Four races to watch tonight

Today is election day, and by late tonight Congress may have a very different look if projections of major Republican gains in the House and Senate hold up. For space policy watchers, there are a handful of races to take note of as the results roll in:

**Florida 24th District:** one of the few places in the country where space policy is a major campaign issue, thanks to the presence of the Kennedy Space Center, Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D) is in danger of losing to Republican challenger Sandy Adams (the _New York Times’s_ FiveThirtyEight gives Kosmas only an 18% chance of winning reelection today.) Kosmas has been a supporter of the agency’s new direction as defined in the NASA authorization bill passed this fall, while Adams has been more vague on the subject, pushing for a shuttle extension that is highly problematic, at best, at this late stage, as they discussed in recent interviews in the _Daytona Beach News-Journal_.

**Alabama 5th District:** Mo Brooks (R) and Steve Raby (D) are running to succeed Parker Griffith, the Democrat-turned-Republican who lost to Brooks in the Republican primary for the district that includes the Marshall Space Flight Center. _[The original version of this post incorrectly identified the current representative of the district.]_ In a recent debate the two candidates took questionable stands on space issues, with Brooks claiming he would be named to at least two key committees that govern NASA funding (only the appropriations committee handles this) while Raby said he would seek to extend the shuttle program (and, on his web site, vowing to defeat the proposal to end Constellation, which has been effectively ended by the new authorization bill). FiveThirtyEight suggests that Brooks is heavily favored to win.

**Arizona 8th District:** while not a “space” district, it is home to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), current chair of the space subcommittee of the House Science and Technology committee. Giffords is in a tight race for reelection against Republican Jesse Kelly; projections have Giffords with a narrow but growing lead. However, even if Giffords wins reelection, it looks likely she will lose her chairmanship of the subcommittee with Republicans expected to take control of the House.

**Florida 8th District:** Rep. Alan Grayson (D) does sit on the House Science and Technology Committee and has become famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for critical questioning of NASA administrator Charles Bolden in one hearing and for colorful rhetoric (calling the commercial crew development program in the NASA budget proposal “the epitome of socialism and corporate welfare”). Grayson is behind in the polls to his Republican challenger, Daniel Webster, although space policy hasn’t played a noticeable role.

Many other races that involve key House and Senate members on space issues aren’t nearly as competitive. For example, in the Senate, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the CJS subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of that subcommittee; and David Vitter (R-LA), ranking member of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, are all up for reelection today, but all are expected to win easily (FiveThirtyEight, for example, gives Mikulski and Shelby 100% chances to win, while Vitter is given 99.5% odds of winning.)

In the House, Reps. Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Pete Olson (R-TX), the ranking members of the full House Science and Technology Committee and its space subcommittee, respectively, are expected to win easily, and would be in line to chair those committees assuming Republicans to gain control of the House tonight.

URL: http://www.spacepolitics.com/2010/11/02/four-races-to-watch-tonight/

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