This election cycle is full of races that could swing either way. Here is a brief synopsis of 10 I think are the most interesting, competitive, and consequential in the country.
California – Senate
Given Barbara Boxer’s championing of the left, it’s hard to imagine her having trouble in California, but her campaign isn’t running as strongly as one might expect. This is a long-shot pickup for the GOP, but the primary race might be even more interesting to watch than the general election. The race is split between different factions of the party, represented by Carly Fiorina (establishment), Tom Campbell (RINO), and Chuck DeVore (conservative).
Pennsylvania – Senate
Pennsylvanians have been given a choice between a top-notch free-market capitalist in Pat Toomey, who will fight for their rights and a stronger economy, and Joe Sestak, who has backed the administration every chance he gets. Thanks to the ejection of party-switcher Arlen Specter, at least Pennsylvanians have a clear picture of their choices: conservative free-marketeer Pat Toomey or liberal progressive Joe Sestak. That should be an easy one.
Illinois – Governor
The latest Rasmussen poll shows Republican candidate Bill Brady with a seven-point lead over Democratic governor Pat Quinn. This race could be a big pickup for the GOP in a state where Republicans aren’t elected statewide very often. The fallout of the Blagojevich scandal will hurt the state’s Democrats, and soon it will be just as bad for them as ever because the Blago trial is about to heat up.
Indiana – Senate
This race looked like a lock for Democrats until Evan Bayh announced his surprise retirement from the Senate. Now Dan Coats (R) and Brad Ellsworth (D) will battle it out for the seat. Coats is a former senator from Indiana and a former ambassador to Germany. Ellsworth is a congressman from Indiana. Both are insiders, so they will have to fight hard for the independent vote.
California – Governor
The Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is term-limited as governor of California, so the race is on to replace him. Early polling shows that the race will be very competitive. GOP candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, both tech company billionaires, will face off for the chance to run against probable Democratic candidate Jerry Brown, a former governor of California and current attorney general.
Illinois – Senate
The race to fill Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, currently held by Roland Burris (who is a “caretaker”) will be a pivotal battleground in the 2010 general election. The symbolism alone is worth a major effort to take the seat by the GOP. The Republican candidate Mark Kirk is so liberal he will appeal to many of Illinois’ voters. At the same time, the Democratic candidate, Alexi Giannoulias has come under fire and 20% of his party wants to kick him out and start over with a new candidate. This race isn’t one many conservatives will be watching, but it will be an interesting one nonetheless.
Massachusetts – Governor
Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts showed that the Democratic officials of the state are not bulletproof and that Republicans running well-organized campaigns can win. Though his recent poll numbers are strong, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick has looked weak from time to time. Today this race is not very competitive, but I believe it could become so by November. Brown’s campaign didn’t come on strong until near the end, suggesting that Massachusetts residents simply aren’t paying attention to races until they get nearer to the polling date. It’s a long shot, but the challenges to Patrick by independent Tim Cahill (a former Democrat and current state treasurer) and GOP candidate Charles Baker could gain enough steam by November to beat the governor.
Florida – Senate
The battle for the Senate in Florida has been a roller-coaster ride, and no one should expect the fun to stop anytime soon. Conservative Republican Marco Rubio crushed RINO Charlie Crist so badly in polls before the GOP primary that Crist fled and began running as an independent. Now the race will be split three ways, among a Democrat (Kendrick Meek), a Republican, and a well-known independent. This will be a toss-up for some time as voters are asked to decide among the three candidates. Meek is also still dealing with a primary challenge from Jeff Greene, a self-funded real-estate tycoon who has begun a barrage of advertising. This race looks to run down to the wire.
Colorado – Senate
A contentious race in Colorado is seeing surprise resistance from activists in both parties. The primaries in August will see incumbent Michael Bennet face Andrew Romanoff, the speaker of the Colorado state house for the Democratic nomination, and former lieutenant governor Jane Norton face Weld County district attorney Ken Buck for the GOP nomination. Romanoff and Buck have come out of nowhere to seriously challenge the establishment candidates in their respective parties.
Ohio – Senate
In the race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring senator George Voinovich is the extremely qualified Rob Portman, a former congressman, former OMB director, and former U.S. trade representative. His opponent, Lee Fisher, is the current lieutenant governor of Ohio. Portman avoided any primary and saved a massive war chest to spend during the election against Fisher. Fisher, on the other hand, had a rough primary fight against Ohio secretary of state Jennifer Brunner. The two are polling about evenly, with Portman receiving 42% of the latest Rasmussen poll and Fisher receiving 43%. With a long way to go, anyone could win here.