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DELAWARE: Focus Is on Attorney General

Map: The 50 States | Mid-Atlantic

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Sunday, November 5, 2006

In a state that loves its incumbents, Sen. Tom Carper (D) has barely had to bother with the opposition from Temple University professor Jan Ting (R). More attention has focused on the effort by Beau Biden (D), son of Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), to win the attorney general's race against Ferris Wharton (R), a 23-year veteran of the state Justice Department.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Two Shoo-Ins

D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty, who defeated the council chairman, Linda Cropp, in the Democratic primary in September, is assured to be the next mayor of the District. Washington's longtime delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), is unopposed.

MARYLAND: Close Despite Party Imbalance

If the 2006 elections are hard for the GOP anywhere, it would seem that it would be Maryland, where voter registration is so lopsided: 55 percent Democratic, 29 percent Republican. But the races for governor and senator are extremely competitive.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. hopes to become the state's first GOP governor in 50 years to win a second term and has spent heavily to stress a moderate approach to governing. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) has led Ehrlich in every public poll but has been on the defensive against attacks that he has done a poor job fighting crime and fixing schools.

The Senate race is to replace Paul S. Sarbanes (D), the longest-serving senator in Maryland history. President Bush and strategist Karl Rove handpicked Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R) for his engaging personality and as a symbol of the party's efforts to reach out to African Americans. He faces Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D), whose more-than-40-year career in politics began when he was elected to the state legislature while in law school.

Steele has been the more stylish campaigner, but Cardin has not let voters forget that Steele's views on abortion and the war are not in line with most Marylanders'.

There is likely to be little change in Maryland's congressional delegation, including that a Sarbanes should still be in it. Lawyer and community activist John Sarbanes (D), the senator's son, is favored to win Cardin's seat.

NEW JERSEY: Dueling Political Loyalties

There was some grumbling when Gov. Jon Corzine (D) named then-Rep. Bob Menendez as his replacement in the Senate last year, and those concerns have been magnified this fall. In a strongly Democratic state, Menendez has struggled against state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R), son of the former governor.

Kean has focused on corruption, charging that Menendez is under federal investigation, an allegation the incumbent calls scurrilous. Menendez has run against the war and Bush. Kean has tried to mute the issue by calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Menendez appears to be narrowly ahead.

In the 7th District, state Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D) is challenging Rep. Mike Ferguson (R), who could fall if Democrats have a big night Tuesday.

NORTH CAROLINA: 1 Seat Safe, 1 in Play

After a decade in Congress, Rep. Charles Taylor (R) is in jeopardy of losing his 11th District seat. Taylor has spent nearly $3 million of his money to attack former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler (D), but nothing seems to be sticking. Shuler's down-home ads have cast him as a solid conservative -- a necessity in this GOP-leaning western North Carolina district where Bush won with 57 percent in 2004.

In the 8th District, Rep. Robin Hayes (R) is heavily favored over Larry Kissel (D) despite the even partisan split of the district.


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