2006 senate elections
U.S. Senate Races
Maryland (Sarbanes-D) - Sen. Paul Sarbanes, 72, announced in mid-March that he will be retiring after 30 years in the Senate. Candidates to replace him are Rep. Ben Cardin (D), former NAACP president and former Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D), whose image was tarnished somewhat after he admitted to having an affair with an underling while at the NAACP. Forensic psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren and college history professor/voting rights activist Allan Lichtman are also running for the Democrats. For the Republicans, possible candidates include Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, Tom Hampton and—don't think he wouldn't—Alan Keyes, among others. Anti-war independent Kevin Zeese is also running. Oct. 3
Minnesota (Dayton-D) - Sen. Dayton announced that he will retire at the end of his current term. Republicans see this seat as a good opportunity for a pick up since winning the other senate seat in 2002 following the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone (D). Rep. Mark Kennedy is the likely nominee for the Republicans. Hennepin County attorney Amy Klobuchar is the leading Democratic candidate. Other Democrats include Minneapolis attorney Mike Ciresi, veterinarian Ford Bell, businessman Kelly Doran and publisher Vance Opperman. Nurse Michael Cavlan is running for the Greens. Public Access TV director Robert Fitzgerald is running as an independent. Jan. 22
Tennessee (Frist-R) - With Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist retiring in 2006 to possibly run for president, the Tennessee senate race is shaping up to be one of the hottest of 2006. Rep. Ed Bryant is the leading Republican contender; former Rep. Van Hilleary and Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker. For the Democrats, Rep. Harold Ford and state Sen. Rosiland Kurita are running. A poll by Rasmussen Report shows both Bryant (41%-38%) and Hilleary (41%-39%) leading Ford, the Democratic front-runner. Ford led Corker 42%-36%. Country singer Tim McGraw (D) is rumored to be considering entering politics, at the encouragement of President Clinton.Jan. 13
Vermont (Jeffords-I) - Jim Jeffords, 70, announced in April that he won't seek re-election next year. Independent Rep. Bernie Sanders is the top candidate to replace him, receiving the support of state Democrats and Vermont's Progressive Party. For the Republicans, Marine veteran Greg Parke, businessman Richard Tarrant are running. Conspiracy theorist Craig Hill (G) is also running. Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie (R) entered the race, but later dropped his bid. Sanders looks to be a safe bet at this point. A Research 2000 poll from early November showed Sanders (64%) with a hefty lead over Tarrant (16%). Nov. 27
Florida (Bill Nelson-D) - Former astronaut Bill Nelson (D) will most likely face Rep. Katherine Harris (R), who won national notoriety presiding over the 2000 Florida recount. Republician leaders, embarrassed by Harris, have tried to recruit a number of high-profile challengers for the GOP primary, but having exhausted their search, are now supporting Harris. Attorney and professor Belinda Noah (R) is also running. Jan. 29
Montana (Burns-R) - Burns has begun raising $8 to $10 million for his re-election in 2006. Running for the Democrats are state Senate President John Tester, state Auditor John Morrison, former state Rep. Paul Richards and businessman Clint Wilkes. Burns, who will be almost 72 on election day, is coming under the scrutiny of the Justice Department in the bribery and corruption probe of Indian casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and Burns approval rating is among the lowest in the country. In 2000, Burns won a tight race (51% to 47%) over Brian Schweitzer (D), who was elected governor in 2004. Aside from taking the governor's race in 2004, Montana Democrats took control of the state senate and state house and now hold most statewide offices. Dems will try to capitalize on this momentum in 2006 by making a serious challenge against Burns. Jan. 29
New Jersey (Corzine-D) - Sen. Jon Corzine won the race for governor of New Jersey in 2005 and appointed Rep. Robert Menendez (D) to fill out his term in the senate. Menendez will run for the seat in 2006 and has $4.1 million campaign war chest. Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. has already kicked off his campaign. A recent Dickson University poll shows Kean leading Menendez by a 36% to 25% margin. Neither Menendez or Kean are expected to draw much opposition in the June 7 New Jersey primary.Jan. 17
Ohio (DeWine-R) - DeWine cheesed off conservatives by joining the so-called Gang of 14 — a group of moderate Republicans and Democrats who made a pact to avoid a major showdown on President Bush's judicial nominees. Suddenly, DeWine may be in trouble in a state dominated by conservatives. Futhermore, a coin investment scandal appears to be hurting the GOP on a statewide basis — making a Democratic pickup in Ohio a distinct possibility. Iraq veteran Paul Hackett (D), who demonstrated crossover appeal in a close congressional race in a conservative district earlier this year, has announced his candidacy, as has Rep. Sherrod Brown (D). Military veteran John Mitchel (R) and engineer William Pierce (R) and financial analyst David Smith are challenging DeWine in the primary. Jan. 29
Pennsylvania (Santorum-R) - Numerous polls show Sen. Rick Santorum (R) trailing his likely challenger, state Treasurer Bob Casey (D). A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows Casey at 52% and Santorum at 34%. The poll also shows Casey earning the support of 22% of Republicans, a sign that Santorum's high-profile neoconservative views are beginning to alienate party moderates. College professor Chuck Pennacchio (D) and attorney Alan Sandals (D) are also running. Chess instructor Dave Baker is running for the Greens. Despite the lopsided poll numbers, this race is a toss up. Oct. 9
Rhode Island (Chafee-R) - Chafee flirted with the idea of switching parties and is finding himself vulnerable to challengers from both sides. Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey (R) recently announced his primary challenge to Chafee. Secretary of State Matt Brown (D) and former Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (D) have announced their candidacies. Because he's a moderate, Chafee is going to be tough to beat, although it is clear he will be attacked from all sides. The Rhode Island primary will be held Sept. 12. Jan. 29
Safe seats (for now!)
Arizona (Kyl-R) - Jon Kyl, who will be 64 on election day, is considered pretty safe. Former state Democratic Party chair Jim Pederson (D) has announced his candidacy and will self-finance. Nov. 26
California (Feinstein-D) - Born June 22, 1933, Sen. Dianne Feinstein will be 73 in election year, but she appears to be running for re-election. Founder of the Minuteman Project Jim Gilchrist, who was a recent congressional candidate for the ultraconservative American Independent Party, is no doubt weighing his political future. Iraq war mom Cindy Sheehan stepped up speculation that she may challenge Feinstein, although she admits it would be as a protest to FeinStein's support of the Iraq war, not necessarily with the idea of winning. Jan. 29
Connecticut (Lieberman-D) - Lieberman's closeness with President Bush and his ideology is unsettling to some liberal Democrats, enough to spark a Web site called timetogojoe.com, which encourages a Democratic challenger against Lieberman in 2006. Although no one has officially entered the race, former senator and governor Lowell Weicker Jr. has said he'd run as an independent if no other challengers emerge. The Connecticut Primary is slated for Aug. 8, 2006. Dec. 9
Delaware (Carper-D) - State Sen. Colin Bonini (R) and pilot and Marine veteran Mike Protack (R) are running in the GOP primary. Regardless of the challenger, Carper is strongly favored to win in this Democratic state. Nov. 26
Hawaii (Akaka-D) - Akaka is getting up there in age; he was born Sept. 11, 1924, and will be 82 on election day. Akaka has said he'll run again and is considered safe, though Rep. Ed Case (D) has made a surprising entry into the primary race, upsetting many of the state's top Dems. The Hawaii primary is to be held on Sept. 23, 2006. Jan. 22
Indiana (Lugar-R) - Lugar, who was born April 4, 1932, and will be 74 in election year, appears to be running again. Lugar is well respected and is, indeed, a great asset to our country, given his work with the Russians to disarm nuclear weapons. He will probably not see a serious challenger. Nov. 26
Maine (Snowe-R) - The moderate Snowe, who announced in December that she is going to seek re-election, although rumors are still floating that she may retire. Sate Senate Majority Leader Michael Brennan, organic farmer Jean Hay Bright, corporate lawyer Eric Mehnert are running for the Democrats. Regardless her challenger on Election Day, the popular moderate Snowe will be tough to beat. Oct. 31
Massachusetts (Kennedy-D) - Sen. Ted Kennedy was born Feb. 22, 1932, and will be 74 on election day in 2006. Former Wakefield Selectman Kevin Scott is running for the GOP, although Kennedy is strongly favored to win.
Michigan (Stabenow-D) - The Republicans are making Sen. Debbie Stabenow a target in 2006. President Bush tried to recruit Rep. Candice Miller (R), who earned a record number of votes as a statewide candidate in 1998, to challenge Stabenow, but Miller in January 2005 said that she would not run. Former Detroit City Councilman Rev. Keith Butler, Rev. Jerry Zandstra of suburban Grand Rapids and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, a moderate who was reportedly recruited by the national party to head off the more conservative Butler, are running for the Republicans. With a sorry-looking state party, the GOP has been unable to find a high-profile challenger to Stabenow. Oct. 31
Mississippi (Lott-R) - Lott announced in mid-January that he will indeed run again, ending much speculation. Lott has faced a few set-backs in recent years. In 2002, he was forced to step down from his Senate leadership role after making remarks that were interpreted by some as racist. Then in 2005, Lott lost about half of his net worth to Hurricane Katrina, including a house on the Gulf Coast. Despite his set backs, he's a safe bet against state Rep. Erik Fleming (D). Jan. 17
Missouri (Talent-R) - Freshman Sen. Jim Talent will likely run again and has a pretty good shot at winning. State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) is set to challenge Talent with strong backing from the party. Columnist Bob Novak reports that McCaskill, the party's 2004 gubernatorial nominee, has been promised "lavish financing" from the DSCC. In a sad side note, McCaskill's former husband David Exposito, whom she divorced in 1995, was gunned down in the streets of Kansas City in mid-December. Dec. 14
Nebraska (Ben Nelson-D) - Several top tier candidates have passed on this race. For the GOP nomination, it will be the battle of the "formers": Former Attorney General and 2000 nominee Don Stenberg (R), former GOP chairman David Kramer and former Ameritrade COO Pete Ricketts. At this point, this seat looks somewhat safe for Nelson, although that could turn on a dime. Oct. 5
Nevada (Ensign-R) - Ensign and fellow Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) have a storied working relationship, and the two are said to have a pact not to campaign against one another. In spite of that, it appears that Jack Carter, son of President Jimmy Carter, may challenge Ensign. Without Reid's help, Carter would have an uphill battle, but he could make it interesting. Oct. 5
New Mexico (Bingaman-D) - Bingaman announced in mid-Feb. that he's going to seek a fifth term, putting an end to rumors that he may retire. Former state Sen. Tom Benavides, a former Democrat, announced he will challenge Bingaman as a Republican. In a previous election, he had tried to get on the ballot against Bingaman as a Reform Party candidate. Also running is David Pfeffer (R), a former Democrat who is a Santa Fe city council member. Unless a high-profile candidate like Rep. Heather Wilson (R) comes forward, Bingaman is pretty safe. Nov. 26
New York (Clinton-D) - Sen. Hillary Clinton is running for re-election, ahead of her expected presidential run in 2008. Her primary opponent will be Steven Greenfield, a 2002 Green Party candidate for Congress. Greenfield plans to run on an anti-war platform, challenging Clinton's hawkish stance on the war. GOP candidates include attorney Bill Brenner and former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer. Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro recently dropped her dismal bid for U.S. Senate, fueling speculation that President Nixon's son-in-law Ed Cox, who works as an attorney, may re-enter the race for the GOP nomination. Dec. 22
Texas (Hutchison-R) - Hutchison considered running for governor in 2006, but recently announced that she'll seek re-election. Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston attorney, is running for the Democrats. Given that Hutchison is one of the most popular politicians in the state, she's going to be very, very tough to beat in 2006. The Texas Primary kicks off the mid-term election cycle on Tuesday, March 7, 2006.Dec. 9
Utah (Hatch-R) - Born March 22, 1934, Sen. Orrin Hatch will be 72 years old election year, but it looks like he is going to go for another term. Web "guru" Pete Ashdown is running for the Democrats. Also running is disabled veteran, peace activist and distant relative of Orrin Hatch Julian Hatch (G). Nov. 27
Virginia (Allen-R) - Allen got a major break when Mark Warner decided against running for this seat, possibly to run for president in 2008. Instead, Allen will likely face IT industry association president Harris Miller (D). Jan. 29
Washington (Cantwell-D) - Because of the state's close governor and presidential races in 2004, Sen. Maria Cantwell was to be a top GOP target in 2006. However, the GOP has had a very tough time recruiting a top-tier candidate. Former insurance executive Mike McGavick (R) is taking the plunge. Businessman and veteran Mark Wilson (D) has announced a primary challenge to Cantwell. Oct. 5
West Virginia (Byrd-D) - Born Nov. 20, 1917, Byrd will be almost 89 years old on election day in 2006, but he has announced his campaign for re-election. National Republicans tried to recruit Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to run against him, but she announced in early October 2005 that she won't run. Other challengers include 34-year-old Hiram Lewis (R), a veteran who served in Kuwait and Iraq, and optometrist Zane Lawhorn (R). Dec. 5
Wisconsin (Kohl-D) - Kohl, who will be 71 years old on election day in 2006, appears to be running for re-election. Attorney Robert Gerald Lorge (R) and peace activist Rae Vogeler (G) are running against him. This one is safe for Kohl unless a big name, like former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson jumps in, although it looks like Thompson is exploring a presidential run.Nov. 26
Forget it's even happening
North Dakota (Conrad-D) - The White House aggressively tried to recruit popular Gov. John Hoeven (R), although Hoeven didn't take this bait. Conrad looks pretty safe. Oct. 1
Wyoming (Thomas-R) - Thomas was born Feb. 17, 1933, and will be 73 on election day in 2006. He has said that he intends to seek a third term. And this race should be anything but interesting.
Not up for re-election, but may retire
Alaska (Stevens-R) - Senator Ted Stevens is old, my friend. Born Nov. 18, 1923, Stevens will be nearly 83 years old on election day in 2006. Stevens, a 37-year veteran of the chamber, regularly threatens to resign if he doesn't get his way. Recently, he was dealt a major setback when Senate voted to sustain a filibuster that blocks Stevens' plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Newpaper reports described Stevens as "angry," "furious" and even "sad" following the vote. If he doesn't retire, he's up for re-election in 2008.
Hawaii (Inouye-D) - Inouye recently coasted to re-election. Born Sept. 7, 1924, he'll be 82 years old on election day in 2006. He's up for re-election in 2010.
Iowa (Grassley-R) - Born Sept. 17, 1933, Grassley will be 73 on election day in 2006. Grassley is up for re-election in 2010.
Kansas (Roberts-R) - Born April 20, 1936, Roberts will be 70 on election day in 2006. He is up for re-election in 2008.
Kentucky (Bunning-R) - Born Oct. 23, 1931, Bunning will be 75 on election day in 2006.
Maryland (Mikulski-D) - Born July 20, 1936, Mikulski will be 70 on election day in 2006. She is up for re-election in 2010.
Michigan (Levin-D) - Born June 28, 1934, Levin will be 74 on election day in 2006. Levin is up for re-election in 2008; rumor has it he won't be running for re-election, however.
New Jersey (Lautenberg-D) - Born Jan. 23, 1924, Lautenberg will be 82 on election day in 2006. Lautenberg is up for re-election in 2008, but don't bet on him running again. He had reluctantly come out of retirement in 2002 as a replacement candidate for the Democrats, and few expected him to last this long. However, with Gov. McGreevey's early retirement, and Sen. Corzine's expected bid for governor in 2005 and re-election in 2006, the New Jersey political scene is already quite complicated, and he may wait until after the election in '06 to step down.
New Mexico (Domenici-R) - Born May 7, 1932, Domenici will be 74 on election day in 2006. He's up for re-election in 2008.
Oklahoma (Inhofe-R) - Born Nov. 17, 1934, Inhofe will be almost 72 on election day in 2006. He's up for re-election in 2008.
Pennsylvania (Specter-R) - Born Feb. 12, 1930, Specter will be 76 in 2006. He's up for re-election in 2010. In mid-Feb., Specter announced that he had Hodgkin's lympoma and had to undergo of chemotherapy. Specter's doctor expects him to make a full recovery, and he has continued to serve in the Senate during his treatment.
Utah (Bennett-R) - Born Sept. 18, 1933, Bennett will be 73 on election day in 2006. He is up for re-election in 2010.