Monday, June 18, 2012

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: U.S. Senate Races In 2012 - Take 2

I have  previously stated a number of times that, regardless of the outcome
of the presidential race, the U.S. senate would change hands in 2013.
Since that prediction, many months ago, and repeated by me since, a
Republican senator from Maine has unexpectedly retired, and although
she was a liberal Republican, she will probably be replaced by a moderate
independent who will almost certainly caucus with the Democrats. In
addition, incumbent Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, a sure winner in
November, was defeated in the GOP primary and was replaced with a
more conservative GOP candidate who has Tea Party backing. Similarly,
a Tea Party candidate in Nebraska upset an establishment Republican in
that state's recent GOP primary. A Tea Party conservative might win the
primary in Texas, and even long-time GOP Senator Orrin Hatch faces a
challenge in his own party.

Nontheless, my prediction still holds. In most cases where Tea Party
challengers have upset Republican establishment candidates, the GOP
nominee will win anyway, perhaps even in all cases. Democratic
challengers to GOP incumbents in Massachusetts and Nevada have
become embroiled in personal controversies, and I believe these
challenges will fall short. Democratic incumbents in Missouri and
Montana, open races to replace current Democratic incumbents in North
Dakota, Wisconsin and Virginia lean to the GOP this year, while open
Democratic seats in Florida and New Mexico are leaning to the Democrats
now, but could easily become toss-ups as the political season matures over
the summer.

Two currently-held Democratic senate seats, in Hawaii and Ohio, have the
Democrats favored for now, but former Republican Governor Linda Lingle
is the most successful Republican in the state's recent history, and I believe
will take the senate oath in January, 2013. In Ohio, the incumbent is one of
the most left wing senators in Washington, DC, and his challenger, currently
the state treasurer, Josh Mandel is one of the most charismatic young
politicians in the country, and has narrowed the incumbent's lead
dramatically in recent weeks. I stick by my prediction that he will win in
November, too.

There is some good news for Democrats in the 2012, too. Incumbent
Amy Klobuchar is set to win a landslide victory in Minnesota, and is
already on many lists of future Democratic presidential and vice presidential
candidates. Incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin in West Virginia, a former
governor, has quickly emerged as a gutsy and outspoken leader of the
centrist Democratic group in the senate. There are also many solid young
Democrats in the U.S. house, governor's residences, and state legislatures
who could redirect the party from it current radical misdirection.

In fact, should President Obama fail in his re-election this year, it could
prove to be a liberating moment for the national Democratic Party and its
centrist members in Congress. The last truly successful Democratic
administration, most of the eight years of the Clinton administration (not
including Bill Clinton's personal scandals), made a centrist appeal to
American voters, a direction eschewed by nominees Al Gore, John
Kerry and Barack Obama subsequently. Only Mr. Obama actually won
(in 2008),  but his administration has slumped from one crisis to another,
and was rebuked by voters only two years later in 2010.

Younger and newer Democratic candidates across the nation will take
note that the class warfare, tax the rich and increase public spending
approach has little appeal to the majority of American voters, regardless
of their party affiliation. Perhaps I am being too optimistic, but the
elections of 2014 and 2016 could then see an historic bipartisan political
shift of American public policy.

As for the U.S. senate this year, there are still nominees to be determined,
and autumn campaigns to be run. It may be where most of the political
action will be in October as the nation and its voters choose to where and
with whom they will journey for the next chapter of their history.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman.  All rights reserved.

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