There’s a reason the five top defense firms spent the majority of their campaign contributions on House and Senate races rather than the presidential contest. Defense executives know where their bread is buttered. Congress is authorized to approve the defense budget.
While the rest of the nation spends Tuesday with a keen eye on Ohio exit polls, defense companies will focus on the tight House and Senate races in which industry champions like U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R- MA, and U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, D-NC, face uncertainty in retaining their seats in Congress.
These champions are the saviors to the expensive weapons programs that military leaders say they don’t want, yet remain in the budget. Senators and congressmen benefit as well as the defense industry has so skillfully spread defense industry jobs into so many congressional districts.
It’s easy to predict what topics a lawmakers will want to discuss at any defense hearing on Capitol Hill. Just look up their district and figure out what rifle, tank or jet fighter that district is producing. That program will most often be the topic of their line of questioning. This is why hearings on Afghanistan or Iraq often quickly devolve into stump speeches on completely separate weapons programs.
Some of these champions may disappear Tuesday, but rest assured it won’t take long before their replacements quickly take up the cause. DoDBuzz turned to Kyle Kondik at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics to see which Congressmen and Senators with connections to the military look to be in the most trouble to lose their re-election bids heading into Tuesday.
A lifelong fan of the Cleveland Browns and a known supporter of Virginia athletics, Kondik certainly knows a loser when he sees one. Below are his predictions:
If this were a midterm year, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) would probably be a favorite to survive, but the blue wave in Massachusetts is expected to wash him away and sweep in Elizabeth Warren (D). There are already rumblings that Sen. John Kerry (D) might be passed over for secretary of state in a hypothetical second Obama term in order to prevent a defeated Brown from again running for and winning an open seat in a special election, as he did — surprisingly — in early 2010.
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the Missouri Senate race after making his controversial comments about “legitimate rape.” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is remarkably unpopular, and Missouri is getting more Republican, so Akin has a chance, but McCaskill is definitely favored to retain her seat.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) — After Maryland Democrats dismantled his district, Bartlett became perhaps the most endangered Republican incumbent in the nation. No one in either party thinks he can win.
Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) has run a very strong race, but he faces an uphill battle in a tight contest with state Sen. David Rouzer even though he has gone to great pains to emphasize his conservatism in his Republican-leaning district.
Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) saw his district redrawn by Tar Heel State Republicans, and he has essentially been written off as a likely loss by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL) is locked in a highly competitive race, but Democrats in the Land of Lincoln redrew his district with the expressed purpose of defeating him, and Democrat Cheri Bustos is slightly favored to finish the deal.
Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) made headlines for winning a conservative, open seat in Western New York last year, and she is a stronger candidate than her opponent, ex-Erie County Executive Chris Collins. But this is the most Republican district in the Empire State, and Hochul is going to have a hard time hanging on.
OTHERS ENDANGERED BUT FAVORED TO WIN: Reps. Allen West (R-FL), John Kline (R-MN), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Jon Runyan (R-NJ), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Bill Owens (D-NY), Mark Critz (D-PA), Betty Sutton (D-OH),
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) was defeated in a primary.