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6/04/2005

2006 Senate Races

Even though the Republican party seems to be coming apart at the seams, it still appears to be a bit of a reach to think Democrats will regain control of the Senate in 2006. Still, there does seem to be some vulnerability for current GOP senators. Maybe, just maybe, Democrats can start to cut into the GOP advantage in 2006, and pick up some momentum heading into 2008.

In 2006 there are 15 Republican and 17 Democrat seats on the line, as well as Jim Jeffords Independent seat in Vermont.

Of those 17 Democrat seats on the line, the most vulnerable would seem to be Ben Nelson in Nebraska, Bill Nelson in Florida and Kent Conrad in North Dakota. If Democrats are to make any progress, they need hold these three seats.

Of the Republican held seats the ones in Pennsylvania (Rick Santorum), Rhode Island (Lincoln Chafee), Tennessee (Bill Frist - retiring/running for President), Montana (Conrad Burns) and Missouri (Jim Talent) seem to be the most vulnerable.

I'm sure other races will emerge and create new possibilities, but right now these eight races seem to be the ball game.

Let's look first at the two races in our backyard here in South Dakota.

Nebraska:

According to one "
handicapper" of 2006 races, Ben Nelson's seat is the most likely to change hands.

Elizabeth Dole, the chairwoman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee says she thinks Nelson is "
very vulnerable". Dole made this statement while speaking at the state party's Founder's Day celebration. In the same speech she essentially promised Nebraska the same treatment that South Dakota got in 2004, "The Nebraska Senate race is extremely important to the national Republican Party, and we are going to win this seat. National Republicans are putting Nebraska as a top priority."

It is sort of funny to hear Dole bad-mouthing a Senator that President Bush actually likes. Back in February Bush said Nelson is "a man with whom I can work." Bush as also noted that Nelson is willing to put aside politics and do what is right for Nebraska and the nation.

Sort of makes you wonder who the real obstructionists in the Senate are. I mean here is a man willing to reach across the aisle and work in a bi-partisan fashion to actually get something done in the senate, and this is perceived to be a weakness and has landed him at the top of the GOP hit list.

As of now only one opponent has surfaced for Nelson and that is David Kramer. Other names floating are Kerry Winterer and Kermit Brashear.

In a bit of good news,
Paul Johnson will head up Nelson's campaign. He is a perfect 5-0 in Nebraska elections including Nelson's 2000 win and former Senator Bob Kerrey's 1988 and 1994 wins. Johnson also ran Tom Daschle's win in 1986 right here in South Dakota, so we have a good man on the job

We need to hold this seat

North Dakota:

That same "
handicapper" rates Kent Conrad's North Dakota seat as the 3rd most likely to change hands.

Republicans want Conrad's seat for many reasons, but one big one is that he is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, and he has been a constant thorn in the side of Republicans as they continue to run up the deficit with no regard for the future. It is also easy for the GOP to envision the same kind of defeat suffered by Tom Daschle last year, happening just to the north in 2006.

Following that line of thinking, the White House is trying to follow the same template in North Dakota that they used in South Dakota. Recruit the states most visible Republican, promise him and the people of the state that they will be better off with a Republican in office because he will "have the ear" of the President, pressure said potential candidate to give up any notion of becoming (or in this case staying) governor, and then turn their back on that candidate and his state once elected. Want proof? Look at
this,

"Yesterday Bush's Secretary of Agriculture paid a visit to Fargo. I would have loved to have gone but I was in Minneapolis for 2 days. To outsiders this may seem like a run of the mill visit from an Ag. Sec. to a farming state like ND, but don't be so naive. The power structure atop the Republican party is desperately trying to convince our Republican governor John Hoeven into running against Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad in 2006. They want Conrad out and they see Hoeven as the man to throw him out.

In January President Bush invited Gov. Hoeven to the the State of the Union Address and the pair then flew to Fargo the next day aboard Air Force One for Bush's appearance here on Social Security. In March, John and Mikey Hoeven hung out with George and Laura in D.C. for a weekend. I wonder what they talked about?? Religion? The weather? Perhaps the 2006 mid-term elections?

For the next few months John Hoeven can expect to be hearing a lot from Bush and Co. Old George would dearly love to have yet another conservative senator on Capitol Hill for his final 2 years in the White House. Especially with the inevitable dog fights ahead between the Left and Right over judicial nominees, social security, and tax reform."

We must hold this seat.

Get involved now. Don't wait until next year, it will be too late. Go
here to get involved and/or donate.

Stay tuned to updates on these and other 2006 Senate races.

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