Since the last election cycle is over and done, political junkies have no other option than to look ahead 18 months to the next November night when we will be clicking F5 over and over again waiting for updated election results from CNN.com. The glorious haze that is the Obama Administration is starting to clear slightly and some on the left are beginning to see that Obama does not equal perfection. With that in mind, we lefties are gearing up for the next test to see if we can extend this ideological winning streak yet again. 2010 provides its own challenges, but it is also the last election cycle where Democrats have less seats up for election that Republicans. 2004 was a booming year for the GOP and now they have to defend those seats in a desperate attempt to stay relevant.
Here are some preliminary thoughts about the Senate in 2010.
Safe GOP Seats
Alabama - Shelby: This former Dem switched to the GOP in 1994 and hasn't looked back. He's got enough money to secure reelection and Alabama isn't anywhere near hostile territory for him. This seat seems thoroughly out of reach.
Alaska - Murkowski: Lisa is pretty darned secure in her bid for reelection. I mean Mark Begich barely beat the elderly convict in 2008, and it doesn't look like anyone is gearing up to challenge her.
Arizona - McCain: John McCain would have certainly had a challenge on his hands from former Governor Napolitano, but now that she's Sec. of Homeland Security there doesn't seem to be any Dem willing to challenge him. He's pretty safe, unless one of his primary challengers happen to knock him off. Now that would be interesting.
Georgia - Isakson: No challenge here.
Idaho - Crapo: Dems didn't even field a challenger last time and this time around doesn't look much different.
Iowa - Grassley: Ranking member of the Finance Committee, Grassley may face a primary challenger and has one declared Dem opponent, but as of today he seems like a shoo-in for another term.
Kansas - Open Seat: Oh Kathleen Sebelius, why did you have to take the job at HHS? She was our only hope. Now all we have to do is see which Republican wins the primary and we'll know who the next Senator is going to be. Sad.
Oklahoma - Coburn: We'll have to see whether or not Coburn actually wants to run again, but if he does, the job is his. If not, we might have a chance with Gov. Brad Henry or Rep. Boren. Either way, we'll have to wait to truly classify this one. We should know in early June.
South Carolina - DeMint: One of the most conservative Senators is going to coast to reelection in SC. Ugh.
South Dakota - Thune: John Thune isn't going to face any obstacle.
Texas - Hutchinson: We don't know if Kay Bailey Hutchinson is going to retire before of after the election, but if she does this probably will stay in GOP hands regardless.
Utah - Bennet: Though he will likely face a challenge from the right, it's pretty certain that this seat will stay in the GOP column.
Florida - Open Seat: Martinez is retiring and this seat looked very vulnerable until Gov. Crist jumped into the race. It's pretty clear that he'll be the next Senator from Florida barring some strange turn of events, but it may happen. Too early to tell for sure.
Kentucky - Bunning: Jim Bunning is so unpopular that GOP senators are praying that he retires. If he does they have the option of keeping the seat (and they might if he loses a primary challenge) otherwise this looks like a great pickup for the Dems.
Louisiana - Vitter: Probably not too vulnerable in post-Katrina LA, but Vitter is a scumbag and he might face some challenge here. The hardest thing for Dems is to find a reputable person to challenge him. Mitch Landrieu might be open to it, but when was the last time that a brother and sister were the two Senators from a single state...um, I'm going to say never.
Missouri - Open Seat: This is a tossup. GOP Rep. Blunt isn't all that popular these days, but then again MO did (narrowly) vote for McCain over Obama, so who can tell. Carnahan is very popular here and is probably the Dem's best bet to pick up a seat in 2010.
New Hampshire - Open Seat: From powerful Senator to Commerce Secretary-designate to retiree. Judd Gregg has been all over the place. Nowadays New Hampshire is pretty darn blue and Rep. Hodes has a great chance at picking up this seat for the Dems.
North Carolina - Burr: A sorry excuse for a Senator, Burr seems pretty vulnerable just by looking at poll numbers, but no Dems seem ready to challenge him, even given Kay Hagan's win over Dole in 2008 and the Dems keeping the Gov. mansion. There's still hope if one of the Dem Reps jumps into the fray.
Ohio - Open Seat: This is another tossup. Portman may be able to hold this seat for the GOP, but Lt. Gov. Fisher and Sec. of State Brunner will make this race one to watch.
We'll be back later with updates and the list of Safe and Vulnerable Dems.