by Craig Dimitri
U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R., Pa.) is facing his first serious challenge, since he initially won the seat in 1986.  The 7th District, which is composed mainly of Delaware County in Philadelphia’s western suburbs, has voted for Democratic presidential candidates since 1992, but has consistently supported Weldon’s re-election by wide margins.  In 2004, Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry won the district with 53% of the vote, while at the same time, the Republican incumbent Weldon was re-elected with 59% of the vote, running 12% ahead of George W. Bush.


However, Democratic challenger Joe Sestak is mounting a formidable campaign to take this formerly safe seat from the GOP.  With very few of the nation’s 435 House seats being truly competitive, the Pa. 7th district represents an opportunity to seize what Republicans thought was a bedrock-safe GOP district, as recently as 2005.  


In an ominous sign for Weldon’s campaign, Congressional Quarterly has shifted this race into its “Lean Democratic” category, which is very perilous terrain for any GOP House incumbent, let alone one who is seeking re-election to his 11th term in office.  Weldon is one of only three House Republican incumbents in that category; thus, he is considered to be in greater danger than all but two other House Republicans seeking re-election.  The only two other Republican incumbents in equal danger, are Rep. Tom Reynolds, representing New York’s 26th District, and Rep. John Hostettler, representing Indiana’s 8th District.


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