July 26, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

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.

Prospective GOP candidates, including former Rep. Charles Djou, are giving Lingle the right of first refusal in the race, as she represents the party’s best chance at picking up the seat.

There have been only five Senators in the state’s history, including Sen. Daniel Akaka (D), who announced his retirement in March. And no Republican has been elected to the Senate since Hiram Fong in 1970.

But Case is unlikely to have a clear shot at the nomination. Democratic Reps. Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa, who was just elected in November, could be candidates. Other potential candidates include former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz.

Michigan

Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s re-election bid has all of the ingredients of a competitive race — except, so far, a strong Republican opponent.

The Senator has average approval ratings, Republicans swept Michigan in the 2010 cycle, and the state remains one of the hardest hit by the recession, but no top-tier Republicans have yet to float their name.

The state Republican Party chairman openly admitted the field was lackluster earlier this month, telling a local newspaper that he expects a candidate “head and shoulders” above the current potential contenders to emerge. State GOP Chairman Robert Schostak said he was not sure who that candidate would be, but he expects another contender.

Some of the Republicans who are openly considering a bid did not take too kindly to Schostak’s call for a better candidate, especially former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), whom national Republicans see as a potentially strong candidate. Other possible candidates include former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and former state GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, both of whom are openly mulling bids.

New Jersey

The Garden State is an example of a Democratic stronghold where the GOP says the incumbent is vulnerable but has been slow to identify a viable challenger.

Sen. Bob Menendez, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman in the 2010 cycle when his party lost seven seats, looks to be in strong shape for now. But recent polling suggests he could have challenges should a formidable opponent emerge.

Republicans in Washington, D.C., and New Jersey are excited about the potential candidacy of biotech CEO and Navy reservist John Crowley, whose deep pockets and literally made-for-Hollywood life story (Harrison Ford starred in a 2010 film) could give Menendez cause for concern.

Crowley flirted with a run in 2008 but appears to be more serious this time, according to a source familiar with his thinking.

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