This state is solidly Republican at the presidential level, but Democrats hope to pick up a seat by ousting Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). Her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski, appointed her to the post (after he vacated it), and many Alaskans have denounced the nepotism. Former governor Tony Knowles (D) is running hard.
Kerry will win here, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) is so confident of defeating former secretary of state Bill Jones that she has begun her "victory tour" for a third term. Only one of California's 53 House races is considered competitive. Rep. Calvin M. Dooley (D) is retiring, and state Sen. Roy Ashburn (R) is spending heavily to win the seat. But former state senator Jim Costa (D) is given a slight edge. Former state attorney general Dan Lungren (R) should claim the seat being vacated by Rep. Doug Ose (R).
In 2000, when Ralph Nader took 77,000 votes (5 percent), Al Gore had only a 7,000-vote margin over Bush. But Nader's appeal has faded and Kerry appears headed for an easier victory. Late polls showed him up by 6 percentage points, and some say the campus vote could push him higher if environmentalists and those opposing an anti-gay marriage initiative participate heavily in this entirely vote-by-mail state. Sen. Ron Wyden (D) will win easily. In a closely watched House race, Rep. David Wu (D) was embarrassed by an Oct. 12 newspaper article saying a former girlfriend in 1976 had accused him of trying to rape her. Wu admitted to "inexcusable behavior." Observers say he is likely to survive the challenge from Goli Ameri (R).
Bush once had hopes for this state, but they faded. Gov. Gary Locke (D) opted against a third term, triggering an intense gubernatorial battle between state Attorney General Christine O. Gregoire (D) and former state senator Dino Rossi (R). Gregoire feels she can extend the state's 20-year record of Democratic governors. Sen. Patty Murray (D) appears likely to win a third term despite a spirited challenge from Rep. George R. Nethercutt (R), who once defeated a U.S. House speaker. In House races, Democrats see one of their best hopes for a pickup in retiring GOP Rep. Jennifer Dunn's district. King County Sheriff Dave Reichert (R) was expected to beat radio talk show host Dave Ross (D), but the race has become a tossup. State Rep. Cathy McMorris (R) is thought to be ahead of businessman Don Barbieri (D) for Nethercutt's post.