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Tough Terrain for Senate Democrats

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Sen. Scott Brown faces an uphill battle to keep his seat in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.

Wilson lost a close Senate primary in 2008 after her opponent, Rep. Steve Pearce, made it a referendum on her conservative credentials. Sanchez, as well as conservative candidates Greg Sowards and Bill English, is taking the same angle against Wilson this year. But Wilson is sounding a conservative tone on the campaign trail and reaching out to tea party groups around the state.

With her Albuquerque base and proven fundraising abilities, Republicans see Wilson as a strong candidate to put the seat in the GOP column. They feel confident even though itís a state that President Barack Obama carried by 15 points in 2008.

Heinrich and Balderas entered the race in April, and so far Balderas has kept up in fundraising. Heinrich reported raising $485,000 last quarter compared with $415,000 for Balderas. However, Heinrich had a head start and holds nearly twice as much in cash on hand, with $710,000 compared with $371,000 for Balderas.

Virginia

Open seat (D) | Tossup

The past few election cycles have moved Virginia into a group of reliable swing states, and next yearís Senate race between likely nominees Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) promises to provide further evidence of the stateís competitiveness.

Even the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute has added Virginia to its stable of regularly polled states, along with Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. President Barack Obama will be back on the ticket after a 7-point win there in 2008, and voters will get a Senate battle of the titans between two former governors.

The eyes of the political world were glued to Kaine even before Sen. Jim Webb (D) announced his retirement in February, and the fundraising quarter that he just turned in partly explains why. Kaine, who served two years as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, one term as Virginia governor and two terms as Richmond mayor, raised more than $2.2 million from 4,600 donors in the past three months.

Webbís upset win in 2006 to unseat Allen and deliver the Senate chamber for Democrats was assisted by severe missteps by the incumbent Senator. But Kaine canít bank on that happening a second time. Three public polls released in the past two months found Kaine and Allen statistically tied, and they are closely matched in fundraising as well.

Kaine raised twice as much, but Allen had a second strong quarter. The two are close in cash on hand, with $1.9 million for Kaine to Allenís $1.6 million.

Wisconsin

Open seat (D) | Tossup

This Senate race is set to take on national significance when Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) formally enters the contest. The seven-term Congresswoman could become the first openly gay Senator, a feat womenís and gay rights groups have promised to help her accomplish.

She turned in a solid second-quarter fundraising haul, bringing in $503,000 to give her $1.1 million in the bank as of the end of June. But Baldwin is not assured of the Democratic nomination, as Rep. Ron Kind and former Sen. Russ Feingold have not ruled out bids.

On the Republican side, former Gov. Tommy Thompson is expected to run, giving the GOP a top-tier candidate.

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