2012 Senate playing field tilts toward GOP

posted at 3:15 pm on February 10, 2011 by John Sexton

Senator Jim Webb’s announcement yesterday that he will not run for reelection in 2012 led Washington Post writer Chris Cillizza to take a look at the future of Webb’s seat and how it could effect the overall playing field in the Senate. His conclusion is that 2012 is stacking up as a very good year for Republicans:

“This seat is going to flip,” predicted one veteran Democratic operative familiar with the Commonwealth’s politics. “The bench is so shallow.”

Webb is the third Democratic (or Democratic-affiliated) Senator to call it quits already this year, joining Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) on the sidelines. Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is the lone Republican to announce she will not seek re-election in 2012.

While holding the Connecticut seat should pose limited problems — if any — for Democrats, both Virginia and North Dakota have deep Republican roots and will be major targets for Republicans in 2012.

The open seats in Virginia and North Dakota — when coupled with the fact that there are 23 Democratic seats up this cycle as compared to just 10 for Republicans — paint a stark portrait of the challenge before Democrats to hold their majority next November.

For Democrats hoping to hold that majority, Virginia is likely to emerge as a linchpin.

The likely beneficiary of Webb’s decision is George Allen, the man who lost narrowly to Webb amid a nasty campaign complete with charges of racism which were heavily promoted by the Washington Post. Allen has already announced his intention to run for the seat.

Now that Karl Rove is speculating about a possible way to repeal ObamaCare via reconciliation (i.e. needing only 51 votes in the Senate) a lot more than merely control of the Senate may be riding on Virginia in 2012.


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May the people of AZ not go completely stupid and vote Napolitano in to replace Kyl.

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2011 at 3:18 PM

That’s cool. Per the Santorum thread, Allen has been off the stage for a while. He had better sharpen up his communication and media skills and get with it. Avoid more stupid mistakes.

DaydreamBeliever on February 10, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Who needs reconciliation to repeal this? The dems already got the ball rolling with “fillibuster reform”.

DJ Rick on February 10, 2011 at 3:20 PM

The story’s already dated as Kyl has announced his retirement, while it declares that only Hutchinson has pulled out on the GOP side.

Virginia, North Dakota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Florida, and several other states are all likely flips considering they’re currently open seats and/or have populations who are VERY pissed at the Dems right now.

teke184 on February 10, 2011 at 3:20 PM

They passed it on reconciliation…why couldn’t they unpass it the same way?

Terrye on February 10, 2011 at 3:23 PM

They passed it on reconciliation…why couldn’t they unpass it the same way?

Terrye on February 10, 2011 at 3:23 PM

That’s a silly question. Reconciliation is only ok when the Democrats use it.

Doughboy on February 10, 2011 at 3:24 PM

We need to recruit high calibre tea party candidates right now. The problem with tea party was that they leaned on so many also rans. This shouldn’t happen again.

And for God’s sake, recruit somebody good for NY senate seat that Kirsten woman is running for. Please. Make the idiot who runs the state GOP pay but please run somebody good.

promachus on February 10, 2011 at 3:25 PM

If the R’s can’t pick up at least half the seats now held by D’s, they are inept.

If insanity had not lead to the candidacy of Christine O’Donnell, and Sharron Angle they would currently hold 49 seats, not 47.

The R’s need to pickup 13 of 23 seats to obtain a filibuster proof majority. A worthy goal but a bit optimistic.

Always vote for the most conservative, electable candidate.

The Rock on February 10, 2011 at 3:26 PM

They passed it on reconciliation…why couldn’t they unpass it the same way?

Terrye on February 10, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Rove’s argument, and it has been raised by others, too, is that it can be repealed by reconciliation.

Wethal on February 10, 2011 at 3:27 PM

If the R’s can’t pick up at least half the seats now held by D’s, they are inept.

If insanity had not lead to the candidacy of Christine O’Donnell, and Sharron Angle they would currently hold 49 seats, not 47.

The R’s need to pickup 13 of 23 seats to obtain a filibuster proof majority. A worthy goal but a bit optimistic.

Always vote for the most conservative, electable candidate.

The Rock on February 10, 2011 at 3:26 PM

I agree with some of that. Certainly Mike Castle would’ve had an excellent shot at winning in Delaware. But he also would’ve been a Snowe/Collins type of Republican in the Senate.

As for Nevada, I honestly don’t know if any of the GOP candidates would’ve won. Sue Lowden seemed like she had the best shot based on early polling data, but she also made that dumb remark about chickens and bartering. And Danny Tarkanian never gained any traction in his campaign. Plus in the end, Harry Reid had a much better GOTV effort. Angle and her handlers deserve some blame for being outperformed in that area, but considering how many other close Senate races the GOP lost(Colorado, Washington), I’m thinking the incompetence at the national level in the RNC and NRSC is equally to blame.

Which BTW is another issue going into 2012. Recruiting solid candidates is of the utmost importance. But providing them with support after they clinch the nomination is also key. We can’t lose easily winnable seats because the Democrats do a better job of getting people to the polls.

Doughboy on February 10, 2011 at 3:32 PM

If the R’s can’t pick up at least half the seats now held by D’s, they are inept.

If insanity had not lead to the candidacy of Christine O’Donnell, and Sharron Angle they would currently hold 49 seats, not 47.

The Rock on February 10, 2011 at 3:26 PM

…and have Mike Castle in there lending bipartisan support to the Dems. No thanks. I want them to own everything they pass.

fossten on February 10, 2011 at 3:38 PM

If Allen wins the primary, I’ll be holding my nose in November 2012. He strikes me as a typical ‘career’ politician and prime RINO material. The ol’ beltway insiders are already dissing Radtke. Really, is Allen the best we can do??

Bob in VA on February 10, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Always vote for the most conservative, electable candidate.

The Rock on February 10, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Castle was in no way conservative, and Christine was made unelectable by the RINO establishment.

promachus on February 10, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Virginia, North Dakota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Florida, and several other states are all likely flips considering they’re currently open seats and/or have populations who are VERY pissed at the Dems right now.

teke184 on February 10, 2011 at 3:20 PM

You can add Michigan to that list, Stabenow may look unbeatable now but Pete Hoekstra and a few others are eyeing her seat.

fourdeucer on February 10, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Really, is Allen the best we can do??

Bob in VA on February 10, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Maybe not. But he’s not a RINO. And he’d be a shoo-in if he was the nominee. It’s not like he got his ass handed to him in 2006(*cough* Santorum *cough*). He lost an extremely close race to a pretty decent(at the time) Democrat candidate in a terrible year for Republicans while being hammered every day in the press for using a word 99% of the nation had never even heard of before.

Doughboy on February 10, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Always vote for the most conservative, electable candidate.

The Rock on February 10, 2011 at 3:26 PM
Castle was in no way conservative, and Christine was made unelectable by the RINO establishment.

promachus on February 10, 2011 at 3:40 PM

The establishment in DE is the Ruling Party, made up of Dems and GOP, who live in the Wilmington suburbs and nicely take turns with the three federal offices. It was Castle’s turn. Coons got some face time, but would actually be in line to replace Carper. Beau Biden would step in after Castle retired.

That’s why Castle didn’t endorse O’Donnell, and the state GOP chairman only grudgingly endorsed her days later. (Not to mention RINO Rove’s rant.)

If they had closed ranks, said, “Well, she’s the nominee; we’ll support her,” she might still have lost, but it could have been a lot closer.

Wethal on February 10, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Quote Webb’s book ” I picked up the boy and held him upside down,then put his penis in my mouth.”

Quote from Allen ” Macaca.”

Quote fron Sonnyspats1 “Independents are not so independent.
They gobble up dirt on Republicans like a stink beetle on a dung heap”!!!

sonnyspats1 on February 10, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Always vote for the most conservative, electable candidate.

The Rock on February 10, 2011 at 3:26 PM

yeah like Sen rossi and Sen forinia….oh nevermind..

unseen on February 10, 2011 at 3:52 PM

I don’t think George Allen is a shoe in to get the Republican nomination.

huckleberryfriend on February 10, 2011 at 4:05 PM

geo allen will certainly get the GOP nomination.

kelley in virginia on February 10, 2011 at 4:22 PM

He had better sharpen up his communication and media skills and get with it. Avoid more stupid mistakes.

DaydreamBeliever on February 10, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Like not calling people of Indian descent monkeys. Two of them (Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley) are Republican Governors of southern states–they can be persuaded to join our side, if you treat them right!

The problem with tea party was that they leaned on so many also rans. This shouldn’t happen again.

A Senate race is a statewide election, and many states have large cities which vote overwhelmingly Democrat. We need to run somebody that is well-known statewide, and has run winning campaigns before, who can win enough suburban and rural votes to recoup losses in big cities. Of the Tea Party sympathizers who WON Senate seats in 2010, all but one (Ron Johnson of WI) had previous political experience (Toomey and Boozman were Congressmen, Rand Paul was the son of a Congressman, Rubio was speaker of the State House, and Hoeven was Governor). While a political neophyte can sometimes win a House race, political experience is a big plus in a Senate race. Most of the neophytes (O’Donnell, Angle, Buck) and business people (Fiorina, McMahon) lost big.

And for God’s sake, recruit somebody good for NY senate seat that Kirsten woman is running for. Please. Make the idiot who runs the state GOP pay but please run somebody good.

promachus on February 10, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Rudy Giuliani could probably win Gillibrand’s seat, by winning upstate and breaking even in NYC, where he was mayor, and did a much better job than Bloomberg. He’s a RINO on social issues, but conservative enough on fiscal issues, and fighting crime and terrorism.
Nominate the most electable conservative, or the most conservative electable.

Steve Z on February 10, 2011 at 4:27 PM

For me perspective is key in politics.

The GOP did better in Congressional pickups (House and Senate)than anytime since 1938 and if you take pickups among governors and state legislatures anytime since 1928.

And we’re complaining we didn’t do well enough in November.

You’re kind of person that could still find reasons to complain about Roy Halliday’s pitching performance in the playoffs when he threw a perfect game.

Does anyone remember just after the 2008 election that many pundits predicted that the GOP would be in the wilderness for generations as the Messiah (or one of his disciples) would rule “forever”.? James Carville predicted that the GOP would be out of power for 40 years.

Lest we forget!

technopeasant on February 10, 2011 at 4:39 PM

geo allen will certainly get the GOP nomination.

kelley in virginia on February 10, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Are you sure? Isn’t there anyone better …someone who can’t be rolled like he was? or do you attribute his loss to Bush/Republican fatigue?

CCRWM on February 10, 2011 at 4:58 PM

I agree with some of that. Certainly Mike Castle would’ve had an excellent shot at winning in Delaware. But he also would’ve been a Snowe/Collins type of Republican in the Senate.

Doughboy on February 10, 2011 at 3:32 PM

You’re saying that as if it’s a bad thing. On any day, I will take a Northeastern “RINO” who votes with conservatives 75% of the time over a Northeastern Democrat who votes with conservatives 0% of the time.

JSGreg3 on February 10, 2011 at 5:07 PM

JSGreg3, then you aren’t very bright. Voting for someone who will sell you out on the MOST CRITICAL votes but vote with you on the little things is not an ally.

Here’s a fictional example of what you think is so good.
My so called friend was there when I needed $5 dollars. He helped me with a minor electrical problem in my house. But when I was violently attacked by two guys who wanted to rob me, he ran off and didn’t even call for help on his cell phone.

Hard Right on February 10, 2011 at 5:35 PM

“…Virginia is likely to emerge as a linchpin.”

Who knew we were so important? The Dems lust for our alleged purpleness, but like any coy temptress we are not so smitten with the Dems as we lead them to believe. Yes the roots in The Old Dominion are very red indeed. We are ‘moderate’ and like to be ‘bipartisan’ and desire to be “pleasant”, so occasionally a Dem fools us and gets elected. But they are always Dems who pretended to have honorable(conservative) intentions. Like any woman scorned though, hell knows no fury like the Old Dominion scorned by carpetbaggin scalawags like Jim Webb and Mark Warner. Woe be unto you Democrats in 2012. Your chickens are coming home to roost.

JimP on February 10, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Ben Judas Nelson is toast here.

OmahaConservative on February 10, 2011 at 6:12 PM

GOP takes the Senate next time. Count it.

CWforFreedom on February 10, 2011 at 7:08 PM

You can add Michigan to that list, Stabenow may look unbeatable now but Pete Hoekstra and a few others are eyeing her seat.

fourdeucer on February 10, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Hoekstra came in 2nd or 3rd in the Gov Primary (forget which). He is from the western part of the state, but got some name recognition in the governor race. I hope he runs for the Senate. I think he could possibly beat Stabenow, particularly is Egypt and the rest of the middle east are huge problems next year. Hoekstra is well respected in the intelligence community and could kick some butt in Congress with the idiots in national security and homeland security now. I don’t see any other R names that could really beat Stabenow. Michigan has been so blue for so long, the state wide Republican bench is a bit weak.

karenhasfreedom on February 11, 2011 at 2:30 AM