Editor’s note: This column has been updated. Read this one and then click HERE for an update.
Today is Thursday and newspapers and websites are full of stories that are examining the results of the Tuesday night election. It’s no different whether you are in Missouri or Montana, the theme for the Democrats are basically the same: would have, could have, should have…and throw in a few lines about dirty campaigning and money from out of state making a difference.
That is so yesterday…
Political parties should now be looking ahead to 2012. Now. Waiting until after the holidays to get the 2012 campaign machine in gear is not an option.
In the United States Senate one-third of the senators are now “in cycle” meaning they are up next for re-election. For those unfamiliar with politics, senators are placed in one of three “classes” with approximately 33 of them up for re-election every two years. The members of the U.S. House are up for re-election very two years.
In 2012, there will be 21 Democrat senators up for re-election and only 10 Republicans. There are also two Independents that caucus with the Democrats. You can view the list HERE.
So, the chances for the Republicans to take over the senate in 2012 are very good…if they don’t screw it up. I’ve never been excited about the Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell, and his leadership qualities.
The Western Word has compiled a list of the 10 most vulnerable Senators up for re-election in 2012 (if they decide to run). These are in order from most vulnerable to least vulnerable. Drum roll please:
1. Jon Tester (D-MT)
2. Ben Nelson (D-NE)
3. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
4. John Ensign (R-NV)
5. Scott Brown (R-MA)
6. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
7. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
8. Kent Conrad (D-ND)
9. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
10. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Most readers know that Jon Tester was elected in November 2006 by just a few (3562) votes and failed to even win the county where he resides. He won the race when a third-party libertarian candidate took about 10,377 (mostly conservative) votes from the GOP candidate.
Tester has voted for most of President Obama’s ideas and he has had hard time trying to be even a moderate democrat. During his watch, one-fourth of the missile mission at Malmstrom AFB was lost and the Air Guard’s fighter jets are scheduled to leave. Unemployment is up about six points since his election and Tester pledged to control spending which has skyrocketed. He voted for Obama care. The campaign plan to take on Tester basically writes itself. I doubt if President Obama will make a trip to Montana to campaign for Tester – if fact, Tester may act like he never met the President…
Ensign is not a poster boy for the conservatives. Caught having an extramarital affair, he’s very vulnerable. The best thing Nevada Republicans could do is find someone else, but then again, David Vitter was caught being dirty and he won re-election in Louisiana by about 19 points.
McCaskill won her 2006 race in Missouri by about 2 points against Jim Talent. Some rumors are floating around the “Show Me State” that Talent may come back for a rematch. If so, it would be an easy campaign tool to say “are you better off now than you were six years ago” and the answer for Missourians would be an easy “No.” McCaskill was on a cable news channel today saying she hoped people would concentrate on getting something done for a couple of months instead of looking at the 2012 elections. Fat chance, Claire. Fat chance.
Hatch remembers what happened to long-time Utah Senator Bob Bennett earlier this year. Hatch must align himself and drink lots of “tea” to even be able to get into the general election.
Nelson is a moderate Democrat that is caught in the Obama trap. Voters in Nebraska will be reminded of the “Cornhusker kick-back” several times in the next two years and Obama care will be one of the major issues. Over 60% of Nebraskans are against it.
In Massachusetts, Brown is finishing out Senator Ted Kennedy’s term and 2012 is where he will run for a full six-year term. His win over Democrat Martha Coakley sent shockwaves through the political world – especially in Massachusetts and it gave the Tea Party some credibility. Brown is walking a fine-line in that he needs to be a moderate to win re-election and also trying to keep the Tea Party happy.
In North Dakota, with Democrat Earl Pomeroy losing a bid for a 10th term in U.S. House and Republican John Hoeven easily winning the open U.S Senate seat currently held by Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad should be on the endangered species list. Five Republican state-wide office holders won re-election on Tuesday garnering over 60% of the vote in each race.
No matter what these officeholders say, they are prepping for 2012 by raising money, launching campaign websites, and being out and about more. They will hound the media for coverage of ribbon cuttings and kissing babies. Every vote they take in the next couple of years will be dissected. Some will be used against them.
Of course, the economy could improve. Unemployment could go down. Spending could be cut. The tooth fairy will leave $500 under your pillow tonight, too.
If there’s a vote in the U.S. Senate to kill Obama care, that could make or break these senators’ chances of reelection. According to a MSU-Billings Poll (PDF) taken in Montana, 59% of the people disapprove of the job President Obama is doing and 61% oppose the healthcare legislation (Obama care) passed by Congress this year.
As The Western Word hears rumors or reads stories about possible opponents for these 10 most vulnerable Senators, we’ll be sure to let our readers know. You can always e-mail me with tips, information, or rumors at the e-mail address on the top right side of this screen.