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2012 Redistricting: Top 10 races between House incumbents

at 03:00 PM ET, 10/21/2011

Every 10 years, incumbents are forced to face off with one another thanks to the reshuffling of congressional districts known as redistricting.

And with a little more than half of states now done drawing their new maps, we’ve got a pretty good idea about where those incumbents will be dueling.

Below, we look at the top ten districts where it looks like incumbents will fight one another, review their just-filed third quarter fundraising numbers, and try to give you a sense of where their races are going.

While most of these races will have no bearing on the House majority — only one pits a Democrat against a Republican — they will be some of the more entertaining, expensive and hotly contested races of the 2012 cycle.

And for reference, here’s our last look at incumbent vs. incumbent matchups. (My, how things change...)

To the line!

10. Steve Austria (R-Ohio) vs. Mike Turner (R-Ohio): This may be the biggest jump ball of all, but it’s also a matchup of back-benchers and lawmakers who most in Washington don’t really know.

Republicans reshuffled the Ohio map to shore up Columbus-area Republicans who had increasingly difficult districts. The solution was to create a new Democratic-leaning district, but in the process, Austria and Turner had to be paired. The two men both currently represent a good chunk of the new district, and they have about the same amount of cash- -on-hand, with just more than $400,000 each. (Previous ranking: n/a)

9. Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) vs. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.): Washington Democrats wouldn’t be terribly sad to see either of these incumbents lose, as Hahn under-performed in a recent special election and Richardson’s personal troubles have mounted. The good news for the establishment is that they could both lose.

State Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D) outraised both in the third quarter and already has more cash-on-hand. But if Hall and Richardson split the black vote, that could open things up for Hahn, who is white. The district is 28 percent black and 49 percent Hispanic. (Previous ranking: n/a)

8. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) vs. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.): These two were the odd men out as four Republican-leaning Orange County districts were reduced to three.

Miller has framed the race as between two ideologically similar candidates, but suggests he is the doer in Washington. Royce, meanwhile, is closer to House Republican leaders and has a huge early advantage in fundraising, with $3 million in his war chest compared to Miller’s $1 million. Miller doesn’t look like a guy gearing up for a tough campaign, either, as he raised just $58,000 in the third quarter.(Previous ranking: n/a)

7. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) vs. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.): The freshman Kinzinger just decided that he would challenge ten-term lawmaker Manzullo, but the Democratic-drawn map didn’t give him much choice.

While Manzullo has represented this territory for years and has a staunch conservative record, Kinzinger has quickly developed a national profile and has more money than Manzullo. The freshman raised $788,025 this cycle and has $567,012 cash-on-hand to Manzullo’s $433,588 raised and $483,994 on hand. Manzullo also hasn’t faced a tough race in over a decade, while Kinzinger unseated an incumbent Democrat last fall. (Previous ranking: 3)

6. Jeff Landry (R-La.) vs. Charles Boustany (R-La.): The freshman Landry is trying to frame his looming primary fight as the tea party (him) versus the establishment (Boustany).

The centerpiece of that argument is that Landry voted against increasing the debt ceiling in August while Boustany, who is close to House Republican leaders, supported the legislation. Boustany also supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout, which has been a liability in GOP primaries. But Boustany currently represents much more of the new 3rd district and has a longer history with the constituents. Landry slightly outraised Boustany in the third quarter, but Boustany ended September with $1.1 million on hand, as compared to $402,000 for Landry. (Previous ranking: 2)

5. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) vs. Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.): Peters comes into the fight for Michigan’s most oddly-shaped new district with one distinct advantage: cash.

He has twice as much money as Clarke ($839,000 to $423,000) and is a very strong fundraiser. Neither lawmaker is an old hand, as the map pits two rising stars against each other. But Peters can argue that he helped save the auto industry by taking on House Republicans. Peters’s biggest obstacle is the district’s slight black majority — Clarke is the son of an African-American mother and Bangladeshi father, and Peters is white — and that racial gap will be exaggerated in a Democratic primary.

But both lawmakers have multiracial constituencies already, and another black politican — Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence (D) — is planning to run and split the black vote. (Previous ranking: n/a)

4. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) vs Tom Latham (R-Iowa): Boswell has survived a series of heated races in recent years, but this matchup against Latham in the new 3rd district will be his toughest to date.

Latham raised more than twice what Boswell brought in over the past three months and ended September with $1.7 million in the bank, as compared to $376,000 for Boswell. Latham moved from the new 4th district into this seat, and the district is about two-thirds Boswell territory. But the numbers suggest a jump ball. (Previous ranking: 1)

3. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) vs. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.): This matchup of freshmen could be one of the most entertaining.

Walsh announced a month ago that he would run against Hultgren rather than in the Democratic-leaning 8th district. Walsh, who has been arguably the most outspoken tea-party freshman and a surprise winner last year, has already signaled that he will run against all of Washington — including his party leaders — and play up his vote against the debt- ceiling deal. But he’s got problems; namely, that his ex-wife says he owes $100,000 in back child support. Hultgren, meanwhile, has compared Walsh’s leadership style to none other than convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich (D). (Previous ranking: 4)

2. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) vs. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio): The map here favors Kucinich; two-thirds of the new 9th district is in the Cleveland media market.

But Toledo-based Kaptur is very popular with constituents, and she can argue that she never considered leaving the state, as Kucinich did when he flirted with running in Washington state. She’s also dominating Kucinich in cash right now -- $604,916 to $90,253 -- although Kucinich’s national support base should be able to easily close that gap. Even so, the former presidential candidate doesn’t have this one in the bag. For more, see the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s take.(Previous ranking: n/a)

1. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) vs. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.): This could well be the single most expensive House race in the country before it’s all said and done.

While state and national party leaders have tried to talk each of the men out of the clash, both are girding for battle. In the last three months alone, Berman, a veteran Democratic lawmaker, raised an eye-popping $819,000 — the third-highest total in the House — and ended the period with $2.25 million in the bank. Sherman collected just $174,000 in the third quarter but had $3.7 million on hand. This race, which will be fought in the in­cred­ibly expensive Los Angeles media market, is going to be expensive, nasty and long. (Previous ranking: 5)

Chris Cillizza and Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.

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