• AK-Sen (R): Democratic Sen. Mark Begich will be one of the top Republican targets in the nation, and three noteworthy Republicans are facing off to take him on.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell entered the race early but his disorganized campaign led national Republicans to look elsewhere. They settled on former State Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan (not to be confused with the Anchorage mayor of the same name who is running for lieutenant governor). Sullivan and Begich have been trading blows and for months it has looked like the nomination was Sullivan's for the taking. In recent weeks some polls have shown Treadwell narrowing his deficit with Sullivan, but it would be a major upset if he won. It's not obvious who would be the better foe for Begich. Treadwell has raised little money especially compared to Sullivan. However, Treadwell is harder to attack as a carpetbagger than Sullivan, and Republican groups would compensate for his cash deficit.
Tea partying 2010 nominee Joe Miller is also running. Miller shockingly beat Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the primary that year but his subsequent campaign alienated much of his own party and allowed Murkowski to win in a write-in campaign. Democrats would love to face Miller, but it looks very unlikely that he'll get a second chance.
• Virginia Senate: Democrats got a nasty surprise a few months ago when Democratic Sen. Phil Puckett resigned from very red seat, SD-38. Puckett left to take a job with the state Tobacco Commission and to get Republicans to reconfirm his daughter's judgeship. While Puckett's job fell through, the effects of his departure are keenly felt. The chamber had been tied 20-20 with Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam breaking the tie, but with Puckett gone, the Republicans have control.
SD-38 has been trending heavily in the Republican's direction in recent cycles, and Romney won it with 67 percent of the vote. A Democratic hold is unlikely but Team Blue has a viable candidate in Tazewell County Supervisor Mike Hymes. The Republicans are fielding Del. Ben Chafin, and left-leaning independent Rick Mullins is also in the mix. This has become a very expensive race and no one is taking it for granted. If Democrats won here they'd get the chamber back, but Hymes is expected to have a tough time prevailing here.
In Wyoming, Republican Gov. Matt Mead faces a primary challenge from state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill. This is notable not because Mead looks like he's in any danger but because Hill, a statewide elected official, managed to avoid being impeached during the campaign for misconduct.
In Alaska, there will be a ballot measure that would repeal tax breaks to oil companies: A Public Policy Polling survey had it tied 42-42. There will also be two special elections for the Virginia House of Delegates. Both HD-48 and 90 are heavily Democratic, but Republicans are making a play for the Northern Virginia-based HD-48.