My Senate picks, for the record...
I've been working this out for a while now -- calculating, estimating. But my picks have stayed the same for a couple months now, so I don't see anything changing, except as the primaries get nearer and hopeless would-be politicians, their dreams dashed, drop out of the race. That said, here's my take on the 2006 Senate race. If you can update this in any way, please do let me know.
UPDATED: Brown dropped out in Rhode Island, leaving Whitehouse to run against Chafee
Sarbanes (D - Maryland)
Election -- I see it between Dem. Rep. Ben Cardin (beating out scandal-plagued Kweisi Mfume in the primary) and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.
Result -- Some pollsters have suggested that, after beating a black man in the primary, Cardin will lose the black vote to Steele in the general election. But I think black voters are smart enough not to vote on race alone. Say hello to Senator Cardin.
Dayton (D - Minnesota)
Election – After beating Patty Wetterling in the primary, Amy Klobuchar (who leads Wetterling 66 to 15 in one DFL poll) takes on Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy, who is the GOP chosen one for this field.
Result – Normally a Democratic stronghold, Minnesota feels shame and degradation after allowing Norm Coleman to win. This is a win for Dems, but it’s a close one. Except New Jersey, this is the closest race the Dems have, in terms of those seats they're trying to hold onto.
Corzine (D - New Jersey)
Election -- Corzine beat Forrester in 2005's election to become governor of New Jersey, leaving his chosen successor, new Senator Robert Menendez, to run against state senator Tom Kean.
Result -- Tough call. The Democrats’ closest race, in terms of those races where they’re trying to hold onto their own seats. But look to Menendez to pull it off.
Frist (R - Tennessee)
Election -- The catkiller steps out to go for the Big Brass Ring (a.k.a. The White House), and (after a primary against ultra-conservative Van Hilleary and more-moderate Bob Corker) paleo-con Ed Bryant goes toe-to-toe with Harold Ford, Jr., a moderate Democrat.
Result -- The Fords are a household name in Tennessee. And this one will be the first black man elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction, notwithstanding his uncle’s recent troubles with the law.
(CHANGES TO DEM)
Jeffords (I - Vermont)
Election -- The Dems defer to Independent candidate Bernie Sanders. The GOP throws up Gregory Parke and cries like a little girl.
Result -- Vermont Loves Bernie. Nuff said.
SHOULD BE RETIRING
Akaka (D - Hawaii)
Election -- Akaka (age at election: 82) vs. unknown
Result -- Akaka should step down, as Hawaii is slowly trending Republican and the Dems should get a young incumbent in while they can -- such as Ed Case, who is running in the primary against Akaka, but will lose. But at least Akaka is a shoe-in.
Lugar (R - Indiana)
Election -- Lugar (age at election: 74), unopposed.
Result –With a huge investment of time and money, Lugar might have been vulnerable. But the Democrats haven’t even found a candidate. So, Lugar’s got it made.
Kennedy (D - Massachusetts)
Election -- Kennedy (age at election: 74) vs. some poor sap, probably Kenneth Chase (ever heard of him? Neither have I.)
Result -- Mitt Romney might run when Kennedy retires, if he doesn’t take a shot at the White House. For now, Kennedy’s untouchable.
Byrd (D - W. Va.)
Election -- Byrd (age at election: 88) vs. John Raese (after a primary against fellow Monongalia Republican Hiram Lewis)
Result – While I generally feel that anyone who is going to hit age 90 in their next term should probably retire and start on the requisite memoir, Byrd is nevertheless a sacred cow in West Virginia.
Kyl (R - Arizona)
Election -- Kyl vs. former Arizona party chair Jim Pederson
Result – Despite its reputation as a swing state and Kyl’s conservative voting record, he remains popular. Unless the Dems can re-brand him as an archconservative of the currently untrendy neo-con, corporo-fascist variety, he’s in.
Feinstein (D - California)
Election -- Feinstein vs. Richard Mountjoy.
Result – Given California’s strong Democratic streak, Mountjoy is just token resistance -- especially after Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, steals away the racist vote. Feinstein is the HUGE favorite.
Lieberman (D - Connecticut)
Election -- Lieberman vs. probably Alan Schlesinger, after a primary against Herschal Collins.
Result – Despite being extremely unpopular among the left, Lieberman remains popular in his home state – enough so that the GOP will have problems without a strong candidate. And with the implosion of the Connecticut GOP following the removal of Conn.’s governor, they don’t have one. Ned Lamont's Democratic primary against Lieberman is interseting to antiwar advocates, but ultimately futile.
Carper (D - Delaware)
Election -- Carper vs. Colin Bonini.
Result – After Republican rep. Mike Castle announced he wouldn’t run, this seat was all but guaranteed for Carper.
Nelson (D - Florida)
Election -- Nelson vs. Katherine Harris
Result – Much of the state – not just in the left, but also among independents and moderates -- sees Harris as nothing but a thoughtless GOP apparatchik who fixed the 2000 election. Nelson wins.
Snowe (R - Maine)
Election -- Snowe vs. Eric Mehnert, after a primary against super-liberal candidate Jean Hay Bright.
Result -- It's the old moderate story. If she wins the primary, she's in. As for retirement rumors, don’t count on it.
Stabenow (D - Michigan)
Election -- Stabenow vs. (after a nasty, drawn-out primary against Mi9ke Bouchard) Keith Butler, whom the GOP hopes will siphon off black votes.
Result – As in Nebraska, the top-tier candidates (in this case, folks like representatives Candice Miller and Joe Rogers) have ruled-out a run against Stabenow. That means that, despite an extremely tight 2000 election, she’s in much better shape this time around.
Lott (R - Mississippi)
Election -- Trent Lott vs. Erik Fleming
Result -- ha ha ha ha! Why are Dems even hoping? It's Lott by a mile.
Talent (R - Missouri)
Election -- Talent vs. state auditor Claire McCaskill
Results – VERY tight race, but Talent will pull it off in the end. This has the potential to be the tightest race of the year, though, so it’s really anybody’s game.
Burns (R - Montana)
Election -- Burns vs. (after a long primary against state auditor John Morrison) state Senate president Jon Tester
Result -- The Dems took over both state houses and the governorship in the last couple of years. 73-year-old Burns is a fossil, and by election time, he’ll be drowning in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Tester is young, with plenty of ideas. He wins.
(CHANGES TO DEM)
Nelson (D - Nebraska)
Election -- Nelson vs. (after a primary against former state party chair David Kramer and former Attorney General Don Stenberg) former Ameritrade COO Pete Ricketts.
Result – Ricketts is, at best, a third-string candidate. Governor Mike Johanns was named Agriculture Secretary, and former football coach and current congressman Tom Osbourne backed out – foolishly, as he probably could have won. As it stands, this seat is Nelson’s to lose.
Ensign (R – Nevada)
Election – Ensign vs. Jimmy Carter’s son, Jack
Result – Name recognition means something, but Jimmy Carter is ancient history, and the name recognition no longer means as much. Especially out here in the western desert.
Bingaman (D - New Mexico)
Election -- Bingaman vs. David Pfeffer.
Result – Republican Rep. Heather Wilson would have made this competitive, but the Democrats were smart enough to offer a serious challenge to her House seat, making a Senate run extremely risky for her. The second-string candidate, Pfeffer, is a former Democrat who supports Social Security privatization and the Iraq War. He’s screwed.
Clinton (D - New York)
Election -- Clinton vs. probably former Yonkers mayor John Spencer, but who cares?
Result -- Only in their wet dreams does the GOP beat Hillary
Conrad (D - North Dakota)
Election -- Conrad vs. farmer Dwight Grotberg, who allegedly has a nonexistent campaign war chest.
Result -- Conrad has played it safe, playing moderate as best he can. He'll get payback for that by winning re-election. Unlike Lieberman, there's very little liberal base in North Dakota to try running a lib candidate against him. And besides, even if that candidate won, it would just mean a beating from the GOP. In this case, moderation pays. That, and the fact that top-tier GOP candidate John Hoeven has said he won’t run.
DeWine (R - Ohio)
Election -- DeWine vs. Sherrod Brown
Result – DeWine ranks dead last out of the 100 Senators in popularity in home state in one poll. His approval is below 40 percent. The Ohio GOP is in disarray after the scandals of Governor Taft and the near-defeat of Rep. Schmidt by Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett, plus the crushing defeat of DeWine’s son and the upcoming Abramoff-related scandal of Bob Ney. Brown is a household name in Ohio, and should beat DeWine handily. It would probably have been better for Dems if Hackett had gone against DeWine and Brown had waited until 2010 to take on Voinovich, but what the hell.
(CHANGES TO DEM)
Santorum (R - Pennsylvania)
Election -- Santorum vs. state treasurer Bob Casey
Result -- In a moderate, mostly blue state like Pennsylvania, Santorum should've kept his religio-whacko views out of the headlines. Casey is a pro-life Democrat, very middle of the road. It’s exactly what the Dems needed – a sane man to highlight Santorum’s insanity.
(CHANGES TO DEM)
Chafee (R - Rhode Island)
Election -- Chafee vs. (after a primary against Secretary of State Matt Brown [UPDATE: Brown dropped out of race, 4/26/05]) state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse.
Result -- With a name like Whitehouse, he’s just gotta win. Chafee has drawn Republican ire for straying from the true faith, even raising the possibility of switching parties in 2004. With the GOP abandoning him, and with Rhode Island’s heavily Democratic population, the popular Whitehouse goes in for the upset. There’s even the outside chance that conservative Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey will beat Chafee in the primaries. If that happens, this turns into a slaughterhouse as moderates flee the GOP.
(CHANGES TO DEM)
Hutchinson (R - Texas)
Election -- Hutchison vs. Houston attorney Barbara Radnofsky
Result -- Dude, it's Texas.
Hatch (R - Utah)
Election -- Hatch vs. Pete Ashdown
Result -- Popular Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson has refused to go against Hatch, leaving Ashdown to be crushed. Look for Matheson to try a run after Hatch retires, but for now, Hatch wins.
Allen (R - Virginia)
Election -- Allen vs. James Webb.
Result – The Dems could take this one, if only Governor Mark Warner would throw his hat in the ring. Instead, he seems to have his eye on a bid for the White House. It’s a shame, because he might have been the one to give the Dems a majority in the Senate. Webb will be a tough campaigner, but in a very tight race, the advantage goes to the incumbent.
Cantwell (D - Washington)
Election -- Cantwell vs. Safeco CEO Mike McGavick
Result – Despite her close win in 2000, polls show Cantwell leading McGavick by double digits. Nuff said.
Kohl (D - Wisconsin)
Election -- Kohl vs. unknown. Possibly Robert Lorge.
Result – Early speculation postulated that Sec. Tommy Thompson might make a run, but that ain’t happening. Nor have other potential candidates, such as Rep. Paul Ryan, stepped forward. Looks like Kohl will coast, simply through lack of real competition.
Thomas (R - Wyoming)
Election -- Thomas vs. college professor Dale Groutage.
Election -- To paraphrase my Texas thing -- Dude, it's Wyoming.
Final: The Dems pick up 5 seats, making the Senate 50 GOP, 49 Dems, and 1 Independent.
Which means another GOP majority. The Independent – Sanders – caucuses with the Dems, and Vice President Cheney breaks the tie, giving it to the GOP.
If McCaskill would win in Missouri, or if Webb would win in Virginia, the Dems could even pull a majority, assuming everything I have here turns our to be correct. And we all know it is. Just look how good my last prediction turned out. (Press Secretary Karen Hughes? What was I thinking?)