Paul  Weyrich

In this Congress Senate Minority Leader A. Mitchell (Mitch) McConnell, Jr. (R-KY) has real power. He has 49 Republican Senators to the Democratic Majority's 51. However, in the Senate it takes 60 votes to accomplish almost anything. The Majority often falls short of 60; thus Mitch McConnell prevails. The Majority gets angrier as it fails to achieve its objectives.

But McConnell has to worry about the next Congress. There is a real possibility that he may not have more than 41 Senators, a few of those possibly flakes. He may not be able to prevent the Majority from securing 60 votes and if he cannot prevent that his power would almost evaporate.

The landscape is as follows: all indications are that the Democrats will have a winning candidate for the Presidency and it could be that the Democratic candidate for President would win decisively. In that scenario Republican candidates for the Senate would need to overcome a Democratic candidate for the Presidency.

First, the Republicans are defending 23 seats in the Senate, the Democrats only 12.

We begin with retirees. Senator Wayne Allard won twice in Colorado but his retirement gives a real edge to Congressman Mark Udall. Colorado was reliably Republican, but not any more. Democrats already hold one Senate seat and a majority of House of Representative seats. A Udall victory is very likely.

Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who will be 81 in March, also is retiring. Former Governor Mark Warner (no relation to Senator Warner) is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Republicans most likely will have a nominating contest between Congressman Thomas F. Davis, III and former Governor James S. Gilmore, III. Warner will have the advantage. He is well liked and Virginia again is trending Democratic. Virginia already has one Democratic Senator. As with Colorado, the last Presidential race was close. Mark Warner will be difficult to defeat.

Next there is Nebraska. Two-term Senator Chuck Hagel is retiring. Nebraska is a Republican State with a propensity to elect two Democratic Senators. Nebraska already has one. Here it basically depends upon who runs. If former Senator Robert (Bob) Kerrey were the Democratic nominee he would be formidable. On the other hand if former Republican Governor Michael O. Johanns were to run he might be able to win.

Then look at Senator Lindsey Graham's numbers in South Carolina. He supported President George W. Bush's immigration bill. Many voters have not forgiven him. He may face a primary.

Senator Elizabeth Hanford Dole's numbers in North Carolina are not exactly inspiring. A strong Democrat possibly could defeat her.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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