| I had this diary written as one massive post, attempting to cover all of the 2014 senate and governor's races that could potentially be competitive. Instead, I'll break them up, but post them consecutively. For those who haven't picked up on this in my comments, I'm totally blind, which means I have no earthly idea if this is going to look write to sighted viewers. If there's anything I can do to make the visual experience better, please let me know.
The 2012 election is over, so bring on 2014 (and considering 2012, not a moment too soon for Republicans). The good news is that the list of senate seats up in 2014 looks promising for Republicans. The bad news, of course, is that they looked even more promising in 2012. Without further ado, but with much fear and trembling, here's a list of the potentially competitive senate elections in 2014.
Georgia. This one almost didn't make the list; if Saxby Chambliss held out in the tough year of 2008, he'll probably do so again in 2014. However, Democrats do seem to gun for him, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them give it a try. I have no idea who their strongest candidate might be here, since I doubt John Barrow will take the plunge.
Kentucky. See GA above: McConnell will be targeted, and will probably win comfortably despite immense hype from Democrats about the greatness of their nominee.
Maine. Susan Collins has this seat as long as she wants it; the question is, does she follow Snowe into retirement? With no King Angus on the horizon, expect Pingree, Michaud or both to run if Collins bows out; this would be a very likely pick-up for team blue, unless Elliott Cutler decided to jump in and screw things up for them. Bottom line: if we want a shot at taking the senate in 2014, we need Collins to stick around.
South Carolina. Lindsey Graham is one of those Republicans who always seems to be on the verge of getting primaried, and rumor has it state senator Tom Davis may pull the trigger in 2014. Graham's got plenty of time, and should probably hire some of Hatch's people from 2012. Democrats report 99% confidence that retired veteran and sometime accidental comedian Alvin Greene will not be on the scene as their nominee in this race, but regardless, this isn't a pick-up opportunity for them.
Alaska. With his incredibly narrow win over a scandal-plagued incumbent in the Democratic banner year of 2008, Mark Begich could be a prime target for Republicans in 2014 (of course, we said the same thing about John Tester...). Possible contenders could include Governor Sean Parnell or Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell. Parnell's primary challenge to Don Young in 2008 indicates he could be interested in going to Washington, but if he decides to run for reelection, Treadwell, previously the head of the Arctic Research Commission and a successful businessman with an Ivy league pedigree, might be a really solid recruit.
Arkansas. This one looks great for team red on paper. Arkansas has been going our way, after remaining stubbornly blue down-ballot. Unfortunately, even if Pryor retires here (and he's said he's running again), Democrats could potentially have a great recruit in Governor Mike Beebe. The strongest recruit for us here is almost certainly congressmen, and former U.S. attorney, Tim Griffin. A lot of people really love freshmen elect Tom Cotton, but it's probably a bit early for him to run here.
Colorado. This is a swing state that's been stubbornly eluding team red, but Mark Udall could be vulnerable to a very strong candidate in a wave year. Jane Norton, Mike Kaufmann, Josh Penry and Attorney General John Suthers are possibilities, though at least one of them is likely to run for governor. Suthers, who has won statewide twice and racked up a 14-point margin in 2010, would be a real force in the race, but has declined to run for senate twice before, in 2008 and 2010.
Louisiana. In all likelihood, we already know who the contenders will be in this one. A plugged-in friend across the isle tells me Mary Landrieu is planning to run, and run on Obamacare. Expect Bill Cassidy to challenge her; I can't think of any other reason to build up a multi-million dollar war chest in a district as safe as his.
Minnesota. Al Franken's narrow win pretty much guarantees his place on this list. Despite Democratic talk on this site about how Franken's kept his head down and made Minnesota Nice with everyone for his first term, I can't imagine a well-funded challenge to the liberal lightning-rod not happening. If, however, it looks like Franken's going to win anyway, we might as well throw Bachmann at this race, and get her out of that safe seat in which she constantly manages to under-perform. I'd prefer Coleman, Pawlenty or Paulsen of course (and Ramstad would be better than Franken), but if we really can't win it, we might as well lose with someone who will give us a shot at another race by getting out of the way.
Montana. If Obamacare functions as perfectly as Democrats think it will, Max Baucus is probably perfectly safe here. Even if it doesn't, Republicans seem to have serious bench issues in what should be a red state. This one should be on the radar, but I'm pretty down on Montana after Rehburg's loss.
New Hampshire. Jeanne Shaheen's win in 2010 was narrow, and New Hampshire seems to be one of those states that's good to Republicans in midterm years. Is there anyone on our potential bench here who's last name isn't Sununu?
New Jersey. I only put this one in the to-watch pile for two reasons. First, Frank Lautenberg's almost certainly on the retirement watch list. Second, if Chris Christie really wants to be President, he's got some serious fence-mending to do with the Republican base and establishment in loo of the past week and a half. Getting a Republican elected to the Senate from New Jersey should, logically, be a priority for a presidentially-focused Christie. Candidates could include LG Kim Guadagno or NJ-03 rep John Runyan. If Lautenberg retires, Democrats could run either Newark mayor Cory Booker or representative Rob Andrews.
North Carolina. Kay Hagan is another quite vulnerable Democrat on this list. Republicans have a plethora of potential candidates, and the state actually swung back to Republicans in 2012. Speaker of the NC house Thom Tillis is a rumored candidate, and his strong ties to Republicans across the state and self-funding potential make him look like a great one on paper.
Oregon. Ordinarily, I wouldn't put Jeff Merkley on the list because of the blueness of Oregon, but Republicans actually had a pretty good 2010 in the state, and if 2014 shapes up similarly, Merkley could be a target. Greg Walden is a rumored candidate, but will probably want to keep moving up in the house. Other potentials include former co-speaker of the house Bruce Hanna, state senator Jason Atkinson and former senator Gordon Smith. Interestingly-and surprisingly-preliminary PPP polls show Merkley at or below 43% in match-ups with all of them (though Smith wasn't polled).
South Dakota. Is it possible to over-state the popularity of former SD governor Mike Rounds? I'd say, his approval ratings were nye on Hoevenesque, and if his rumored candidacy becomes a reality, I wouldn't be surprised to see Johnson make a Dorganesque move. The only things which would keep Rounds from Hoven numbers in an open seat scenario would be Democrats' residual anger over the abortion ban and his CREW ranking. Unlike Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, I don't think Democrats have a white knight to save them if Johnson retires, and even if he doesn't, the race is probably at least tilt R with Rounds.
Virginia. If Mark Warner stays in this seat (which looks likely), he's got a 75 percent chance of keeping it against anyone not named Bob McDonnell, and probably a 55% against the state's current governor. Of course, regardless of whether or not he stays in the senate, Republicans would be barking mad to run anyone for this seat who's name isn't Bob McDonnell. A Warner/McDonnell match-up wouldn't, IMO, be the slam-dunk for Democrats team blue might be assuming. First, McDonnell performed very well in NOVA in 2009, carrying blue-trending Fairfax county (all be it against a fairly lackluster down-state opponent). McDonnell is also seen as a very pragmatic governor who's been effective, while Warner's been a very generic Democrat in the senate. I think a Warner/McDonnell race would be largely determined on the national mood. Unlike George Allen, however, McDonnell is a charismatic and capable candidate.
West Virginia. One political blogger referred to Jay Rockefeller's statement that coal was not going to survive as a "retirement announcement". Tongue in cheek though this observation may have been, it's probably an accurate statement of Democrats' best path to victory here. Bluntly put, I don't see Rockefeller winning reelection here, given how far to the left of the state he's become and how hard WV has turned against national Democrats. Republicans will probably play Charlie Brown with the football to Shelly Moore Capito's Lucy again, but Representative David McKinley is an option if Capito bows out for the umpteenth time. If Rockefeller does hang it up, expect everyone who lost the 2011 Democratic gubernatorial primary to run for this open seat.