Michele Bachmann's path to re-election has gotten a lot bumpier than you might expect, reports Politico. It digs into the Minnesota rep's bid to hang onto her seat against a challenge from hotel exec Jim Graves, and finds that even with "off-the-charts" name recognition, more than $12 million in campaign cash, and a freshly redrawn district that bears "an 8-point Republican registration edge," the race is far from a slam-dunk. A recent poll shows her up 51% to 45%, perhaps in part due to Graves' efforts: He's called her "distracted by her own celebrity," swung at her presidential-primary emphasis on her Iowa birthplace, and has flooded the district with pamphlets claiming she "burns bridges"—though he acknowledges he's a "serious underdog."
Politico looks at other tight and "nasty" races, with a specific eye on the Senate, which could flip to GOP control if the party can achieve a net gain of four seats (three if Romney wins):
- In Nevada, GOP Sen. Dean Heller has called challenger Shelley Berkley the "most unethical, corrupt person I’ve ever met in my life." For her part, Berkley has run ads tying Heller to a drug trafficker.
- In Arizona, Rep. Jeff Flake is battling Democrat Richard Carmona in a close race for the retiring GOP Sen. Jon Kyl's seat. GOP ads note that a perk-obsessed Carmona made his staff collect his dry cleaning; Democratic ads claim Flake "voted to kick cancer patients out of the hospital."
- In Montana, Democrat Sen. Jon Tester is hitting at challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg by way of a report containing fresh details on a 2009 boating accident. (Rehberg was a passenger on a boat driven by former state Sen. Greg Barkus, who had a blood alcohol level of 0.16.) Rehberg has called Tester an Obama "twin."
Click for more on the heated Wisconsin race
between Tammy Baldwin and Tommy Thompson, who have each attacked the other's post-Sept. 11 behavior.