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CQ Politics says a couple of Illinois congressional races are tightening

May 16, 2010

A second Illinois congressional race has moved into Congressional Quarterly’s category of being too close to call.

CQ Politics now ranks the 14th Congressional District battle between incumbent Democrat Bill Foster and Republican challenger Randy Hultgren as a “toss up.”

Foster’s victories in a March 2008 special election and the November general elction gave a real lift to his party, since the district was designed to be safely Republican by his predecessor, former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. This year, the GOP claims it has a much stronger challenger in state Sen. Randy Hultgren, though he’ll have to pick up his fundraising pace after trailing Foster by $1.3 million to $108,000 in cash on hand as of March 31.

The district which stretches from Chicago, west along I-88 to nearly the Quad Cities was in a “lean Democrat” position.   CQ Politics editor says the website changed the ratings Saturday of 17 congressional districts where he feels Republicans now have improved chances to win as a result of a backlash against Democratic policies and President Obama.

The Republican Party’s chances improved in 12 districts held by Democratic incumbents: Jim Himes of Connecticut; Allen Boyd of Florida; Debbie Halvorson and Bill Foster of Illinois; John Yarmuth of Kentucky; Ike Skelton of Missouri; Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire; Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; Timothy H. Bishop and Michael Arcuri of New York; Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota; and Chet Edwards of Texas.

The ratings also suggest that the GOP has solidified its hold on seats defended by four of its incumbents – Doug Young of Alaska; Erik Paulsen and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota; and Lee Terry of Nebraska – as well as the South Carolina seat left open by retiring Rep. Henry E. Brown Jr.

Congresswoman Halvorson faces Republican Adam Kinzinger in November.   Kinzinger’s challenge and the atmosphere has pushed the 11th District from a “likely Democratic” to a “leans Democratic” rating.

Halvorson is a seasoned campaigner who segued to Congress with a 2008 open-seat win from 12 years in the state Senate, the last four of those as the chamber’s majority leader. But her easy race two years ago was abetted by a turnout surge for Obama, who was serving as a senator from Illinois when he ran for president, and a Republican candidate snafu. Adam Kinzinger, her youthful Republican challenger, has a bio that includes stints in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Air National Guard flyer. And while he hasn’t raised nearly as much money as the well-prepared incumbent, he has enough to make a go of it.

The 10th Congressional District, currently represented  by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk, has long been considered a toss up between Democrat Dan Seals and Republican Bob Dold.   All other Illinois congressional races are not considered to be hotly contested.

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