In 2005, many Florida Republicans were looking forward to the 2006 Senate race with the thought of beating a vulnerable Bill Nelson. He hadn’t done anything remarkable as a Senator, and Florida was trending more and more to the Red.
Ah, the good ol’ days.
Nelson really hasn’t done anything spectacular since then. No, he’s benefitted from the fact that he will be facing a fairly unpopular Republican: Katherine Harris. Sure, on paper Harris has the gravitas to be a Senator. She’s been in public office for more than a decade. She’s been in Congress for four years, even skipping a chance at the Senate two years ago. She’s run and won statewide. She is most certainly the most qualified candidate currently in the race.
Well, I don’t need to go into details about what has happened. You’ve all read it in the MSM enough. Suffice it to say that she’s trailing Nelson badly in the polls. To top it off, Nelson has managed to amass the second largest warchest of all Senators, trailing only Hillary Clinton.
Thus, it would appear that Nelson will win re-election. (Stranger things have happened, but if I were a betting man this is how I would bet.)
And failing to beat one of the few Red-state Democrats could change a lot in Washington.
The Republicans hold a 55-45 lead right now, but it looks like they will be losing a few:
In Montana, Republican incumbent Conrad Burns is losing ground to state Senate president Jon Tester. Tester’s lead has grown from 4 points to 7 points in recent polling. Burns also has the unique distinction of being the largest benefactor of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
In Missouri, Republican incumbent Jim Talent trails Democratic state auditor Claire McCaskill by 3 points. While this is narrower than previous polls, Tallent has been trailing since at least the beginning of the year.
In Pennsylvania, Republican incumbent Rick Santorum has narrowed the gap against Democratic auditor general Robert Casey, but still trails by six points. The interesting thing is that the Democratic Governor Ed Rendell has built a 15 point lead over Republican challenger, and former NFL star Lynn Swann. In a move reminiscent of Bob Roberts, Santorum will be doing “Keep Up the Fight” bus tours across Pennsylvania.
In Rhode Island, Republican incumbent Lincoln Chafee has a slim lead over City of Cranston’s Republican Mayor Stephen Laffey in the Republican Primary, and trails fomrer Democrat attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse (sidebar: is there a better name for a presidential candidate??). Conservative Republicans are lining up against Chafee, despite the fact that he is one of the few Blue-state Republicans.
So, if the GOP manages to lose all five races, there would be another 50-50 split in the Senate.
The Dems would also need to hold on to New Jersey, where Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez is neck-and-neck with Republican state senator Thomas Kean. The only reason Kean is even competing in New Jersey is because Menendez was appointed by unpopular Senator-turned-Governor Jon Corzine.
The Dems are trailing, but could pick up the open seat in Tennesee, where Democratic Congressman Harold Ford trails Republican Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker by 13 points, but one in five voters are undecided.
Thus, we may all be able to thank Katherine Harris for the GOP losing control of the United States Senate.
And to think, if it weren’t for Jeb Bush and Al Cardens talking Tom Gallagher out of running for Senate in 2000, we might be talking about re-electing Senator Gallagher this year and keeping control of the Senate.
These next few months will indeed be fun!!