POLITICS

7 Senate seats Republicans are targeting in 2014

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll,Senate,Republican Party

Republicans need to pick up a net of six seats to take control of the U.S. Senate in 2014. The only two states where they are at all vulnerable are Kentucky (Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) and Georgia (retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss). If the Republicans lose either of those seats, the national picture would be so bleak that they would probably be looking at a net loss, instead of a net gain, of seats anyway. So, assuming that Republicans maintain every seat they have now, Republicans would need to take 6 of the 7 seats listed below to win a majority in the Senate:

1. South Dakota
Incumbent: Retiring Sen. Tim Johnson
Latest poll: PPP, March 20, 2013: Rounds 52 percent, Johnson 41 percent
2012 result: 58/40 Romney
Declared Republican candidate(s): Former-Gov. Mike Rounds.
Declared Democratic candidate(s): Rick Weiland, former Tom Daschle staffer, who lost a House race to succeed Johnson when he left the House.
Note: With former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., announcing she will not be running Monday, and a top-flight recruit already announced, Republicans are all but assured a pickup in South Dakota.

2. West Virginia
Incumbent: Retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller
Latest poll: MBE Research, May 8, 2013: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito 51 percent, West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis 32 percent
2012 result: 62/36 Romney
Declared Republican candidate(s): Capito, and state Rep. Pat McGeehan
Declared Democratic candidate(s): none
Note: Capito might not be a conservative favorite, but she has already raised close to $1 million and Democrats do not have a strong declared candidate yet.

3. Arkansas
Incumbent: Sen. Mark Pryor
Latest poll: Basswood Research, March 17, 2013: Rep. Tom Cotton 43 percent, Pryor 35 percent
2012 result: 61/37 Romney
Declared Republican candidate(s): none
Declared Democratic candidate(s): Pryor
Note: An Iraq War veteran who won a Club for Growth endorsement in 2012, Cotton would be a huge recruit for Republicans, but he still has not yet signed on the dotted line yet.

4. Alaska
Incumbent: Sen. Mark Begich
Latest poll: PPP, February 7, 2013: Begich 47 percent, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan 41 percent
2012 result: 55/41 Romney
Declared Republican candidate(s): none
Declared Democratic candidate(s): Begich
Note: Republicans wanted Gov. Sean Parnell to take on Begich, but Parnell chose to run for re-election instead. But with Begich’s approval rating still well under 50 (41 percent), Republicans have a strong shot here.

5. Montana
Incumbent: Retiring Sen. Max Baucus
Latest poll: Harper Polling, April 28, 2013: Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer 47 percent, former-Republican Gov. Marc Racicot 43 percent
2012 result: 55/42 Romney
Declared Republican candidate(s): State Rep. Champ Edmunds, and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton
Declared Democratic candidate(s): none
Note: If Schweitzer chooses not to run this becomes a much stronger pickup opportunity for Republicans. The Democratic Party bench in Montana is not strong.

6. Louisiana
Incumbent: Sen. Mary Landrieu
Latest poll: Harper Polling, April 7, 2013: Landrieu 46 percent, Rep. Bill Cassidy 41 percent
2012 result: 58/41 Romney
Declared Republican candidate(s): Cassidy
Declared Democratic candidate(s): Landrieu
Note: Landrieu’s vote against gun control boosted her approval rating to 48 percent,  but it is still below 50 percent. As Obamacare implementation becomes more of an issue nationally, look for Cassidy to pass her.

7. North Carolina
Incumbent: Sen. Kay Hagan
Latest poll: PPP, April 14, 2013: Hagan 46 percent, Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry 41 percent
2012 result: 50/48 Romney
Declared Republican candidate(s): Dr. Greg Brannon
Declared Democratic candidate(s): Hagan
Note: Just 37 percent of North Carolina adults approve of Hagan, but she continues to poll well against specific Republican opponents in a state that Obama almost won in 2012.

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