McMahon could be down for the count
Connecticut's marquee race is for the Senate, where state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) faces off against former World Wrestling Entertainment chief executive Linda McMahon (R).
Blumenthal ran into trouble over repeated misstatements about his military service during the Vietnam War. But he appears to have weathered that controversy as well as the tens of millions of dollars McMahon has spent from her personal fortune. Blumenthal is favored, but President Obama campaigned there Saturday -- just to avoid a surprise.
The gubernatorial race narrowly favors former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy (D). Former ambassador Tom Foley (R) has the momentum, but Obama's last-minute campaign stop in Bridgeport could boost African American turnout, which will be crucial to Malloy's winning calculus.
Republicans have made an effort to target Democratic Reps. Jim Himes and Chris Murphy of the 4th and 5th districts, respectively. But these incumbents are favored to hold their seats.
A tea party governor? Just add Waterville.
Maine's independent-minded spirit is alive and well in this year's three-way race to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Baldacci. Waterville Mayor Paul LePage (left), a tea party favorite who won a seven-way GOP primary, has held a slim lead over Democratic state Senate President Libby Mitchell (right). The recent rise of lawyer Eliot Cutler, a former Democrat running as an independent, seems to have come at Mitchell's expense. Many voters are still undecided, but the Republican has a slight edge
The outlook is somewhat brighter for the state's two Democratic House members. Four-term Rep. Mike Michaud, who is running against Jason Levesque (R), and freshman Rep. Chellie Pingree, who is facing Dean Scontras (R), have maintained solid leads. Even so, Michaud and Pingree have fallen this cycle below the 50 percent mark, and Republicans think they may have an opportunity -- although Maine has not elected a Republican to the House since 1994.
What can Brown do for GOP? Perhaps a lot.
GOP Sen. Scott Brown's upset victory in January's special election continues to reverberate, as Republicans compete for the the governor's mansion and the chance to send their first members to the House since 1996. The governor's race is the big event here, with incumbent Deval Patrick (D), Massachusetts's first black governor, locked in a tight three-way race. President Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, and his 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe served as chief strategists in Patrick's 2006 bid, and the White House is closely watching the race because of Obama's long ties to Patrick. Hospital executive Charles Baker (R) is Patrick's top challenger, but Tim Cahill, the Democratic state treasurer running as an independent, could be a spoiler.
Among House races, the most vulnerable Democratic seat is that of retiring Rep. William Delahunt, whose coastal 10th District is home to the Kennedy family compound but also went solidly for Brown in January. Republican Jeff Perry, a state representative, is in a toss-up against a local prosecutor, Democrat Bill Keating. Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, whose district south of Boston also went for Brown, recently took out a $200,000 personal loan and began raising money at a furious pace. Frank is still considered the favorite over Sean Bielat, a 35-year-old Marine reservist, but the chairman of the House Financial Resources Committee is taking this race very seriously.
After struggling, Ayotte hitting the right notes
Popular GOP Sen. Judd Gregg is retiring, but his chosen successor, Kelly Ayotte, struggled to beat a conservative primary challenger. Yet she became one of the few establishment Republicans to survive a bruising first round and has held a solid lead in the general election over Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes, a two-term congressman who moonlights as a folk singer.
The big battleground is the 2nd District, stretching from the rural north to the Boston exurbs on the Massachusetts border. Former GOP Rep. Charlie Bass, defeated by Hodes in 2006, is having difficulty in his comeback attempt against liberal activist Ann McLane Kuster; that race is a surprise toss-up. In the 1st District, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) could meet a different fate. She unseated a conservative GOP incumbent in 2006 but has trailed former Manchester mayor Frank Guinta.
In the governor's race, Democratic incumbent John Lynch is favored to win a fourth term over Republican health-care consultant John Stephen.
In gubernatorial contest: Like father, like . . .
Lots of action in New York, where state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) is running well ahead of gaffe-prone Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino (R).
Nine Democratic House seats appear competitive.
The most endangered is the one formerly held by Eric Massa, who resigned amid allegations that he sexually harassed men on his staff. Democrats have all but ceded the seat to Corning Mayor Tom Reed (R).
Up north, Rep. Bill Owens is in a tossup against investment banker Matt Doheny.
West of Albany, Rep. Michael Arcuri is pitted in a tough rematch with businessman Richard Hanna.
Just above the New York City suburbs, Rep. John Hall is battling wealthy ophthalmologist Nan Hayworth.
Several other Democratic seats remain vulnerable. Long Island's Tim Bishop, seeking his fifth term, is in a tough re-election fight against businessman Randy Altschuler. Rep. Scott Murphy is in a tight race against retired Army Col. Chris Gibson.
Considered more safe are Rep. Michael McMahon, a freshman who faces former FBI agent Michael Grimm, and Rep. Dan Maffei, running against nurse and lawyer Ann Marie Buerkle.
Rep. Maurice Hinchey, seeking a 10th term, is running hard against former congressional staffer George Phillips (R).
In the two Senate races, Democrats Charles E. Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand are both cruising toward victory.
For Chafee, a 'shove' in the right direction
The governor's race in Rhode Island got a late-breaking dose of color in October, when Democrat Frank Caprio, the state's general treasurer, suggested President Obama could "shove it" because he declined to endorse Caprio. Obama withheld his backing as a courtesy to Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican senator who endorsed Obama in 2008 and is running for governor as an independent. The three-way contest between Caprio, Chafee and Republican John Robitaille is a tight one, with Chafee considered the narrow favorite.
In the 1st District, which is being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, some Republicans have promoted the idea that state Rep. John Loughlin could score a GOP upset against Providence Mayor David Cicilline. But Cicilline appears likely to keep the seat in Democratic hands.
Red might not be out in Green Mountain State
Gov. Jim Douglas's decision to retire after serving four terms seemed to deal Republicans a tough hand; the popular GOP moderate won reelection in 2008 with 53 percent in a state that President Obama carried with 67 percent. (Vermont is one of two states in the union to elect governors to terms of two years, not four.)
But in an increasingly Republican year, things are looking better for the GOP than initially thought. With polls showing Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie (R) in a dead heat with state Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin (D), this is one race that will probably go down to the wire.
No surprises are expected in this year's Senate or House races. Seven-term Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy is on track to win reelection against Republican businessman Len Britton, left. Two-term Democratic Rep. Peter Welch is expected to defeat Republican Paul Beaudry.