October 15, 2009

50 IN '10:

Will 2010 bring a GOP wave? (George F. Will, 10/15/09, THE WASHINGTON POST)

In Colorado, where Democrats have won the last two Senate races, the appointed Democrat, Michael Bennet, faces a primary challenger, Andrew Romanoff, a former speaker of the state House. Annoyed because the governor did not appoint him to replace Salazar, Romanoff spurned the plea of a future Nobel Peace Prize winner that he not challenge Bennet. The Republican nominee might be a former statewide winner — Jane Norton, who was lieutenant governor.

In Illinois, which has not elected a Republican senator since 1998, the front-runner for the Republican nomination is Mark Kirk, a five-term congressman from the Chicago suburbs, where statewide elections often are decided. He annoyed his party by voting for the cap-and-trade legislation, but has sort of semi-apologized.

Connecticut's Sen. Chris Dodd, seeking a sixth term, has an approval rating of 43 percent and has drawn several serious Republican challengers. Any incumbent with a job approval below 50 percent should worry; Nevada's Harry Reid's is below 40.

Three seats held by Republicans are currently in jeopardy — Missouri's (Kit Bond is retiring), Ohio's (George Voinovich is retiring) and New Hampshire's (Judd Gregg is retiring). But Republicans have strong candidates in each state: In Missouri, Rep. Roy Blunt, former House Republican whip; in Ohio, Rob Portman, former congressman, head of the Office of Management and Budget, and trade representative; in New Hampshire, a possible nominee, former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, is currently leading her likely Democratic opponent.

Regarding House elections, substantial Republican gains are possible. As analyst Charles Cook notes, 84 House Democrats represent districts that were carried either by George W. Bush in 2004 or John McCain in 2008, and 48 of those districts were carried by both Bush and McCain. These and other uneasy incumbents know that Congress' job approval is 22 percent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 15, 2009 5:54 AM
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