Review:2006: The Democratic Seats2004-11-26 00:00:00
Vermont: Jim Jeffords is not really a Democrat, but we all know what being an independent in Vermont means. Jeffords is a far-left liberal, and Republicans would love to punish him for his 2001 betrayal of the party which re-elected him in 2000. However Governor Douglas does not seem ready to run against him, and Lieutenant Governor Dubie may have his eye on the Congressional seat.
Massachusetts: Ted Kennedy seems likely to run for another term, and the brilliant voters here will probably give him another term, unless the GOP can coax some wealthy businessman or former Governor into the race.
Connecticut: Joe Lieberman is one of my favorite Democrats. I will never forget his heroic defense of the invasion of Iraq, even though it cost him the presidential nomination of his party. However he is a loyal Democrat, and unless he is appointed to the cabinet, Lieberman will stay a Democrat. He may retire, in which case the GOP will probably nominate Congresswoman Johnson. It would be a very close race.
New York: Hillary Rodham Clinton has her eye on 2008, and she does not seem to understand that she must be re-elected in the Empire State. At first glance, that would not be a difficult task since the other Senator won a record landslide this year. The only way she would be denied a second term is if Governor George E. Pataki or former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani decides to challenge her.
New Jersey: Jon Corzine wants to be Governor, and what happens here depends on what happens in 2005. Were Corzine to lose the primary to Codey or the general election a Republican, he would automatically become a top-tier target. On the Republican side, one of the Congressional delegation or former Governor Whitman would be a strong nominee.
Delaware: Senator Tom Carper was a popular Governor, and he is a popular Senator. This is a Democratic hold unless Congressman Castle seeks the nomination.
Maryland: Paul Sarbanes is a long-time and popular Democratic incumbent. Were he to run for re-election, Sarbanes would be a lock. However he may retire, and that would mean a top-tier GOP target were Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele to run. The Democrats would have a very crowded primary field, which would only benefit Steele.
Michigan: Debbie Stabenow is one of the dimmest lightbulbs in the Senate, and I expect the GOP will mount a strong challenge, likely from a member of the congressional delegation. Given the state’s increasingly Republican lean, this should be a toss-up until election day.
Wisconsin: Senator Kohl is a liberal, but he is also a very popular and wealthy liberal. Unless he retires, this is a Democratic hold. Were he to retire, the GOP might nominate former Governor Thompson or a member of the congressional delegation. I would rate the race slight Republican.
Minnesota: Senator Mark Dayton is another of the dimmest lightbulbs in the Senate, and his recent behavior underlined this attribute. The GOP will probably nominate a member of the congressional delegation. This race starts as a toss-up.
Florida: Bill Nelson must be lonely. He is the only Democrat elected statewide, and Republicans are anxious to complete their sweep of the Sunshine State. However they must first sort through what promises to be a crowded primary field. The strongest GOP nominee would be outgoing Governor Jeb Bush.
North Dakota: There are rumors that Governor Hoeven or former Governor Ed Schafer might run against Conrad. Were either man to run, it would be an automatic toss-up. The Democratic streak in the congressional delegation must end someday. However if neither man runs, then Conrad will win again. Do me a favor, and call both Republicans, urging them to run.
Nebraska: Another GOP target, Ben Nelson, may retire since Governor Johanns seems eager to run for his seat. Johanns vs. Nelson would be a toss-up, but I suspect would ultimately lean toward the Republican Governor.
New Mexico: Senator Jeff Bingaman is not the most prominent member of the Senate, but he is a popular incumbent. Were he to run for re-election, he would be a solid bet. However he may decide to retire, in which case Congresswoman Heather Wilson would be the strongest GOP candidate.
California: Diane Feinstein will probably retire. Expect a very close and expensive race.
Washington: Maria Cantwell is another dim lightbulb, and Republicans would be ecstatic if former Congresswoman Dunn ran against her in 2006.
West Virginia: Robert Byrd wins again if he runs again. Considering that he has been a Senator since Eisenhower was President, I expect he will run again and win again. When he retires, this will be a GOP pick-up.
I may have missed a race since I did this off the top of my head, so e-mail me if I have made a mistake. I have not done the Republicans yet, but if my memory serves me correctly, only Senator Rick Santorum can remotely be considered vulnerable.
However I see 2006 as a very good year for us if Elizabeth Dole, Karl Rove, and President Bush start working the phones early.-- Alexander K. McClure