While the political world has focused on the Obama vs. Romney battle for the presidency, there has been a shift in the odds over control of the U.S. Senate in 2013.
Thanks to a Republican retirement, a primary defeat and unanticipated strength of Democratic candidates, Democrats now have at least an even chance of retaining control of the Senate where a few months ago the probabilities favored the Republicans.
Significantly, Council for a Livable World is heavily involved in four of the five Senate races that provide Democrats with momentum.
Paul Kane recently wrote in The Washington Post about “growing sense that the potential for big Republican gains has begun to ebb and that Democrats have a real chance of hanging on to their majority.”
Noted political expert Charlie Cook suggested “The fight for a majority in the Senate looks very much to be a 50-50 proposition.”
Another political pro, Stuart Rothenberg,, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, colorfully said he now places his “pinkie on the scale” for Democrats retaining the majority.
Let’s look at the five Senate contests that have shifted the political dynamics of the Senate control.
Maine: Republican Senator Olympia Snowe’s unexpected announcement of retirement turned this Senate seat from sure Republican to likely independent. Angus King, who won two terms as Governor as an independent, is now a strong favorite against candidates from the two major parties. The New York Times Nate Silver, who loves statistics, gives King an 85% chance of winning the seat. The Maine twist: King has said he will decide which party he will caucus with if and when he gets to Washington.
Nebraska: When incumbent Democratic Senator Ben Nelson announced his retirement, Republicans appear to have a lock on the Senate seat. But then former two-term Democratic Senator Robert Kerrey launched a comeback. While he is an underdog, Kerrey is a great campaigner who has won three statewide campaigns. To add uncertainty to the contest, State Sen. Deb Fischer (R) shot the gap between two better known candidates who had been attacking each other and is an unknown quantity against Kerrey.
Indiana: Incumbent Senator Richard Lugar (R) had a lock on this Senate seat — until he was demolished in a May 8 primary by Tea Party favorite State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R). Pre-primary polls showed the Democratic nominee Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) competitive in the general election.
Arizona: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) appeared to be the heir apparent for the seat now held by the retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R). But Flake is getting a spirited challenge by wealthy developer Wil Cardon (R). Cardon has gone negative on Flake with TV and radio ads criticizing Flake for being a career politician who supported an energy tax and hob nobs with lobbyists. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D), a candidate with an incredible life story that is filled with many honors and accomplishments, will be the Democratic nominee. Polls show Carmona only four points behind Flake and the state competitive in the presidential race.
North Dakota: North Dakota is a state where Republicans were expected to win a seat now held by Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, who is retiring. But the Republican nominee, freshman U.S. Rep. Rick Berg (R) has image problems in the state and ex-North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) has proved to be a formidable Democratic nominee with strong residual popularity from her previous statewide offices. Polls show a close contest.
To read more about Council for a Livable World endorsed candidates or to contribute to them:
Arizona: Dr. Richard Carmona (D)
Maine: Angus King (I)
Sen. Bob Kerrey (D)
Heidi Heitkamp (D)