With a 59-41 Democratic majority in the Senate, it is tempting to write off the chance for Republicans to gain control of the upper chamber. But it is possible. The GOP must retain the seats of all its incumbents, hold on to six "open" seats in New Hampshire, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri and Utah, and must win 10 seats currently held by a Democrat. With most of the primaries concluded or with a front-runner in place, here are the tough races that Republicans must win on the road to 51.
I assume that the GOP will easily hold on to the seats it holds in Arizona and Utah. The former is assured if John McCain is nominated, and the latter appears to be a lock no matter who is nominated to replace Senator Bennett. Senators Burr in North Carolina and Vitter in Louisiana seem to be on a path to re-election.
The five "must holds" which will feature serious Democratic efforts to turn a red seat blue:
The 11 target seats from which 10 victories must be collected:
Linda McMahon must win in Connecticut where the impact of Dick Blumentahl's deceptions about his service in Vietnam will show up in polls beginning next week.
The race between Sharon Angle, Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian for the GOP nomination and the right take on Harry Reid will be decided June 8, and it is very close. All three candidates are leading Reid at this point, though Reid clearly fears Lowden the most because of her personal wealth.
In any other year, this map to a majority is very difficult to imagine happening.
But fueled by the Tea Party and energized by the president's blend of ideological extremism and doleful incompetence, regaining a majority of the United States Senate is at least possible.
Each candidate's name is linked to their online contribution site. Please consider at least a $25 contribution to one of them this long weekend, and if you can swing it, to all 16. That's a $400 investment in the country's future on the weekend we salute those who gave their all, and it really isn't too much to ask.
But before you give a dollar to securing the country's political future, please give one to help the men and women who have secured its safety to date.