Republicans Poised to Win Senate

Posted: Feb 05, 2011 12:01 AM
Republicans Poised to Win Senate

I know we predicted Republican Senate control in 2010. Republicans did gain seven seats and came within four of winning control. Razor thin defeats in Colorado and Washington and unexpected thrashings in Nevada and West Virginia proved us wrong.

But this time -- honest -- we are going to win!

The battlegrounds in 2012 are a lot more red and less blue than in 2010. If we switch seats in North Dakota, Florida, Nebraska, Virginia and Montana -- red states all -- we get control by 52-48.

And the way 2012 is shaping up, Republican control is more and more likely.

Start with retirements. Kent Conrad, the North Dakota liberal twin of retired Byron Dorgan, has announced that he won't run again. That seat is a sure GOP pickup.

Jim Webb, D-Va., has raised very little money, speaks with ambivalence about President Obama's programs and has not yet decided whether to run. George Allen's announced challenge to his re-election should cool him off even further, and he'll probably drop out. Not a sure pickup, but if the Republican Party nominates Allen -- and not some latter-day Christine O'Donnell -- we should be all right.

Herbert Kohl, the Wisconsin Democratic octogenarian, may also not run. He hasn't raised money but did lend his campaign $1 million to fill up his bank account. But loans can be repaid. Kohl may well retire. Defeated Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold may challenge him in a primary, hastening his exit. Not a sure pickup, but in a state that went so heavily Republican in 2010 (the GOP captured the governorship, both houses of the legislature, a Senate seat and more House members), it's a likely Republican gain.

The Nelsons (Bill of Florida and Ben of Nebraska) both face tough challenges from strong candidates in red states. Who knows if they will really run. Ben Nelson has to have the model of Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln firmly in his mind. He needs to quit before he gets thrown out.

Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., a former client, may not run again, especially since his state lurched sharply to the right in 2010.

And, in Montana, Democrat John Tester, who won by less than 1 point in 2006, is an easy target in a very red state.

So rate North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, Montana as very likely Republican victories.

But we won't stop there. Wisconsin -- against either Kohl or Feingold -- is a good pickup prospect. Bob Casey, D-Pa., can be beaten, as can Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., probably won't win again, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., will likely lose to former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman. And Republicans have a good shot against Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Joe Manchin, D-W.V., faces mounting scandals, and his failure to make good on his promise to vote like a Republican may cost him his seat. And Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the single sleaziest member of the Senate, may face a challenge in a state whose GOP is animated by its Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

It should be a happy hunting season!