If Senate takeover eludes GOP on Election Day 2010, look to 2012
The 2012 election is shaping up to be a big opportunity for Republicans. If they don't win a Senate majority on Election Day 2010, they'll have plenty of vulnerable seats to contest in 2012.
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Joe Lieberman of Connecticut – one of the Democratic-caucusing independents – could face a tough time in 2012, if he seeks reelection. He actively campaigned for Republican nominee John McCain in 2008. According to a Quinnipiac Poll taken a year ago, 51 percent of Connecticut voters view Senator Lieberman as a Republican. He can expect a major challenge from his left in this blue state.Skip to next paragraph
Gallery Election day 2010
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It’s not just incumbent Democrats (or quasi-Democrats) who are vulnerable. Some of the 10 Republicans up in 2012 will have to watch their right flanks during primary season: The tea party of Maine already has its sights on the moderate Olympia Snowe. Orrin Hatch of Utah has to be careful, especially after fellow Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (R) lost his shot at reelection amid a tea party revolt at the state GOP convention last May. Richard Lugar of Indiana is another old-school Republican, moderate on some issues, like gun control, who could find trouble on his right.
Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts, who won a special election in January to finish the remainder of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s term, faces reelection in 2012. While he won with tea party backing, he has proved to be a moderate, which could invite a primary challenge from his right. If defeated by a conservative, that could help the Democrats retake this blue-state seat.
But in the meantime, all these Republicans nervously protecting their right flank could deprive President Obama of interlocutors in areas where he feels bipartisanship is beneficial.
Another big question is what happens with the tea party after Election Day. Many activists say they intend to keep pushing for conservative, constitutional principles in policymaking, and recruiting like-minded candidates to challenge establishment office-holders. But it’s always risky to predict the future based on the past. Whether the movement can maintain its potency – and defeat as many establishment politicians – in the 2012 cycle remains an open question.