20 March, 2006

"Roll Call" Spotlights New York As A Battleground State In '06; Rep. Sue Kelly's Seat Listed Among 7 House Seats In N.Y. Worth Watching

If you are looking for evidence of shifting political fortunes, you need look no further than right here in the Empire State. So says Stuart Rothenberg, a Washington journalist who runs his own political Web site, the Rothenberg Report, and is a contributing writer for Roll Call, a must-read newspaper on Capitol Hill. In his latest offering in Roll Call, Rothenberg says the GOP has a legitimate shot in only one statewide race this fall - Jeanine Pirro's run for attorney general. He also points out that the national Democratic Party thinks as many as seven Congressional seats in the state are "flippable," including one lower-Hudson seat - the 19th District seat held by veteran Republican Sue Kelly. Rothenberg is quick to point out that most of the seven seats are longshots for the Dems, including Kelly's, but he says if a Democratic tidal wave starts to form New York may be among the states that feels it the most.

Getting tho most attention from the national party among the New York group is Kirsten Gillibrand, who is challenging Republican incumbent John Sweeney in the 20th District (the Saratoga area). The Albany Times-Union's political blog, Capitol Confidential, excerpted both Rothenberg's report and one from the The Cook Political Report highlighting Gillibrand.

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The line of candidates to replace Rep. Sherwood Boehlert of New York's 24th District (Rome and Utica) is already forming, just a couple of days after Boehlert announced his decision to hang 'em up. The AP reports today there will likely be a GOP primary battle for this seat between state Senator Raymond Meier and former Seneca Falls mayor Brad Jones. The race already has four Democratic hopefuls, the AP reported.

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The Southern Republican Leadership Conference concluded Sunday, and Sen. Hillary Clinton managed to figure into this very partisan affair. According to Hotline On Call, A Web site published by the National Journal, Clinton was named most often by the delegates when asked "which Democrat is most likely to win electoral votes in your state?" New York's junior senator was named on just under 24% of the ballots, followed by John Edwards at 20%. On the GOP side, two New York hopefuls didn't fare as well. Gov. George Pataki finished in the middle of the pack among first-choice picks in the GOP presidential preference poll, while former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani finished well down the list. When first and second choices were tabulated together, both New Yorkers finished in the middle of the pack.

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An let us not forget our faithful readers in New Jersey. There's a poll for you today too. The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows that Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat, continues to hold a slim lead over his likely opponent this fall, Republican state Senator Tom Keane Jr. Menendez is up 40% to 36%, with 19% undecided. In the last poll, in January, Menendez was up 38% to 36%.

The Quinnipiac poll also shows President Bush's support is sliding in New Jersey, which fits in with the national trend. Some 65% of New Jersey voters disapprove of Bush's performance in office, while 31% approve. Two months ago those numbers were 59% and 36%.

Not surprisingly, in the presidential preference portion of the Quinnipiac poll, Sen. Clinton is well in the lead among Democrats in New Jersey while Republican voters have a strong preference for Giuliani.

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