Florida: Sen. Mel Martinez' (R) somewhat unexpected retirement has left Floridians with an open senate seat. The early consensus is that Gov. Charlie Crist (R) would just walk into the role, but a funny thing happened on the way to the senate. That funny thing is named Marco Rubio (R). Rubio became the darling of the tea party movement and ended up so far ahead of Crist in primary polling, that Crist decided to save himself the embarrassment of losing a primary, and just run as an independent. All of this should mean good news for the Dems but they've been making lemons out of lemonade all year. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) ended up winning a stunningly nasty nomination battle with a billionaire opponent but is widely expected to be an also ran in a Republican v. Republican battle with many Dems preferring the centrist Crist over the lesser known Meek.
Kentucky: More Tea Party fun in Kentucky, where Rand Paul, son of Ron, swept the Republican nomination out from under the feet of the establishment candidate. Now, what was supposed to be an easy hold for the Republicans (Jim Bunning (R) is retiring), may become more interesting if enough people in Blue Grass country can't warm up to the radical Rand Paul. The Democrat who could benefit from a Republican implosion is state AG Jack Conway.
Nevada: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is about as popular as a card counter in Vegas these days. In fact, many had him as the first domino to fall in a Democratic collapse in November. However, the Republicans have once again made their lives difficult by nominating walking gaffe-machine Sharron Angle. This woman has to be seen to be believed.
Colorado: Barack Obama raided the Senate benches extensively to form his cabinet and that is noticeable in some of the elections this year. Colorado is one of those place as Sen. Salazar's move to the cabinet table has left an open seat. Appointed senator Michael Bennett will try to defend the seat for the Dems, he will face yet another Tea Partier, Ken Buck. Buck like Paul and Rubio knocked off the establishment candidate in his primary.
Delaware: Blue Delaware is the likeliest of the Democratic seats to fall victim to the Obama cabinet table. Vice-President Biden's seat was supposed to be passed on to his politicking, army serving son, Beau. However, Beau surprised the Dems by not wanting the job. That left long-time Rep. Mike Castle (R) a golden opportunity to move into the senate. A chance he will likely take at the expense of Chris Coons (D).
Arkansas: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) is about as popular as mud in Arkansas these days. The Dems know this and tried to replace the fall-through-the-mushy-middle Lincoln with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the primary. Lincoln held on by the skin of her teeth. The beneficiary of Lincoln's narrow victory will likely be Rep. John Boozman (R) who won the Republican nod.
Pennsylvania: A revolt by both parties' bases has forced Arlen Specter into retirement. The long time moderate Republican was in for a thrashing from Republican candidate Pat Toomey and he knew it. So, in order to serve Pennsylvania and save his own skin, he crossed the aisle. The Democrats knew this stunk to high heaven and gave their nomination to former Admiral current congressman Joe Sestak. Both parties have happier bases than they would have with Specter on the ticket, independents may have less to choose from.
Alaska: Sarah Palin made her maverick name by knocking off incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in a Republican primary. Now, Palin has helped do the same thing to the Governor's daughter (who he appointed to the Senate). With Lisa Murkowski gone, the race may be closer than it would have been. However, this is Alaska which is so red it only narrowly defeated the disgraced Sen. Ted Stevens and kept the disgraced Rep. Don Young last time around. All this is bad news for the Democrat, Scott McAdams.
Other races to watch:
- Obama' seat in Illinois (no longer for sale)
- Clinton's seat in New York
- Evan Bayh's seat in Indiana
- The cursed seat currently held by Richard Burr in North Carolina
- Almost Obama senate appointee Judd Gregg's old seat in New Hampshire
- David "DC Madam" Vitter's re-election bid in Louisiana
- Robin Carnahan's bid to exorcise some family demons in Missouri (her father died in a plane crash weeks before the 2000 election and won from beyond the grave; her mother ended up taking the seat temporarily)