With no Senate or Governor’s race in Montana this year, the at-large Congressional seat is the de facto statewide race. Republican incumbent Denny Rehberg has served since 2001 and is opposed by Dennis McDonald. Some Democrats feel they have a slight chance here. They point to and take solace in the Democratic presence in Montana- two Senators, a Governor, and a Democratic-controlled State Senate. However, when push comes to shove, the state is fairly conservative and even the Democrats need to veer a little to the right on most issues. So, Rehberg’s seat is fairly safe in a state where turn out should not be that high. And if the Democrats think they can take the seat and want to sink money into a losing cause, all the more power to them.
Rhode Island, on the other hand, is a very blue state. With Republican Governor Dan Carcieri term-limited, the race is between Democrat Tom Caprio, Republican Tom Robitaille and independent Lincoln Chaffee. Chaffee’s presence makes it possible that the winner of the race, currently rated a toss up by most political experts, could prevail with less than 40% of the vote- clearly short of a mandate. Caprio is the current leader in the polls leading, most importantly, Robitaille by 12 points. In fact, Chaffee and Robitaille have exchanged 2nd and 3rd place in the polls with Caprio a rather consistent first. So in Rhode Island, a Democratic victory in the Governor’s race seems likely.
There is no Senate race, but both Senators from Rhode Island are perhaps two of the most liberal and consistent votes for the Obama agenda. Which leads to my conclusions regarding the two Congressional races. Of the two districts, only the 1st district is of much interest given the retirement of incumbent Democrat Patrick Kennedy. For the first time in many years, there will be no Kennedy in Congress (YAY!). But realistically, the chances of a Republican pick-up here are slim to none. David Ciccellene, the popular mayor of Providence is expected to win. Given some of his initiatives in Providence, expect to hear about carbon footprints and the like from him. The only possibility- at it is very slim at that- is that a third party candidate draws some votes from Ciccellene preventing a 50% mandate and making him a target for 2012. But not this year.