The future of the Supreme Court will turn on the elections of 2008, both presidential and in the Senate. A quick look ahead shows many more Republicans than Democrats up in the presidential year, but more vulnerability on the Democratic side than among the GOP. By “vulnerability” I mean a blue senator in a red state versus a red senator in a blue state.
The Dems up for re-election in ’08 include Max Baucus in Montana, Tim Johnson in South Dakota, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Tom Harkin in Iowa, and Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia. (Other “safe” Democrats include Slow Joe Biden, Dick Durbin, Carl Levin, John Kerry, Frank Lautenber, and Rhode Island’s Jack Reed.) Baucus, Johnson, Landrieu, Pryor, Harkin and Rockefeller all must have begun worrying about the burden they will have to carry in ’08. The first order of business for the GOP will be recruitment of great challengers for these races.
Scanning the GOP list shows only a couple of likely retirements leading to tough fights –Warner in Virginia and Domenici in New Mexico. Both seats will require superb candidates because of the changing nature of these states. Colorado’s Wayne Allard will also have to mull quickly whether to seekre-election, and the GOP would really benefit if Allard announced soon that he’ll stand again and fight for the seat. (“Safe” GOP seats include Alexander in TN, Chambliss in GA, Cornyn in TX, Cochran in MS, Craig in ID, Dole in NC, Enzi in WY, Hagel in NB, Inhofe in OK, Roberts in KN, Sessions in AL.)
Red senators in blue states include Susan Collins in Maine, Gordon Smith in Oregon, John Sununu in New Hampshire, and Norm Coleman in Minnesota. All four are great candidates to put forward in tough political terrain.
Lindsey Graham may draw a primary challenger but whether he wins or loses the nomination, South Carolina won’t send a blue senator north.
It is never too early to look forward, and there are reasons to conclude that the Democrats may have won just a little too much ground last night.