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Daniel Hamilton: Your guide to this year's US Senate races

Hamiltondan Daniel Hamilton is a member of the Conservative Way Forward Executive Committee.  In this pdf
Dan provides thumbnail profiles of all 33 Senate races.   Pasted below are three of those profiles.


A former member of the House of Representatives, Talent was first elected to the Senate in 2002 defeating Jean Caranhan, the wife of the man who was posthumously elected in 2000 following his death in a plane crash.  Talent's opponent, Claire McCaskill currently serves as Missouri's State Auditor.  Possessing a deeply-unpleasant, cutting voice, McCaskill proved her strong appeal amongst party activists by defeating the state’s sitting Governor Bob Holden in the Democratic primary in 2002.  She went on to be narrowly defeated by Republican Matt Blunt at the General Election.

This race has been defined by one issue: stem cell research. Talent has consistently been outspoken in his opposition to the research, serving as an original sponsor of Senator Sam Brownback’s efforts to ban all forms of human cloning.  In the past few days, McCaskill has aired an outstandingly-effective commercial fronted by Parkinson's suffered Michael J. Fox calling for electors to vote Talent out of office for attempting to “criminalise the science that gives [him] hope”. 

McCaskill is most certainly serious about winning this race, mortgaging her home for $500,000 several days ago in order to boost her campaign’s finances. In the past three polls, Talent has clung to a narrow lead of 2%, just inside the margin of error.  Whilst he still has a slight edge over McCaskill, who failed to her race for Governor despite leading in pre-election polls, this election is simply too close to call.


The Senate race in New Jersey is probably the best opportunity the Republicans have of gaining a seat in 2006, a year that is building up to be their annus horribilis.  The Democrats only have themselves to blame for this.   

When former Senator Jon Corzine resigned from the Senate following his election to the Governor’s mansion late last year, he had a chance to pick a successor to serve to remainder of his Senate term.  The three leading candidates for the appointment, Congressman Frank Pallone, Rob Andrews and Bob Menendez were all noble choices with impressive backgrounds.  Some, however, raised serious questions about Bob Menendez’s ability to weather a political campaign of such intensity as a race for the Senate.  The rest, as they say, is history. 

Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants and the former Chairman of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives, has courted controversy as a Senator since the day of his appointment with conflicts of interests, accusations of providing political favours and allegations of corruption swirling around his re-election campaign.  .

The Republican nominee, State Senator Tom Kean Jr, is about a close to a dream candidate as possible - the dream candidate being his father, former Governor Tom Kean Sr.  Senior’s tenure as Governor, in which he enjoyed approval ratings of up to 80% and a whiter-than-white reputation appears to be benefiting his son.  Junior’s record as a member of the New Jersey State Senate is unspectacular but his bold efforts to tackle New Jersey’s reputation as the most politically-corrupt state in the USA have made for an interesting contrast with the scandal-tainted Bob Menendez.

With polls showing Menendez holding only a 1% lead over Kean, the Republicans can smell blood.  Whilst they have effectively surrendered Ohio (see below) to the Democrats, the Republican Senatorial Committee has pledged an additional $5 million to Kean’s campaign between now and Election Day.  Whilst the general political climate and Democratic nature of the state must still make the incumbent a narrow favourite, he will not be able to relax for one minute between now and the moment the polls close on November 7th.


No other Senate race in the 2006 cycle has attracted as much interest or column inches than Joe Lieberman's tumultuous bid for re-election in Connecticut.  Following his defeat in the Democratic primary by anti-war business executive Ned Lamont, the incumbent has found himself relying on the votes of Republicans in order to secure his re-election. 

It is clear from watching Ned Lamont’s bizarre television commercials that, whilst his campaign appealed strongly to a narrow sect of left-wing Democratic activists from groups such as and Daily Kos, his mainstream appeal is minimal.  Whilst Lamont dramatically narrowed the gap with Lieberman to within several points in the days after his primary victory, his campaign has entirely run out of steam with several recent polls showing the incumbent with a lead of in excess of 15%.   

Despite the shabby way in which he has been treated by his former Party, he has pledged to caucus with the Democrats from January onwards.


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