Behind the scenes, the chances of a GOP takeover of the U.S. Senate increased in the past two weeks with key developments in pivotal states.
Already, Republican candidates are ahead in eight states now represented by Democrats: Delaware, North Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Colorado, Arkansas and Nevada. And, in California, Sen. Barbara Boxer is polling in the low 40s, just barely ahead of her Republican challengers.
But nine seats won't give us control, since Vice President Biden would break the tie for the Democrats. We need 10.
Enter Washington state, where a large field of Republican candidates have failed to dent the lead of three-term incumbent Sen. Patty Murray. But now it appears that Dino Rossi, the former Republican candidate for governor, is likely to get into the race. Rossi, in fact, won the election for governor in Washington only to have it stolen from him by 200 votes after multiple recounts. Rossi trails Murray by only 48 to 46, even though he has yet to announce his candidacy. The vital 10th seat may well be Washington.
Or will it be Wisconsin, where Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold is seeking re-election? Feingold is so far left that he wouldn't find any district this side of Havana safe. And he has now drawn two top-tier Republican opponents: beer mogul Richard Leinenkugel and conservative activist Ron Johnson. Feingold scores below 50 percent of the vote in trial match-ups, a sure indication of vulnerability.
Leinenkugel has good credentials for a race, having served as state commerce secretary, albeit in the current Democratic administration of Gov. Doyle. Johnson brings a compelling speaking style and solid conservative credentials -- and a boatload of dough -- to the race. Feingold won't sleep well tonight.
And keep in mind New York, where three good candidates -- David Malpass, Joe DioGuardia and Bruce Blakeman -- are vying to take on vulnerable appointed incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand. R
And there's Connecticut, where Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has slipped to 52 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Rob Simmons (he leads by 52 to 38). Blumenthal runs stronger against Linda McMahon of wrestling fame (he beats her, according to Rasmussen, by 55 to 35). If Simmons wins the primary, he has a good chance of knocking off Blumenthal.
So among Washington, Wisconsin, New York and Connecticut, we are looking increasingly likely to find a 10th Republican victory.