Special Report: A Briefing On All The Key Republican Senate Primaries

This year there:  is : a surprising number of competitive Republican primaries. All in all, that’s a good thing because it gets more Republicans involved, it makes the establishment Republicans respect the base, and it encourages Republicans in D.C. : to pay close attention to their constituents.

That being said, at the end of the day, if we’re going to change the country, we’ve got to put more Republicans in office. So, from my point of view, fight tooth and nail now, while you can, to help get the candidate you want through the primaries and then when it’s over, you unite and help whoever wins get in office.

That being said, what follows is a list of the key primaries, when they occur, the latest polling, the competitive candidates, whom : I’m backing, and some analysis. This doesn’t cover every race. There’s not much of a point in going over races that, at the moment at least, look like Democratic slamdunks. Moreover, it didn’t seem like there was a point to covering races where one candidate:  is so dominant that it would take an act of God for someone to beat:  him. I think that covers everything. So, enjoy the list, which is in the order of the primaries that are coming up this year.

State: Indiana
Election date: May 4.
Seat currently held by: Open [Evan Bayh (D)]
Candidates: Dan Coats vs. Marlin Stutzman vs. John Hostettler
Latest Poll Numbers: Leaked internal poll (April 10, 2010): Coats 29% vs. Hostettler 26% vs. Stutzman 18%
Candidate endorsement: Marlin Stutzman
Analysis: Retired Senator Coats is a NRSC backed gun grabber who was supposed to step into the race, raise boatloads of money, and turn this into a horserace with Evan Bayh. However, Bayh isn’t running, Coats’ fundraising hasn’t been particularly impressive : and his campaign has gotten a cold shoulder from the base in Indiana. Either Stutzman or Hostettler would be preferable to Coats in the Senate, but Hostettler is one of the worst fundraisers I’ve ever seen and the GOP won’t be able to spend huge dollars this year to make up the slack. That means Stutzman, who has been endorsed by Jim DeMint among others, is the go-to guy in Indiana. At the moment, polling data is very thin and this could be anybody’s ball game.

State: Kentucky
Election date: May 18, 2010
Seat currently held by: Open [Jim Bunning (R)]
Candidates: Rand Paul Vs. Trey Grayson
Latest poll Numbers: Survey USA (April 11): Paul 45% vs. Grayson 30%.
Candidate endorsement: Rand Paul
Analysis: Grayson voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, trashed Sarah Palin publicly as being unqualified to be President, he’s run a sleazy campaign, and he’s Mitch McConnell’s protege, which I find worrisome. Rand Paul, who is Ron Paul’s son, is not a perfect candidate either. Although he’s not as much of a Libertarian as his father, he’s generally terrible on foreign policy issues and probably isn’t quite as good a candidate as Grayson (the Paulites will make sure he is flush with cash at least), but either of them should be favored in what will likely be a competitive Senate race. On the other hand, Paul is ferociously dedicated to shrinking government and cutting spending, which isn’t Trey Grayson’s strong suit. At the end of:  the:  day, both Grayson and Paul are imperfect, but respectable choices for the Senate. Paul’s just plain old better where it matters most though, on spending and small government issues.

State Nevada
Election date: June 8, 2010
Seat currently held by: Harry Reid (D)
Candidates: Danny Tarkanian vs. Sue Lowden vs. Sharron Angle vs. John Chachas
Latest Poll Numbers: Las Vegas Review-Journal (April 12): Lowden 45% vs. Tarkanian 27%
Candidate endorsement: None yet.
Analysis: Lowden and Jerry Tarkanian’s son : Danny : are the two heavy hitters here on the GOP side. Both of them are handily beating Harry Reid in polls and the fake “Tea Party” candidate, Scott Ashjian, is already starting to fade hard. My best guess is that Ashjian, who’s had nothing to do with the Tea Party movement, was enticed into the race to try to draw off enough support to allow Harry Reid to win. That looks unlikely at this point although Reid will have an immense war chest that gives him a chance to win despite the fact that he’s extremely unpopular in Nevada.

State: California
Election date: June 8
Seat currently held by: Barbara Boxer (D)
Candidates: Tom Campbell vs. Carly Fiorina vs. Chuck Devore
Latest Poll Numbers: Los Angeles Times/USC (April 5): Campbell 29% vs. Fiorina 25% vs. Devore 9%.Rasmussen (April 12): Campbell 41% vs. Boxer 43%, Devore 39% vs. Boxer 42%, Fiorina 38% vs. Boxer 42%
Candidate endorsement: 1) Devore 2) Campbell 3) Fiorina
Analysis: Devore is the only conservative candidate in the race and despite the fact that he’s run a sharp new media campaign, he has been getting no traction. If it comes down to Campbell and Fiorina, neither is conservative, but Campbell seems to be more politically savvy and would probably have a better chance of beating Boxer.

State: Colorado
Election date: August 10, 2010
Seat currently held by: Michael Bennet (D)
Candidates: Jane Norton vs. Ken Buck vs. Tom Wiens
Latest poll Numbers: PPP (Mar 15): Norton 34% vs. Buck 17% vs. Wiens 7%
Candidate endorsement: None.
Analysis: Ken Buck is the DeMint/Tea Party candidate of choice in the race, but in all honesty, I haven’t seen anything yet that convinces me he’d be significantly more conservative than Norton if he got into office. That’s not a slap at Buck; : it’s just an acknowledgment that despite the fact that she has an unseemly affection for John McCain, Norton comes across as a genuine conservative. In any case, all 3 candidates are polling ahead of Michael Bennet here;:  : so while this will be a competitive race, it’s one we have a good opportunity to win.

State: Florida
Election date: August 24
Seat currently held by: Open [Mel Martinez (R)]
Candidates: Marco Rubio vs. Charlie Crist
Latest Poll Numbers: Quinnipiac (4/8-13): Rubio 55% vs. Crist 33%
Candidate endorsement: Marco Rubio
Analysis: At this point, Crist has no chance to beat Rubio in the GOP primary so he’s considering a run as an independent. In all honesty, he doesn’t have much of a chance of winning as an independent either. What he’ll do at this point is anyone’s guess, but he has to make a decision by the end of this month. PS: Great job on that Crist endorsement, NRSC!

State: Arizona
Election date: August 24, 2010
Seat currently held by: John McCain (R)
Candidates: John McCain vs. J.D. Hayworth
Latest Poll Numbers: Rasmussen Reports (April 16): McCain 47% vs. Hayworth 42%
Candidate endorsement: J.D. Hayworth
Analysis: Given that primaries tend to have low voter turnout and Hayworth voters are more likely to be motivated, this one could fairly be considered to be a toss-up at the moment. That’s despite the fact that Sarah Palin’s endorsement has given McCain a real boost.

That’s rather notable because Hayworth has had trouble getting a Rubio-style slate of conservative endorsements because he was unfairly tarred as a birther and because of McCain’s status in the party. At the moment, there’s no blue chip candidate in the race on the Democratic side. If McCain wins, there won’t be. Hayworth could conceivably draw Janet Napolitano, although Hayworth would be the odds on favorite against anyone the Democrats could put up in this kind of environment, including Napolitano.

State: Delaware
Election date: Sept 14, 2010
Seat currently held by: Open [Ted Kaufman (D)]
Candidates: Mike Castle vs. Christine O’Donnell
Latest primary poll Numbers: None found.
Candidate endorsement: None.
Analysis: There’s no question that Mike Castle is the strongest Republican candidate in Delaware, but he’s also a career politician who’s to the left-of-center and he’d end up voting with the Democrats as often:  as:  the GOP if he gets : in the Senate. Castle is pro-cap and trade, he opposes repealing health care reform, he’s a gun grabber, he’s pro-choice, he supported TARP — in other words, he’s basically a Democrat with a (R) beside of his name. Unfortunately, in a state as liberal as Delaware, I’ve yet to see any evidence that Christine O’Donnell, who would actually make an excellent conservative:  senator, could pull off a win.

State: Utah
Election date: May 8, GOP Convention, September 14, 2010 for the primary.
Seat currently held by: Bob Bennett (R)
Candidates: Bob Bennett vs. Mike Lee vs. Tim Bridgewater vs. Merrill Cook
Latest Poll Numbers: Rasmussen Polling (April 15): Bennett 37% vs. Lee 14% vs. Bridgewater 14% vs. Cook 6%
Candidate endorsement: Mike Lee
Analysis: At the May 8th : GOP convention, if one candidate can get 60% of the vote, they can skip a primary. However, if nobody gets 60%, the two top vote getters enter a two man race. Unfortunately for Bob Bennett, who has been firmly tagged with the RINO label, at best he’s the second most popular candidate with the delegates behind Mike Lee. There’s even a chance he could:  turn out to be the 3rd most popular and miss out on getting to run for re-election entirely. How’s that vote for the TARP plan and amnesty looking now, Bob?

State: New Hampshire
Election date: September 14, 2010
Seat currently held by: Open [Judd Gregg (R)]
Candidates: Kelly Ayotte vs. Bill Binnie vs. Ovide Lamontagne
Latest poll Numbers: None found.
Candidate endorsement: None yet.
Analysis: This is an intriguing race because surprisingly, all 3 Republicans are beating Democratic candidate Paul Hodes in a head-to-head:  match-up. That makes me tempted to back Ovide Lamontagne, a conservative candidate I met at CPAC, but I can’t ignore the fact that Kelly Ayotte would probably beat Paul Hodes:  so:  soundly that it wouldn’t even be in doubt. Unfortunately, Ayotte is a bit troubling as a candidate because she was notoriously soft on illegal immigration as an Attorney General and she seems to be dodging the issue now. So, for now, it’s worth keeping an eye on the race to see where Ayotte comes down on a path to citizenship, how strong Lamontagne’s poll numbers stay over the next couple of months, and how political newcomer Bill Binnie looks as he gets more exposure.

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