Democrat Andre Carson Wins IN-07 Special Election

Here are the results:

√ Democrat Andre Carson: 25,621 votes (53 percent)
Republican Jon Elrod: 21,418 (44 percent)

327 of 445 (73 percent) precincts reporting (10:33 PM Eastern)

Update [by Jonathan Singer]:WISH-TV has called the race for Andre Carson, ensuring that this seat will stay in the Democrats' hands.

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IA-Sen: Harkin Won't Have King to Kick Around

For some time it looked like Iowa's Steve King would become the fifth sitting Republican Congressman to be vanquished by Iowa's Democratic Senator Tom Harkin -- who already holds the record in this area. But according to The Des Moines Register, King will be running for reelection this fall rather than running for a forced retirement by butting up against Harkin in a Senate contest.

U.S. Rep. Steve King announced Friday he will seek re-election to his House seat in western Iowa, finally putting to rest speculation that the Kiron Republican would mount a Senate challenge this year.

[...]

King had been viewed as a possible opponent for Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., who faces re-election this year, and King for months did not rule out a bid.

King is apparently a bit of a meathead, saying this week that a Barack Obama presidency would be heralded by "the radical Islamists, the al-Qaida" on account of Obama's middle name. What's more, King has less than a net $200,000 in the bank as of the most recent campaign finance filings, indicating that he would not be a terribly strong challenger to Harkin, who doesn't generally win overwhelmingly in the evenly divided state of Iowa but nevertheless wins convincingly. That said, it would have been nice to see yet another Republican open seat in the House at this juncture, even one that tends to lean about 8 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections, particularly given how little money the National Republican Congressional Committee has in the bank, both as a result of its remarkably bad fundraising and its move to spend close to a third of its net cash-on-hand on a losing race in Illinois 14th congressional district.

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Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don't

What are House Republicans going to do? The tenure of Tom Cole at the National Republican Congressional Committee has already been about as much of an abject failure as it could be to this point. Recruitment has been terrible -- though not as bad as retention, with the House GOP facing a near-record of retirements from within their midst. On top of a major accounting scandal, the committee only emerged from debt for the first time this cycle in January, and as of the end of that month the committee faced roughly a $30 million disadvantage relative to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Then came the special election to replace former Republican Speaker Denny Hastert, a race that the party should have been able to hold given the GOP-lean of the district (R+5, according to the Cook PVI). The NRCC blew close to a third of its net cash-on-hand on the race, only to see their candidate fall in flames by 5 points during yesterday's election.

So what is the House GOP to do about Tom Cole? He's not terribly effective, so there's good reason to argue for his ouster (perhaps it would have been after all to have cashiered him back in September when House Minority Leader John Boehner wanted to...). On the other hand, installing an entirely new crew just eight months before election day might not be terribly effective either. At the least, it would scare off fundraising in the short run -- both for the committee, but also for House GOP candidates all around the country, given that donors shy away from donating to causes that appear to be lost. Such a move could also alienate whatever power base Cole has within the caucus, making it more difficult for the House GOP leadership to keep its membership in line.

So at this juncture, House Republicans appear to be in a damned if they do, damned if they don't situation. And when a caucus that already has no shot at picking up seats, let alone regaining its previous majority is in a situation like this, any and all hopes begin to fly away, making it even tougher to stem potential losses. These are rough days for House Republicans.

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IL-14: Obama Wins First Big Surrogate Fight Against McCain

Yesterday's special election in Illinois' 14th congressional district suggested a number of things about this cycle, one of which is what a presidential matchup between Barack Obama and John McCain might look like.

Foster ran a very aggressive and focused general election campaign. He came out swinging just days after his primary victory, hitting Oberweis on Iraq in TV ads, and kept Oberweis off balance throughout the rest of the one-month campaign. In the final week, Foster ran an ad featuring an endorsement by homestater Barack Obama.

But as well as Foster ran his campaign, this race was mostly about Oberweis. Polling in the final weeks of the race showed Oberweis' past had caught up with him, and his favorable ratings continued to sink. He did have John McCain in for a fundraiser and a press conference, but none of McCain's popularity among indies appeared to have rubbed off.

Because of both of their involvements in the race, many described this contest as a proxy war between Obama and McCain. And if it was, Obama came out the big winner.

This is a district that tends to lean about 5 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections. Though there has been a trend in the region towards the Democrats and though this is home country for Obama, the fact that Bill Foster, with Obama's support out front, was able to so convincingly defeat Jim Oberweis, with McCain's support front and center, says a lot about what the race between the two Senators might look like.

The section above from The Hotline suggests that "none of McCain's popularity among indies appeared to have rubbed off" on Oberweis. Perhaps that's the case. But perhaps, too, in a matchup against Obama, McCain doesn't have any coattails among independents, or at least nearly as much as the establishment media give him credit for. In that case, without independent voters at his side and without an energized GOP base, how is it, exactly, that John McCain would be able to win a head-to-head campaign against a Democratic ticket headed by Barack Obama?

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NRCC Blows Nearly One Third of its CoH on IL-14 Special Election

By most measures, the Democrats have a fairly good opportunity to pick up another seat in the House of Representatives this week in the special election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of former Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert. The district tends to lean about 5 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections. However, tthe changing demographics of Illinois combined with the general trend in the country towards the Democrats combined with the unpopularity of the Republican nominee combined with the strong profile of the Democratic nominee combined with the ad cut by Barack Obama (who is extremely popular in the state) for the race have really put this contest in play -- so much so, in fact, that the National Republican Congressional Committee is being forced to dump a significant portion of what it has in the bank on the race. Take a look:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spent more than $300,000 on a media buy on Monday in former Rep. Dennis Hastert's (R) district, bringing its investment in the race close to $1 million.

[...]

The NRCC launched an $850,000 ad buy last week, and it added a $180,000 buy on Tuesday. It has now spent more than $1.2 million on the race.

The NRCC simply does not have the kind of money to go toe-to-toe with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. As of the latest filing period, the NRCC finally was able to pull itself out of debt for the first time this cycle, with a net $4.1 million in the bank as of the end of January. Crunching out the math, then, the $1.2 million the NRCC has had to spend defending this Republican seat in a Republican district amounts to 29.2 percent of the committee's net cash-on-hand, or nearly a third. In contrast, the D-trip has spent about 3.0 percent of its net cash-on-hand on the race, not nearly depleting its coffers in the same way.

This one is a real nail-biter at this point, and it would no doubt be very exciting for the Democrats to pick up this seat. But given the larger picture -- the race to elect more and better Democrats for the 111th Congress -- this race has already been a success, with the Democrats forcing the Republicans to spend money they can't afford to be dumping on a seat they otherwise should be able to hold.

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