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Senate Control Hangs in the Balance

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President Barack Obama has his sights set on a second win in Florida in 2012. Should Obama run a strong Sunshine State campaign, it could boost Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, the only Democrat left still holding statewide office. That’s one reason Obama made Florida one of his first campaign stops. Voters should expect to see the two of them together again.

“On the whole, it’s a positive, particularly in the fundraising aspect,” Erik Iverson, a Rehberg adviser and former longtime chief of staff, said of the early formation of the race. “The disadvantage is that you have the target on your back for 19 months, but on the whole, it’s better. You can begin fundraising, and both sides can begin to hone their message.”

Here’s a look at the rest of the field, broken down by Roll Call Politics’ race ratings.



Republicans are beginning to line up for the chance to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson, the only Democrat in Florida currently holding statewide office.

State Senate President Mike Haridopolos launched his campaign last month. The Republican has reported a successful fundraising operation to date, despite having to wade through a rash of negative press recently.

Haridopolos was joined this month by former Sen. George LeMieux, whose entrance was largely expected and ensures a GOP primary. The primary will likely include at least one more contender, former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, a favorite of grass-roots conservatives who could prove to be a strong candidate, especially in a GOP primary where only registered Republicans can vote.

LeMieux, meanwhile, will struggle to distance himself from former Gov. Charlie Crist, who alienated the GOP base by leaving the party and running for the Senate last fall as an Independent. LeMieux is a former Crist chief of staff and was nominated to the Senate by Crist to fill the remainder of GOP Sen. Mel Martinez’s term.

Republicans in Washington, D.C., concede they haven’t decided who is the strongest candidate. Haridopolos and LeMieux have baggage, while Hasner is not as well-known but is considered to be an ally of the popular newly elected Sen. Marco Rubio (R).

Democrats are hoping for an ugly GOP primary. And they think Nelson will ultimately benefit from the resources that Democrats pour into Florida to help President Barack Obama win the key swing state. Case in point, Obama made his first campaign stop this year at a Nelson fundraiser in the Sunshine State.


Serving in this deep-blue state, Sen. Scott Brown is supposed to be among the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the nation. But Democrats have been slow to identify a top-tier challenger.

To date, only Somerville activist Bob Massie has announced a campaign. A crowd of more formidable challengers remains on the fence.

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