House Elections in the New England States

Vermont’s one House seat is significant

The New England states in the 2006 House races will feature the increasingly liberal turn of the wealthy state of Connecticut and the opening of Vermont’s at-large House seat to a race to the left. Connecticut has several Republicans in increasingly Democratic districts and one or two of these will turn to the Democrats, leaving the Republicans grasping elsewhere in the nation to gain seats. Vermont’s one House seat is significant because it is the only representative of the state in the House of Representatives and several liberal candidates have come to the fore to take over progressive Bernie Sanders’ former position.
Connecticut Second District– Incumbent Rob Simmons would have benefitted more from his loyalty to the Republican Party leadership had Tom DeLay not gotten into trouble and resigned, had President Bush not gotten involved with various causes that sunk his approval rating, and if the Republicans were in a better place heading into the 2006 House races. The Democrats will target Connecticut at large to try and steal a few House seats and have a credible candidate in former state representative Joe Courtney. Courtney will play up Simmons’ connections and lack of independence from the top of the Republican Party in an increasingly Democratic district, while Simmons will be left to run on his legislative record.

2006 House Projection Were:

While Rob Simmons may get monetary help from his ties to the Republican Party leadership, challenger Joe Courtney will defeat Simmons 54-46% in an increasingly Democratic state.

Connecticut Fourth District– Christopher Shays is one of the few Republicans who could pull a Jim Jeffords and shift parties on a dime because of his legislative record. Considered one of the most moderate of Republicans, Shays has been a champion for campaign finance reform and called for Tom DeLay’s resignation early in the DeLay scandal. The Republicans will try and keep this seat in order to have an outpost in the liberal Northeast, but they won’t be working as hard as they will elsewhere to protect Shays. The Democrats, on the other hand, will put pressure on the Fourth District in the 2006 House race to elect Democratic candidate Diane Farrell, who ran against Shays in 2004. However compelling the arguments against Shays returning to office by the Republicans, the people of this district will give Shays yet another chance in 2006 to provide them able leadership. However, his tenuous hold on this House seat makes it an early Democratic target for 2008.

2006 House Projection: Moderate Christopher Shays maintains his seat, defeating second time challenger Diane Farrell 51-49%, setting up a tough 2008 test for Shays in a moderating district.

Connecticut Fifth District- The Fifth District in Connecticut is a fascinating oddity in the 2006 House race. The district is increasingly heading toward the Democratic column but have a twelve term incumbent in Republican Nancy Johnson, who has raised over two million dollars to this point in the 2006 House election cycle. The Democrats will try and work an upset in this district, putting their hopes in the hands of state representative Chris Murphy, a credible leader in the district who could challenge Johnson on the issues. However, it seems unlikely that the Democrats will look at this 2006 House race and feel confident that their money is well spent.

2006 House Projection: Johnson’s incumbency and overwhelming campaign fund are too much for challenger Chris Murphy, with a 58-42% margin.

Vermont (only House seat)- With the only House seat up for grabs, Vermont is going to see a fiery debate over where the state is heading politically. Popular House member Bernie Sanders is favored to win the open Senate seat in the fall and the Democrats have a good shot at taking the House seat. The Democrats will put up liberal state senator Peter Welch, a favorite of state party leaders, and the Republicans will go with National Guard General Martha Rainville in hopes of winning votes on the Guard’s effort in Iraq. However, the only thing that could derail the 2006 House race for the Democrats in Vermont is if Progressive candidate David Zuckerman, a favorite among the grassroots liberals, takes votes away from Welch. Welch should benefit from Sanders’ long coat tails and the state is going to remain in the Democratic column.

2006 House Projection: With progressive Bernie Sanders probably winning the open Senate seat, Democrat Peter Welch will defeat Martha Rainville 55-45%.

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