While some establishment Republicans were caught off-guard by tea party primary challenges last year, the same fate is not expected for Allen. He has been working since last year to shore up support and emphasize his conservative credentials, and he is now raising money and campaigning well more than a year before the primary, an open contest that is highly likely to make him the victor.
The Democratic primary field may be coming together in the race to succeed Sen. Joe Lieberman (I), but major questions remain over whether any Republican — or maybe an Independent — can make this race competitive.
Look for Republican Linda McMahon to try. The former wrestling executive, who spent $50 million on a failed 2010 Senate run, appears to be edging closer to launching a second Senate campaign, according to a source familiar with her thinking.
She has been increasingly active in local politics in recent weeks, a likely sign that her political career isn’t over. Democrats say that if McMahon couldn’t win an open seat in 2010, under what were likely far better political circumstances, she doesn’t have a chance with President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket in 2012.
Her presence and pocketbook, however, could dramatically change the shape of the contest. And it could affect whether Independent David Walker, a former comptroller under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, enters the race.
The smart money, however, is that whoever emerges from the Democratic primary will ultimately earn a Senate seat.
Three-term Rep. Christopher Murphy (D) is perhaps the best-known in Washington, D.C., circles. A 37-year-old progressive, he has already made his opposition to the war in Afghanistan a central theme of his campaign.
Former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz has also announced a bid. And while she may not enjoy the same popularity in Washington, she may have better name recognition in Connecticut than Murphy, having won statewide election three times. Her $500,000 first-quarter haul proved that she could be a force in the primary, but Murphy raised more than double that.
Former state Treasurer Frank Borges, a centrist Democrat, is also considering a run.
This Democratic-leaning state is expected to vote heavily for its native son, President Barack Obama, in 2012, and almost any Democratic Senate candidate will be favored in this open-seat race. The competitiveness will depend on whether Republicans can successfully recruit former two-term Gov. Linda Lingle. Former Rep. Ed Case (D) has announced a bid after doing polling on the Democratic primary field.