November 5, 2002

ON TO 2004!:

Well, Election 2002 was more fun than a bag of cats, but enough navel-gazing; time to lift our vision to the future: on to Election 2004! Here are the Senate Democrats who come up for re-election next cycle. Possible retirees are marked with an *; conceivable party-switchers with a +; potential presidential candidates with a #. Ideal GOP opponents are in [brackets], where there are obvious choices. They are ranked in order of vulnerability for a switch of the seat to the GOP by January 2005:

Democrat Class of 2004

*Ernest Hollings (SC) (born 1922) vs. [former governor Caroll Campbell (sadly, we have been informed that Mr. Campbell declared at the end of 2001 that he is suffering from Alzheimer's)]

*+Zell Miller (GA) (born 1932)

Barbara Boxer (CA) vs. [Condoleeza Rice (unless she's the VP) or Arnold Schwarzenegger]

Chuck Schumer (NY) vs. [Rudy Giuliani or George Pataki]

#John Edwards (NC)

Blanche Lincoln (AR) vs. [DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson]

*Dan Inouye (HI) (born 1924)

Harry Reid (NV) vs. [Gov. Guinn]

Patty Murray (WA) vs. [Rep. Jennifer Dunn]

#Russ Feingold (WI) vs. [HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson]

Byron Dorgan (ND)

#Tom Daschle (SD) vs. [John Thune]

+Bob Graham (FL) vs. [Jeb Bush or HUD Secratary Mel Martinez]

+John Breaux (LA)

+#Evan Bayh (IN) vs. [Dan Quayle]

Barbara Mikulski (MD) vs. [Rep. Connie Morella]

Ron Wyden (OR)

#Chris Dodd (CT) vs. [Governor John Rowland]

Patrick Leahy (VT)  vs. [Lt. Governor Brian Dubie]

What's most notable here may be the quality of candidate that you could put up against some of the seemingly safest incumbents at the bottom of the chart. At any rate, at least the first seven seats--and maybe the first ten--look extremely difficult to defend (though Zell Miller will win in a walkover if he runs again as a Democrat). If George W. Bush were to replace Dick Cheney on the ticket with Condoleeza Rice or J.C. Watts and were riding a growing economy and some further successes in the war on radical Islamism, the pieces would be in place for significant gains downticket in the 2004 election.

Christopher Badeaux says Hell no, Zell won't go.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 5, 2002 1:00 PM

I'm a bit shocked at how many Democrats you think may party-switch.

Posted by: pj at November 5, 2002 12:19 PM

Remember in '94 Shelby & Nighthorse Campbell switched in a heartbeat. If the GOP has a good day today then these guys who are out of step with their own party also face being in the minority for at least four more years and having to buck a Bush tide in '04.

Posted by: oj at November 5, 2002 12:27 PM

And the Democrat who the GOP has done the most spadework on getting to switch isn't even on the list: Ben Nelson (NE)

Posted by: oj at November 5, 2002 12:45 PM

Well! You sure are early!

* Hollings will never retire; they'll have to carry him out in a box. Or Campbell will have to squash him.

* What about Rick Riordan against Boxer? I know, he's not much of a conservative, but no different than Ahhnold in that regard, and Arnie wants to be Governor, not Senator. Anyhow, she is very vulnerable to the right opponent.

* The Schum is not vulnerable. And for that reason, Pataki will not run against him. And neither will Rudy. Feingold isn't really vulnerable either, I don't think, and I would be surprised if Thompson wants to run for Senator against him.

* Patty Murray should be way higher on the hit list, above Schumer for sure. Dodd should be higher, too - what has he done for Connecticut lately?

* I don't see Bayh, Graham or Breaux as party-switchers, by any stretch. Miller's pretty likely, and Nelson is possible.

Posted by: Noah Millman at November 5, 2002 4:36 PM

Chuckie wouldn't be vulnerable to just anyone.. but he would be if Rudy ran against him.

Posted by: MarkD at November 5, 2002 7:06 PM

Bayh wants to be President and that means becoming a Republican. Graham's state just went GOP big time. And Breaux is a conservative.

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2002 1:52 AM

The GOP Bench here in "the other Washington" isn't very deep at the statewide level, but I'll suggest Jennifer Dunn R-WA8 as quality opponent for Patty Murray.

She's has the following advantages:

1) Enough national credibility from her time in the House leadership to get serious RNP $ and support,

2) She's a political pro, so won't make many gaffes,

3) Comes from a safe GOP district, so no worry about costing the party a seat, and

3) most importantly, she's female, which seems to be worth 2-3 pts in this state (e.g. Maria Cantwell wouldn't be the Jr Senator without it).

Posted by: TimF at November 6, 2002 2:07 AM


Excellent call, I'll add her, though she may also have her sights set on eventual leadership of the House.

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2002 7:33 AM

Agreed. Dunn was touted as a potential opponent last time Murray ran ('98) and wanting to concentrate on the her house leadership responsibilities was the reason for not running then.

Posted by: TimF at November 6, 2002 11:39 AM

I've posted a list of all the Senators up for re-election '04, along with the margins of victory from their last elections:


Especially if the Dems turn more liberal after this election, there is the potential for further GOP pickups.

Posted by: Zachary Emig at November 7, 2002 9:33 AM
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