The latest Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” report is changing their rating for several races for the House of Representatives in 2018 with incumbent Democrats. As a result, the rating of the race between Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI3) and Steve Toft changed from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic.
“If a Democrat was in the White House, many or all of these members would be Republican targets,” said Kyle Kondik, the managing editor, in the report sent out Thursday. “Republicans still hope to push many of them this fall, but we’re just skeptical of their ability to do so given history and the overall environment.”
The “Crystal Ball” is from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and is a nationally recognized source of political analysis and predictions for every House and Senate race, as well as gubernatorial elections and presidential campaigns.
According to Kondik, the Democratic candidates are largely free from scandal this year, and Democrats so far are “running on average 13 points ahead of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 margin in the nearly 90 races held so far featuring a Democrat and a Republican.”
The change in ratings for 26 races all favor the Democrats. For the first time in the Crystal Ball ratings this year, fewer than a majority of the House seats are rated as “Leans Republican.”
Kind has been a member of the House of Representatives since 1997 and, according to Wisconsin Public Radio, “has won eight out of nine of his last re-election bids by 13 percentage points or more.” Republicans did not field a candidate in 2016.
However, Republicans are optimistic about their candidate this year. Toft is a retired army colonel who served combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Toft provides a strong contrast to Kind who has been caught up in the Tomah VA Hospital scandal. Ryan Honl, the whistleblower who helped bring the conditions of the Tomah VA Hospital to the public’s attention, was sharply critical of Kind’s inaction following a report on the hospital. “It is a tragedy,” said Honl in an interview on the Vicki McKenna show in 2016. “Ron Kind has involvement in turning away and listening to (VA) leadership more than whistleblowers going all the way back to 2008. It’s well documented.”
President Donald Trump beat Clinton in the third congressional district, 49.3 percent to 44.8 percent.