Here it is! The first half of my 2006 Senate ratings!
Let me preface this by explaining, if it's "solid" that means that seat ain't gonna change hands. If it's likely, it has a small chance of changing, but only a small chance. Lean means that it'll be close and worth watching. Toss-up means it's a-gonna be a race.
Arizona - Likely Republican
Senator Jon Kyl, running for a 3rd term, isn't in any real trouble, even with ADP Chairman Sam Pedersen preparing to run against him.
California - Solid Democrat
The only person who would have had even a prayer against Senator Dianne Feinstein would have been Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but with his polls sinking below 40, Feinstein is assured re-election.
Connecticut - Solid Democrat
Senator Joe Lieberman has higher approval ratings with republicans than democrats, but his lowest approval rating over the past six years has been 72%, so Joe is perfectly safe.
Delaware - Solid Democrat
Senator Tom Carper, the most often elected politician in the state, is up for re-election to a 2nd term in 2006, and, without any opposition on the horizon, Carper is safe for another six years.
Florida - Lean Democrat
Senator Bill Nelson is the only statewide elected democrat in an increasingly republican state, and has a high profile Congreswoman challenging him. Bill Nelson should be in huge toruble, except for the fact that the Congresswoman happens to be Katherine Harris, the highly polarizing former Secretary of State of 2000 recount fame. Senator Nelson will have the upper hand because of his incumbeny and the fact that Democrats will all vote against Harris. Then there's always the chance that state house Speaker Allen Bense could challenge Harris in a primary. Look for this to become a national battleground race.
Hawaii - Solid Democrat
Senator Daniel Akaka, running for a 3rd full term, had faced questions about his health and increasing age (82 in 2006), but is now fully running and an absolute lock for re-election.
Indiana - Likely Republican
If Evan Bayh hadn't been elected to the Senate in 1998 and re-elected in 2004, Senator Dick Lugar wouldn't have any worries at all. But Evan Bayh was elected in 1998, and re-elected in 2004, so Senator Dick Lugar does have a few worries. Former Congressman Tim Roemer, who also sat on the high-profile 9/11 Commission, is likely preparing a challenge to the five term incumbent. Watch for President Bush's approval ratings to sink in Indiana. If they do, this race may become interesting.
Maine - Solid Republican
Senator Olympia Snowe is by far the most popular politician in Maine, and will only face token opposition in 2006.
Maryland - Open - Lean Democrat
The last Republican elected to the Senate was 1980, with Senator Charles M. Mathias's narrow re-election. Now Maryland has two democrats, but Senator Paul Sarbanes is retiring after 5 terms. The Republicans have persuaded Lt. Governor Michael Steele to run or their side. Steele, who is black, could have appeal in the traditionaly democrat community. Democrats have a primary battle between long-time Congressman Ben Cardin, and former Congressman and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume. Mfume (who, like Steele is also black) has faced several small scandals which could be to Cardin's advantage. Cardin would be favored over Steele.
Massachusetts - Solid Democrat
Know what's really funny? The way the Republicans hate Senator Ted Kennedy, but they have no chance at all of beating him in 2006. Matter of fact, they have no chance at all of beating him in any year. This seat is a solid holder until Kennedy just wants to leave.
Michigan - Likely Democrat
Senator Debbie Stabenow defeated incumbent republican Senator Spencer Abraham in 2000, and now Jane Abraham, former Senator Abraham's wife, wants revenge. But she'll likely just get the satisfaction of running, because Debbie Stabenow is a safe bet.
Minnesota - Open - Toss Up
Senator Mark Dayton is packing up and going home after only one term, and the Republicans have chosen Congressman Mark Kennedy to run. The democrats have several candidates in their primary, including Amy Klobuchar, Patty Wetterling, and Kelly Doran. If the eventual DFL nominee has enough funds, he or she could hold this seat, but it will be a battleground regardless.
Mississippi - Solid Republican
Senator Trent Lott is a solid lock for re-election. End of story.
Okay, we'll have Missouri-Wyoming in a few days.