Other potential Republican candidates include Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Bismarck Mayor John Warford and Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson.
A magnifying glass will be on Ohio in 2012, when President Barack Obama and his GOP opponent are sure to spend money and manpower on the key electoral state. Brown will be running his first re-election bid. He was active in the 2010 cycle, helping multiple Democrats who lost their House seats, Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and defeated Gov. Ted Strickland. Brown has a $1.4 million campaign war chest.
Being floated as potential challengers are Rep. Jim Jordan, considered a GOP rising star, and Lt. Gov.-elect Mary Taylor. A dark horse contender is former Sen. Mike DeWine, whom Brown unseated in 2006. DeWine was just elected attorney general.
Depending on his challenger, Brown will likely be considered among the more vulnerable Democrats in a tough cycle for the party. In 2010, Republicans won the governorship and made major gains in the state Legislature, and former Rep. Rob Portman (R) trounced Fisher in the open-seat Senate race.
Casey is among the Democratic incumbents in Democrat-leaning states who should be safe in 2012. But if the recent cycle taught us anything, it’s that few Democrats are safe in a cycle where the national environment trumps local concerns.
In many states, downballot Democrats like Casey are expected to benefit from President Barack Obama’s place atop the ballot. But Pennsylvania, which features a substantial Democratic voter registration advantage, is not one of them — at least right now. Just 42 percent of Pennsylvania voters would have re-elected Obama if the election were held last week, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Nov. 9.
The anti-abortion-rights Casey reported just $872,000 in his campaign account at the end of September, a number that might not be enough to scare off a Democratic primary challenger, never mind a Republican opponent.
No one has stepped forward yet, but potential candidates have expressed interest to the state GOP chairman. Those to watch include Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican just elected to his fourth term in Congress. Rep. Jim Gerlach has also demonstrated an interest in statewide office, and state Rep. Mike Turzai of the Pittsburgh area has been in the conversation as well.
Whitehouse rode a Democratic wave to the Senate in 2006, ousting popular moderate GOP Sen. Lincoln Chafee in a race that was largely decided by party affiliation.
Rhode Island voters may have shown some buyer’s remorse, putting Chafee into the governor’s office in 2010. And there’s reason to believe Whitehouse will have to work for another term, even in deep-blue Rhode Island.