McCaskill had $614,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30. The presidential race will be a factor in the state in 2012; Democrats have long attempted to put Missouri within reach, and President Barack Obama’s team came close in 2008. Obama lost Missouri to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by fewer than 4,000 votes out of 2.9 million cast. That result marked only the second time since 1904 that the Show-Me State did not vote with the White House victor.
The Democratic National Committee is considering St. Louis for the location of the 2012 national convention, a move they hope will tilt the state in their favor.
After promising that he will run for re-election as a Democrat, Nelson, a moderate who is the only Democrat in Nebraska’s Congressional delegation, established himself as one of Republicans’ top targets in 2012.
The Nebraska Republican Party took a poll on Election Day and the following day that showed only 36 percent of Nebraskans thought Nelson deserved re-election, and 55 percent said it was time for someone new.
Nelson had $1.4 million in his campaign account at the end of September, and in December 2009 ran his first 2012 campaign ad to explain his position on health care.
Nelson got a break when popular Gov. Dave Heineman (R) declined to run against him, but Attorney General Jon Bruning got in immediately after Heineman’s announcement. Bruning explored a run for the Senate in 2007 when Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) began looking into a presidential run, but when Hagel retired, Bruning deferred to former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns, who ultimately won the seat.
Don Stenberg, who was elected state treasurer on Nov. 2, has also said he may run against Nelson. Nelson defeated Stenberg, a former attorney general, in the 2000 general election. Stenberg also lost Senate primaries in 2006 and 1996. State Auditor Mike Foley hasn’t ruled out a run.
Speculation had been rampant over whether Ensign would run for re-election, but the scandal-plagued Republican told reporters this week he plans to seek a third term. Ensign, under federal investigation regarding an affair he had with a former staffer, has blown through much of his campaign cash to help pay for his legal fees and had just $280,000 in the bank and owed more than $20,000 as of Sept. 30.
The top Republican waiting in the wings is Rep. Dean Heller, who won a third term on Nov. 2 and would be considered a formidable statewide candidate. The Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston wrote recently that Ensign would be “flattened” by Heller in a primary, though a poll taken in October by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed Ensign beating potential GOP rivals.
Other possibilities include former Rep. Jon Porter, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and Sharron Angle, who just completed an expensive and unsuccessful challenge for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s seat.
Democrats mentioned so far include Rep. Shelley Berkley and Secretary of State Ross Miller.
Republicans are treating Manchin like he is their prime target in 2012, going after the former governor of West Virginia as if he had already announced he was seeking re-election. Manchin won a special election to serve out the remainder of the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D) and would face voters again in two years.