The Republicans have 21 seats at stake in 2008 and the Democrats have just 12.
Nevertheless, many of these are safe seats, so the numbers don't tell the whole
story. Below are the races expected to be competitive. However, potential retirements
in half a dozen states could easily change the picture. See also our list of all
2008 Senate races.
When he was first elected in 1996, Wayne Allard promised to
serve only two terms. We will soon find out if he intends to
keep his promise. The fact that he has a -4% net approval rating may
influence his decision: it looks better to go gracefully keeping your
promise than to break it and be defeated. Colorado has been trending Democratic in
recent years. While George Bush carried the state by 6% in 2004, Colorado
also elected Ken Salazar (D) to the Senate the same year and just elected
Bill Ritter (D) governor by 15%. Furthermore, the Democrats control both
houses of the state legislature. Colorado will be the Democrats' number 2 target
in 2008 (after Minnesota). Rep. Mark Udall and Denver mayor John Hickenlooper
are the most likely Democratic challengers. Allard trivia: Allard is one of the
two veterinarians in the Senate. The other is John Ensign (R-NV).
Mary Landrieu is one of the two Democrats who barely squeaked by
in 2002, having won in a runoff with 52%. The Republicans have her in their
crosshairs. They might try to blame hurricane Katrina on her (or more
specifically, her response to it), but that would be playing with fire as she would
would likely then blame the Republican administration. Her net approval rating
is +10%--not great--so this is one of the Republicans best chances for a pickup.
Landrieu trivia: Her father, Moon Landrieu, was mayor of New Orleans from 1970 to 1978,
and her brother is the current Lt. Governor of Louisiana.
Norm Coleman will be the Democrats top target in the Senate in 2008.
He won his seat in 2002 by a tiny margin after his Democratic opponent, Paul Wellstone,
was killed in a plane crash two weeks before the election. The Democrats hastily
got former Vice President Walter Mondale to take Wellstone's slot on the ticket, but
Mondale was unable to do what Frank Lautenberg pulled off in New Jersey--suddenly
jump in and win. Both parties are keenly aware that in Nov. 2006, Hennepin County
Attorney Amy Klobuchar (D) crushed Rep. Mark Kennedy (R) by over 20% for an open
John Sununu had not really been on the radar until Nov. 7, 2006, when a political
tsunami hit New Hampshire. John Lynch (D) was reelected to a second two-year term with
an incredible 74% of the vote, the largest percentage in a gubernatorial race in
state history. A totally unknown antiwar activist, Carol Shea-Porter (D), defeated
incumbent congressman Jeb Bradley (R) in NH-01 and lawyer Paul Hodes (D) defeated
incumbent congressman Charlie Bass (R) in NH-02. The Democrats also swept to power in both
houses of the state legislature for the first time since 1874. In this climate,
if Gov. Lynch decides to run for the Senate instead of for governor in 2008, Sununu
is in deep dudu. Sununu trivia: His father was governor of New Hampshire and Bush 41's
chief of staff.
Tim Johnson is one of the two most endangered Democratic
senators. He got just 50% of the vote in 2000 against
John Thune, who ran again in 2004 and beat Tom Daschle.
Furthermore, South Dakota is a heavily Republican state.
Despite his narrow win in 2002, Johnson has a +46% net approval rating,
so the people of South Dakota like the way he is doing his job.
Unfortunately, Johnson suffered a cerebral hemorrhage Dec. 13, 2006. He was
operated on immediately. If he lives, he can continue to serve in Senate no matter what his condition.
Sen. Karl Mundt (R-SD) had a stroke in 1969 and continued to serve for three
years without once visiting the Senate. If Johnson declines to run for
reelection, the Democratic nominee will almost certainly be Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-SD),
South Dakota's at-large congresswoman, who was reelected in 2006 with 70% of the
vote. Although young (36), she has generations of experience: her grandfather was
governor of SD, her grandmother was Secretary of State, and her father was a