The news that Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner would forgo his bid for re-election to challenge Democrat Mark Udall in the U.S. Senate race hit the pundit class like a bolt of lightning.
Gardner is a solid conservative with a proven track record of winning campaigns. Udall, who was once believed to be unbeatable, has seen his approval numbers soften considerably in the months since the American public began to experience the reality of the Affordable Care Act.
All over the country, races are developing that suggest the Democrats' hold on the Senate is not as firm as it was once believed. The GOP needs to post a net gain of six seats to be assured of control, something which once seemed unlikely but has now advanced to the status of extremely possible.
A number of races are developing well for the Republicans versus a very few where Democrats look to have a chance to gain a seat they do not currently hold. In Arkansas, GOP Rep. Tom Cotton looks ready to give Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor the race of his life. In North Carolina, GOP frontrunner Thom Tillis, the state house speaker, is running even with Democrat Sen. Kay Hagen in several polls.
In South Dakota, a field of Republicans is fighting for the right to run for the seat being vacated by Democrat Tim Johnson, which looks at this point to be the GOP’s to lose no matter who the nominee is. Most students of elections also believe the Republican’s successful recruiting of former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie into the race against Sen. Mark Warner moved the race in Virginia from solid Democrat to toss up.
Likewise, from Alaska to Louisiana, where incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu has seen almost the entire political machine of her state turn from blue to red during her years in office, the prospects for Republican victories are right now considered high in many key states.
The Democrats meanwhile have resorted to desperate tactics to try and hang on. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out an e-mail fundraising note Friday signed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warning of the efforts that may be undertaken by a pair of private citizens exercising their first amendment rights to “buy the Senate with lies.”
It’s an odd tactic given Reid’s barely passing acquaintance with the truth himself but, if anyone knows a lie when he tells it – err, hears it – it’s Nevada’ senior senator.
It is particularly telling this early out, when many nominees are not even set in either party, that the Democrats have resorted to the politics of personal destruction to ensure their elections coffers are full. They are clearly afraid they will lose control of the Senate while the retirement of senior House Democrats like California’s Henry Waxman and George Miller, Virginia’s Jim Moran and Michigan’s John Dingell – the Dean of the House – suggest the party’s effort to win the gavel back for Rep. Nancy Pelosi is all but stillborn.
How Barack Obama will react to a Congress
controlled by Republicans is uncertain, save for the fact that his veto pen is
sure to get a vigorous workout. As minority leader, Reid will lose his ability
to control the calendar and to block initiatives from coming to the Senate
floor, meaning the contrast between what the Republicans are trying to prevent
and what Obama and the Democrats want to do will become clear. The gridlock may
persist, but every American will, from that point forward, have a much clearer
sense of where everyone is coming from.