This is the last diary of my analysis series. In this diary I cover the entire 2014 Senate elections. Analyzing each states potential of turning, or remaining Democratic.
This year Democrats are playing defense with races in red and crucial purple states. With this being a midterm year, the Republicans have the advantage, but that's only if we let them.
The Republicans are attacking Democrats on support of Obamacare, and that's all they choose to run on. While Democrats will run on a variety of issues, including a national movement to raise the minimum wage which has support of the President.
We also have some interesting Tea Party challengers to more moderate or "not conservative enough" incumbent Republicans.
Keep reading as I dig into each Senate race for this year.
AL-Sen: The filing deadline just ended in Alabama and GOP inc. Jeff Sessions did not receive a democratic opponent which I find to be very sad. In fact, a lot of positions held by republicans will go uncontested by Alabama democrats this year. I understand things are tough there but if you ever want to have a shot you have to at least run an insurance type candidate. Maybe next time.
AK-Sen: A very competitive race this year. Democratic inc. Mark Begich faces three tough opponents. Ex-Lt. Gov. Dan Sullivan, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and Tea Party crazy Joe Miller. Sullivan led in the last poll on the GOP side, but Begich's best hope is Miller somehow driving the Tea Party voters in Alaska to the polls to vote for him. But after his failed Senate bid they probably won't have much confidence in him. I see Begich poised to win this race, unless the bad environment for Democrats reaches 2010 levels.
AR-Sen: Democratic inc. Mark Pryor faced no Republican challenger in 2008, and now he is believed to be the most endangered incumbent of the 2014 Senate cycle. I believe this shows the rapid change in Arkansas politics. Personally, I think why Arkansas took longer than the rest of the south to turn red was because of the Clinton presidency. Pryor faces freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. I find Cotton very vulnerable, voting against things like the farm bill, and supporting the government shutdown. I wouldn't completely write this race off for Democrats, but Pryor is making bad politics of his own, coming out against support of raising the minimum wage, which is known as a winnable issue. Pryor's logic makes about as much sense as a Republican coming out for support of gay marriage in Mississippi. Pryor has instead tried to appeal to his conservative state by talking about things like guns and religion, which is key to winning this state no doubt, but voters already know that Cotton supports all those things as well. Pryor had to find something to separate himself from Cotton to appeal to voters, and coming out against the minimum wage might have been political suicide for Pryor. Only time will tell.
CO-Sen: Democratic inc. Mark Udall is running fairly comfortable in this blue leaning state. He faces a credible challenger in Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. State Sen. and Tea Partier Owen Hill is also running, along with a few others, but Buck seems to lead the pack as he has more name recognition. I only see this seat becoming competitive if the environment for Democrats turns very badly, but Udall should be able to at least get 55% of the vote here if conditions stay pretty calm.
DE-Sen: Democratic inc. Chris Coons faces no GOP challenger yet, but 2010 candidate and crazy Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell is a potential challenger. New Castle County Council President Tom Kovach is also potential. Delaware is a reliable blue state and Coons should be set for reelection even in a bad year for Democrats.
GA-Sen: Retiring GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss has offered Democrats to test Georgia's political future. The GOP field for this race is crowded and crazy, but it's the hunt for the craziest that is most entertaining. I would like to diagnose them all with a case of crazy, but Rep. Paul Broun has a special place in my heart so I have to let him be the winner of that title. There are tons of other candidates in this race besides Broun, Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack "Sweep the floor" Kingston, former GA SOS Karen Handel, and Georgia ports authority member and the cousin of Ex-Gov Sonny Perdue, David Perdue, just to name a few. There are too many candidates in this GOP primary to predict a clear winner, but I'm sure whoever it is will provide us entertainment all the way to November. On the Democratic side, we have a great candidate in Michelle Nunn, daughter of Ex-Sen. Sam Nunn. Nunn has led all her GOP opponents in polling by narrow margins, which says a lot about Georgia moving forward to being a "New South" kind of state like Virginia and North Carolina.
HI-Sen: This special election brought on by the death of Senator Inouye will more than likely be decided by the primary. Inouye wanted Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to be appointed to his Senate seat, but Gov. Abercrombie appointed Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz instead. Polling has been very neck and neck, while Hanabusa has gained a lot of local support in Hawaii, especially by Inouye's widow, Schatz has gained a lot of national support from people such as Michael Bloomberg and Al Gore. Personally I would like to see a Hanabusa win, maybe it's the sassy gay in me that is upset that Abercrombie didn't appoint Hanabusa but I understand his reasoning regarding her seniority on the House Armed Services Committee, it's just the fact that it was Inouye's dying wish for his seat that he held for so long, Schatz is a very reliable senator though so I'm not getting worked up about it. The only GOP candidate announced so far is ex-State Rep. Campbell Cavasso, with another potential candidate being Ex-Congressman Charles Djou.
ID-Sen: GOP inc. Jim Risch is safe in this deep red state, but Idaho's senators are notorious for getting into trouble, so at least we have an insurance candidate in attorney Nels Mitchell. Ex-Congressman Larry LaRocco is also a potential candidate for the Democrats.
IL-Sen: Democratic inc. Dick Durbin is expected to be easily reelected in Illinois. On the GOP side, State Sen. Jim Oberweis and businessman Doug Truax are running for the GOP nomination.
IA-Sen: In this open seat vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin, Democrats have paved the way for Congressman Bruce Braley to be their nominee. The GOP primary is very crowded, State Sen. Joni Ernst seems to be the establishment choice for Republicans while crazy Tea Partier Bob Vander Plaats was considering a run, but later declined despite leading in GOP primary polling. This race leans toward Braley in pretty much all polling.
KS-Sen: GOP inc. Pat Roberts has himself in a mess regarding his residency in Kansas. It reminds people of Dick Lugar and Elizabeth Dole, who didn't spend very much time in their states and thus voters felt they were out of touch and booted them. In the primary, Roberts races a Tea Party challenger, Physician Milton Wolf, and he potentially faces Ex-Congressman Todd Tiahrt, who is considering giving the Senate another go. I would still put the primary as likely Roberts, but he isn't making it easy for himself. If things do blow up and Roberts loses to Wolf, we have a great insurance candidate in Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor on the Democratic side.
KY-Sen: In what is a bit of a surprise for such a red state federally, GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell finds himself facing a heavyweight Democratic opponent in Kentucky SOS Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general, and also a Tea Party challenge in the primary against businessman Matt Bevin. I would predict McConnell surviving the primary despite being disliked by even a lot of Republican voters, but as for the general it is a pure tossup. Kentucky is an interesting state, federally it is as red as other southern states but at the state level it elects mostly Democrats. This has been the case in more conservative states like Arkansas and West Virginia, and to a lesser extent, Missouri and Montana, where Democrats can actually win rather than in other conservative states like Alabama or Tennessee where they hardly exist anymore. Kentucky was on it's path to losing it's blue roots but a Grimes win here could revamp other Democrats in southern states. It would also set in motion Kentucky's other seat in 2016, if Rand Paul decides to run for President he could give up his Senate seat and popular Governor Steve Beshear could be a potential candidate there.
LA-Sen: It has never been easy for Democratic inc. Mary Landrieu to win a Senate race in deep red Louisiana, but her efforts during Hurricane Katrina kept her as a likable political figure in her state despite the D next to her name on the ballot. But now she faces her toughest race yet in a time where Democrats are not popular in the state, she faces likely GOP candidate Congressman Bill Cassidy in what is expected to be one of the most competitive races of the cycle. I would consider Landrieu and Pryor to be the most endangered incumbents because of the political climate in their states.
ME-Sen: GOP inc. Susan Collins depressed Democrats when she announced her running for reelection as this would be a great Democratic pickup in a blue state. She could be like her past colleague, Olympia Snowe, and shock everyone with a retirement at the last moment, but I don't see that happening. Collins is probably the most centrist Republican in the Senate and that title doesn't come without a Tea Party challenger. Conservative activist Erick Bennett is challenging Collins and is about as wacky as they come. Collins is expected to win her primary and will face a good candidate in former Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine Shenna Bellows.
MA-Sen: Democratic inc. Ed Markey won a special election in Massachusetts back in June to replace John Kerry. He only has one challenger on the GOP side so far, Construction Company Manager Brian Herr, with Ex-Gov. William Weld and Fox News contributor Keith Ablow as potential candidates. Markey should be comfortably elected in this blue state.
MI-Sen: Retiring Democratic inc. Carl Levin has left this seat up for grabs for both size. On the Democratic side, Congressman Gary Peters, and on the GOP side, Ex-SOS Terri Lynn Land. Both are decent candidates for both sides. Land has been narrowly leading in polls recently, but given Michigan's natural blue lean, I say Peters still comes out on top.
MN-Sen: Despite only winning by 312 votes in 2008, Democratic inc. Al Franken has proven himself to be a fairly popular senator in Minnesota. The GOP primary is crowded and a frontrunner is unclear, but the major contenders are State Sen. Julianne Ortman, State Rep. Jim Abeler, financial executive Mike McFadden, and St. Louis Country commissioner Chris Dahlberg. Franken should be easily elected here as he leads all opponents comfortably in polling.
MS-Sen: GOP inc. Thad Cochran is the only Republican incumbent I believe to be in any real danger to a primary challenge. He faces a Tea Party challenge by State Sen. Chris McDaniel. If it looks like Cochran is going to lose the primary, Ex-Congressman and Democrat Travis Childers has expressed interest in running. State Attorney General Jim Hood is also a potential Democratic candidate. Both of which I think would be great competition for McDaniel as all the more moderate Republicans and Independents who voted for Cochran would move toward Childers or Hood. At this point, hope for a McDaniel win if you want to see even a chance at a pick up opportunity in Mississippi.
MT-Sen: Due to Democrat inc. Max Baucus's retirement (then his appointment to be U.S Ambassador to China), Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh was appointed to fill Baucus's seat. Walsh is also running to keep the seat for Democrats, but he faces a primary challenge from former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, but Bohlinger has expressed that he may withdraw since Walsh holds the incumbency advantage. The winner of that primary will face the likely GOP candidate, Congressman Steve Daines. Some spectators predict we will lose Montana, but Montana has a history of close elections that ultimately favor Democrats. I would not write this race off and we certainly cannot afford to let it go so easy.
NE-Sen: Retiring GOP inc. Mike Johanns has left this seat vacant and thus a very crowded and torn GOP primary. The two candidates to watch in the primary are Shane Osborn, former Treasurer of Nebraska, who is the establishment pick for the nomination, and President of Midland University, Ben Sasse, who is the Tea Party pick. Osborn was looking to be the likely nominee but Sasse has gained a lot of ground lately, only losing to Osborn in the latest poll by 1 point, with a lot of GOP voters still undecided about this race. In the case of a Sasse win, there is always a chance he says something completely insane, so we have a decent insurance candidate in trial lawyer Dave Domina, with two potential Democrats, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler former Mayor of Omaha Mike Fahey, also being credible insurance type candidates. Plus, Nebraska has elected Democrats to the Senate before in recent years (Bob Kerrey and Ben Nelson), so while a Democratic win here is unlikely, you never know what can happen with a Tea Partier as the GOP nominee.
NH-Sen: Democratic inc. Jeanne Shaheen faces some pretty hilarious GOP challengers in her bid for reelection. Ex-US Senator Bob Smith is the most likely GOP nominee at this point, with Ex-US Senator Scott Brown also considering a run. Both spent time in states that are not New Hampshire, with Smith running for senate several times in Florida, and Brown of course being the senator from Massachusetts. With this pool of contenders, we can at least assume Shaheen will have an easier time getting elected than what was previously thought.
NJ-Sen: Democratic inc. Cory Booker won this special election to replace the late Frank Lautenberg fairly easily back in October. He now faces multiple Some Dude GOP candidates who won't make the race competitive at all.
NM-Sen: Democratic inc. Tom Udall should have an easy time getting reelected. His GOP opponents are Ex- Dona Ana County GOP Chair David Clements and Ex-State GOP Chair Allen Weh.
NC-Sen: North Carolina is another battleground state that Democrats are defending this year. North Carolina was a southern state that was moderating but has shifted backward in recent elections. This is bad news for Democratic inc. Kay Hagan. Hagan is a strong campaigner, but she is getting hit hard by the Koch Brothers and other groups in multiple ads and it's only February. The GOP primary for this state is unsurprisingly crowded. The frontrunner is believed to be State House Speaker Thom Tillis, but he is more of an establishment type and that has became a dirty word in GOP primaries. Other candidates include the Tea Party choice, activist Greg Brannon, Ex- Shelby Mayor Ted Alexander, Nurse Heather Grant, and Baptist State Convention President Mark Harris. I think Hagan will come out on top if she fires up North Carolina's Democratic base and drives them to the polls.
OK-Sen-A: GOP inc. Jim Inhofe should be easily reelected in this deeply red state. The only declared Democrat in the race is insurance agency owner Matt Silverstein.
OK-Sen-B: GOP inc. Tom Coburn announced he would resign from Congress after 2014, thus calling for a special election to fill his seat. The GOP primary is fairly divided. The most prominent candidates running are Congressman James Lankford, who is more of a religious-type conservative, and State House Speaker T.W. Shannon, who would be the likely establishment choice because Republicans love when they have a black guy on their side and like to show him off, but Republicans could support Lankford as well and just stick to the status quo of angry white guy. Ex-Congressman J.C. Watts, who is also black, is a potential candidate. On the Democratic side, no prominent Democrat has announced yet but Ex-Gov. Brad Henry, Ex-Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and Ex-Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor are all potential candidates. I think if Henry decides to run it makes the race more competitive and if he doesn't then the winner will be decided in the GOP primary.
OR-Sen: Despite Democratic inc. Jeff Merkley having a close race in 2008, his GOP opposition is shaping up to be nothing but a bunch of Some Dudes. The frontrunner is unclear in the crowded GOP primary, but Surgeon Monica Wehby is getting support from several Republican Women's groups so I guess she has that going for her. This should be a safely Democratic seat as all other prominent Republicans in the state have declined to run.
RI-Sen: So far, no one has declared to run against Democratic inc. Jack Reed, but this seat is safely blue anyway. At least if no Republican files to run it can make up for the mess Democrats did in Alabama. Democrats need to focus on the Governor's race in this state anyway and make sure it stays blue.
SC-Sen-A: South Carolina is my home state so sorry if I focus more on these races than I probably should. GOP inc. Lindsay Graham is going to have a cakewalk to reelection if he wins the primary and that really upsets me. One reason being South Carolinians hate Graham's hawkish war stance. It seems like every time something is going on in other countries, Graham's all over the Sunday talk shows talking about how we need to blow everyone up. This reason, and this reason alone, is why even the most Republican-minded of voters would vote for a decent Democrat over Graham. It frustrates me that the only announced Democratic candidate is Jay Stamper, a convicted felon, from Spokane, who just moved here only about a year ago, and is very vocal about his Liberal views. Now, I am a Liberal and I would love nothing more than to elect a Liberal to the senate here but the fact is in South Carolina that just isn't going to happen. We need a candidate like State Sen. Glenn Reese, DNC Member Boyd Brown, State Rep. Mia McLeod, or House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, who are all stars of the state party, to run for this seat. People have overlooked my state as not moderating with other states like North Carolina and Virginia but South Carolina has great potential. We almost elected a Democratic governor in a Republican wave year. We also gave Obama almost 45% of the vote, which is close to the same margin as Georgia. I just want a credible candidate here and not another Alvin Greene who was a public embarrassment.
SC-Sen-B: With Jim DeMint resigning last year, GOP inc. Tim Scott was appointed to the seat and decided to run for the special election. Scott isn't very well known state wide, and most people couldn't tell you that he was a black republican. The only two declared candidates for the Democrats are Ex-U.S Dep. of Commerce official Rick Wade and Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson. I prefer Wade over Dickerson merely for the fact that Wade would have more statewide appeal whereas Dickerson is only known in the Columbia area. I wish Ex-Gov. Jim Hodges would run for the nomination to make the seat more competitive and the fact that these old white Republicans couldn't bring it to themselves to vote for a black guy.
SD-Sen: With Democratic inc. Tim Johnson retiring, this seat is almost assured to go back into Republican hands. All heavyweight Democrats have declined to run for this seat, leaving a mediocre candidate in Ex-Congressional Aide Rick Weiland. While I don't necessarily dislike Weiland, I think his candidacy is a waste. He faces a three-way race against the likely GOP candidate Ex-Gov. Mike Rounds, and Ex-U.S Senator Larry Pressler, who is running as an Independent. Pressler is an Ex-Republican who, in recent years, has shifted his political views to the left, supporting Obama in 2008 and 2012. If I were Weiland I would back out of the race and let Pressler take on Rounds, that way we at least have some shot at holding this seat. Otherwise, Pressler is just going to take away Weiland's votes and we would have another situation like in Florida in 2010 with the Rubio-Meek-Crist race.
TN-Sen: GOP inc. Lamar Alexander faces a Tea Party challenge against State Rep. Joe Carr, but I don't expect Carr to come close. Democratic candidates include Attorney Terry Adams, who seems to be getting state party support, and Psychologist Larry Crim.
TX-Sen: GOP inc. John Cornyn seems to be "not conservative enough" for Texas and is yet another GOP Senator facing multiple primary opponents. Besides a large pool of Some Dude's, the only credible challenger is Congressman Steve Stockman. Stockman is probably as crazy as you can get, yet Cornyn still leads him in all polling. My question is if they're so dissatisfied with these establishment Republicans why don't they find candidates that can actually win rather than just make a lot of noise. But I try not to understand Tea Party logic, or lack there of. The Democratic primary is also fairly crowded, but I believe it will come down to two candidates, Dentist David Alameel and Attorney Maxey Scherr, both of whom have gained an equal number of endorsements from different Texas Democrats and Groups so a frontrunner between those two is unclear.
VA-Sen: Democratic inc. Mark Warner is a pretty popular senator from a swing state. On the GOP side, former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie is the likely nominee. I find spectators considering Gillespie potentially unseating Warner as pretty hilarious. Virginia is a swing state but Warner is too popular of an incumbent and is not in the same environment as other incumbents in deeply red states like Begich and Landrieu are.
WV-Sen: Democratic inc. Jay Rockefeller decided to retire thus making this an open seat. On the GOP side, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. On the Democratic side, State SOS Natalie Tennant. Capito has been leading in polls and this seat has been believed to be one that Democrats will lose this year but in one of the latest polls Tennant has been catching up to Capito, only trailing her by a few points, along with great Democratic candidates in all 3 House races, Tennant could pull off a very narrow win here if West Virginia Democrats boost turnout.
WY-Sen: GOP inc. Mike Enzi lost his only credible primary challenger in Liz Cheney, who's short lived campaign was hilarious but sometimes painful to watch. He does have a Democratic challenger, Substitute Teacher Charlie Hardy. This seat is of course safely republican.
I hope you enjoyed my diary series, I will be analyzing races all over again near election day to try and predict outcomes so stay tuned.
Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 5:28 PM PT: AR-Sen: Pryor has now come out in support of a minimum wage, not the national 10.10 number but one that would increase it to 7.50 in 2015 and going up to 8.50 in 2017. Guess he read my diary and had a come to Jesus moment.