New Print Edition: Florida 16 & North Carolina 8

March 9, 2007 · 3:44 PM EST

The new March 9, 2007 print edition of the Rothenberg Political Report is on its way to subscribers. Here’s a sample of the stories in this issue. To subscribe, just go to the website and click on the Google Checkout button to pay by credit card or you can send in a check.

Florida 16: Instant Contest
By Nathan L. Gonzales

Rational Republicans knew they were in for a rough 2006 more than a year ago, since President George W. Bush’s plummeting job approval ratings and the war in Iraq made GOP control of the House and the Senate increasingly tenuous. But just as voters were focusing on the general election, a scandal broke in South Florida. That’s when things turned from bad to worse.

In late September, the story of Cong. Mark Foley (R) and a series of improper emails and instant messages to former congressional pages began to unfold. Foley quickly resigned his office on September 29, but the subsequent “blame game” and finger pointing among the House Republican Leadership simply added to the woes of the party.

While Foley’s name remained on the ballot in Florida’s 16th district, Republicans quickly rallied around state Rep. Joe Negron (R) and the motto “Punch Foley for Joe,” in an effort to salvage the seat. In the end, Democratic businessman Tim Mahoney prevailed, but his slim 49%-48% margin was remarkable under the circumstances.

Now, the district is one of the Republicans’ top five targets nationwide at this very early stage in the election cycle. And a handful of GOP candidates are vying for the opportunity to pull the seat back into their party’s column.

The rest of the story includes the lay of the land and candidate bios as well as a look at both the Republican primary and the general election.

North Carolina 8: Second Chances?

Go ahead and engrave Robin Hayes’s name in stone on Democratic target lists. Since his initial election in 1998, Democrats have droned on about the impending defeat of the North Carolina congressman. After casting the deciding vote on a free trade bill in 2001, the Republican congressman has been considered endangered. Yet he continues to win reelection.

But 2008 might actually be different. Hayes is in for another tough fight, and his fate could well depend both on the national environment and his own ability to out-campaign and out-work his repeat opponent.

Last cycle, the early favorite for the Democratic nomination dropped out, and national Democrats removed the 8th District from their target lists. Meanwhile, high school teacher Larry Kissell mounted a grassroots campaign and came just 329 votes shy of finally knocking off the congressman.

Even after gaining 30 seats last cycle, Democrats are kicking themselves for leaving this one on the table and are working early and often to help Kissell in his rematch bid. There is a small chance other Democrats will get into the race, but Kissell’s performance last year makes him the early favorite for the nomination among local and national Democrats.

Hayes may have survived the worst political landscape of his congressional career, but the population growth in North Carolina, and the 8th District, may pose a different challenge.

The rest of the story includes the lay of the land and candidate bios as well as a look at the general election.