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GOP, Democrats fight for control of Congress

Two years ago, Democrats wrested control of Congress from Republicans. Today, they are expected to expand their House and Senate majorities.

Senate Democrats, who hold a 51-49 majority with the help of two independents, hope to wind up with the 60 seats they need to overcome any Republican-led filibusters, a threshold they have not reached since Jimmy Carter was president.

In the House, Democrats outnumber Republicans 235 to 199, with one vacancy, and are projected to add 20 to 30 seats – maybe more.

Some key races:

NORTH CAROLINA: Sen. Elizabeth Dole faces a strong challenge from Democrat Kay Hagan, a state senator, in an increasingly nasty race. Dole aired an ad tying Hagan to an atheist group. Hagan responded by suggesting that Dole was “bearing false witness against fellow Christians.”

MINNESOTA: Republican Sen. Norm Coleman accused opponent Al Franken of secretly orchestrating a lawsuit alleging that Coleman's wife received $75,000 for no-show consulting work. Franken rejected the charge. Republicans are airing ads accusing Franken of not being “fit for office” because of his past satirical writings.

ALABAMA: Jay Love, the Republican candidate for the 2nd District House seat, is attempting to portray opponent Bobby Bright as too liberal. But the Montgomery mayor stands a good chance of becoming the first Democrat in decades to win this seat.

ALASKA: Can Republican Ted Stevens win re-election after his conviction on corruption charges? If he defeats Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, he is likely to face an expulsion vote.

CONNECTICUT: Rep. Christopher Shays is trying to hang on as the last Republican House member from New England. He faces Democrat Jim Himes, a former Goldman Sachs banker.

GEORGIA: Just months ago, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss appeared to be cruising to re-election. But a bad economy, President Bush's unpopularity and prospects for a surge in black voting have given Democrat Jim Martin a good shot.

INDIANA: Round 4 in the long fight between Democrat Rep. Baron Hill and Republican Mike Sodrel. Hill won the seat in 2002, Sodrel in 2004 in a victory attributed to Bush's coattails. Hill took it back in the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress.

NEW YORK: It's not entirely a cakewalk for Democrats this year. Just ask first-term Democrat Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of a number of Democrats fighting to hold on to their seats this year. She faces a strong challenge from Sandy Treadwell, a former New York secretary of state.

OREGON: Gordon Smith, the West Coast's only Republican senator, has run a TV ad to tie himself to Obama, who is expected to carry the state. Never mind that Obama has endorsed Democrat Jeff Merkley, speaker of the state House.

TEXAS: Democrat Nick Lampson lost his House seat in the redrawing of district boundaries engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Then he came back to win DeLay's old seat in 2006. But Lampson faces a strong challenge from Republican Pete Olson, a former Senate staffer.

WYOMING: Republicans have held the state's lone House seat since Vice President Dick Cheney won it from a Democrat in 1978. Democrat Gary Trauner has a shot at defeating Republican Cynthia Lummis to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin.

The Washington Post contributed
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