King political prognosticator Charlie Cook has switched his ranking for Missouri's 4th Congressional District race from "a likely Democratic seat" to "a lean Democratic seat" in 2010.
The move is minor, and still favors Rep. Ike Skelton. But it's also significant for Republicans who believe they're gaining momentum against a longtime incumbent who hasn't had a competitive race in years.
From THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT:
"Either Republican currently running, former state Rep. Vicky Hartzler or state Sen. Bill Stouffer, will be Skelton's best-funded opponent ever. Each of them possesses a six year state legislative record for Skelton to pick apart, but if voters here are angry at Obama, they will want to talk more about Skelton's votes for major Democratic initiatives," writes Cook.
"Skelton is an institution whose traditional overwhelming crossover appeal will make him tougher to beat than other senior Democrats. Plus, conservative voters here will be able to send Washington a message in the competitive Senate race if they choose. But the district's deep conservatism gives Republicans' "time for change" message room to grow," Cook concludes.
Republicans point to Skelton's recent opposition to the House healthcare bill as evidence he's worried about the turbulent political environment.
PLUS: SKELTON LAUNCHES NEW CAMPAIGN SITE
The Skelton campaign unveiled a new website Thursday that includes "new online organizing tools and social networking capabilities." CLICK HERE.