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2010 Senate Map May Not Be Much Better for the GOP

Senate Democrats may not have achieved a filibuster-proof caucus on Election Day, but they might have a second shot at reaching 60 seats in 2010.

It appears that Senate Democrats can play offense in 2010 for the third cycle in a row. Democrats must defend 16 Senate seats next cycle, but Republicans must defend 19 seats — including those held by more than a half-dozen incumbents in competitive states.

It wasn’t long after the polls closed Tuesday night before Republicans began staking out their turf. Hours after his colleague Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) lost re-election, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) squelched retirement rumors by telling local reporters he would run for another term in 2010.

Gregg will likely have a tough re-election race: Democrats have taken both House seats and Sununu’s Senate seat in the past two cycles, and popular Gov. John Lynch (D) is rumored to be considering challenging the three-term Senator. In the unlikely case that Gregg reverses his decision and retires, former 2nd district Rep. Charles Bass (R) has not ruled out running for the seat.

Democrats may have watched the Mississippi and Kentucky Senate contests slip away from them Tuesday night, but the party will have another chance at the South in 2010.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) barely survived his 2006 re-election bid against now- Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (D), who is said to be interested in challenging the Senator again. Public polls show Bunning is less popular than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who found himself in a closer-than-anticipated race this cycle and won by 5 points. Bunning, who will be 79 in 2010, is also considered a candidate for retirement.

And given Democratic gains in Ohio in 2006 and 2008, the party will almost surely try to knock off Sen. George Voinovich (R) in 2010. Rep. Tim Ryan (D) is considering a run for the seat, and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D), who sources say could run for the seat, has not publicly ruled out a bid, either.

Although some Buckeye State sources say Voinovich, who will be 74 in 2010, is mulling retirement, a Voinovich aide said the Senator announced re-election two years ago and has been raising money ever since. What’s more, Voinovich has the $2.5 million in his campaign account to prove it.

Republicans could have another seat to defend in Arizona if Sen. John McCain (R) chooses to retire in 2010. Popular Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), who is term limited, is said to be interested in running for the seat, especially if McCain retires.

If it’s an open-seat race, any of the state’s GOP House Members could run, especially Reps. John Shadegg and Jeff Flake.

Republicans are also in danger of losing a seat in Pennsylvania in 2010. Another object of retirement rumors, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who will be 80 in two years, has announced he will run for re-election.

Cable TV news host Chris Matthews has talked to local officials about mounting a bid as a Democrat, while Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) might also run for the seat. Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) has also not yet ruled out running in the Keystone State again, either in a second effort in the GOP Senate primary against Specter or in the 2010 open-seat race for governor.

Democrats picked up one Senate seat in Missouri in 2006 and could try to take Sen. Kit Bond’s (R) seat in 2010. Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) would clear the Democratic field and give Bond a run for his money. Bond, too, could choose to retire. He will be 71 in 2010.

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) won his first term by a single point margin, making him a likely target for Democrats in 2010. Democrats have touted the state’s chief financial officer, Alex Sink, and state House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, as possible challengers.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) almost drowned in bad press in 2007 after it was revealed that he solicited prostitutes in the infamous “D.C. Madam” debacle. Vitter could get a primary challenge as a result, but Democrats are also likely to target the seat, given Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s comfortable win in Louisiana on Tuesday.

But it isn’t all good news for Democrats in 2010. As the party in control of the Senate, Democrats will also have to play defense in a number of races. Out of a total 16 Democratic seats up in 2010, Republicans can easily target at least two Democratic Senators from competitive states.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to have a stiff re-election challenge for his fifth term. Rep. Dean Heller (R) could run for the seat, along with recently defeated three-term Rep. Jon Porter (R).

Sen. Ken Salazar’s (D-Colo.) 2004 win was a bright spot for Democrats in what was otherwise a bad cycle for the party nationally. Though Democrats have continued to make gains in the Rocky Mountain State, it’s unlikely Republicans will give Salazar a free pass this cycle. Retiring Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) may be eyeing a challenge to Salazar, though it’s unlikely national GOP leaders would consider him their preferred candidate.

In one unlikely scenario, Democrats could have a race on their hands in California. Though it’s only a remote possibility that term-limited California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) would challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in 2010, he hasn’t publicly ruled it out yet, either.

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