Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
State: Missouri 4th – Rep. Ike Skelton (D) is seeking an 18th term.
Date of primary: August 3, 2010
Location: West central Missouri
Days until Election Day: 74
Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is seeking his 18th term in office. The 78-year-old congressman has held the seat for decades despite national trends, but can he win in a year when anti-incumbency fervor is high and a president he has supported is increasingly unpopular?
The 4th district encompasses mostly rural counties in the west-central part of Missouri, from the Kansas border on the west to Jefferson City, the state capital, on the eastern edge. It bypasses Springfield entirely and only brushes up against the Kansas City area on the slow-growing southern side of that region.
The region is fairly conservative; more than six in 10 voters in the district chose John McCain and George W. Bush in the past two elections. But Skelton has managed to create appeal across party lines.
"Not even the 1994 Republican wave threatened Skelton," according to an analysis of the race by the Cook Political Report. "[Skelton] has not taken less than 62 percent of the vote since he was first elected in 1976.
"But this primarily rural district has never been as hostile to 'national' Democrats as it is today."
Skelton has supported some of Obama's major pieces of legislation, while voting against others.
Skelton voted for Obama's stimulus bill and a "cap and trade" energy bill passed by House Democrats. However, he voted against the Wall Street reform bill and the health care reform bill.
Republican Vicky Hartzler, from Harrisonville in Cass County, will try to unseat Skelton this fall. She served for six years as a state representative and retired when she became a mother.
Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, endorsed Hartzler recently, describing her as a "dynamic commonsense conservative."
"She ran an underdog campaign to win her primary and is now determined to challenge a 17-term Democrat incumbent who has long lost touch with the good people of Missouri," Palin wrote on her Facebook page.
Skelton currently holds a financial advantage in the race, but such endorsements may help Hartzler close the money gap as Election Day nears. Skelton currently has $1.36 million cash-on-hand, and Hartzler has nearly $242,000 in the bank, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.
If the national trends are correct and the political observers are accurate in their assessments, Skelton has a race on his hands this year.
"Skelton is in uncharted territory," the Cook Political Report says. "And this is likely to be the most competitive, and certainly symbolic, race in the state."