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New York-20: Sweeney vs. Gillibrand

This Hudson River district has been represented by Republican John Sweeney since 1998. He won handily in 2004, 2002 and 2000. This time around, he is facing a well-financed, albeit inexperienced, challenger in Kirsten Gillibrand - who is receiving tactical advice from the Clinton operation. The district went for Bush in both 2000 and 2004. Its place on our list is largely due to the financial prowess of Gillibrand, which in turn has to do with the weaknesses of the Sweeney campaign. He has been in ill-health, and as late as May it was still a question as to whether he would even run for reelection.

Apparently his illness did not prevent him from attending a frat party at Union College on April, 21 - at which he was reportedly intoxicated. It is one thing for a 23-year old Super Bowl star to "drink like a champion," but when an ill-of-health member of the House Appropriations Committee allegedly does so (and, minimally, puts himself in a position where people can make such an allegation) - that is political trouble. If Sweeney goes from winning by 32% in 2004 to losing in 2006, his evening at the Alpha Delta Phi House will probably be a key reason.

Good news for Sweeney came just prior to Labor Day - as a Siena Research poll found him up by 19%. This despite his bad press and the activity of the Gillibrand campaign.