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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.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Manchin said Obama had “failed to lead” in the March budget negotiations. And in an interview with a TV station in April, when he was asked about the president’s leadership, he said, “It’s a different form of leadership than I’ve ever seen.”

West Virginia Republicans are waiting on the gubernatorial race before turning their attention to a Manchin challenger. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is the most obvious choice to run, but it’s not certain she would jump into the race. Freshman Rep. David McKinley has substantial cash in the bank, $737,000 as of June 30, but is unlikely to try for a promotion in 2012.

Sixteen months is an eternity in politics, but with $1.3 million in cash on hand at the end of June, West Virginia’s junior Senator is well-positioned to win a new term.

Leans Republican: High Hopes
in Grand Canyon State


Open seat (R) | Leans Republican

Rep. Jeff Flake (R) is cruising right now. The six-term Congressman is raising good money, spending little and running for the open Senate seat free of any major opposition from either party.

How long this honeymoon period will last is unknown, but even if a Democrat got in the race today, he would already find himself in a deep fundraising hole. Flake, who entered the Senate race in February shortly after Sen. Jon Kyl (R) announced his retirement, had $2 million in the bank through the second quarter after an $831,000 three-month haul.

Flake is well-liked by both the GOP establishment and tea party groups, and he’s already receiving assistance from outside groups such as the Club for Growth. In a state that has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1988, and with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) not expected to run statewide, Flake is in a good position at this point.

Still, President Barack Obama is looking to expand his electoral map to include Arizona, where he lost in 2008 by single digits to home-state Sen. John McCain (R). The Obama turnout machine could give the boost that a well-financed and well-organized Democratic nominee needs to pick up the open seat. Democrats who have formally announced they are exploring bids include former state Democratic Party Chairman Don Bivens and Tucson businessman David Crowe.

Not Changing Hands, but Fierce Fight Ahead

These races are unlikely to be competitive for Democrats next November, but Republicans will be locked in tough primaries before they can secure victories. Should the incumbent Senators lose in Indiana or Utah, the dynamics would shift dramatically.


Sen. Dick Lugar (R) | Likely Republican

Lugar is in better shape now than he was at the beginning of this cycle, but that’s not saying much. He’s still vulnerable in the GOP primary, but the Hoosier State’s longest-serving Senator is fighting to keep his seat.

In the past few months, Lugar was the most vocal opposition to the president’s decision to initiate military intervention in Libya. He co-sponsored a bill promoting the FairTax, which seeks to replace federal income taxes with a national sales tax. He issued his first television ad — a spot criticizing President Barack Obama. He also put together a campaign team and amassed a $3.5 million war chest.

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