The Reality of Repeal: A Senate Perspective

I prefer to analyze the possibility of repeal through the prism of reality and facts, and not through the prism of wishful thinking or defeatism. I’ve been chewing on many things including the reality of obtaining sixty plus senate seats by 2013. Here are some thoughts.

Of the three branches, winning the House is the easy part, well, the easiest part. I’m not buying pie-in-the-sky projections, but a majority is within reach and we must control one chamber in 2010. The presidential election will be another war. I dont think Obama is cooked by any means, but he can be beaten. But that can wait.

The toughest part of the repeal equation is the Senate. And it is not so much anger, passion or planning that may save the day for us, but raw luck and numbers. For starters, the GOP will have to defend only ten seats in 2012, seven of which are in solid red states. The other three seats are occupied by above average candidates.

The Democrats, on the other hand, will have to defend 23 seats, of which only twelve may be considered blue states. They must defend six seats in solid red states. Many of their candidates are weak and others are aging. The GOP may be able to run a slate quality candidates in competitive states.

Also, the presidential race may hurt many Democratic Senators in red states who might otherwise be able to edge out victories. They will not be running on their own merits, but on backs of Obama and the national Democrats. Only a couple Republicans could be harmed by Obama’s presence on the ticket. While its too early to prognosticate, at quick look at the comparitive fields exposes the discrepancy.


1. Jon Kyl – Arizona

Although trending purple, recent events should help AZ pivot right. Kyl only won with 53% of the vote in 2006, but that was a tough climate and he survived. He should do better with the wind at his back. He will be seventy years old, but AZ has a solid bench.

2. Richard Lugar – Indiana

It doesn’t matter much who runs here. Lugar should be heavily favored to win as should any other decent Republican, barring scandal or other unforseen circumstances.

3. Bob Corker – Tennessee

Same as Indiana.

4. Roger Wicker – Mississippi

Same as Indiana.

5. Orrin Hatch – Utah

Same as Indiana.

6. John Barrrasso – Wyoming

Same as Indiana.

7. K.B. Hutchinson – Texas

Same as Indiana.

8. John Ensign – Nevada

If not for personal transgressions, Ensign would have had an easy path to victory depsite Neveda trending blue. But two years is a long time and if Ensign applies himself, his troubles will be behind him. Nevada is quickly turning into a union/immigrant/machine state and its a little scary. But we should be favored to hold this seat.

9. Olympia Snowe – Maine

Depsite her negatives, she won with 73% of the vote in 2006, a year that took down Republicans like George Allen and Jim Talent. She may not be a reliable vote for repeal, but a Republican who wins 3 out of 4 votes in a Democratic state in a Democratic year should coast to victory, even with Obama on the ticket. If nothing else, she is a head to count in the quest for 60 and gives our guys the gavel.

10. Scott Brown – Massachusetts

Brown will have a tough fight. But he is popular, has a huge war chest and, suprisingly, Massachusetts has a weak Democratic bench. Having Obama on the ticket will hurt him. This should be the most, if not the only competitive race in the bunch.


1. Claire McCaskill – Missouri

McCaskill turned out be be a more savvy politician than I thought she would be. But even McCain won Missouri. It will depend on the candidate, but this is a winnable seat.

2. Jon Tester – Montana

Tester is moderate poseur. The only thing about him that is Montanan is his haricut and his jeans. He has a liberal voting record to defend. We need a good candidate, but he should be gone.

3. Ben Nelson – Nebraska

The whole country knows about Nelson. Still, I think he’s a tough candidate. He’s been around and he’s from a small state, where the relationships are personal. But the issues of the day are too important and Nebraska is too conservative.

4. Jim Webb – Virginia

It looks like Virginia’s experiment with liberalism is ending. He won’t have a liberal state government machine to lean on, nor can he pretend to be a Blue Dog. He owns his votes. A George Allen rematch would be epic and Allen would be favored. Any decent GOP candidate could take him out.

5. Kent Conrad – North Dakota

Conrad is still quite popular and a tough out. But if we start building the state machine now, and cultivating another qualtiy candidate like Hoeven, Conrad may be vulnerable.

6. Robert Byrd – West Virginia

This is morbid, but it probably wont be Byrd. It depends on who succeeds him, but West Virginia is trending deep red. Manchin will be tough, but a nationalized race should boost the GOP chances. I’d favor Manchin in an off year, but not here.

7. Herb Kohl – Wisconsin

I like the GOP chances in the blue state. Kohl will be in his eighties if he decides to run. Retirement is a real possibility. And I’m loving our bench with guys like Paul Ryan, and hopefully Sean Duffy.

8. Daniel Akaka – Hawaii

Another octogenerian. Little shot unless he retires, but retirement is possible. He will be 88. We will get a moderate at best, but as long as they oppose ObamaCare, I dont care. This would be a real good spot for a Linda Lingle comeback.

9. Sherrod Brown – Ohio

Too liberal for for this rust belt state that looks like it is pivoting back to the right. He rode a perfect storm into office, but it wont take one to take him out. We need to develop some good talent to take this chump out.

10. Bill Nelson – Florida

This race will really depend on the candidate. Bill Nelson is no pushover, but he will be 70 and, hopefully, it looks like Florida may be done with the Obama experiment. We need a star, but this seat is winnable.

11. Maria Cantwell – Washington

A liberal candidate for a liberal state, but Cantwell is an underperformer on the campaign trail and in the Senate. A tough state for the GOP, but not an imposing candidate.

12. Amy Klobuchar – Minnesota

Another relative underperformer. Klobuchar may be a tad more skilled than Cantwell, but Minnesota is a better spot for a GOP insurgent. A great landing place if T-Paw bails on the POTUS bid.

13. Bob Casey – Pennsylvania

Casey is a tough candidate even though he is as exciting as watching paint dry. He’s got the name and he appeals to liberals and moderates, but Pennsylvania is poised to elect a GOP Senator and a GOP Governor. Its a tough state to read, but defeating Casey requires a rock star.

14. Bob Menendez – New Jersey

Let hope the Christie experiment works. Menendez barely beat Kean in 2006, a Democratic year. It depends who runs, but I think the GOP could steal a seat here. Menendez has the taint of Corzine and the old Democratic machine. But we need someone of Chris Christie’s calibur.

15. Kristen Gillibrand’s Seat – New York

Neither Rudy nor Pataki have committed to the 2010 race. Obviously, New York is a tough state for the GOP, but we have two top tier candidates waiting. If not this year, hopefully one can be encouraged to run in 2012.

15. Joe Lieberman – Connecticut

A long shot state, but there is an x-factor: the three way race. If the Democratic candidate and Lieberman split the liberal – moderate vote, it could open the door for a good candidate. CT doesn’t have deep bench, but a Jodi Rell comeback would be exciting.

16. Debbie Stabenow – Michigan

Common sense seems to lead one to think she may be vulnerable. But Michigan is stubborn and their Democratic incumbents rarely go down. The right candidate and election cycle might provide and outside chance.

17. Diane Feinstein – California

Boxer is a good bellwether, although I think Feinstein is slightly more formidable. Tough race for the GOP. Dynamics are much like Stabenow and Michigan; outside chance with the right candidate and the right cycle.

19. Sheldon Whitehouse – Rhode Island

Weak performer, but a long shot state.

20. Bernie Sanders – Vermont

Long shot for now.

21. Tom Carper – Delaware

Long shot for now.

22. Ben Cardin – Maryland

Long shot for now.

23. Jeff Bingaman – New Mexico

Long shot for now.

The Road Ahead:

Analyzing 2012 races is pure conjecture, but the raw numbers and candidates themselves expose a potential path to sixty. The soil will be fertile for a GOP harvest. In the meantime, we control the present. Winning the House is 2010 is imperative, but winning enough Senate seats to set the table for 2012 must also be a priority, and that requires more than cheerleading.

Nothing is going to happen because we wish it. I’m not going to act like some Kos Kool Aid drinker who turns his head at every poll he doesnt like. We must fight hard for victories in states like Ohio, Missouri, and New Hampshire. And we must set the table for 2012.

Of all the 2010 races, we must have our top ten, three holds and seven gains; MO, NH, OH and ND, IN, AR, DE, NV, CO and PA. This is a must. A seven seat gain only puts us at 48. We cant afford to lose any one of those seats by taking things for granted or by nominating long shots. Those are the must haves. The following are the like to haves; CA, WA, NY, WI, IL. From those, the GOP should aim to steal at least two. That would put us at an even 50, heading into 2012, and leaving us with ten seats to obtain in 2012, a difficult, but plausible number.

Now, all this assumes so much. We really need more than sixty to prepare for losses and defections. But that just underscores the fact that we must work together. We need Republicans from all for corners of the country to do this. We need sixty plus Senators and we have two elections cycles to do it or this fight is pretty much over.

If you believe this threat to our country is as grave as I believe it to be, you must accept the hard facts. The only litmus test that applies now is opposing ObamaCare and commiting to downsizing government. There is no realistic path to sixty without some Tom Keans, Linda Lingles, Dino Rossis, and Rudy Guilianis.

If you fear this threat like I do; if you believe that this threat must be extinguished at all costs like I do; then you must accept the long hard slog that is in front of us and do whatever it takes to repeal this bill. And that requires all patriots to unites under the GOP banner. We mustn’t let petty feuds threaten this most noble and important quest.

The posse is on its way and its coming to burn our town to the ground. This is no time to refuse to cooperate with your neighbor because he broke your lawn mower. There needs to be a little more unity. We need to rally and the sooner we do the better our chances.