US Senate Race: Stakes Getting Higher

With all the discussion about the 2014 Governor’s Race and a potentially messy Democratic nominating process, attention has been diverted at a critical stage from the US Senate race. This comes at a time where the national stakes are getting higher around this race.

Senator Bill Nelson is under relentless attack from conservative groups, superPACs and the National Rifle Association. The reason is simple: The GOP is now on the ropes in several other states, and they need to expand the map of competitive seats even with a complete lightweight as Connie Mack IV as the party’s standard bearer.

Republicans were at one time very confident about capturing the US Senate in 2012. Democrats enter the cycle with a 53-47 majority, but with far more vulnerable seats to defend. However, the GOP’s hopes for easy pick ups in Montana in North Dakota have not come to fruition, and Senator Dick Lugar’s defeat in the Indiana GOP Primary, has turned that seat into a “toss-up.”. Additionally, Rep. Todd Akin’s rape comment has turned a sure Republican victory into a “toss-up” election.  Maine’s open seat will  almost certainly be claimed by former Gov. Angus King, a moderate Independent who is likely to caucus with the Democrats. That seat would be a pick up for the D’s. Arizona, where the Republicans are defending Jon Kyl’s seat is also proving to be a tougher than expected race.

At the same time, several states have begin trending against the Democrats. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s win in the Wisconsin Senate Primary virutally assures the GOP will gain the seat being vacated by the retiring Democrat Herb Kohl. Senator Debbie Stabenow is facing a tougher than expected reelection challenge in Michigan from former right wing Congressman Pete Hoekstra and Republican Linda McMahon has pulled ahead in Connecticut. Elizabeth Warren is also under-performing badly according to recent polls in Massachusetts against accidental Senator Scott Brown, whose political skill is proving to be remarkable.

All of this makes Florida perhaps the decisive Senate election this cycle. Democrats need to really focus on this race and its importance. A Nelson victory combined with a defeat of Todd Akin in Missouri could create a roadblock for the Republicans. A likely 50-50 Senate, coupled with an Obama victory would keep the Senate in Democratic hands for two more years.

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