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Johnny Z's Look at the 2004 Senate Races
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Senate 2006

"Man, we got so much more
money than the Democrats!"
NRSC Chairman George Allen

33 Senate seats are up for election in 2006. It's still a couple years away but I thought I'd give a preview, as there are already rumors floating around about who might be retiring or considering a challenge. Republicans will have a new NRSC chair -- Norm Coleman and Saxby Chambliss are in the running for the position.

Last updated March 8th, 2004
2000 Senate Results

"My plan is coming together nicely . . ."
Advisor Karl Rove

Possible Open Seats
in order of likelihood
Diane Feinstein California
Ted Kennedy Massachusetts
Robert Byrd West Virginia
Herbert Kohl Wisconsin
Jeff Bingaman New Mexico

Cruisin' for a Bruisin'
in order of vulnerability
Mark Dayton Minnesota
Bill Nelson Florida
Debbie Stabenow Michigan
Hillary Clinton New York
Jim Jeffords * Vermont
Somewhat Vulnerable
in no particular order
Ben Nelson Nebraska
Maria Cantwell Washington
Jon Corzine New Jersey
Kent Conrad North Dakota
Paul Sarbanes Maryland

Safe & Sound
by upset potential
Joe Lieberman Connecticut
Tom Carper Delaware
Daniel Akaka Hawaii
Possible Open Seats
in order of likelihood
Bill Frist Tennessee
Richard Lugar Indiana
Trent Lott Mississippi
Orrin Hatch Utah
Kay Bailey Hutchison Texas

Likely Republican
in order of vulnerability
Mike DeWine Ohio
George Allen Virginia
Olympia Snowe Maine

Lean Republican
in order of vulnerability
Jim Talent Missouri
Rick Santorum Santorum
Conrad Burns Montana
Lincoln Chafee Rhode Island

Safe & Sound
I mean it
Jon Kyl Arizona
John Ensign Nevada
Craig Thomas Wyoming

Democrat Seats

California: Dianne Feinstein

Retirement Feinstein is getting old and may have plans to come home to run for governor. Or she might just stick it out. Born in June 1933, Feinstein will be 73 come election day.

Republican Condi Rice has talked of going back to California, where she is on leave from Stanford, to run for office. That office is generally rumored to be the governorship, but that is somewhat occupied at the present time by the Governator. US Rep. Doug Ose is retiring from Congress now and may be setting himself up to run in 2006. State senator Tom McClintock, US Reps. Darrell Issa, George Radanovich, et al, will likely give it a look. No one's going to want to run against Feinstein, but if it's open even entrenched congressmen like Chris Cox or David Dreier may choose to run.

It would be a major task to defeat Feinstein should she run again. Barbara Boxer is such a psycho that she makes Feinstein looks reasonable!!!

Democrat The list of those wanting to run is a mile long. But we'll start with AG Bill Lockyer, Treasurer Phil Angelides, and a host of congresscritters, primarily Loretta Sanchez. Schwarzenegger is up for reelection in 2006, so half of these folks will go that direction.

Prognosis A Republican would have a good shot at an open seat in California, but not so much vs. a popular incumbent like Feinstein.

Massachusetts: Ted Kennedy

Retirement Kennedy's internal organs are so thoroughly pickled by now that just about nothing could stop him. Born February 1932, Kennedy will be almost 75 come election day. Will he run again? Don't bet against it.

GOP Nominee Former Governor and current Ambassador to Canada Paul Celucci is the big name in this hunt. Actually he's almost the only Republican in Massachusetts who anyone knows! Romney won't run, as he'll be gunning for a second term as governor. Lieutenant governor Kerry Healey is a possibility. Ex-Gov Jane "Not Too" Swift is a rather unlikely choice, though she might get herself into the House some day. Former Governor Bill Weld doesn't even live in Massachusetts any more.

Democrat Nominee Holy free-for-all Batman. Though I wonder if Joe Kennedy might try to give it one last shot.

Prognosis Celucci could very well win an open race. If Kennedy runs again, however, it would be tough; Mitt Romney is the only one to give Kennedy a challenge recently. Still, voters are not so enamored of the Kennedy family these days and if Celucci stepped up, things could get interesting.

West Virginia: Robert Byrd

Retirement Byrd is old old old old old old old. He'll be 88 come election time 2006. Strom kept going until 100, but I think it's likely Byrd will retire.

Republican US Rep Shelley Moore Capito is the logical choice, assuming she's re-elected in 2004. Capito is a rare successful Republican in a state that's only slowly departing from Democrat dominance.

Democrat Somewhat depends on who comes out of the 2004 gubernatorial primary. However, long time pro-life US Reps. Nick Rahall, 57, or Alan "Just For Men" Mollohan, 63, may try to move up.

Prognosis Still leans Democrat, especially in a non-Presidential year. Capito could certainly make it interesting, though, and the race would be competitive.

Wisconsin: Herb Kohl

Retirement Herb Kohl is gettin' up there in age but still going strong. It's likely that he'll seek re-election.

Republican Former Governor and current HHS Director Tommy Thompson says he'll run statewide again; this might be the race for him. If not Thompson, Wisconsin has a strong bench of potential candidates, though they may be reluctant to take on a senator as popular as Kohl.

Democrat US Reps Dave Obey, Jerry Kleczka (retiring in 2004), and Ron Kind (if he survives a tough 2004 reelection) are the most likely congresscritter candidates; state AG Peg Lautenschlager was a possibility until her drunk driving episode.

Prognosis This seat is ripe for the picking if Kohl retires. If he runs, Tommy Thompson is probably the only one who could take him down.

New Mexico: Jeff Bingaman

Incumbent Bingaman is a long-serving senator but will probably run again.

Opponent US Rep. Heather Wilson is the ready-made Republican nominee -- but only if Bingaman retires. Nobody's going to beat him.

Prognosis Safe Democrat if Bingaman runs.

Minnesota: Mark Dayton

2000 defeated incumbent freshman Rod Grams
Dayton self-funded his 2000 campaign. His fund-raising has been anemic so far, but he may pump in millions more this go-around.
Republican US Rep. Mark Kennedy is itching to take on Dayton.
Prognosis The DFL is in a bit of a slump these days, and Dayton already has a strong, well-funded challenger. This baby is a tossup!

Florida: Bill Nelson

2000 defeated US Rep. Bill McCollum 51-46
Nelson will benefit from renewed focus on NASA, as he is a former astronaut.
Republican US Rep. and former Sec State Katherine Harris wants this nomination. But not everyone may go along with that desire.
Prognosis Harris is still a polarizing figure, but she starts out with a strong base of support and mega fundraising power. The outcome will be decided in turnout wars, a major test of the strength of Florida's Democratic Party.

Republican Seats

Tennessee: Bill Frist

Incumbent Majority Leader Bill Frist has already announced he will be retiring after his second term -- he will likely run for president. A couple of folks are already running for this seat on both sides.

Republican US Rep. Zach Wamp has been very public about his interest in this seat. Wamp first won his seat in the 1994 GOP wave and has fashioned his politics after John McCain. He has built up a strong campaign treasury. Other possible candidates are former US Reps Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant. Hilleary lost a close race for governor in 2002 but promised a future statewide campaign. Bryant nearly upset former governor and presidential candidate Lamar Alexander in the 2002 GOP senate primary. Alexander went on to win the seat. US Rep. Marsha Blackburn has gotten support in some quarters as a conservative, pro-life woman. Republicans aren't ready to unite behind Wamp, that's for sure.

Democrat US Rep. Harold Ford of Nashville clearly sees himself as presidential material. Will he try to use the US Senate as a stepping-stone? He won't want to risk a loss, that's for sure.

Prognosis If Harold Ford runs this'll be a high profile race with national attention. If not, it'll drop off the national radar but should be tight, with an edge to the Republican.

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Indiana: Richard Lugar

Retirement Foreign policy expert Dick Lugar is gettin' up there in age, so he may call it quits in 2006.

Republican Wide open.

Democrat If Joe Kernan loses in 2004, he's a possibility. Otherwise . . . well, I don't know! Baron Hill, maybe.

Prognosis Leans Republican as an open seat, safe if Lugar runs.

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Mississippi: Trent Lott

Retirement Lott had to step down as majority leader after some congratulatory comments to Strom Thurmond set the media aflutter. He may decide to exit the national scene.

Republican nominee US Rep. Chip Pickering is the natural heir for this seat, or Thad Cochran's, whichever opens first.

Democrat nominee Former state Attorney General Mike Moore, who borders on being the most popular politician in the state, may have his sights trained on this seat, whether Lott runs or not.

Prognosis Lott would likely hold his seat against all comers, but Moore would have a good shot at an open race.

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Utah: Orrin Hatch

Retirement As much as one might wish for Orrin to go, he'll probably run again.
Democrat US Rep. Jim Matheson is the only one who wouldn't get crushed.

Prognosis Safe if Hatch runs, lean GOP if he doesn't.

Texas: Kay Bailey Hutchison

Retirement Hutchison is rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2006.
Republican Too many to name.
Democrat Retiring US Rep. Jim Turner, for one. MAYBE Lloyd Doggett, but it's highly doubtful he could be competitive statewide.
Prognosis Safe if Hutch runs, lean GOP if she doesn't.

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Missouri: Jim Talent

2002 defeated Jean Carnahan to serve the remainder of Mel Carnahan's term
Talent has spent considerable effort trying to make inroads among black voters.
Democrat Retiring Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell is the most likely possibility.
Prognosis Leans Republican, but will be one of the biggest targets for Democrats.

Pennsylvania: Rick Santorum

Santorum Fairly popular in PA even after his remarks on the Texas sodomy case; Reagan Democrats, of which there are many in Pennsylvania, like his emphasis on traditional values.
Democrat The Dems want to beat Santorum real bad, but they tried in 2000 and failed. Republican defector Treasurer Barbara Hafer wants to run, and she'll probably have company in the primary. Will pro-life Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. give it a shot?
Prognosis Leans Republican.

Montana: Conrad Burns

2000 defeated Brian Schweitzer
Burns had a scare in 2000 when he faced a well-funded challenge from rancher Brian Schweitzer. Montana's an odd state politically, with a tradition of conservative Democrats. Burns has taken a lot of effort to make sure 2006 isn't as close.
Democrat None lining up yet.
Prognosis Leans Republican.

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