USF's Daryl Paulson on how local Congressional races could allow Democrats to take over Congress by Mitch E. Perry

09/01/06

As the Labor Day weekend launches a final nine weeks of campaigning, political analysts say that there is a growing chance that the Democrats CAN take over the House of Representatives, but may have trouble getting the Senate.

USA TODAY/Gallup Polls in five key states show Democrats poised to gain Senate seats but facing an uphill battle to regain control. They would need to win 6 seats to capture the Senate.

In the House, the number of seats independent analysts rate as up for grabs has been swelling. Since January, Stuart Rothenberg of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report has doubled the number ranked "most competitive." Of 39 seats now in that category, 35 are held by Republicans. He predicts Democrats will pick up the 15 seats they need to control the House.

There are several Republican held seats in Florida that Democrats in Washington THINK could go they’re way in November. One is in South Florida, where longtime Republican Clay Shaw is in extremely close battle against Democrat Ron Klein, the former State Senate Minority Leader.

And there are 2 seats in the Tampa Bay Area that could – could – fall into Democrats hands if the stars align. In the District 9 race, former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky is trying to pull off an upset and defeat Tarpon Springs State Senator Gus Bilirakis, running for the first time in place of his retiring father, Mike.

According to new Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports, Bilirakis has raised 3 times as much money than Busansky in the last reporting period. But Daryl Paulson, a professor of Political Science at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, says that doesn’t mean the Democratic is doomed in this race (roll tape#1 o.q.�or Democrat�)

Another GOP Congressional seat that Washington Democrats are hoping could fall their way is in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, where Katherine Harris has departed.

There are 5 Republicans running to replace her – Vern Buchanon, Tramm Hudson, Nancy Detert, Donna Clark, and Mark Flanagan. The winner will face either Democrat Jan Schneider or Christine Jennings in November.

The District is considered to be 50% Republican, making it hard for any Democrat to break on through. Again, USF St Pete Political Science Professor Daryl Paulson (roll tape#2 o.q.�that Sarasota District�)

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