Posted by on November 01, 2010 in Blog

The Senate Races

Too Close to Call: 7 Tossups


Incumbent: Barbara Boxer (D)

Challenger: Carly Fiorina (R)

The only certainty of this race is that California will continue to have a female Senator in 2011. Barbara Boxer is fighting for her political life against a candidate funding a large portion of her campaign and funding it well. Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, is hoping her personal wealth along with Senator Boxer’s declining popularity can propel her to California’s Senate seat in 2011. 


Incumbent: Michael Bennet (D)

Challenger: Ken Buck (R)

The results from this race may very well dictate which party controls the Senate in 2011. Senator Bennet is seeking his first full-term after receiving the surprise appointment by Governor Ritter to fill the vacant seat of Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. According to sources, recent controversial comments from Buck have diminished his lead in the polls and could shift Colorado’s electorate in favor of the Democrats. However, many believe this race may be too close to call even at the end of the day on November 2. 


Ronald W. Burris will not be seeking election to full term

Democratic Challenger: Alex Giannoulias 

Republican Challenger: Mark Steven Kirk 

President Obama’s former Senate seat is up for grabs. Representative Kirk is currently in his fifth term serving Illinois’ 10th district and Mr. Giannoulias is serving as the state’s treasurer. As a consequence of the last election winner occupying the White House, the outcome of this race has symbolic value as some suggest it will reflect on the President’s overall approval rating in his home sate of Illinois and across the country.


Incumbent: Harry Reid (D)  

Challenger: Sharron Angle (R)

Along with many of his fellow Democrats, Senate majority leader Harry Reid is facing a Tea Party backed primary winner, Sharron Angle. Carrying the weight of Harry Reid’s status in the Senate as well as the unprecedented Tea Party movement, Nevada’s 2010 senate race may shape the political landscape for 2012. 


Incumbent Arlen Specter (D) lost in the primary 

Democratic Challenger: Joe Sestak 

Republican Challenger: Pat Toomey 

Joe Sestak surprised many, including the White House, with his primary victory over incumbent Senator Specter. Although the race is close, all indications are Sestak will have to find a way to overcome recent polling that suggests Representative Toomey began pulling away last week. 


Incumbent: Patty Murray (D) 

Challenger: Dino Rossi (R) 

Rossi’s aspirations to become Washington’s Governor failed twice and he’s keen to end his yet unsuccessful run for elected office. Senator Murray’s close association with Senator Harry Reid and support for various Democratic legislation, especially health care reform, has provided Republicans with an opportunity to potentially steal a powerful seat from the Democrats in the Senate. 

West Virginia 

Sen. Robert Byrd (D) passed away in June 

Democratic Challenger: Joe Manchin 

Republican Challenger: John Raese

Raese lost to Senator Bryd in 2006 and is trying to take advantage of President Obama’s unpopularity in West Virginia by linking Manchin, the current Governor, with the policies of the White House and the Democratic controlled Congress. 


Too Close To Call: 13 Tossups


Governor Charlie Crist is running as an Independent for U.S. Senate

Democratic Challenger: Alex Sink

Republican Challenger: Rick Scott

With less than a week until Election Day, recent polling suggests Scott is holding a slight lead over Sink. Although Sink is making substantial inroads in rural areas of Northern Florida for a Democrat, it is unclear how much her progress in a traditional GOP stronghold will influence the results on November 2. 


Democratic Challenger: Roy Barnes 

Republican Challenger: Nathan Deal 

Although polling affirms Deal’s close lead over Barnes, many in Georgia are preparing for a potential run-off as Deal’s poll leads have not indicated he will receive the 50-percent-plus-one vote required to avoid a run-off and become the next governor of Georgia. Democrats view the potential run-off election as their best chance of winning the Governor’s office.


Incumbent via Governor Blagojevich’s Impeachment: Patrick J. Quinn

Republican Challenger: Bill Brady 

Rod R. Blagojevich’s exit from office and ongoing corruption trial are making the Democrat vulnerable in this race. By and large, Quinn’s predecessor along with the state’s alarming deficit may be enough for voters to elect a fairly unknown, untarnished Bill Brady as Governor. 


Incumbent: Deval Patrick

Republican Challenger: Charlie Baker

Independent Challenger: Tim Cahill

Scott Brown’s (R) surprising win over Martha Coakley (D) for the Democrats’ cherished old seat of Edward Kennedy has established a wave of momentum for the Republicans in Massachusetts, including the race for Governor. Governor Patrick is feeling the aftershocks of Senator Brown’s victory as many motivated Republicans are funding Barker’s campaign. However, Governor Patrick is proving to be resilient and votes for Cahill’s Independent campaign may ultimately decide this race.  


Incumbent: Martin O’Malley

Republican Challenger: Robert Ehrlich 

Former Governor Ehrlich is looking to reclaim his old seat with a similar platform used against him in 2006 by current Governor O’Malley. In that election, O’Malley successfully linked the dissent with the Bush presidency with the policies of Ehrlich. Likewise, in this election cycle, Ehrlich is connecting O’Malley with the public’s disapproval of the high unemployment rate and deficit in Maryland.  


John Baldacci (D) is retiring from office 

Democratic Challenger: Libby Mitchell 

Republican Challenger: Paul LePage

In a battle for the seat of retiring Arab American Governor John Baldacci, an Independent campaign by former Democrat Eliot Cutler is dividing the Democratic vote and may transform Maine from tossup status to a certain victory for the Republicans on Election Day. 


Tim Pawlenty is retiring from office

Democratic Challenger: Mark Dayton

Republican Challenger: Tom Emmer

Independent Challenger: Tom Horner

This race illustrates what a tossup election looks like. Governor Tim Pawlenty’s decision not to seek reelection is heightening rumors of a potential presidential run and has consequently created an open race for the Governor’s office. With a high level of Independent voters, the results may be dictated by the candidate who presents the best solution to solve the state’s alarming deficit.


Incumbent: Ted Strickland 

Challenger: John Kasich

Governor Strickland is facing a formidable candidate in John Kasich. The results of this race will have 2012 implications, as Ohio is always a must-win state in the Electoral College. 

Rhode Island

Donald L. Carcieri is term limited and unable to seek re-election

Democratic Challenger: Frank Caprio

Republican Challenger: John Robitaille

Independent Challenger: Lincoln Chafee

The Governor’s office in Rhode Island has been occupied by a Republican for the last 16 years and polling suggests that a different party will prevail this year. Chafee, a former Republican, is surging as an Independent and is hoping that the state’s large population of unaffiliated voters will check his name on November 2. 

South Carolina 

Mark Sanford is retiring from office

Democratic Challenger: Vincent Sheheen

Republican Challenger: Nikki Haley 

Of her 56 endorsements this election cycle, Sarah Palin’s most compelling influence was in the Republican gubernatorial primary in South Carolina. Before Palin’s endorsement, Nikki Haley was viewed as long shot and is now favored to win the Governor’s office over Arab American State Senator, Vincent Sheheen. Although Haley’s historical run for office has been dominating the headlines, polling suggests that her lead is decreasing to single digits heading into Election Day giving Sheheen – a formidable candidate – a chance at victory.


Democratic Challenger: Peter Shumlin

Republican Challenger: Brian Dubie

Current Governor Jim Douglas (R) is leaving office with high approval ratings and his Lieutenant Governor, Brian Dubie (R) is hoping to take advantage of the Governor’s popularity. Peter Shumlin (D) prevailed from a tough primary to become the party’s nominee, but is currently losing the vital fundraising battle with Dubie as the race comes to a close.


James E. Doyle (D) is retiring from office

Democratic Challenger: Tom Barrett

Republican Challenger: Scott Walker

According to sources, Governor Doyle’s (D) low approval ratings assisted in his decision not to seek reelection, creating a tossup for the election of his successor and the race is so close that many believe the city of Milwaukee may be the deciding factor. 

Select House of Representative Races

West Virginia

Nick Rahall (D) has served West Virginia’s 3rd district for 34 years with distinction.  However, resorting to ugly campaigning, Spike Maynard, the former state Supreme Court Justice has attempted to field a formidable challenge to Congressman Rahall.  Maynard’s baseless attacks have blamed Rahall for assisting President Obama on health care reform, the stimulus package and his “war on coal,” a key issue in the district.  Moreover, Maynard has released shameful campaign ads highlighting Congressman Rahall’s Arab heritage and asserting that Rahall is “Good for the Middle East, Good for Obama, and Bad for America.” While such negative campaigning may work against some candidates, it is far less likely to work against an incumbent who is well known by his constituents and one of the most respected members of Congress. 


Incumbent Mark Schauer (D) is facing the same challenger he beat in 2008, Tim Walberg (R) for Michigan’s 7th district. This race reflects the implications of the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission as outside groups have taken advantage of the ruling and have used it to spend more on this race than any other congressional race in the country. State Representative Justin Amash (R) is in a close race against his Democratic opponent, Pat Miles, to represent Michigan's 3rd District in Congress. They are both vying for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers.

New York 

Bill Owens (D) won a special election for New York’s 23rd district last year replacing John McHugh when he decided to accept President Obama’s offer to become the United States Secretary of the Army. Owens will have to fight off the year of anti-incumbency in a tight race against Matthew Doheny (R). 


Incumbent Christopher Carney (D) is seeking re-election in a traditionally conservative district and polling suggests Carney and challenger Thomas Marino (R) will be in a close race until Election Day.


The race for California’s 11th district between Jerry McNerney (D) and David Harmer (R) has become a central focus for both parties as many believe this may be the race that decides if Nancy Pelosi retains her position of Speaker of the House.