Welcome back folks for the third and final installment where I break down the U.S. Senate races. We’re currently predicting 44 Democrats (plus those two Independents) and 42 Republicans, with twelve seats left to sort out. Let’s get to them!
Oklahoma: Three-term incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe will seek to defend his seat against Democratic insurance agency owner Matt Silverstein. Oklahoma is rather infamous for its extremely harsh ballot access laws that effectively bar independent and minor party candidates from electoral participation, so these two will most likely be it. Even though Inhofe will be 79 years old this year, this is a very safe Republican seat.
Oklahoma Special Election: In January, Republican Senator Tom Coburn announced that he would be resigning at the end of the year, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. As a result, primary elections will be held June 24th, with a special senate election held alongside the regularly scheduled election in November to replace him. Declared Republican candidates include:
– Rep. James Lankford,
– Businessman Eric McCray
– Former Speaker of the OK House T.W. Shannon, and
– Paramedic Jason Weger.
At this point, no Democrats have actually announced their candidacy for the seat. Not surprising, since this is a very safe Republican seat.
Oregon: Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who was very narrowly elected in 2008, will first have to defend his seat against fitness instructor Pavel Goberman in a primary battle, which he should easily win. He will then face off against Independent massage therapist Karl King, and one of the following Republicans:
– IT consultant Mark Callahan,
– State Rep. Jason Conger,
– Attorney Tim Crawley,
– Former county chair Jo Rae Perkins, and
– Surgeon Monica Wehby.
While Merkley may have been a weak candidate in 2008, he now enjoys incumbency status against some very weak candidates. I see this as a likely Democratic hold.
Rhode Island: Three-term incumbent Democratic Senator Jack Reed won 73% of the vote against his Republican opponent in 2008. Perhaps needless to say, no candidate has decided to spend their money in a fruitless campaign against this very safe Democratic incumbent.
South Carolina: Republican Senator (and frequent target of Jon Stewart impersonations) Lindsey Graham is facing off against several primary challengers. Many of these challengers come from the Tea Party movement, some who feel Graham isn’t conservative enough, while others come from the libertarian wing of the party and are upset by Graham’s support of indefinite detention, the PATRIOT Act, and foreign military intervention:
– Pastor Det Powers,
– State Senator Lee Bright,
– Businessman Richard Bash,
– Attorney Bill Connor,
– Businesswoman (and first female graduate of The Citadel) Nancy Mace.
As of right now, none of these challengers are posing a serious threat to Graham. He will then go on to face either businessman Jay Stamper or attorney Harold Pavilack for the Democrats, and Independent Thomas Ravenel, a former state treasurer. This will be a safe Republican seat.
South Carolina Special Election: After Jim DeMint resigned his seat to assume the presidency of the Heritage Foundation, Republican Tim Scott was appointed as his replacement until a special election was to be held. Scott, the first black Republican senator from South Carolina since 1897, (and who enjoys wide support from Tea Party groups), will be facing off against either coundcilwoman Joyce Dickerson or former Commerce Department official Rick Wade from the Democrats, as well as Independent contractor Brandon Armstrong. Senator Scott will be able to keep forwarding his mail to D.C.
South Dakota: Current Democratic Senator Tim Johnson has announced his retirement, opening this seat up. The Democrats have not been able to find a powerful candidate, and currently only have former congressional staffer Rick Weiland. Republicans will have to choose between:
– Physician Annette Bosworth,
– State Rep. Stace Nelson,
– Attorney Jason Ravnsborg,
– State Senator Larry Rhoden, and
– Former Governor Mike Rounds.
Former senator Larry Pressler has also announced his intention to run as an Independent. Rounds is currently the favorite to gain the Republican nomination, and is probably the best chance to win against Weiland. As of now, I’m predicting the Republicans to pick up this seat.
Tennessee: Republican Senator Lamar Alexander faces off against several Tea Party challengers in his primary, most notably state Rep. Joe Carr. Alexander will easily defeat these challengers, and then move on to face either attorney Terry Adams, psychologist Larry Crim, or teacher Jacob Maurer of the Democrats. They will be joined by a plethora of Independent candidates:
– Network administrator Tom Emerson Jr.,
– Construction manager E.L. Gauthier,
– Truck driver Lenny Ladner,
– Tea Party activist Brenda Lenard, and
– Professor Eric Schechter.
Tennessee will prove a reliable Republican state, and Alexander will keep his seat.
Texas: Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes their list of candidates. Minority whip John Cornyn first has to face the following Republicans in primary just to keep his nomination:
– Hotel consultant Curt Cleaver,
– Retired Army officer Ken Cope,
– Businessman Chris Mapp,
– Retired Air Force officer Reid Reasor,
– Rep. Steve Stockman,
– Construction contractor Dwayne Stovall, and
– Attorney Linda Vega
Although polls show that a majority of Texans want “someone more conservative” than Cornyn, once actual names are provided, Cornyn enjoys a comfortable lead over his fellow Republicans. For his Democratic opponent, we will see either dentist David Alameel, attorney Mike Fjetland, physician Harry Kim, LaRouche activist Kesha Rogers (wow….Lyndon LaRouche is still around?…and still has activists?), or attorney Maxey Scherr. Texas will also see several minor party candidates, including Green nominee Emily Marie Sanchez, Libertarians Rebecca Paddock, Tanuja Paruchuri, and Jon Roland, and Independents Avery Ayers and David Smith.
Even with all of these challengers, we can expect Republican John Cornyn to keep his seat. This is, afterall, Texas.
Virginia: In my home state of Virginia, incumbent moderate Democrat Mark Warner will seek to hold onto his seat for a second term. Four Republicans are seeking to unseat him:
– Congressional aid Tony DeTora,
– Former Republican National Chairman Ed Gillespie,
– Insurance professional Shak Hill, and
– Businessman Chuck Moss.
The eventual nominee (most likely Gillespie) will be joined by Libertarian businessman Robert Sarvis. This will set up a rather interesting race. Warner has been frequently ranked as the most popular elected official in Virginia, seen as a centrist in increasingly purple Virginia. Gillespie, an individual seen as an outsider to the state and political hack of the establishment, will have to convince Virginians to support him, just one year after Republicans attacked Democrat Terry McAuliffe for the same qualities in the gubernatorial race. And Libertarian Sarvis will see if he can build on the surprising amount of support he received in that same gubernatorial race. At this point, I can’t see Gillespie being able to rally enough support to toss out the popular Warner, unless there is a general anti-Democrat mood sweeping the entire country. I’m predicting the Democrats will keep this seat.
West Virginia: Five-term incumbent Democrat Jay Rockefeller is retiring, making this seat ripe for a takeover. As labor union membership has dropped in the state, Republicans have become more attractive to the state due largely to their support for coal and gun rights. Indeed, the other Democratic senator from this state Joe Manchin won election in 2012 with a television ad where he fired a rifle bullet through a cap and trade bill. Democrats will most likely nominate former state Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Republicans will most likely nominate Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. They will be joined on the ballot by teacher Phil Hudok of the Constitution Party, economist and professor Thomas Coyne from the Libertarians, and Independent Martin Staunton. If either Tennant or Capito win, they will be the first female senator from the Mountain State. I’m predicting a Republican win.
Wyoming: I’m going to go ahead and call this as a safe Republican seat for Senator Mike Enzi. His Democratic opponent will either be retired priest Charlie Hardy or ’10 gubernatorial candidate Rex Wilde. But I want to take a moment to discuss Enzi’s Republican primary opponent Thomas Bleming. Bleming is a former mercenary, who claims to have “aided anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the 1960s; delivered arms for an ultimately aborted 1977 coup plot in Togo; a six-month stint guarding white farms in Rhodesia; a month-long gig fixing Somali armored vehicles; visits to the Balkans in the 1990s to acquire disused military equipment; efforts to supply Surinamese rebels in 1989 and an attempt to assassinate Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega – for which he says he was jailed 22 months. In 2007 and 2008 he lived with Karen rebels fighting Myanmar’s government.” In addition, he states that if he loses, he might retire to West Papua, an area fighting to secede from Indonesia……And here you thought politics was boring!
THAT’S IT! We’ve broken down every single Senate race for this November’s election. So where do we stand? Of these twelve last seats, they are from very conservative states, and as a result we see an additional nine Republicans to only three for the Democrats. Adding that to our total, we find that right now I’m predicting the Republicans to take control of the Senate with 51 seats, to the Democrats 47 (plus two Independents). If this holds up (and it’s far from certain it will….November is a long way to go and plenty of time for both parties to screw up), Barack Obama will officially become a lame duck president, without any legislative support to implement his remaining agenda.
So, what do you think? Am I on the right track? Completely out of my mind? Either way, this has been quite entertaining. I’d like to take more special requests from folks wanting some knowledge thrown at them.