The announcement of plans to retire from 86-year-old Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) did not catch anybody inside the Beltway by surprise – if his age wasn’t a clue, then his lack of effort raising funds for one more campaign was. It creates the seventh open seat up for grabs in 2012.
The Republican Party has a strong potential candidate to make an attempt to move the seat to their side of the aisle in former governor Linda Lingle, but observers note she will be working against the strong Democratic leaning of the state as well as the re-election campaign of the Hawaii’s own Barrack Obama.
Still, it presents an opportunity, and the Democrats are opening up five such opportunities if you count independent Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who caucuses with the Democrats and has also announced his exit. The others are Kent Conrad (D-ND), Jim Webb (D-VA) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).
Only two Republicans are on the way out, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ).
RBR-TVBR observation: Out of the seven vacancies being created, we believe North Dakota offers the strongest opportunity for a party change. That’s bad news for Democrats, and there is more bad news. Both of the Republican seats opening up are on seemingly safe GOP turf. The good news for broadcasters, however, is that all of these races will inspire national organizations to pump in advertising dollars to at least take a stab at turning the seat, or if necessary, to defend it.