The most exciting Senate races this November II

Dateline: 04 October 2006

Democrat vs Democrat

Connecticut sees primary victor, Ned Lamont, facing off against the loser, and former Veep candidate, Joe Lieberman. Lamont is against the war, and seems to have solidified his lead among Democrats, but in the general election independents and Republicans can vote too, so Lieberman retains a small lead. Confusingly, the Republican candidate is against the war, probably why his support is in single figures. Democrats did not want this fight, as it puts Democrat divisions on national security at the top of the news, but now they are stuck with it. Tossup.

Republican targets

New Jersey, sees appointed Senator Bob Menendez facing a strong challenge from Tom Kean Jr, son of the former governor who chaired the 9/11 Commission. Menendez has faced embarrassing financial revelations and fallen behind in the polls. Some have suggested that the biggest question is whether he will be indicted before or after the election. If the worst is over, he could regain the lead in this heavily blue state, but more revelations or an indictment could send his poll ratings crashing. It is legally too late for the Democrats to change their candidate, but compliant courts have allowed the party to break this law in the past. Leaning Republican.

Maryland is another deep blue state where the Republicans have a chance of an upset. This time it is not because the Democrat is weak, but because the GOP candidate is so strong. Rep. Ben Cardin won a closely fought primary against former Congressman and NAACP head, Kweisi Mfume, to defend this open seat. Mfume has endorsed Cardin, but will he campaign for him? That could decide the contest, as 29% of Maryland’s electors are black, around half the Democrat base. Cardin desperately needs those votes to beat the well-liked black Republican Lt. Governor, Michael Steele. Black and white have signed up to support the ‘Steele Democrats’, and Mfume’s son has led the way. Polls are divided, but even Democrats seem to like Steele, and see him as moderate. Tossup.

Washington, has long been seen as a top target for the GOP. The Democrats pulled off a squeaker in 2000, and in 2004 held the governor’s mansion in dubious circumstances. Republicans, led on the first two counts, but after Democrat-controlled King County ‘found’ new votes on 11 occasions, after polling had closed, the Democrat pulled ahead. Senator Maria Cantwell could pay the price of Republican anger. Challenger Mike McGavick stumbled, after revealing some embarrassing secrets, including a DUI conviction, on his website. But his gamble of getting it out of the way early may have paid off. He has regained ground, and now a financial scandal is in danger of engulfing Cantwell. Tossup.

Michigan, according to Republican adverts, is one of only three states to lose jobs over the past four years. The other two are hurricane-ravaged Mississippi and Louisiana. Both the Senate contest and the governor’s race could be close this year and, uniquely, Republicans are on the attack in both. Debbie Stabenow, first term incumbent has sponsored just one piece of legislation, to rename a federal building in Detroit, and challenger Mike Bouchard is ever more confident, though Stabenow retains a small lead in the polls. Leans Democrat.

Minnesota is another open race. Attorney Amy Kloubacher, Democrat, leads Rep. Mark Kennedy, Republican. Leans Democrat.

Quentin Langley is editor of an academic at the University of Cardiff and is a columnist with Campaigns & Elections. This article was first published in the Common Sense series for Lake Champlain Weekly.

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