The Senate Races To Concentrate On

Obviously we’ve got a lot of Senate seats up for reelection and with a lot of them up for grab. Twenty-two are held by Dem; 10 of them at least have the potential to switch GOP with 3 or 4 of these seats that likely will do so. Fourteen GOP seats up with 2 of them Georgia and Kentucky at least somewhat competitive. I’ll mainly focus on the Dem seats, but I’ll briefly talk about GA and KY. GA Saxby Chambliss is retiring after 2 elected terms. Got a competitive primary going on with the top 3 candidates being US Reps. Paul Broun, Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey. I haven’t decided who I’ll endorse officially, but I’m leaning Broun since Ron Paul’s backing him. In KY, Mitch McConnell has got a tough reelection with Matt Bevin (who I back) primarying him and a strong Democratic candidate in Allison Grimes. Ultimately these seats should remain GOP though should feature competitive races. Now on to the Democrat-held seats.

Part 1: The Red Seven (neat nickname by the folks at Sabato’s Crystal Ball)

AR: Mark Pryor is in heaps of trouble now with freshman Rep. Tom Cotton leading a strong campaign against him. He voted for Obamacare now backing a yearlong delay in the individual mandate. Too little, too late now. An internal poll from the Cotton campaign shows that Pryor is behind. Every other time Obamacare was up in the Senate he consistently voted to uphold in every way possible. There’s also the simple fact that AR is not the same state from 20 years ago. Voted consistently GOP in the past 4 presidential elections and in the past 2 cycled out every Democrat incumbent in the House and gave Republicans control of the state legislature. Mark Pryor is toast.

LA: Mary Landrieu is in a hot spot with her record of supporting Obamacare consistently like Pryor. Rep. Bill Cassidy is running against her though I don’t know who to endorse at the moment. Like in AR also, the state has been trending deep red over the past several cycles. Bobby Jindal was reelected in 2011 by a landslide and every statewide office and the state legislature is controlled Republicans. The only Democrat in the House is Cedric Richmond from the New Orleans area. She does have a slightly stronger resolve than Pryor, but pretty much the same situation.

AK: Mark Begich was a huge fluke due to the prosecution of Ted Stevens and the race was very close anyway (think he won by just a point). No candidate in there yet I’m interested in endorsing (certainly NOT Joe Miller). Have to wait and see what comes about. In the end though, it’s a Republican state. GOP now fully controls the State Legislature after 6 years of a coalition between Democrats and moderate Republicans in the State Senate. Begich also has Obamacare as collateral damage in his record. He’s gone in the end.

NC: This situation is very interesting to look at. NC was one of only 2 states switched over to Romney in 2012 (the other IN). In 2010, Republicans picked up control of the Legislature for the 1st time since Reconstruction and then the 1st Republican-controlled government was elected in 2012. They elected Pat McCrory as Governor and Dan Forest as Lt. Governor. Republicans now hold 9 out the 13 House districts. And Mike McIntyre is one of the last truly blue dog Dems left in the House and has a tough reelection ahead (his seat is the only GOP-leaning district left in the South that hasn’t elected a Republican since Reconstruction). Though Dems still hold a majority of the statewide offices. And Romney won by only 2 points (50-48) so NC is a tougher bill than AR or LA. But this nonetheless is a winnable and essential seat. I endorse Greg Brannon for this seat.

MT: Baucus the original author of Obamacare is retiring (and doing so wisely). This should be fairly easy to pull off, but don’t take it for granted. ND which was vacated by Kent Conrad was a sure win in 2012, but former state attorney general and now-Senator Heidi Heitkamp was able to take all of us by surprise and squeaked out barely. Same thing happened in the other MT race that was going on that year. Jon Tester the incumbent was looking like he was gonna lose to Denny Rehberg but thanks to a spoiler third party candidate won a 2nd term. In the end this is a likely GOP pickup but look out for potential surprises (thank God former Gov. Brian Schweitzer decided not to run).

SD: A very red state, should go GOP. I’ve already endorsed Larry Rhoden who’s the Majority Whip in the State Senate. Former Gov. Mike Rounds is also in the race and has a very questionable history regarding Obamacare.

WV: Again a very red state, but Dems are running Natalie Tennant the Secretary of State and is a fairly strong candidate. In the Republican primary you have US Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Pat McGeehan running. I’ve endorse McGeehan and he’s also been endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus. He’s a former member of the House of Delegates. Ultimately a Republican should get elected.

Part 2: Democrat-held swing states

MN: This was stolen away literally as a means to get Obamacare passed. And this was under the nose of a Republican governor! Al Franken looks secure for 2nd term at the moment but he can be ousted by a strong challenger. Let me know if there’s a candidate to support.

MI: Carl Levin is retiring so this should be an open competitive seat. Much to my disappointment (and probably many others too), Justin Amash has declined to run for this seat. A shame since he’s one of my favorite US Reps and people overall. But thankfully there’s a strong candidate in Terri Lynn Land who’s formerly a member of the RNC and also was Secretary of State in MI. This is a very winnable seat.

IA: I think if I had to, I’d be content with the GOP capturing all the Red Seven. They’d fill up their ranks to a 52-seat majority which is fairly decent. But if they can get at least one swing state this is the one. IA is the quintessential swing state with the two parties breaking almost exactly even in every area possible. Republicans have one Senator and two reps; Dems have one Senator and two reps. The split even goes down ballot; GOP has three of the five statewide offices with Dems holding the other two. The State Legislature is split with GOP holding the State House and Dems holding the State Senate. Also this happens to be my mom’s home state and many of my relatives from her side still live here. This is a seat up for grabs since Sen. Tom Harkin is retiring, but the GOP has to find a high profile candidate to run with the Dems already getting behind Rep. Bruce Braley. Chuck Grassley’s chief of staff David Young is running, but isn’t widely known. There’s also State Sen. Joni Ernst who I looked at recently and may consider endorsing her. For the time being I’ll let things play out before I make a decision. GOP this is a seat you can win so don’t screw it up.

Part 3: Seats That Could Come Into Play

Ultimately there’s 13 switchable Democrat-held seats. I don’t think the GOP’s likely capture that many (in fact rarely in modern history has either party scored that much), but it’s worth noting all of them.

NH: This is a swing state and it can be won. Recently the Democrat incumbent Jeanne Shaheen along with other vulnerable Dems has spoken in favor of delaying some parts of Obamacare like the individual mandate. And a wise move it is politically cause NH politics can shift overnight. In 2010, the GOP recaptured the General Court (that’s what they call their legislature) and for 2 years had a veto-proof majority regularly using it to override Democrat Governor John Lynch who’s since left office. In 2012, Dems were able to regain control of the State House and cut the GOP’s advantage in the State Senate thanks to Barack Obama’s coattails. Former Sen. Scott Brown has been rumored a potential candidate since he owns a home in the state. For the time being, let things play out and see what candidates enter. Jeanne Shaheen is safe but not forever necessarily.

CO: The recent recalls have shown Gov. John Hickenlooper to be incredibly vulnerable to being ousted next year. And while Mark Udall appears secure for now, this certainly could affect his reelection to a 2nd term. Haven’t looked at who’s running (or considering to run) so I don’t know who to endorse right now. Should also be noted that FreedomWorks which I’m very fond of is working to turn the state red again so keep your eyes peeled.

OR: I can see comments asking ‘Really? Is this a joke?’, no it isn’t. While OR may have voted Democrat for a long time in the presidential elections, the GOP had always for a long time held at least one Senate seat. For a long time OR had two Republican Senators until Bob Packwood resigned in late ’95 due to allegations of multiple sexual assaults over the years and was replaced with Democrat Ron Wyden (who by the way has done a great job on civil liberties issues with working on reigning the broad powers of the NSA). It was only very recently that they started electing Democrat Senators such as Jeff Merkley who’s the guy up next year. It should be noted that the GOP for a long time held at least the State House in the State Legislature. While I don’t think it likely this seat will switch, OR is not your typical blue state in the fashion of NY or CA. The best shot at winning this seat would be to run a libertarian Republican in the style of Ron Paul (or Rand Paul). Regardless don’t let this off your view.

Let me know your thoughts of what your thoughts on what races should be looked at in the comments section below.