North Shore Showdown

Kirk and Seals go down to the wire

Is the congressional race between Republican incumbent Mark Kirk and Democratic challenger Dan Seals tightening?

Who knows!

But CQ Politics just switched the contest from "Leaning Republican" to "No Clear Favorite."

"The re-rating of this race isn't due to any slip-up by four-term moderate Republican Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, who hasn't made any missteps in the rematch of the 2006 race in which he defeated Democrat Dan Seals by 7 percentage points. Kirk is exceptionally well-funded, with $4.8 million raised through Oct. 15, and he’s touting a voting record that is among the most independent-minded among House Republicans. History also shows that many rematch challengers do worse on their second try.

"But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Seals is running closer to Kirk than he did two years ago in a slightly Democratic-leaning swing district that includes some affluent suburbs north of Chicago. Seals began his second campaign not long after he lost his first, which helps explain why he's raised more than $3 million, one of the highest totals in the nation for a challenging candidate. The DCCC, which gave Seals' 2006 campaign very limited assistance, has spent more than $1 million on this year's race. And if there is a coattails effect anywhere from Obama's presidential bid, it should be in this district in the Illinois senator's home state - which even in 2004 favored Democrat John Kerry for president over Bush by 5 percentage points."Progress Illinois, a blog funded by the SEIU whose agenda is to help get Democrats elected, notes that the Cook Political Report moved this race back into the "toss-up" column last week after saying in September that the race leaned Kirk's way.

Rich Miller writes on his Capitol Fax Blog that "Democratic poll reportedly has Dan Seals leading Republican Congresscritter Mark Kirk by about a point. GOP polls have Kirk up by 4-5 points."

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