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Top House races to watch

The closest House races around the country fall into three categories: Contests between incumbents, pitted against each other after district lines were redrawn to reflect the 2000 census; races in which an incumbent faces a strong challenger, often because of redistricting, and contests for open seats, where no incumbent is running. Here are the races rated as among the most competitive by the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan publication that analyzes congressional elections.

October 28, 2002

Incumbent vs. incumbent

Connecticut

Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (R) versus Rep. James M. Maloney (D). A moderate, Johnson has the edge in a campaign in which corporate accountability has been a local issue: Toolmaker Stanley Works had threatened to move its headquarters to Bermuda from the district's core in New Britain.

Illinois

Rep. David D. Phelps (D) versus Rep. John Shimkus (R). This contest in the southern part of the state is tightening, in part because Republicans statewide are saddled with the troubles of the scandal-tainted Gov. George Ryan.

Mississippi

Rep. Charles W. "Chip" Pickering (R) versus Rep. Ronnie Shows (D). Pickering is favored to win in a district in the central part of the state that gives Republicans a distinct advantage.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 30, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 ..CF: Y 11 inches; 420 words Type of Material: Correction
Jack Conway -- A chart accompanying a story in Section A Monday on key U.S. House election contests misidentified Jack Conway, a candidate running against Rep. Anne M. Northup (R-Ky.), as a Republican. Conway is a Democrat.

Pennsylvania

Rep. George W. Gekas (R) versus Rep. Tim Holden (D). Holden is running a strong race in a district near Harrisburg. Gekas had not faced a tough contest in years and was slow to respond to Holden's challenge.

Vulnerable incumbents

Florida

Rep. Karen L. Thurman (D) versus state Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite (R). Thurman was thrown into political jeopardy by redistricting, which gave her new territory in Central Florida.

Iowa

Rep. James A. Leach (R) versus Julie Thomas (D). Leach, a 13-term incumbent, faces a tough fight in a redrawn district. The district, in the state's southeastern corner, is more heavily Democratic than Leach's previous one.

Kentucky

Rep. Anne M. Northup (R) versus Jack Conway (R). Northup, a three-term incumbent, always has had to run hard in this Louisville-based district, and Conway has mounted a strong effort.

Minnesota

Rep. Bill Luther (D) versus John Kline (R). This is a rematch of a 2000 contest, which Luther won by fewer than 6,000 votes. The district is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs.

Maryland

Rep. Constance A. Morella (R) versus state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen (D).

Morella has won eight terms in a largely liberal district by frequently breaking with her party in Congress. But the district, in suburbs north of Washington, was made even more Democratic, and she faces the fight of her political life.

Open seats

Alabama (eastern)

State Rep. Mike Rogers (R) versus Joe Turnham (D), a former House nominee.

Colorado (northern Denver suburbs)

Bob Beauprez (R), former state GOP chairman, versus Mike Feeley (D), former state senator.

Georgia (southeast)

Max Burns (D), professor, versus Charles Walker Jr. (R), businessman.

Indiana (north-central)

Chris Chocola (R), businessman, versus Jill Long Thompson (R), former House member.

Maine (northern)

State Sen. Michael Michaud (D) versus Kevin Raye (R), former U.S. Senate aide.

Maryland (north of Baltimore)

Former Rep. Helen Bentley (R) versus Dutch Ruppersberger (D), Baltimore County executive.

New Mexico (southern)

Former state Rep. Steve Pearce (R) versus state Sen. John Arthur Smith (D).

South Dakota

Stephanie Herseth (D), attorney, versus Gov. William Janklow (R).

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