So here’s a preview of the US Senate elections. It’s important to know who is up for reelection in 2012, as we look for the Senators who’s votes are “most up for grabs” on the policy that will be decided by the Reid Senate over the next two years.
Democratic Held Seats
Come 2012, Dianne Feinstein will have been Senator for 20 years, and will be 79 years old. Widely regarded as an “institution” in California, Feinstein ramped hapless Former Arcadia Mayor and Republican Dick Mountjoy by 24 points in 2006. At a Boxer rally shortly before the election, Feinstein said she was running again.
Feinstein is considered the more moderate of California’s two Senators: The reason for this is that her rhetoric is much more toned-down than the very abrasive Boxer, but she votes for the liberal position just as much as her counterpart. (Pro gun-control, Obamacare, cap and trade etc)
Boxer is far more unpopular than Feinstein, and she managed to survive a very Republican year. With Barack Obama on the ballot (and most likely carrying the electoral votes there unless he sinks to Carter like numbers), Feinstein is even more likely to be reelected. We should wait this one out, with a likely retirement from Boxer in 2016 or Feinstein in 2018. If Feinstein were to retire, potential Republican candidates include Congresswomen Mary Bono Mack of Riverside County, and Congressman Tom McClintock of Northeastern California. I would like to see Kevin McCarthy run, but he has the leadership role in the House right now. And no people, Chuck DeVore’s politics do not align with California. Let’s be realistic: Where does DeVore find the votes to win?
Rating: Safe Democrat (with Feinstein) and Lean-Likely Democrat (without Feinstein)
Incumbent Senator Tom Carper will be 65 in 2012. There have been reports that Carper has a health problem, but he has denied it. He has not announced his reelection plans though. The Republican bench in this state is ……. nobody. Christine O’Donnell could run, but I bet she’s off to something else after running twice in the last four years. Maybe Jan Ting, who ran against Carper in 2006 will seek a rematch. Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden will probably run if Carper retires.
Rating: Safe Democrat (with Carper); Likely Democrat (without Carper)
Incumbent Senator Bill Nelson will be 70 years old in 2012. He was reelected with 60% in 2006 against Katherine Harris.
Nelson gets a 35 from the American Conservative Union. This score enables him to hide behind his true extreme views of Obamacare, Cap and trade, no more offshore oil drilling, and letting every illegal immigrant come into this country.
Nelson is extremely vulnerable; a PPP poll earlier this year showed him leading former Governor Jeb Bush (who has been out of the Florida eye) by 2 points. The poll also found George LeMieux trailing Nelson by 21 points, due to his lack of name recognition. Florida is a state that just elected Marco Rubio; therefore we should be able to choose a conservative in the primary here. LeMieux is a product of the Crist administration and Jim Greer, the former Florida Republican Party Chairman currently in prison. (i.e. let’s not see him run) I’ve heard rumors that Connie Mack, the Representative, or Jennifer Carroll, Florida’s soon to be Lieutenant Governor will run. If Nelson retires, let’s hope socialist and outgoing Congressman Alan Grayson runs. The Democrats have their entire congressional delegation here, but nobody stands out in particular. Then, we won’t have to spend a single dime here.
Rating: Tossup (with Nelson), Tossup/Tilt Republican (without Nelson)
Daniel Akaka will be 88 when his term ends in 2012. (term limits anyone?) Hawaii bucked the Republican wave in 2010; they elected Liberal Democratic Congressman Neil Abercrombie to the Governor’s office, and returned the ancient Daniel Inouye to the Senate.
Akaka is a liberal Democrat who is a strong supporter of defense spending and other earmarks.
How many Republicans will be in the Hawaii Senate in 2011? 1. So what’s the Republican bench? Outgoing Governor Linda Lingle has said she will consider the race. That is maybe the best we can hope for here. Even if Akaka runs, Ed Case, the former Congressman, who annoys national Democrats to hell by posing as a moderate, may try to primary Akaka. Potential Democratic candidates include soon to be Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz or Congresswomen Maize Hirono if Akaka retires. This is Barack Obama’s home; he is guaranteed to win here by a landslide in 2012, and will provide some coattails in the Senate race.
Rating: Safe Democrat (Akaka vs Generic R); Lean Democrat (Akaka vs Lingle); Tilt Democrat (Generic D vs Lingle); Likely Democrat (Generic D vs Generic R)
Ben Cardin was elected with 54% of the vote in 2006 vs Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor. Cardin is highly popular, even when most folks from Washington aren’t, and was beating a Generic R in a Republican year by 18 points back in a PPP poll this summer.
Who’s here to run if Cardin retires? (He’s 69) The entire congressional delegation could choose a promotion which would include Chris Van Hollen, the chair of the DCCC, who recently lost the Democrats 60+ seats. Maryland’s 3rd congressional district, which has been the breeding ground for Senators is currently held by John Sarbanes.
There are two Republicans in the Maryland congressional delegation. Andy Harris represents MD-01, and would need to start raising his profile in this dark blue state soon if he wanted to run. And Roscoe Barlett, who represents rural western Maryland is 80+. In other words, there is no “visible” Republican on the horizon here.
Rating: Safe Democrat (with Cardin); Likely Democrat (without Cardin)
Two term Senator Debbie Stabenow will be 62 in 2012. Stabenow is a big supporter of the auto industry bailout, and is in the Democratic leadership.
Tea Party Activist Chad Dewey (I love his website if you want to check it out) (http://chaddewey.org/) has announced his candidacy. A hypothetical poll found Stabenow behind by five points to a generic Republican back in May. An incumbent down at 43%… Who might run? Look at Congresswomen Candice Miller, Thad McCotter, or Mike Rogers. Having a Congressman from the Michigan delegation run would help with redistricting as Michigan plans to lose one seat.
Rating: Tossup/Tilt Democrat (with Stabenow); Tossup/Tilt Republican (if the Republican runs a competent campaign)
Amy Klobuchar will be seeking a second term in 2012. Her constituent service has made her enormously popular despite her liberal voting record. We would need a conservative with a lot of money to be able to give voice to Klobuchar’s political positions.
Who might run? Erik Paulsen, who represents MN-03 could run, and likely hand that seat to a Democrat. John Kline is too far up in the House hierarchy that I doubt he runs. Chip Craavack, who just defeated earmarker James Oberstar could run, and certainly has experience knocking off established Democratic legislators. Michelle Bachmann’s tone is probably wrong for this state as a whole, unfortunately. If Minnesota loses a House seat, (it’s on the verge), expect the Congress(man)(women) who loses his/her seat to run.
Rating: Likely Democrat
First term Democrat Claire McCaskill is one of the most vulnerable Senators up in 2012. You will probably see her begin to move to the right in the next two years. She is already against earmarks, was one of the last holdouts on Obamacare, and may not be enthusiastic about cap and trade. In 2006, McCaskill assembled a coalition of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in St. Louis, Kansas City, and the rural areas to win. It is highly unlikely that she can do it again.
McCaskill’s approval ratings are not particularly high. Lieutenant Governor Pete Kinder, former Treasurer Sarah Steelman, and Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler (please…) may run. Missouri is on the edge of losing a House seat, and this would most likely either be Todd Akin or Russ Carnahan’s. Since this is a conservative state, let’s not have another Blunt running.
Rating: Tilt Republican
Incumbent Senator Jon Tester is seeking reelection in 2012. In 2006, he knocked off controversial Conrad Burns. Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 2008 Steve Daines has announced his candidacy. There have been very few polls in Montana recently because there was no major election there in 2010.
Tester is vulnerable, but he lives on a farm in Eastern Montana, and that may get him votes in traditionally Republican areas. He is very involved in agricultural and mountain issues in his state, but is generally too liberal. Look for Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg to potentially run.
Conservative Democrat Ben Nelson won reelection with 64% of the vote in 2006, assembling 95+% of Democrats, 73% of Independents, and 42% of Republicans. He is the most vulnerable Democrat up for reelection, after his sellout on the abortion part of Obamacare, as well as his individual deals for Nebraska.
A poll taken after the election by a Republican firm showed Nelson behind Attorney General Jon Bruning by 15 points. Put it this way: If Nelson runs, he is the Blanche Lincoln of 2010. If he doesn’t, the Democrat may not crack 40%. Let’s pick the most conservative candidate here. I don’t know much about Bruning, but I know that I do not want to see Lee Terry, the 2nd district congressman run.
Rating: Lean-Likely Republican (with Nelson); Safe Republican (without Nelson)
There are the first 10 seats up in 2010. Do you agree with my predictions? Disagree? Who would you like to see run? Who should we make sure doesn’t run?
Overall: Republican +3. Democrats +0. And we are already at 50/50.