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2010 Senate Races (colors are from 2004 races for the time being)
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Update on Top Senate Races     Permalink

Updates will be a bit sporadic until September due to travel and the fact that most people aren't really tuned into politics yet, which makes the polls very suspect this far out. Here is a rundown of the top Senate races. For a rundown on all the Senate races, click on the "Senate Races" link under the map.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Blanche Lincoln

John Boozman

Arkansas is a very Democratic state--except for presidential elections. The governor and both senators are Democrats as are three of the four representatives and the Democrats control both houses of the state legislature. Nevertheless, Blanche Lincoln's popularity is way down and she barely beat back a primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D). On the Republican side, Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) is looking for a promotion to the Senate and has a good chance of getting it. Initial polls give him a huge lead.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Barbara Boxer

Carly Fiorina

Barbara Boxer is a three-term incumbent and very popular in the state (she beat her opponent by 20 points in 2004). The Republicans had a nasty primary with Fiorina beating a moderate Republican and a tea party candidate. The mere fact that she can spend tens of millions of dollars of her own money makes her competitive, but her track record outsourcing jobs and getting fired for incompetence at Hewlett Packard will figure prominently in the race.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Candidate unknown

Candidate unknown

Ken Salazar swam against the Republican tide in 2004, but since he has now been appointed to the cabinet, an appointee, Michael Bennet, will be running in 2010. Bennet has never held elective office before, so he has no experience campaigning. He will also have to fend off a primary challenge from former Colorado House speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), who is somewhat to the left of Bennet. Polling shows it to be close. The Republican primary features Lt. Gov. Jane Norton and Weld County District Attorney, Ken Buck. Originally Norton was the overwhelming favorite, but in recent weeks, tea party favorite Buck has taken the lead.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Chris Coons

Mike Castle

When Joe Biden became Vice President, Gov. Ruth Minner appointed a placeholder, Ted Kaufman, to keep the seat warm until Biden's son, Beau Biden, could come back from his tour of duty in Iraq and run. Unfortunately, when Biden came back he decided not to run, leaving the Democrats with a big problem. Eventually, Chris Coons, executive of the state's largest county jumped in the race. Sensing an opening, Mike Castle, the state's lone representative decided to run even though he is 70 and it takes 20 years to get enough seniority to have any real power. Initial polls show Castle way ahead of the lesser-known Coons, but Delaware is a very blue state, so that could change as Coons gets better known.


Challenger Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Marco Rubio

Kendrick Meek

Charlie Crist

Appointed senator George LeMieux is retiring this year. After some hesitation, Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) decided to run for the job. Initially he was the favorite by a huge margin. Then Marco Rubio, the former state House majority leader got in the Republican primary and became the darling of the tea partiers. When Crist saw that he was 20 points behind Rubio, he dropped out of the Republican primary and decided to run as an independent. Early on, when everyone expected Crist to win the Republican nomination, the only Democrat willing to run was an unknown black congressman, Kendrick Meek (D). Then billionaire Jeff Greene, who made his fortune betting that people would default on their mortgages decided to try to buy the Democratic nomination. Meek is still the favorite, but only slightly now. In a three-way race against either Democrat, Crist is leading. A major issue here is who Crist would caucus with. He refuses to say.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Alexi Giannoulias

Mark Kirk

After a lot of feinting, the Senate decided to seat Roland Burris as Barack Obama's replacement. Burris failed to raise much money and was dogged by scandals, so he decided to call it quits in 2010. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias won the Democratic primary and will face Rep. Mark Kirk (R) in the general election. Although Illinois is a blue state, Giannoulias' family owns a small bank that is in financial trouble. Being associated with a poorly performing bank is not a good place to be right now. But Kirk has repeatedly lied about his record and been caught at it so The race is expected to be close.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Brad Ellsworth

Dan Coats

Although Barack Obama carried Indiana, it is nevertheless a fairly red state. If Sen. Evan Bayh had decided to run again, he would have won easily, but he has had enough of how Washington works and decided to retire from politics. His departure completely completely shakes up the race and makes it a tossup. The Democrat is very likely to be Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) but the Republicans had a nasty primary won by former senator Dan Coats (R). In recent years, Coats has been a lobbyist for the banking industry, which is not likely to play well in hard-hit Indiana, but the race could be close. Still, Coats is the favorite.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Rand Paul

Jack Conway

Jim Bunning is the only senator who is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. While he was a great pitcher, he was hardly a great senator. His age and lack of fundraising drove him from the 2010 race, so the Republican establishment picked a succesor, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Only their plan was messed up by the son of Rep. Ron Paul, Rand Paul, who entered the race and thumped him in a primary. The Democrats also had a primary, which was won by state Attorney General Jack Conway. This is likely to be an unpredictable race with many twists and turns.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
David Vitter

Charlie Melancon

David Vitter is the only Republican ever elected to the Senate from Louisiana since direct election of senators began. He will certainly be under a cloud in 2010 because he was a frequest flyer at the establishment of the late D.C. madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Count on his Democratic opponent to bring this up. But before even facing off against Melancon, he will have to beat back a challenge from Chet Traylor, a former state supreme court justice. Traylor, unlike Vitter, is not from New Orleans and may have serious support from rural voters unhappy with Vitter's dalliances as well as money from the business community. Still, at this moment, Vitter is the favorite.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Roy Blunt

Robin Carnahan

Four-term senator Kit Bond (R) has decided to call it quits. He will be 77 at the end of another term and he's not interested, so we have an open seat in a key swing state. The other Missouri senator is a Democratic woman, Claire McCaskill. Robin Carnahan (D), the current Missouri Secretary of State and a member of a Missouri dynasty is running and is the favorite. Father Mel was governor. Mother Jean was senator. Brother Russ is a congressman. Needless to say, the Carnahan name is pretty well known in Missouri. A serious primary challenge seems unlikely. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is the almost certain Republican nominee at this point. He, too, has dynastic tendencies. His son, Matt Blunt, was governor from 2005 to 2009. Missouri is the Democrats' best chance for a pickup.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Harry Reid

Sharron Angle

The gentlemen's agreement between the parties to leave each other's leader alone is gone, and Harry Reid is high on the Republican's target list. Reid's popularity in the state is low, so the Republicans are doing their best to unseat him. After a bitter primary, tea party favorite Sharron Angle emerged the winner, largely helped by her opponents' blunders. But her support for storing radioactive wastes in Nevada, something Reid and most of the state's residents strongly oppose, is going to be a real problem for her in the general election. If Reid succeeds in painting Angle as a lunatic, enough people may hold their noses and vote for him and he could eke out a win.

New Hampshire

Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Kelly Ayotte

Paul Hodes

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) was going to become Secretary of Commerce and then he changed his mind. He abstained on the stimulus bill (which was de facto the same as voting for cloture) but took a lot of heat for it from NH Republicans. Then he withdrew and said he wouldn't run in 2010 either, creating an open seat. Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) is running and is unlikely to be challenged by any other Democrat. Republicans lucked out when Kelly Ayotte, the state's Attorney General said she would run. However, she was appointed to the AG job and this is her first actual run for public office. The GOP establishment quickly rallied around her. However, she is being challenged from the right by Ovide Lamontagne, which could lead to a nasty ideological primary but Ayotte is by far the favorite for the nomination.

North Carolina

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Richard Burr

Elaine Marshall

Richard Burr is a one-term senator in the famous cursed seat. It has flipped parties in each of the past five elections. To make it worse, in 2008 he watched in angst as his Republican colleague Elizabeth Dole went down to defeat at the hands of state senator Kay Hagan (D) at the same time as Beverly Perdue (D) was elected governor and Barack Obama won the state's electors. After a tough primary, North Carolina's Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall got the Democratic nomination. It could be a close race.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Rob Portman

Lee Fisher

Sen. George Voinovich is retiring after two terms in the Senate, creating an open seat in a swing state. This will one of the most bitterly fought races in 2010. Former congressman Rob Portman (R-OH) is the nominee for the Republicans. He was also director of the budget during the Bush administration, which will be a handicap as the Democrats will accuse him of causing the recession. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher beat Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner for the Democratic nomination. Fisher is a poor campaigner but against a Bush retread the race should be competitive.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Joe Sestak

Pat Toomey

Arlen Specter's switch back to the Democrats took everyone by surprise. He was elected to the Senate five times as a Republican in a blue state. Since jumping ship, he voted with the Democratic leadership nearly 100% of the time. But that didn't fool the voters of Pennsylvania. In a hotly contested primary, they selected retired Rear Admiral Joe Sestak, a current member of the House looking for another promotion. The Republican, Pat Toomey, is very far to the right and no doubt Sestak will tout his long naval career and moderate position. It is too early to tell how this race will turn out.

West Virginia

Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Joe Manchin

Candidate unknown

The death of Sen. Robert Byrd on June 28 has generated a special election to be held in November to fill out the rest of Byrd's term, which ends in January 2013. Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) will be the Democratic Candidate. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) is the only Republican with a chance to beat him but she decided not to run. Without a serious candidate, Manchin will likely hold the seat.

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