Kevin Price
The Senate races to watch in 2010
By Kevin Price
February 27, 2010

There is a major shift going on in American politics. In November of 2008, following elections that brought Obama to the White House and significant majorities for the Democrats in the House and Senate, it seemed likely that the Democrats would dominate the Executive and Legislative branches for years to come. Republicans hoped that there was a chance they could take back the House, but the Senate, in the near future, was a pipe dream. In recent weeks, that dream has become a nightmare for the Democrats.

It became very scary for Democrats when a Senate seat held by a Kennedy for almost 50 years found itself in Republican hands. Scott Brown won a race, in spite of the fact that the state is 3 to 1 Democrat. Even before this upset, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced he would not seek reelection. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), one of the most influential and longest serving members of the Senate, decided not to run after a year of accusations of political improprieties rocked his campaign. Now we have Evan Bayh (D-IN) announcing, essentially, that he is no longer "in love" with the Senate and is planning on moving on. His decision was so sudden, he gave his party less than a week to find someone to file for his seat. The "filibuster proof" Senate is already history and there are now thirteen races that looked very much in the hands of the Democrats that could be in the GOPs'.

Arkansas. Sen. Blanche Lincoln has been on political life support for months. Her approval numbers are in the tank. She has sheepishly supported Obama's agenda and, now that her numbers are in serious trouble, she is lecturing Majority Leader Harry Reid for doing too much, too quick. In spite of the fact she has only attracted "B team" talent in Rep. John Boozman (R), she finds herself behind in a recent poll by 23 points.

Colorado. Michael Bennet (D) faces a tough race since he began from the position as an appointee (replacing Ken Salazar who joined he Obama Administration). He has no elective office experience, which is always dangerous. Furthermore, his nomination is anything but a shoe in, facing a tough primary challenge in the Colorado's Speaker of the House (Andrew Romanoff). Worse still for Democrats, the GOP seems behind Lt. Governor Jane Norton, whose numbers appear stronger than either Bennet or Romanoff).

Delaware. New England has been a safe haven for the Democrats for years and the seat that is up for grabs is one that was once in the hands of the sitting Vice President, Joe Biden. Beau Biden, the Vice President's son and Attorney General, has already declined a run, leaving this a very safe race for former Republican governor and current Congressman-at-large, Michael Castle.

Illinois. The President's own Senate Seat is ripe for the GOP, according to many political pundits and Mark Kirk (R) may be the perfect candidate to replace Roland Burris. Kirk is a moderate from suburban Chicago, conservative on economic and defense issues and with moderate social views. In this open seat he will take on Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer, who could be a strong candidate, but has serious problems due to his relationship with former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. It appears that Kirk has, at least, an even chance of winning.

Indiana. This state has been largely "red" for years but has been held solidly by Evan Bayh, a moderate Democrat hat learned to fit the state well. The race could have been tough ffor Bayh, acing former Senator Dan Coates (R), with Bayh pulling out, it now looks like a state that is solidly in the GOP column.

Kentucky. This open Republican seat is full of intrigue. This seat is currently in the hands of Jim Bunning who has considered his low poll numbers and has concluded that he is one of the most vulnerable candidates in the country. This caught the attention of Secretary of State Trey Grayson who was endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Grayson is strong, leading both Democrats battling in their primary in the polls. However, Rand Paul (son of Rep. Ron Paul), whom I knew as we were both activists in politics in college, is providing a tough primary challenge. Fortunately for the GOP, his numbers are better than the Democrats also.

Missouri. Kit Bond is giving up his seat and this could be the Democrats' best chance to get a Senate office that is in the GOPs' hands. However, the political environment has changed significantly and could fall either way. The Democrats offer a very strong candidate in Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (daughter of the late former Governor Mel Carnahan and Senator Jean Carnahan). Meanwhile, the GOP is running former Republican House Whip Roy Blunt. Carnahan has a slight lead, but pundits on both sides see this as a toss up.

Nevada. Harry Reid is poised to join a club that I do not think he wants membership. Like former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), he could find himself a leader of his party in the Senate that becomes unemployed running for reelection. Nevada is considered the best chance for a GOP pick up. His numbers are in the very low range (20s). Potential Republican opponents included Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki. Although Reid has serious money (an important element in winning such a race), this seat should be in the GOP column in 2011.

New Hampshire. This is another rare opportunity for Democrats to pick up a seat that is currently in the GOPs' hands. Judd Gregg is retiring and the Democrats have an impressive candidate with Rep. Paul Hodes. Fortunately for Republicans they have a top-tier candidate of their own in former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, who leads in the polls. Money and polls are on the Democrats side at this time, but the political winds could change everything.

There are several other "hot" seats to watch in 2010. New York provides an usually safe seat for Democrats, but the change in the political environment and a strong GOP candidate could even change this situation. In North Dakota, the retirement of Byron Dorgan (D) and the addition of Governor John Hoeven (R) into the race have made a Republican pickup almost certain. In Pennsylvania, Democrat "convert" Arlen Spector faces a tough reelection campaign since members of his own party does not trust him (remembering him as a Republican) and the GOP rank and file seems to have disdain for him. Former Congressman Pat Tooney (R) seems poised to create an upset in the Keystone state.

If you like politics, 2010 will be an interesting year to watch, its implications on public policy will be most profound.

© Kevin Price


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Kevin Price

Kevin Price is Publisher and Editor in Chief of

His background is eclectic and includes years of experience in both business and public policy, as well as two decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He was an aide to U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) and later went on to work in policy areas with some of the nation's leading think tanks including the National Center for Public Policy Research and was part of the Heritage Foundation's Annual Guide to Public Policy Experts... (more)


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