He looks worried. That's because he should be.
I think Senator Rob Portman (R. OH) will be a very tough race but again, we'll need to see who the Democrats score in terms or a candidate. I would also like to see how retiring Rep. Jim Matheson (D. UT) would do against Senator Mike Lee (R. UT) and I want to see how popular Senators Chuck Grassley (R. IA) and Lisa Murkowski (R. AK) will be in 2016. Polls showed Hillary would be competitive in Alaska and Matheson would be competitive against Lee.
This is going to be a short one but I wanted to post it and I apologize for it being late but this article from Slate came out on Friday right before the holiday weekend. So I know there have been quite a few diaries focused on the 2016 Presidential race here on the Kos. I have no problem with people here already thinking and talking about the race and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic and the Republican primaries. They're important races for sure. As many of you know I have been writing a lot about the 2014 races and I will do so all the way until the very end. But I've said before in a few comments that the real race in 2016 that I am already engaged in is the U.S. Senate race in my home state of Pennsylvania. As many of you also know I have been posting diaries about former Congressman, decorated Admiral and 2010 Senate candidate, Joe Sestak (D. PA), who is seeking a rematch against Wall Street's favorite Tea Party Senator, Pat Toomey (R. PA). David Weigel did an excellent job reminding us that 2016 will be a great year for Senate Democrats and Pennsylvania is one of the top races we should be excited about. Here are the seven races:
6/7. Missouri/New Hampshire. Both of these states were seen as Democratic pick-up opportunities early in 2009; both fell easily to Republicans. But in both states, Democrats have elected broadly popular governors who've run ahead of Obama. Missouri's Jay Nixon (who lost a 1998 Senate race by 9 points) will be finishing a second term, as (probably) will New Hampshire's Maggie Hassan. (She's up again this year but not struggling.) If either are coaxed to run, they make competitive races.
Ayotte (R. NH), Blunt (R. MO)
4/5. Kentucky/Florida. Both states are represented by senators with barely-disguised national ambitions. Neither can run for re-election if he runs for the presidency. After Arkansas and Missouri, Kentucky is the state where the Clinton-led ticket is expected to run most strongly ahead of the two doomed Obama-Biden tickets. (This has at least a little to do with race.) It's also one of the last red state redoubts of electable Democrats. If Attorney General Jack Conway or Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes lose races this year and next year (he's running for governor, she's running for Senate), both would be beseeched by Democrats to look at the open Senate seat. Florida's Democratic bench is weaker, funny enough, but the state is trending blue.
Paul (R. KY), Rubio (R. FL)
3. Wisconsin. First-time candidate Ron Johnson defeated Sen. Russ Feingold easier than anyone not paid by Johnson had thought possible. Feingold left politics, joining the Obama administration to work on African issues. Johnson has established himself as a b.s.-free conservative who refused to engage in shutdown politics and has picked smart fights with the Obama administration. He is, according to reporter Ken Vogel, seen by the Koch network as a model politician. But in 2016 he'll be running in a state likely to break for Hillary Clinton. Feingold could return from the Bush, or Rep. Ron Kind could finally make the statewide run he's been passing on for years.
Johnson (R. WI)
2. Pennsylvania. Sen. Pat Toomey narrowly lost a 2004 primary to Arlen Specter, spent six years building a political base, then scared Specter out of Republican politics. In November 2010, Toomey narrowly (narrower than polling predicted) triumphed over Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak. This was the recent apogee of the Pennsylvania Republican party; four years later, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett looks certain to lose to challenger Tom Wolf. Democrats are giddy about their chances of winning Pennsylvania with Hillary atop the ticket, and either Sestak or another ambitious Democrat will happily oppose Toomey. In a recent PPP poll, he actually trailed Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who was elected in the surprisingly strong Democratic year of 2012.
Toomey (R. PA)
1. Illinois. As soon as Barack Obama won the presidency, Illinois's Democratic majority started fumbling away everything they'd done. Gov. Rod Blagojevich immediately plunged in a scheme to basically sell Obama's vacant Senate seat. It ended Blagojevich's career and destroyed Rep. Jesse Jackson, who had big ambitions for statewide office. Like a member of The Who leaving a 1970s hotel room, Blagojevich went out by ruining things for his party, appointing the vainglorious and dim Roland Burris to the Senate seat. That made Rep. Mark Kirk's seemingly impossible job -- winning the president's old Senate seat -- doable. And even then, Kirk only beat scandal-plagued State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias by 1.9 points, falling short of an outright majority.
Kirk (R. IL)
In 2011, Kirk survived a stroke that dramatically limited his movement. He's recovered remarkably well, and remained a force in the Senate, a foreign policy hawk who darts to the middle on social issues. But even in December 2013, close to the nadir of the Obamacare debate, pollsters found Kirk in a dead heat with a possible Democratic challenger. In 2016, he will have plenty of money but need to overcome the Democratic vote for Illinois-born Hillary Clinton. - Slate, 7/3/14
Weigel also notes that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) and DSCC Chairman, Senator Michael Bennet (D. CO), may face potentially tough races but being that both men know a thing or two about running in tough races, I feel pretty good about their chances. Paul has a lot more to lose now that the Democratic controlled Kentucky state legislature passed a law that Paul can't run for both President and his Senate seat. He'll have to choose one of the other but I'm betting he's going to run for President. Rubio will run for sure but I don't think he'll win. He's more likely to become a Vice Presidential candidate but his support for immigration reform will hurt him in the primary. I would also like to add Senators Johnny Isakson (R. GA), Richard Burr (R. NC) and John McCain (R. AZ) to that list. If Democrats can do well in the U.S. Senate and Governor's race this year or at least show a strong performance, they could really be ready for 2016. Looking your way Atlanta Mayor Kassim Reed (D. GA). North Carolina can be incredibly competitive as well and McCain is the least popular Senator in the country. Fingers crossed for a Richard Carmona (D. AZ) or Gabby Giffords (D. AZ) comeback. Of course the 2014 races in those three states could pave the way for 2016. We have competitive Senate races in NC and GA and competitive Governor races in Georgia and Arizona. Georgia and Arizona are likely to become the next two swing states by 2016 thanks to changing demographics. Not only will it be a Presidential year but Governor Pat McCrory (R. NC) is most likely going to be the most vulnerable Governor in 2016 and Democrats will be eager to get rid of him. If they can get strong candidates in both their races and direct their anger not just at McCrory but also Burr, then we have serious shots in the Tar Heel state.
Now it's still important that we hold onto the Senate this year even though we aren't going to get 60 seats this year. We have to hold onto the seats in Colorado, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Michigan and Iowa of course. We're very likely going to lose South Dakota and West Virginia but we have serious chances to make up for the loses by winning Kentucky and Georgia. Maine would be a surprise upset and I'm keeping my eye on Shenna Bellows (D. ME) in her bid to unseat Senator Susan Collins (R. ME) but that's a tough one. So we can still hold on to our majority but it's best to make sure we still have a 55 seat majority (this includes Senators Bernie Sanders (I VT) & Angus King (I. ME)) because come 2017, we could have a super majority. How awesome would that be?
Once the 2014 races are over, I'm going to immediately get started in unseating Toomey. While Sestak is wasting no time, he might have a primary to win first. Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D. PA), Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Josh Shapiro (D. PA), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D. PA), Mayor Michael Nutter (D. PA) and former gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty (D. PA) have all been rumored as potential candidates. But I'm sticking with Sestak because he's a great public servant who really should've won in 2010. I'm hungry for revenge and that's why I'm really getting ready for 2016. Click here to help give Sestak a head start:
Who do you think is the best Democratic to go up against Toomey in 2016?
Who do you think is the best Democratic to go up against Toomey in 2016?
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