Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The Senate, often thought of as the softer, slower, less-exciting body of the legislative branch, is in the spotlight this year. The Republicans in the House are expected to retain the majority and pick up seats.

The Democratic Senate might very well become a Republican-led Senate this fall. President Obama is not up for reelection, but his approval/ disapproval ratings will have an effect on those running on the Democratic ticket.

The numbers are encouraging: Based on Real Clear Politics rankings, there are 40 safe (or not up) Democratic seats, 41 safe (or not up) Republican seats, five seats that are likely to go or lean Democratic, five that are likely to go or lean Republican and nine seats that are in the toss-up category. Of those nine seats, only two -- Kentucky and Georgia -- are currently held by Republicans; the other states are Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan and North Carolina.

As an aside, the Oregon primary was held this week, with Dr. Monica Wehby winning. The latest poll has her beating incumbent Jeff Merkley by 4 points. Stay tuned to this exciting race.

This week, the two states that have Republicans in play also held primaries. In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fought off challenger and tea party candidate Matt Bevin, coming out on top 60 percent to 35 percent. McConnell will run against Alison Lundergan Grimes. Recent polls show them in a dead heat, which would be interesting except that McConnell faced a tough primary, and his numbers will begin to rise.

In Georgia, the Republican field was crowded with three sitting congressmen who left their safe seats to run statewide (Jack Kingston, Phil Gingrey and Paul Braun), a political newcomer, David Perdue, who shares the same last name as his cousin, (former Gov. Sonny Perdue), and Karen Handel, who was in a runoff in 2010 against the current governor, Nathan Deal.

The race garnered national attention from outside groups, which ran ads both for and against candidates on both sides of the tickets. According to Opensecrets.org, more than $3.6 million in outside money was spent in the Senate race. Almost $1 million was spent in support of Jack Kingston, with $500,000 spent against him. Gingrey's opposition spent almost $1.2 million, and he had no outside money in support. Perdue had $500,000 spent in support and none spent against him.

As for monies raised by candidates, as of April 30, Kingston raised $5.6 million (55 percent from large donors), spent $4.3 million and had $1.3 cash on hand. Perdue contributed almost $3 million to his campaign, raised another $1.7 million and had $467,000 cash on hand.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.