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’12 Senate Battles on Democratic Turf

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Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is among the top targets for Republicans itching to win back the Senate in 2012, and the GOP thinks the path to victory might travel through Florida.

While he is in his first term, Bernie Sanders has been a fixture in Vermont politics for decades, and there’s little sign he’s in danger of losing his seat in 2012.

Sanders’ outspoken style and political leanings — he is a self-described socialist, elected as an Independent, who caucuses with Democrats — might put him in a weaker position in another state. His fundraising has been underwhelming to date: He reported just $111,000 in his campaign account at the end of September.

But Republicans aren’t known for their deep bench in Vermont. State Auditor Tom Salmon has been discussed as a challenger, but it’s a big jump from the state’s top accountant to U.S. Senator.

— Compiled by Kyle Trygstad, Tricia Miller, Steve Peoples and Christina Bellantoni

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