The past couple of weeks have provided some interesting news regarding the 2014 elections for Senate. Even as recently as Wednesday, we had news of new entrants into open races that could change the dynamics of the political landscape for the coming year.
With 21 Democratic seats and only 14 Republican seats up for grabs, Democrats will be pressed to play defense to some extent, while Republicans (especially conservatives) have nothing to lose at this point to go for taking control of the Senate. Below are the updates on the Senate Races for 2014, including those with very recent news and activity and those which seem to have no drama whatsoever.
Alaska: This race just got very, very interesting this week, as Sarah Palin is now a possibility to run against incumbent Democrat Mark Begich. With the Alaska GOP having a lot of internal strife, it could benefit the GOP to have Palin as a candidate, media circus act notwithstanding. Joe Miller, who almost beat Lisa Murkowski in 2010, might also take a run at Begich and would also enjoy tremendous support.
Arkansas: Mark Pryor won handily in 2008, and while he is the favorite again he may have a much tougher challenge this time around. Former Governor (and presidential candidate) Mike Huckabee may make a run for this seat, and he could bring a tremendous amount of resources to the race for a run against Pryor.
Colorado: Mark Udall is thoroughly safe, as the Colorado GOP is an absolute shambles and there is no name in the state well-known enough that could overcome it.
Delaware: Chris Coons is equally safe as Udall, running for a full term after filling the rest of Joe Biden’s term thanks to beating Christine O’Donnell in a special election in 2010.
Hawaii: Brian Schatz, appointed to fill the rest of Daniel Inouye’s term, is pretty safe. The only possibility would be a challenge from former Gov. Linda Lingle but that is nowhere close to a game-changing move to win the seat for the GOP.
Illinois: Dick Durbin will get a challenger, but we don’t know who – and since he sits on a large war chest, anyone who jumps in will need to do so now. Considering how blue Illnois is and how much money Durbin has for any opponent, it’s nigh impossible to wrest this seat.
Iowa: Tom Harkin is retiring, making this an open primary on both sides. As no one is emerging yet, it’s a toss-up in every sense of the word.
Louisiana: If her name were anything other than Landrieu, Mary Landrieu would be in big trouble in a very red state. As it is, her name recognition keeps her from being in too much trouble, unless someone like Bobby Jindal jumps in the race. She could get in some trouble, but this is more of a reach for the GOP to get a hold of.
Massachusetts: No chance.
Michigan: Another Democratic retirement, another double open primary, but this one leans a bit more Democratic given the nature of the state – even with Detroit filing for bankruptcy after fifty years of one-party Democratic rule, the seat still has a Democratic lean to it.
Minnesota: Al Franken should have a strong opponent. However, he does not, again thanks the the shambles the state party finds itself in. However, it would be fun to watch Franken and Michele Bachmann in a race next year, and the value of popcorn futures would explode given the satire bound to come from such a race.
Montana: Max Baucus is retiring, and Brian Schweitzer is declining to leave the governor’s mansion to run. The GOP can pick this seat up. Former RNC chair Marc Racicot is one of five seeking the seat.
New Hampshire: Jeanne Shaheen is pretty safe in this seat, having been governor twice before winning this race in 2008.
New Jersey: Cory Booker is expected to hold this for the Dems, to finish the term of Frank Lautenberg. There is no bench for the GOP in New Jersey to challenge him.
New Mexico: Tom Udall is as safe as his cousin in Colorado.
North Carolina: Kay Hagan beat Elizabeth Dole in 2008, and no one has emerged yet as a potential challenger. Seven have declared, and at this point Rep. Renee Ellmers (first elected in 2010) might seem like the most viable candidate to go against Hagan. Such a race might propel the GOP to a win in this swing state.
Oregon: Jeff Merkley has no clear threats to winning reelection at this time.
Rhode Island: Jack Reed has won easily before and no high-profile GOP candidate has emerged yet.
South Dakota: This seat is an almost guaranteed flip to the GOP. Former Gov. Mike Rounds is running on the Republican side, while the Democrats are having trouble finding anyone to replace Tim Johnson. Johnson decided to retire after multiple serious health issues.
Virginia: We may be looking at a repeat of the 2008 race between Warner and George Allen, in which Warner prevailed by several points. If that is the race again, Warner should prevail. No other notable candidates are being rumored at this time.
West Virginia: Jay Rockefeller is retiring, prompting open primaries on both sides. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is the early favorite on the GOP side, while no one has emerged on the Democratic side. The seat is an excellent pickup chance for the GOP.
Alabama: Jeff Sessions is as safe as safe can be.
Georgia: Saxby Chambliss’ retirement set off a tsunami on the GOP side, with five declared GOP candidates so far in Jack Kingston, Karen Handel, Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and David Perdue. Any one of them is a clear favorite over the only declared Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn. Georgia has zero elected Democrats in statewide positions, which is not expected to change while the state party is in a complete shambles. Despite the retirement, it is a safe hold for the GOP.
Idaho: Jim Risch has no declared opponents, and it may stay that way all the way to Election Day.
Kansas: Pat Roberts is six-for-six in winning landslide elections – three times in the House, and three times in the Senate. No one has declared against him, and there is a good chance no one will declare against him.
Kentucky: SOMEBODY is going to primary Mitch McConnell, given his occasionally squishy leadership. However, if he survives he should be safe in a general election, as most Democrats will not want to vacate their safe seats for an ill-fated run.
Maine: Susan Collins is running again, but Democrats see a chance to pick off this seat. No one has officially declared yet, though Rep. Chelie Pingree is rumored to be thinking over a bid.
Mississippi: Thad Cochran isn’t going anywhere, and may not get a challenge from teh Democratic side. He probably has more to fear from a primary challenger but no one has declared yet.
Nebraska: Mike Johanns is retiring after one term, setting off a double open primary in a swing state. So far, few candidates have stuck their necks out to say they will run.
Oklahoma: James Inhofe is very safe,having never gotten less than 58% and no likely candidates.
South Carolina: Tim Scott is running for the rest of Jim Demint’s term, and is a fairly safe bet.
South Carolina: Lindsey Graham will face a challenge from both parties, in the primary and the general election if he makes it that far. The Republican, whomever it is, should be safe to hold the seat for the GOP.
Tennessee: This is another safe hold for the GOP. Whether it happens to be incumbent Lamar Alexander or a primary challenger, this seat should stay in the GOP column.
Texas: John Cornyn is extremely safe in the reddest of red states.
Wyoming: Mike Enzi has no challengers, and in this state it will probably stay that way.