there are only 2 districts in Maine- it is essentially a blue state and the only chance for Republicans at both the local and state levels is to be moderate at the risk of bearing the RINO label. In Maine, RINO is not a dirty word.