06 October 2010

The battle for the Senate

Thanks to the voters of Delaware bringing the crazy and nominating a candidate who has never held elected office, it will be a tall order for the GOP to re-take control of the U.S. Senate. Additionally, given the transformation of the filibuster from a sparingly used procedural mechanism into a full-fledged legislative club, the Democrats' agenda has been thwarted since Scott Brown's election to the Senate in January. Because of this, the determination of who actually controls the Senate will be rather anticlimactic. Regardless, there are a few races we're interested in:

In Missouri, Roy Blunt appears to have established a reasonably safe lead outside the margin of error in nearly all of the latest polls. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan seemed to be making headway with her ads tying Blunt to the TARP bailout and Jack Abramoff and painting him -- accurately -- as the consummate Washington insider. Carnahan's problem in this race is twofold: First, she's a Democrat, and running in what is clearly shaping up to be a "wave" election. Second, she's no outsider herself, coming from a family that boasts a former governor, a former Senator, a congressman and a brother who is a gazillionaire wind-farm investor. Unlike in places like Nevada, Wisconsin or Florida, Missouri voters are quite familiar with everyone on the ballot here. You can read here why I refuse to vote for Blunt, who as House Republican whip was one of the Bush administration's key enablers. I doubt I'm done blasting him either.

In the race to fill President Obama's old seat, congressman Mark Kirk is vying to knock off state treasurer Alexi Giannilazskjzmlbfs. As of today, Real Clear Politics rates this one a toss-up. Both men have had their share of issues -- Kirk was inexplicably caught lying about his military service in Iraq, and Giasdkalsfdapdfpaz has had myriad questions to answer about the abrupt collapse of his family bank. Kirk is a moderate Republican from the Chicago suburbs who was an early and key backer of John McCain's candidacy during 2007-2008, and precisely the type of candidate Republicans need to cultivate in traditionally blue states. We're pulling hard for him.

Finally, in Wisconsin, Russ Feingold looks to be in deep trouble. We've written before about our affinity for the civil liberties crusader. Local businessman Ron Johnson -- virtually unknown before winning the Republican primary -- has begun to consistently poll above 50%, and his RCP advantage is 9 points. This isn't insurmountable, but Feingold is fighting an immensely difficult uphill battle -- (i) he's an incumbent seeking a fourth term; (ii) he's considerably more liberal than the majority of his state on virtually every economic issue of import; and (iii) he's a Democrat. Voters know what they're getting with Feingold, and although he's made noise during his time in the Senate as a deficit hawk and an outspoken opponent of earmarks and pork-barrel spending, he is fairly classified as a tax-and-spend liberal. Again, we'd like to see Feingold return to the Senate, simply because the number of Senators who seem legitimately concerned with civil liberties is quite thin.

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