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Hot Senate and House Race Predictions

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Oct. 30, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. ET

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Welcome back to “The Beltway Boys,” coming to you from New York City.

On to the battle for the House of Representatives (search). Right now, Republicans have the majority, though current lineup is 229 Republicans, 205 Democrats, and one independent, Bernie Sanders, who votes Democratic.

Now let’s take a look at a couple of the hot races.

We begin in Texas 32. Redistricting pits two incumbents against each other, Democrat Martin Frost and Republican Pete Sessions. Our prediction, sadly, from my standpoint, Sessions wins.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Yes, not from mine. But look, the truth is, Republicans (search), when they reapportioned the congressional seats, really stacked the deck against Martin Frost. I mean, this is a district that’s hostile to a Democrat (search), yet he’s run a very strong race. Amazingly, he’s close.

KONDRACKE: Yes, it’s the most expensive House race in the country.

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: Now, the tragedy of this, and the tragedy in all these three races that we’re going to feature is that moderates are going to lose. I mean, here, Martin Frost is a moderate Democrat. They are a dying, dying breed, you know, the Democratic caucus.

BARNES: All right, let me move on.

The next race to watch is Connecticut 2, Democratic challenger Jim Sullivan versus Republican incumbent Rob Simmons, a former CIA agent. Our prediction, the Democrat Sullivan wins.

KONDRACKE: Again. Another case, a Republican moderate has been aced out by a Democratic legislature which redistricted his seat to make it more hospitable to a Democrat. You know, it’s the same old pattern.

BARNES: On the other hand, the other Democrat, Republican who’s vulnerable is Phil Crane in Illinois, who’s a very conservative Republican.  So you probably won’t weep about that one, huh?

KONDRACKE: No. Okay.

And George Clooney’s father, Nick, is running for the House seat in Kentucky 4, which is an open seat. Nick Clooney (search), a Democrat faces Republican Jeff Davis. Our prediction is that Jeff Davis will win, the Republican.

BARNES: Yes, well, look, this is a conservative seat. It was held by a moderate to conservative Democrat, Ken Lucas, who retired. Jim Bunning, the senator, used to have this seat, and it’s just not hospitable to a liberal like Clooney, who’s actually run a pretty good race, brought his son in, and so on.

KONDRACKE: Right. Ken Lucas is gone, another moderate gone.

BARNES: All right. So here’s how we think it’s going to look Tuesday night. The Republicans will retain their majority in the House and pick up an additional three seats.

So the Republicans will have 232 seats, that’s an operational majority for sure. Democrats will have 202 seats and one independent, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

KONDRACKE: Coming up, we’ll tell you who’s going to control the Senate and we’ll look at some, at all the key races. That’s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARNES: Welcome back to “The Beltway Boys” from Fox News Channel headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

The battle for the Senate is fierce this election cycle. Right now, Republicans are in the majority. They have 51 seats, Democrats have 48.  And there’s an independent that sides with Democrats, that’s Jim Jeffords of Vermont.

Let’s look at the races to watch Tuesday night. There are a whole slew of them in the South.

We begin in North Carolina. John Edwards vacated his Senate seat to run for vice president. The race pits Democrat Erskine Bowles, a White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, against Republican Congressman Richard Burr. Our prediction, Republican Richard Burr wins.

KONDRACKE: It looked for a long time as though Bowles was actually going to win this seat, but it’s reverted to Republican strength and that word, Clinton, has hurt Bowles a lot.

BARNES: It has. And Burr is winning the Jessiecrats, those Democrat, conservative Democrats who used to vote for Jesse Helms. And, and that’s why he’s going to win. Okay.

There’s an open seat in South Carolina as well. Democrat Fritz Hollings, one of Mort’s favorites, is retiring. That race is between Democrat Inez Tenenbaum and Republican Congressman Jim DeMint. Our prediction, Republican DeMint wins.

KONDRACKE: In spite of the fact that he says that gays shouldn’t be allowed to teach in public schools, in spite of the fact that he’s in favor of a national sales tax, which would be probably 23 percent, which Tenenbaum has used against him, he’s still going to win.

BARNES: Yes, yes, brave, well, it’s a very Republican state now, and bravely, he’s a free trader and she’s a protectionist. And that’s helped her some, made it closer than it should in a Republican state. All right.

Georgia should be a Republican pickup. Democrat Zell Miller’s retiring. The contest is between Democrat Denise Majette and Republican Congressman Johnny Isakson. Our prediction, slam-dunk for Republican Johnny Isakson.

KONDRACKE: And as you’ve pointed out many times, he is actually going to be more moderate than, than the Democrat he replaces, Zell Miller (search).

BARNES: I will miss Zell Miller, but since you’re a champion of moderates, you must be cheering.

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, Johnny Isakson, there’s hope for him.

BARNES: All right. It’s, it’s close in Florida for that open Senate seat. Democrat Bob Graham is retiring. It’s Democrat Betty Castor versus Republican Mel Martinez. Our prediction, Republican Mel Martinez wins, barely.

KONDRACKE: Yes, Betty Castor’s a good candidate, and, you know, this is as, as close as any race is. We’re picking Mel Martinez on the strength of, of Cuban and, and other Hispanic turnout.

BARNES: Well, he’s also been a, a good candidate. What’s the issue there? Terrorism, whether she had done enough to deal with a, a professor at the University of South Florida when she was the president who turned out to be indicted for raising money for terrorists. And that is the issue. It is a 9/11 election in Florida.

In Louisiana, there are three people vying for the seat being vacated by Democrat John Breaux. The field, Democrats Chris John and John Kennedy versus Republican Congressman David Vitter. Our prediction, Republican David Vitter wins, but he won’t get above 50 percent, so he’ll face a December runoff, which we think he’ll win.

KONDRACKE: Right, it’ll be, I think it’ll be Vitter versus John in the, in the December runoff, and, and Vitter will win.

BARNES: Yes. Yes, Vitter’s a very, very impressive candidate, and Republicans are slowly, Louisiana’s one of the last Southern states to really move strongly in a Republican direction, and it is moving. Bobby Jindal, who barely lost the governor’s race, is going to win a House seat.

KONDRACKE: The Alaska race is tight. Incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski is seeking a full term. She faces former Democratic governor Tony Knowles. Our prediction, Democrat Tony Knowles will win.

BARNES: You know, Lisa Murkowski would win if she had any other name Murkowski. Her father, Frank Murkowski, who’s the governor, appointed her. You know, people hate that kind of nepotism, and that’s why she’s probably not going to win it.

KONDRACKE: And Frank Murkowski, who had been a popular senator all those years, turns out to be an unpopular governor.

Colorado is an open seat too. Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell is retiring. The race is between Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar versus beer magnate Pete Coors (search). Our prediction, we think Pete Coors is going to win.

BARNES: Normally, when Republicans pick out some business leader to run for Senate or a House seat, some guy who has never, or woman who has never run for office before, they turn out to be lousy candidates. Pete Coors has been better than that. And, you know, it’s a lot about marketing.

KONDRACKE: Yes, of all, of all of our predictions, this is the one I’m, I’m least sure about.

BARNES: Yes, me too, yes.

KONDRACKE: Ken Salazar has been, has been ahead in a lot of polls, and Colorado’s even closer the presidential race.

BARNES: Yes, but remember a couple years ago, Wayne Allard was reelected as the Republican. He never led in any polls.

KONDRACKE: You’re right. OK, Democrats will certainly pick up the Senate seat in Illinois. Republican Peter Fitzgerald is retiring, Democrat Barack Obama (search) faces Republican Alan Keyes, who is an outsider. Our prediction, Barack Obama wins by miles.

BARNES: And he will be the, the top African-American elected official in America as a result, and I think he’s going to be elbowing aside Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. We’ll, we’re going to see and hear a lot from Barack Obama.

KONDRACKE: We surely are. And I would think that he’s going to be on the short list for national office quite soon.

BARNES: Indeed, indeed.

KONDRACKE: If he’s, if he’s any good as a senator.

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: The Kentucky race is closer than predicted. Democrat Daniel Mongiardo is challenging incumbent Republican Senator Jim Bunning.  Our prediction, Bunning will pull it out.

BARNES: You know, Bunning is a tough guy. I like him. And he, you know, he’s a guy who threw no-hitters as a major league pitcher. You remember that, of course, in the American League and the National League, he even threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox. I remember that painfully. But it was a little better for them this year.

KONDRACKE: You know, I mean, Bunning said that Mongiardo looked like one of Saddam Hussein’s sons. I mean, you know, very quirky.

BARNES: Yes, was it Uday or was it...

KONDRACKE: Qusay.

(LAUGHTER)

BARNES: Go ahead.

KONDRACKE: All right. Oklahoma is an open seat. Republican Don Nichols is retiring. The Democratic candidate is Brad Carson, a former Rhodes Scholar, versus former Republican congressman Tom Coburn. Our prediction, Coburn wins.

BARNES: Look, Coburn’s going to win because George Bush is going to win that state probably by 30 points or more. Brad Carson is as good a Democratic candidate in a very conservative Republican state as you could possibly get, one of the first things he did months ago was to come out with an ad on television endorsing the constitutional amendment to, you know, preserve regular traditional marriage.

And he’s concentrated recently on, on pork for Oklahoma, which he said correctly that Coburn, as a congressman, voted against, which is one of the reasons I like Coburn, actually.

KONDRACKE: Good, Coburn, Coburn is also quirky. I mean, he’s talking about lesbians running rampant in the Oklahoma City schools. I mean, what is that all about? Death for abortionists?

(LAUGHTER)

KONDRACKE: Weird man. Okay.

BARNES: You don’t like those, huh?

KONDRACKE: I don’t. All right.

And South Dakota, this is the close one of all between Senate minority leader Tom Daschle and former Republican congressman John Thune. Our prediction, Daschle wins.

BARNES: You know, I feel a little bit uncomfortable about this, because Thune has rallied in a couple of polls recently, and is maybe, in three of them, ahead of Daschle. I think both of us agree that Daschle is, is so resourceful, even though it’s a conservative Republican state, that he will win, Daschle.

There are two faces of Tom Daschle, there’s one in Washington, and when he gets out in South Dakota, he’s a different guy. Among other things, he’s saying abortion should not be allowed, even though back in Washington, he, he’s friends with NARAL.

KONDRACKE: Well, this one Thune ad points out, has Daschle being quoted saying that trial lawyers are wonderful.

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: That doesn’t go over too well either.

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: But I still think Daschle’s going to win.

So here is “The Beltway Boys” prediction for the Senate.  Republicans hang onto control but still don’t have an operational majority, which is 60 votes. The GOP will pick up net three seats, giving them a total of 54, and Democrats will have 45, there’ll be one independent.

BARNES: The buzz is up next. Don’t go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KONDRACKE: Here’s the buzz, Fred.

You know, I’ve been predicting that Bush was going to come up with a killer ad quoting John Kerry on "Face the Nation" in September talking about the $87 billion, in which he said, "I don’t think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running. That’s irresponsible."

BARNES: But where’s the ad?

KONDRACKE: That took me 10 seconds to read.

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: But the Bush people, and, of course, Kerry voted against the $87 billion one month later. That took 10 seconds to read. The Bush people can’t put an ad together to put into a 30-second commercial. I do not understand that. I think that is a wasted opportunity that really could have helped them a lot in the is campaign.

BARNES: Yes, I agree, I still don’t get it.

Look, Mort, you, do you know what the sleeper issue is in this campaign?

KONDRACKE: No. What?

BARNES: I thought you might. It’s same-sex marriage.

KONDRACKE: Ah.

BARNES: Now, the candidates haven’t talked about it much, Bush has a little in the last week of the campaign. Eleven states have referendums, or referenda, that would preserve marriage as only between a man and a woman, 11 states. Three of them matter, Ohio, Michigan, and Oregon, all battleground states, particularly Michigan and Ohio.

Now, we’re predicting Bush is going to lose Ohio. But this could bring out the, a bigger vote and particularly bring some Democrats over to Bush. Wait and see.

KONDRACKE: I think the sleeper issue is stem cells (search).

BARNES: All right. That’s all for “The Beltway Boys,” this week.  Fox News Channel election night coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, and we’ll be there.

KONDRACKE: And join us next week when “The Boys” will be back in town.  That’s Washington, D.C.

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