Democrats face another uphill Senate year


VoteEvery two years, about one third of all seats in the US Senate are put before the voters, and just as in 2010 and 2012, the Democratic Party is facing a challenge. It has 20 seats to defend, and five of them will be minus an incumbent.

Tim Johnson (D-SD) is the latest to announce his retirement, opening up a prime pickup opportunity for the Republicans in a state that has been casting its presidential votes for Republican candidates in recent contests.

Johnson joins Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Carl Levin (D-MI) on the announced retirement list. At first glance, RBR-TVBR notes that Johnson’s seat will be the hardest for Democrats to hold, and Rockefeller’s could pose significant challenges. And all of the other three could be competitive given the eventual identities of the candidates for each party.

The Republicans only have two retirees announced so far: Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Mike Johanns (R-NE). Neither of these seats appears to be a likely target for the Democrats.

Here’s the list of all the senators who hold seats up for a vote in 2014.
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV)

Up for re-election:
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Mark Begich (D-AK)
Mark L.Pryor (D-AR)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
Christopher A. Coons (D-DE)
James E. Risch (R-ID)
Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA)
Susan M. Collins. (R-ME)
William M. Cowan (D-MA)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Tom Udall (D-NM)
Kay R. Hagan (D-NC)
James M. Inhofe. (R-OK)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Lamar Alexander (R–TN)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Mark R. Warner (D-VA)
Michael B. Enzi. (R-WY)

RBR-TVBR observation: An open seat should be a major plus for broadcast bottom lines. They are almost always guaranteed to attract the interest of the opposing party, which will have at least a shot at snagging the seat. And in many cases, the opposing party becomes the favorite. They also open up the possibility of not one but two primary battles.

It is not too soon to start positioning your station as the place to be if you are a politician seeking to serve in the US Senate.