The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza writes today about which US Senate seats nationwide are the most likely to be turned from one party to the other (The Friday Line: GOP’s Worrisome Senate Landscape – Washington Post – 3/10/06). Coming in at #8, the Nebraska race! Chris writes:
We weighed whether to put Sen. Ben Nelson (D) or Washington’s Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) in this slot, but decided on Nelson. Why? Because we just couldn’t ignore President Bush’s 33-point victory in the Cornhusker State in 2004 or Nelson’s narrow margin over a lackluster candidate in 2000. Nelson is an extremely smart politician with a staff that knows politics, and he’s not likely to give former Ameritrade executive Pete Ricketts (the likely Republican nominee) many openings. Nelson’s recent endorsement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a sign of just how difficult it will be for Republicans to paint him as just another national Democrat. But given the state’s huge demographic tilt against Nelson’s party, we still expect this race to close considerably if Ricketts wins the GOP primary.
The view here on Leavenworth Street is that Mr. Cillizza is right; Ricketts is the only chance the GOP has to unseat Earl B. Nelson. Stenberg, though he may be a strong contender in the primary, has shown that he can’t beat Nelson in the general. And though David Kramer is tireless, he wouldn’t have the funds or the credibility to run against such a powerhouse as Nellie. While a lot can happen between now and November, GOPers have to consider this between now and May.