Battle for the Senate shaping up


The Republican Party figured to have a tough time defending its share of the Senate under any circumstances. Due to the luck of the draw, it simply has nearly twice as many seats to defend as does the Democratic Party. At the moment, 23 Republican seats are on the ballot, to only 12 Democratic seats. And it looks like the number of states moving up to battleground status is increasing.

A new study from CQ Politics put a spotlight on nine races where Democrats have a chance of moving a seat over to their side of the aisle. They include:

* Surprisingly competitive Kentucky, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is behind in the polls to challenger Bruce Lunsford;

* Minnesota, where Norm Coleman (R-MN) is running slightly ahead of well-known ex-Air America anchor Al Franken;

* New Hampshire, where it is not a surprise that Democratic challenger and former governor Jeanne Shaheen is running ahead of John Sununu (R-NH);

* Colorado, also not a surprise, with current Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) leading former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-CO);

* Maine – incumbent Susan Collins (R-ME) is well ahead of challenger Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME);

* Kansas, another surprise, with Pat Roberts (R-KS) holding an unexpectedly low eight-point lead over former Rep. Jim Slattery (D-KS);

* Alaska, where Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D-AK) is slightly ahead of scandal-plagued Ted Stevens (R-AK);

* New Mexico, where a unique race featuring three current Reps is under way – Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Steve Pearce (R-NM) are battling it out for the Republican nomination, but currently, either would lose to Tom Udall (D-NM);

* North Carolina, yet one more surprise, with Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) facing a strong challenge from state senator Kay Hagan.

RBR/TVBR observation: CQ didn’t mention other battlegrounds in this snapshot. Democrats will push to take an open seat in Virginia, were ex-Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) is the favorite to replace outgoing Sen. John Warner (R-VA). Dems also think Gordon Smith (R-OR) is vulnerable, and perhaps may make trong attempts to unhorse Roger Wicker (R-MS), who is filling out the year for Trent Lott, and John Cornyn (R-TX). Republicans think they have a shot at Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and perhaps Tim Johnson (D-SD). One thing is for sure – all of the races that remain competitive will become money magnets. If your station reaches eligible voters, the time to remind your local politicos is now.