Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Breaux Will Not Run for New Term: Senator Hands Democrats Setback

Washington Post

The numbers are starting to look real good for the Republicans in the 2004 Election on the Senate end.

Of the 19 Democratic seats up in 2004, 11 are in play as a practical matter. Of these, Florida (Bob Graham vacating), Georgia (Zell Miller vacating), Louisiana (John Breaux vacating), North Carolina (John Edwards vacating), and South Carolina (Fritz Hollings, vacating) are likely to go Republican. I give even-money to Nevada (Harry Reid defending). I think California (Boxer defending), North Dakota (Bob Dorgan, who?, defending), South Dakota (Daschle defending), Washington (Patty Murray defending), and Wisconsin (Russ Feingold defending) are going to stay with the Democrats. Knowing my fellow Washingtonians, I'd be surprised if they'd vote for an Eastern Washington-type, Boxer has weak opposition, Daschle is the most powerful Democrat on the Hill, and Russ Feingold is a lovable rogue. I don't know who the hell Bob Dorgan is.

Anyway, that's a likely gain for the Republicans of 5 seats, possibly 6, 7-8 if they're lucky.

The Republicans have 15 seats up in 2004, and 7 are vulnerable. Of these, I only see 1 likely to go Democratic, the Fitzgerald seat in Illinois. Chicagoans don't like Republicans, and if they feel strongly enough about the Presidential election, they'll drown out the rest of the state, as they often do. The other 6, Alaska, Colorado, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania all are iffy. Alaskans don't like Democrats, even if Lisa Murkowski doesn't deserve to be there. The only issue in Colorado is whether Ben Nighthorse Campbell vacates or not. If he doesn't, that's a lock. I think Bunning is pretty safe in Kentucky - he's an ex-baseball player for goodness sake. Kit Bond in Missouri is a nobody, but Town Hall seems to think he'll have nobodies running against him, and tie goes to the incumbent. I think Oklahomans could go either way, I don't know anything about Don Nickles' potential successors. Arlen Specter is a Senate institution, and with Santorum's support, I don't see him going anywhere.

That's a likely gain of 1 for the Democrats, 2-3 if they're lucky, and 4-5 if they are very lucky, like if the Saddam we caught turns out to be Ed Gillespie in a slightly-fat suit.

In the end, my prediction is the Republicans have a net gain of 3 seats, making the Senate 54-46 Republican. Not filibuster proof, but with a little buffer zone against defectors.

And the House is a lock, of course, at 228-205 Republican.

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