By: Kelly Karpenske
Republicans have 28 seats open while the democrats have only 12. Many of these races are close and will tell the story of the future of the Congress and the future of our country. The closest senate seats:
Alaska. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin refuses to answer the question of whether she will vote for indicted Republican Ted Stevens. The result is that Stevens, who has been active in Alaska politics since its days as a U.S. territory, has been consistently trailing Democratic challenger Mark Begich, the Anchorage mayor and son of a former governor. But it’s hard to count the state’s most durable politician out just yet. Right now polls put them at almost a dead heat.
Colorado. Rep. Mark Udall has opened a small but statistically significant lead over Republican Bob Schaeffer. Schaeffer, a former congressman, has been running a solid campaign and has remained on the offensive on energy and taxes. But it’s shaping up as a tough year to be a Republican in Colorado.
Georgia. New Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a steadfast conservative who won the seat amid controversial ads tying Democrat Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden, was just one percentage point ahead of his relatively unknown Democratic opponent Jim Martin. There is lack of hope for Martin but if there’s a huge African American turnout, he might just be a surprise senator.
Kentucky. Democrats think that Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is vulnerable every six years. And each time, McConnell manages to win. The Senate Minority Leader is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Bruce Lunsford, but odds remain in his favor in November. Barack Obama is not doing well there, so Lunsford McConnell to fail miserably. It’s unlikely, but that’s how he won his first seat.
Minnesota.Who’s ahead in Minnesota. One recent poll gives freshman Republican Norm Coleman a big lead. Another shows Democrat Al Franken, the former comedian and author of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big, Fat Jerk — far ahead. The polls agree on only one thing: former Sen. Dean is winning nearly 20 percent of the vote.
Mississippi. Democratic former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove remains locked in a tight special election contest with Republican Sen. Roger Wicker for the seat vacated by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. A high African American turnout for Barack Obama could put Musgrove over the top.
New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s John Sununu has been trailing in his rematch with former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen but hasn’t lost yet. It was close last time, but Sununu won narrowly in a Republican year (2002). This is a decidely Democratic year and Sununu needs all the luck he can get.
North Carolina. Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan is giving freshman Republican Elizabeth Dole fits. The two most recent polls have Hagan in the lead. It’s a bad year for Republicans in North Carolina and the Democrats have a ticket led by two women and an African American. It could be close, or a blowout.
Oregon. Democratic Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley was ahead of incumbent Republican Gordon Smith in the latest poll. Smith is better known and has more funding. But Merkley has run a superb campaign and has a secret weapon: George Bush, who is intensely unpopular in Oregon.
Texas. Republicans aren’t the least bit worried that freshman John Cornyn could lose. Cornyn should win because Texas remains a Republican state, he’s a well-funded incumbent, and his opponent doesn’t have any speed. But Democrat Rick Noriega was within seven percentage points of Cornyn in the latest Rasmussen poll.