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WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) (R) and ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) (L)hold a hearing to question U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson (not pictured) about the impact of EPA regulation on agriculture during a hearing in the Longworth House Office Building on March 10, 2011 in Washington, DC. According to reports, a House energy subcommittee voted March 10, to decline to fund the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases.
National Journal
Steven Shepard
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Steven Shepard
Jan. 2, 2014, 6:50 a.m.

Now that the cal­en­dar has changed, we can be­gin our midterm-elec­tion ob­ses­sion in earn­est. The year is chock-full of great, big-tick­et races: Mitch Mc­Con­nell‘s reelect in Ken­tucky, 4 red-state Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors up for reelec­tion, Scott-vs.-Crist in Flor­ida. But today we’re high­light­ing the un­der-the-radar can­did­ates who we think could be vy­ing for their own head­lines later this year.

— Demo­crats landed a couple of mar­quee fe­male re­cruits in Ken­tucky (Al­is­on Lun­der­gan Grimes) and Geor­gia (Michelle Nunn). But Re­pub­lic­ans have one of their own in Michigan, former Sec­ret­ary of State Terri Lynn Land. Land sur­prised some when she raised $1 mil­lion in the third quarter (in ad­di­tion to $1 mil­lion in self-fund­ing). Watch her fourth-quarter num­bers (com­ing by month’s end) to see if she can sus­tain that mo­mentum. Ore­gon’s Mon­ica We­hby (R) is in a blu­er state, but her pro­file as a pe­di­at­ric neurosur­geon could boost her chances against Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) if health care con­tin­ues to be a Demo­crat­ic li­ab­il­ity.

— Re­pub­lic­ans are strongly favored to re­tain con­trol of the House, but Demo­crats are ex­cited about some of their chal­lengers, in­clud­ing Aman­da Renter­ia, a former Cap­it­ol Hill aide chal­len­ging Rep. Dav­id Valadao (R-CA) in a D+2 seat, and Ann Cal­lis, run­ning against Rep. Rod­ney Dav­is (R-IL) in an even-PVI dis­trict. Re­pub­lic­ans, mean­while, are tout­ing Ari­zona chal­lengers Andy To­bin and Martha Mc­Sally, in ad­di­tion to Min­nesota’s Tor­rey Westrom, who they think has a shot to un­seat long­time Rep. Col­lin Peterson (D) this Novem­ber.

— Un­like the battle for the Sen­ate, Re­pub­lic­ans are largely on de­fense on the gubernat­ori­al map, look­ing to pro­tect their 2010 gains. But Demo­crats are ex­cited about their chances in Pennsylvania, where GOP Gov. Tom Corbett‘s ap­prov­al rat­ings are in the tank. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) might be the nom­in­al fron­trun­ner in a crowded primary, but watch former state en­vir­on­ment­al sec­ret­ary Katie Mc­Ginty, who has emerged as a top-tier can­did­ate, des­pite lower ini­tial name ID. One state in which Re­pub­lic­ans have a chance at a pickup is Illinois — Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is well un­der­wa­ter in the Land of Lin­coln — but their pro­spects could hinge on the out­come of the March primary. Wealthy self-fun­der Bruce Rau­ner (R) de­b­uted yet an­oth­er new TV ad over the hol­i­days in his bid to se­cure the nod.

That’s just a sampling of the can­did­ates we’re watch­ing as the year be­gins. We’re happy and grate­ful to have you along for the ride.

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