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What's At Stake: Overview | Governor | Senate | House | Ballot Measures | State Legislatures

Stuart Rothenberg on the 1998 Senate Races, State-by-State

Rothenberg One of the nation's top political analysts, Stuart Rothenberg, dissects politics at the congressional and statewide levels.

ALABAMA -- Richard Shelby (R), elected in 1986 (50%), 1992 (65%).
This is Sen. Richard Shelby's first race as a Republican since he changed parties after the 1994 elections. Polls have generally shown that the conservative senator, who served in the Alabama Legislature before spending four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, is both popular and unbeatable. The Democrats searched around for a credible candidate with previous major campaign experience. Not finding one, they settled on former Franklin County commissioner Clayton Suddith as their sacrificial lamb.
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ALASKA -- Frank Murkowski (R), elected in 1980 (54%), 1986 (54%), 1992 (53%).
Sen. Frank Murkowski (R), a banker who made the jump into politics, was mulling a possible gubernatorial bid, and GOP operatives were relieved when he announced he would seek a fourth term. Democrats said that Gov. Tony Knowles (D) would have switched over to the Senate race if Murkowski's seat had become open, but when that didn't happen, Knowles announced for re-election instead. Murkowski won more than 70 percent of the vote in the open primary, where all of the candidates, regardless of party, are on the same ballot. The Democratic nominee is Joseph Sonneman. The Democrats are weak in the state and have not won a Senate race in Alaska since 1974, so Murkowski, who chairs the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, will coast to re-election.
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ARIZONA - John McCain (R), elected in 1986 (61%), 1992 (56%).
Attorney Ed Ranger (D) moved back to Arizona from Mexico to take on Sen. John McCain, but even Democrats don't regard him as a serious threat to the senator. McCain, a former Navy pilot and Vietnam POW, is a political star who has finally overcome his inclusion as a member of the Keating Five -- five senators who had a relationship with an Arizona banker who later went to prison. McCain, who is widely liked by the Washington press because he is so approachable and forthright with them, only increased his standing through his fights for tobacco legislation and campaign finance reform. Ranger complains that McCain is too interested in national issues (including, maybe, the presidency), but that isn't likely to be the silver bullet he needs against McCain.
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ARKANSAS - Dale Bumpers (D), not seeking re-election. Elected in 1974 (85%), 1980 (59%), 1986 (62%) and 1992 (60%).
Sen. Dale Bumpers's retirement guarantees a competitive race in a state that has a GOP governor and elected a Republican senator, Tim Hutchinson, two years ago. After a competitive primary and runoff, the Democrats nominated former congresswoman Blanche Lambert Lincoln. Lincoln, who didn't seek re-election to the House two years ago so that she could raise her newborn twins, is a perky moderate Democrat who represented the northeast quarter of the state for four years. She won the Democratic nomination by beating three opponents: a wealthy state representative, a lawyer who had run for lieutenant governor and served as Bumpers's 1992 campaign manager, and Attorney General Winston Bryant (who finished second in the primary but was no match for Lincoln in the runoff). Organized labor shunned Lincoln in the primary and runoff, but she won anyway. Lincoln faces Republican state Rep. Fay Boozman in November. Boozman, who comes from the same small town as Sen. Hutchinson and is a boyhood friend of the senator, won the nomination by default. He is sincere and likable, but also bland. In the state legislature, he is associated almost entirely with moral issues, including abortion. But this is an inexpensive state in which to advertise, and any Southern state is an attractive target for the Republicans. The key to the state's competitiveness is how much money national Republicans and conservatives are prepared to pour in to support Boozman.

Boozman finally began his advertising in early October, complaining that Lincoln's record on Social Security doesn't match her campaign rhetoric. He says she supported raising taxes on benefits and freezing cost-of-living increases. Lincoln accuses the Republican of distorting her record. But Boozman was put on the defensive over comments he made about rape, pregnancy and abortion. The Democrat still has the clear advantage in this race. Private Republican polling shows a close race (with Lincoln holding a single-digit lead), but public polls and virtually all dispassionate observers believe that the Democrat will win comfortably.
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CALIFORNIA - Barbara Boxer (D), elected in 1992 (48%).
State Treasurer Matt Fong (R) beat conservative businessman Darryl Issa in the GOP primary. Fong lacks charisma and his ability (or lack of it) to raise money is a factor in his effort to beat incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer. Insiders agree that Fong, who was better known in the primary than his opponent, didn't win the primary as much as Issa lost it after a flurry of negative news stories about him hit the newspapers just before the primary. But Boxer has never overcome the impression among California observers that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) is the more substantive and moderate of the two California women senators. But observers cited her fund-raising strength and feisty style as reasons why her re-election would not be in doubt. All that has now changed.

Boxer continues to portray GOP challenger Fong as "too conservative" on issues like abortion, gun control and the environment. Fong initially attempted to put the senator on the Clinton hot seat by complaining she was late to address the president's problems (especially since Feinstein was quite vocal about the president's admission that he lied), but he dropped that tactic, preferring to criticize Boxer's liberalism. Both candidates have run TV ads about their plans for education. Polling hasn't changed very much over the past few months. It still shows Boxer extremely vulnerable. So far, this race is about the senator, not about Fong, which is why she is still in deep trouble. One key remaining question: Will the challenger somehow be able to counter or deflect the senator's late media blitz? Boxer's money advantage could earn her another term as she tries to change the focus of the race away from herself and over to Fong.

Polling in the final week suggested that Boxer had opened up a lead, but both parties acknowledge the race is still close. Boxer put Fong on the defensive during the last 10 days by arguing that he made a contribution to a conservative social issue group, and the Republican had to agree, in writing, to support a gay Republican group's agenda in order to blunt the senator's charges that he is a "too conservative." Still a tossup, though the Democrats seem to have some statewide momentum that could help Boxer.
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COLORADO - Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R), elected in 1992 (52%).
Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell's campaign got an early break when Rep. Scott McInnis (R), who was planning a Senate bid on the assumption that Campbell wouldn't run again, instead decided to stay in the House. But then Campbell ran into trouble. He changed his manager and consultants, and even worse, Bill Eggert, a pro-life conservative who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP Senate nomination in 1996 and for Congress two years earlier, drew strong support at the state convention, putting him in the primary. But the senator won the August primary easily. On the Democratic side, Dottie Lamm, wife of the former governor and onetime Reform Party presidential hopeful, lost the top line in the primary to state Rep. Gil Romero, who beat her at the state convention. Lamm, however, had the money and support of the Democratic party establishment, and she defeated Romero 59-41 percent for the nomination. Democrats are still bitter about the senator's party switch and some Republicans haven't fully embraced him. But as a pony-tailed, Harley Davidson-riding Native American Republican in the Senate (and the only Native American elected to the Senate), Campbell breaks stereotypes.

Lamm has criticized incumbent Campbell repeatedly for allegedly changing his agenda and changing his positions since his party switch. She argues "the candidate you see is the senator you'll get," and she has won the support of Democratic groups like organized labor. She also takes shots at the senator's attendance record. But this race has blown open in the final weeks. Lamm trails by at least 15 to 20 points. Campbell in a walk.
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CONNECTICUT - Christopher Dodd (D), elected in 1980 (56%), 1986 (65%), 1992 (59%).
Republicans believe they can put Sen. Chris Dodd, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, on the defensive over his party's fund-raising practices. But their nominee, former congressman Gary Franks (R), an African American, was dumped two years ago by voters in the 5th congressional district, and he does not have a reputation for political skill. Other than electing John Rowland governor, the GOP has not produced strong statewide candidates or campaigns in the state. The last Republican to win a Senate race was Lowell Weicker in 1982, but he eventually left his party. The last GOP senator before Weicker from Connecticut was Prescott Bush, elected in 1956, and the last black Republican elected to the Senate was Massachusetts's Ed Brooke, who was elected in 1966 and 1972 but lost his 1978 re-election bid to Democrat Paul Tsongas. Dodd, a former congressman and the son of former senator Thomas Dodd (D-Connecticut), is a solid favorite.
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FLORIDA - Bob Graham (D), elected in 1986 (55%), 1992 (65%).
State Sen. Charlie Crist is the GOP nominee against Sen. Bob Graham (D). Crist, who brought Oliver North in the state to stump for him, portrays himself as tough on crime and fiscally conservative, but more moderate on abortion and the environment. The state's good GOP base would make almost any Republican credible, but Graham is popular and will have a big financial advantage.
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GEORGIA - Paul Coverdell (R), elected in 1992 (51%).
Millionaire businessman Michael Coles (D) is opposing Sen. Paul Coverdell (R), and the Democrat's wealth means the GOP can't ignore the contest. Coles ran against House speaker Newt Gingrich two years ago, spending $3.3 million but drawing just 42 percent of the vote. Coverdell isn't charismatic, but he certainly isn't nearly as controversial as Gingrich. Moreover, a generally conservative Republican incumbent in the South, in a good year for incumbents, shouldn't have all that much trouble. Cole's personal money will keep him on the radar screen.

Coles has attacked Coverdell for allegedly opposing HMO reform (particularly patients' rights) and voting to cut veterans' benefits. The senator has trumpeted his support from big-name Democrats, including former U.S. attorney general Griffin Bell and former Rep. Roy Rowland. Republicans have also noted Coles lacks military experience, and they argue he became interested in military issues only because of the campaign. Late polling shows that Coles is still an underdog, but Coverdell, who is being attacked in the challenger's TV spots for wanting to cut Social Security, is hovering around 50 percent -- not where he was just a month ago or would like to be. Still likely Republican.
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HAWAII - Daniel Inouye (D), elected in 1962 (69%), 1968 (83%), 1974 (83%), 1980 (78%), 1986 (74%), 1992 (57%).
The Republicans have little or no hope of defeating Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who had his closest Senate race six years ago when he won by a "mere" 30 percentage points. Inouye, a war hero who lost an arm in combat and played a major role in the transition of Hawaii from a territory to a state, will win re-election to his seventh term easily.
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IDAHO - Dirk Kempthorne (R), not seeking re-election. Elected in 1992 (57%).
Sen. Dirk Kempthorne's exit for the gubernatorial race has given Rep. Mike Crapo (R) a chance to move up to the Senate. A former member of the Idaho state Senate who served four years as president pro tem of the body, Crapo is a consistent conservative who has been elected to his U.S. House seat three times, never winning with less than 61 percent of the vote. Unlike fellow Idaho Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R), Crapo doesn't look for controversy. The Democrats hoped to recruit an established political figure for the race but ended up turning to state party chairman Bill Mauk to challenge Crapo.
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ILLINOIS - Carol Moseley-Braun (D), elected in 1992 (53%).
Conservative state Sen. Peter Fitzgerald won a tough, divisive GOP Senate primary over moderate state Comptroller Loleta Didrickson. But the wounds are healing from the March primary, and national Republican strategists have become convinced that Fitzgerald will defeat Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D) in the fall.

Moseley-Braun (D), the first African-American woman ever elected to the Senate, has a great smile and personality, and she has tried to move to the political center by supporting the Balanced Budget Amendment. But she has been controversial almost from her nomination more than six years ago, and handicappers identified her immediately after the 1996 elections as the most vulnerable Democrat in 1998. Moseley-Braun has made some bad missteps, including an unusual personal relationship with her campaign manager and a controversial trip to visit the dictator of Nigeria. Her integrity has been questioned, including suggestions that she misused campaign funds for personal use.

Democrats believe they can portray Fitzgerald as too conservative, but they admit they have a problem because their party's nominee for governor, Rep. Glenn Poshard, has virtually the same positions as the GOP Senate nominee does on guns and abortion. The Republicans, who had once hoped that popular retiring Gov. Jim Edgar (R) would be their Senate nominee, haven't won a Senate race in Illinois since 1978 (when Charles Percy was re-elected), so they are due for a victory.

Democrats say the race has closed, and one recent media survey showed Moseley-Braun ahead. But other polling shows Fitzgerald, who has been criticized in the media for all but disappearing from view, holding a clear lead in the final days. Still a likely GOP takeover.
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INDIANA - Dan Coats (R), not seeking re-election. Elected in 1990 (54%) and 1992 (57%).
The retirement of Republican Sen. Dan Coats gives the Democrats an excellent chance to pick up this seat. Former Gov. Evan Bayh is the Democratic nominee, and his father, Birch, was the last Democrat to win a Senate election in the state, back in 1974. The Republican candidate is Ft. Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, a moderate who has had some nice things to say about Bill Clinton and who beat two conservatives in the Republican primary. But he isn't a charismatic candidate, and money is a big problem for him.

Polling still shows Bayh far ahead, and Helmke has few resources to change the race's dynamics. Bayh continues to emphasize his political independence and conservatism, which makes it difficult for the Republican to portray the race as a contrast. GOP insiders are conceding the seat to the Democrats.
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IOWA - Charles Grassley (R), elected in 1980 (54%), 1986 (66%), 1992 (70%).
Former state Rep. David Osterberg (D) takes on Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), who hopes to become the first Iowa senator elected to four terms in the state's history. Polls show Grassley is very popular, which is why the Democrats couldn't get a more formidable opponent against him.
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KANSAS - Sam Brownback (R) elected in 1996 (54%).
State Sen. Paul Feleciano (D) won the Democratic primary with 59 percent of the vote, giving him a shot at Sen. Sam Brownback (R). All of the better known Democrats in the state decided against making the uphill bid. Brownback, a combative conservative who served as the state's secretary of agriculture, has been a leader in the fight to dismantle a number of cabinet departments in Washington. The senator has campaign finance critics from his last race, but he has a huge advantage in this generally Republican state. The last Democrat to win a Senate race in Kansas was George McGill, who won a special election in 1930.
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KENTUCKY - Wendell Ford (D), not seeking re-election. Elected in 1974 (54%), 1980 (65%), 1986 (74%), and 1992 (63%).
Two of the state's six U.S. representatives -- Rep. Scotty Baesler (D) and Rep. Jim Bunning (R) -- face off in a duel to fill the open seat of retiring Sen. Wendell Ford (D). Baesler beat a very wealthy businessman and the state's lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary, while Bunning, a former star major league pitcher, coasted to his party's nomination. Democrats accuse Bunning of being an extreme right-winger, focused on social issues like abortion. Republicans admit that Baesler has fought his president on tobacco, but portray him as too liberal for the state. The contest is a big one for National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has been working for years to increase the number of Republicans in the state's House and Senate delegation.

Bunning and Baesler have spent considerable time, energy and money arguing about which one is a stronger supporter of Social Security, education and fiscal responsibility. But the biggest flap in the race came from a Bunning TV spot which used unflattering footage of Baesler, and which Democrats and members of the media complain sought to portray the normally low-key Baesler as Hitler. Both the candidates and state and national parties are spending heavily on TV advertising.

Bunning and Baesler are still locked in one of the closest Senate contests of this election cycle. Both parties agree that turnout will decide who wins.
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LOUISIANA - John Breaux (D), elected in 1986 (53%), 1992 (73%).
State Rep. James Donelon is the GOP Senate nominee, but incumbent Sen. John Breaux (D), who served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before moving up to the Senate twelve years ago, is a terrific politician who has succeeded in wielding significant influence in the Senate through his position as a political moderate. Moreover, Breaux has a huge financial advantage, and will be nearly impossible to beat. Louisiana voters have never elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate.
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MARYLAND - Barbara Mikulski (D), elected in 1986 (61%), 1992 (71%).
Sen. Barbara Mikulski will face a second-tier Republican opponent in a state that hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since 1980. She has combined a liberal record with a more blue-collar, feisty style that has made her a hit in the Washington suburbs as well as around Baltimore. The state GOP is battling for the governorship and largely ignoring this race. Mikulski is one of four Democratic women senators seeking re-election, and she is the only one whose re-election already appears assured.
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MISSOURI - Christopher Bond (R), elected in 1986 (53%), 1992 (52%).
Attorney General Jay Nixon is the Democratic nominee. He got crushed in a 1988 Senate race against Sen. John Danforth (R) but has been elected statewide twice since then. Nixon, who was endorsed very early by the Missouri AFL-CIO, runs as a "new Democrat," but lingering criticism from the state's black leadership over his handling of education and busing has produced animosity from what should be a core Democratic constituency. Incumbent Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R), who served two terms as governor (but lost a re-election race in between) before winning a Senate seat, is seeking to take advantage of Nixon's problems with the state's black political leadership.

The question now is whether Nixon can repair the damage before November and whether his standing in conservative, rural Missouri has improved because of the controversy. GOP insiders rave about Bond's campaign, calling it one of the best they have seen this cycle. This race remains one of the Democrats' chances for a takeover, and with so few opportunities out there, national Democrats will do whatever it can to help Nixon.

While Nixon continues to patch up his relations with state African-American political leaders, he doesn't have Bond's resources. The Democrat is trying to score points by repeatedly attacking the senator's record on crime (and his judgment), going back to Bond's days as governor. But basically, this race has boiled down to name-calling and grandstanding by each candidate to prove that his opponent is engaging in negative advertising. Democrats say that Nixon has closed the gap as Democratic voters have rallied to his side, but Bond still looks like a winner, though by a close margin.
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NEVADA - Harry Reid (D), elected in 1986 (50%), 1992 (51%).
Sen. Harry Reid (D) won his 1992 re-election race by a solid 10 points, but he has a problem this year against two-term Rep. John Ensign (R). Both officeholders are well liked, and both are well funded. But Ensign should eat into the Democrat's 1st C.D. (Las Vegas) base, and if he can carry the more conservative and vote-rich 2nd C.D. (which normally casts far more votes than the more Democratic 1st C.D.), then Reid is headed for a forced retirement. Reid, whose political career has included stints as lieutenant governor, as a state legislator, as chairman of the state's gaming commission and as a member of Congress, was nervous enough to hit the airwaves with TV spots early in the year.

Reid has become increasingly critical of Ensign, dismissing the challenger's legislative background and attacking him on everything from nuclear-waste removal to education. Some observers believe that Reid's tactics reflect the increased tightening of the race, as indicated by numerous polls. But Reid cites a number of Democratic surveys that show him ahead. Ensign had enough money to match the senator down the stretch.

Ten days ago, some Republicans were ready to throw in the towel, feeling that Ensign was on the defensive and falling behind badly. But the Republican turned around the race -- in part by arguing that as a member of the Senate majority he'd have the clout to stop nuclear waste from being transported though the state -- and he has had all of the momentum since then. The northern Nevada GOP seems to have started to solidify for Ensign, making Reid highly vulnerable.
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NEW HAMPSHIRE - Judd Gregg (R), elected in 1992 (48%).
Businessman/engineer George Condodematracy, who has been active in state Democratic politics, is the Democratic Senate nominee. Incumbent Sen. Judd Gregg (R), a former governor and congressman, and a member of a prominent political family, is well-liked in the state. The Republican doesn't run elaborate campaigns or even take polls, so there is always a chance of a problem developing. But if the Democrats couldn't defeat Sen. Bob Smith (R) in 1996, it is hard to imagine them beating Gregg.
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NEW YORK Alfonse D'Amato (R), elected in 1980 (45%), 1986 (57%), 1992 (49%).
Once again, Sen. Al D'Amato (R), who early on was regarded by handicappers as the most vulnerable Republican senator up for re-election this year, faces a tough contest. Democratic Rep. Charles Schumer won his party's nomination by beating New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, who lost to D'Amato in 1986, and former congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, who was thought to be the odds-on favorite to win the primary. While the Democrats fought among themselves in the primary season, D'Amato, was in his campaign mode, pushing issues like breast cancer, the environment, an end to certain subway and bus transfers for suburbanites, and what the Swiss did to valuables taken from Jews during the Holocaust.

D'Amato and Schumer quickly launched into their slash-and-burn campaigns against each other. D'Amato has made an issue of Schumer's missed votes in Congress, and he has mocked the Democrat's efforts to sell himself in upstate New York. The senator has also portrayed Schumer as a big spending, big government liberal. The challenger similarly portrays D'Amato as too conservative on issues like guns, abortion and Medicare, and unlike D'Amato's previous opponents, Schumer -- who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and hopes his added visibility from the impeachment hearings vote will rally Democratic voters -- has the money and will to take the race right to the senator. D'Amato has used former New York City mayor Ed Koch (D) to criticize Schumer for allegedly being too negative in his attacks.

Late polling continues to show this race tight, with Schumer up by a statistically insignificant two or three points. Both candidates appear to be well under 50 percent, but that's a bigger problem for the incumbent, D'Amato, who damaged himself by calling the Democrat a "putzhead." Republicans still hope that a big upstate vote for the senator will keep D'Amato in the Senate.
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NORTH CAROLINA - Lauch Faircloth (R), elected in 1992 (50%).
While Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) has held onto one of North Carolina's Senate seats since 1972, the other seat has been held by five different men in the past 18 years. This year, the latest occupant of that seat, Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R), is seeking re-election. Republicans breathed a collective sigh of relief when first the state attorney general and then a wealthy businessman who had run before decided against running. But the celebration was short-lived when wealthy trial lawyer John Edwards (D) jumped into the race. Edwards, who defeated two primary opponents, combines personal wealth, good looks and moderate rhetoric with strong communication skills. Maybe just as important, Edwards, who doesn't take PAC money, has a united Democratic party in his corner.

Faircloth, a one-time Democrat, is an "old South" politician: rumpled, folksy and conservative. He lacks Edwards's media polish and youthful energy, and polls have shown him in serious trouble for some time.

Faircloth has been hammering away at Edwards's ties to the trial lawyer community, suggesting that the challenger has been hypocritical by saying that he doesn't accept "special interest" money (PAC funds) when he rakes in money from trial lawyers. The senator is also attacking Edwards for being too liberal. Edwards, in return, is complaining that Faircloth's campaign is far too negative, and he continues to criticize the GOP incumbent for failing to agree to debates. Democratic party ads criticize Faircloth's attendance record, as well as his record on Social Security and Medicare. Both candidates are trumpeting their records on crime.

Unable to ward off Democratic challenger Edwards, Faircloth has decided to run the final weeks of his campaign against President Bill Clinton. But it's not clear whether the senator can tie Edwards close enough to the president to ward off the challenger. Private polling for the senator suggests he has a lead, but many GOP insiders have concluded that the Democrats will pick up this seat.
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NORTH DAKOTA - Byron Dorgan (D), elected in 1992 (59%).
The Republicans haven't won a Senate election in the state since 1980, and their nominee this time, state Sen. Donna Nalewaja, is unlikely to break that trend. Incumbent Sen. Byron Dorgan (D), a former state tax commissioner and member of the U.S. House, never drew under 65 percent in the House and won his Senate race by 20 points six years ago.
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OHIO - John Glenn (D), not seeking re-election. Elected in 1974 (65%), 1980 (69%), 1986 (62%), and 1992 (51%).
GOP nominee Gov. George Voinovich, a former mayor of Cleveland, faces former Cuyahoga County commissioner Mary Boyle (D), who lost a Senate primary in 1994. Voinovich started out with a huge advantage, including high personal ratings, lots more money in the bank, and a lead in the polls. He has some vulnerabilities, however, including a sales tax hike proposal that the voters overwhelmingly rejected and ethics problems involving people very close to him. Boyle is a fighter and Voinovich now looks much more mortal. But while this race has become more interesting than it initially seemed, the governor starts with many resources and a strong base in normally Democratic Cuyahoga County (Cleveland).

Boyle continues to try to make Voinovich's record as governor the issue, but she lacks the money for a major media campaign, and polling shows that voters still have a generally favorable opinion of the Republican. The Democrat criticizes the governor on education, the environment, taxes and trust, while he portrays her as too liberal. Even Democrats acknowledge that they are likely to lose this seat.
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OKLAHOMA - Don Nickles (R) elected in 1980 (54%), 1986 (55%), 1992 (59%).
Businessman Don Carroll, who beat a deceased woman in the Democratic primary runoff, will face Sen. Don Nickles. The incumbent is a down-the-line conservative who was first elected to the Senate at the age of 31 and has become the assistant majority leader.
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OREGON - Ron Wyden (D), elected in 1996 election (48%).
State Sen. John Lim is the GOP nominee, but observers don't regard him as a serious threat to Sen. Ron Wyden (D), who won a special election to fill Sen. Bob Packwood's seat in January 1996. The Republicans simply don't have much of a bench in the state, and few GOP candidates are able to hold together the party's moderate and conservative wings. Wyden, a consistent liberal, spent more than a decade in the U.S. House before winning his Senate seat.
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PENNSYLVANIA - Arlen Specter (R), elected in 1980 (51%), 1986 (56%), 1992 (49%).
Unbelievably, Sen. Arlen Specter, a former Philadelphia district attorney who suffered his share of electoral defeats (including an uneventful bid for the 1996 GOP presidential nomination), is cruising to a fourth term. State Rep. William Lloyd, Jr. won the support of the Democratic state committee in the primary, and that helped him win his party's nomination. But Specter, who was vilified by liberals and women for taking on Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings but is regularly criticized by conservatives as too moderate, is recovering from surgery, and he scared off both strong primary and general election opposition.
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SOUTH CAROLINA - Ernest Hollings (D), elected in 1966 (51%), 1968 (62%), 1974 (70%), 1980 (70%), 1986 (63%), 1992 (50%).
Rep. Robert Inglis won the Republican nomination with an impressive primary victory over Greenville County GOP chairman Steve Brown, who challenged Inglis from the right. Still, Inglis has alienated some conservatives and turned off National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Mitch McConnell by attacking political action committees. He has had trouble raising money and will be badly outspent by the incumbent, Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D).

Hollings, who is serving his fifth full term in the Senate and previously served as governor and lieutenant governor, has been the ultimate Senate insider, presiding over the important Commerce Committee when his party was in the majority. The GOP base in the state makes any Republican nominee against Hollings very competitive, and, while Republican operatives had hoped former Gov. Carroll Campbell or state Attorney General Charlie Condon would carry the party's banner against Hollings, Inglis is a serious contender against the senator.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee got very interested in this race after the primary and subsequent polls that showed Inglis could win. Inglis' lack of money has forced the GOP to play a major advertising role in the race. A state party ad criticized Hollings' record on welfare reform and used old footage of Hollings seeming to dismiss public opinion. But so far polls suggest that the senator continues to hang on, with Hollings emphasizing his accomplishments and picking at the challenger's voting record, particularly on education, the environment and Social Security, as well as on local concerns. Democrats hope that GOP dissatisfaction with incumbent Gov. David Beasley (R), who is having an unexpectedly tough re-election bid and has sharp critics within his own party, will depress Republican turnout, adding to Inglis's hurdle.

Hollings appears to be holding an edge in the final days of the campaign, but he remains under 50 percent. Republicans are still hopeful that the state's partisanship will help pull Inglis over the finish line, and Democratic insiders are still concerned about the outcome.
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SOUTH DAKOTA - Tom Daschle (D), elected in 1986 (52%), 1992 (65%).
Attorney and GOP national committeeman Ron Schmidt won the GOP primary against a state senator, but Schmidt, while an articulate candidate, is a considerable underdog against Sen. Tom Daschle (D), the Senate minority leader. Daschle spent four terms in the U.S. House before knocking off an incumbent Republican in 1986, and he coasted to re-election with 65 percent of the vote six years later.
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UTAH - Robert Bennett (R), elected in 1992 (55%).
The last Democrat elected to the Senate was Frank Moss in 1970, and none of the last four Democratic Senate nominees has broken 40 percent of the vote. Dr. Scott Leckman (D), a Salt Lake City surgeon, is on a political suicide mission in challenging incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett (R), a wealthy businessman and son of a former governor.
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VERMONT - Patrick Leahy (D), elected in 1974 (50%), 1980 (50%), 1986 (63%), 1992 (54%).
Jack McMullen (R), a businessman with considerable personal wealth, was upset in the Republican primary by retired dairy farmer Fred Tuttle. The dairy farmer, who spent about $200 on his primary campaign, isn't a serious candidate. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) is heavily favored to win a fifth term.
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WASHINGTON - Patty Murray (D), elected in 1992 (54%).
Sen. Patty Murray (D) had an easy 54-46 percent win in 1992 (the "Year of the Woman"), but remains a top Republican target. Though she lacks charisma and isn't regarded as a political heavyweight, Murray seems to be in the right place at the right time. Rep. Linda Smith (R), who, like Murray, has cultivated an image as an outsider and reformer, announced early for the seat and has marshaled an army of grass-roots supporters who like her pro-life, anti-tax record. But Smith, who refused to vote for Newt Gingrich as speaker in 1997, has sometimes angered her own party, as when she pushes campaign finance reform and criticizes PACs. GOP party regulars never embraced Smith, and they searched for a primary opponent. Finally, former two-term King County prosecutor Chris Bayley entered the race. Bayley argued that he generally agreed with Smith on all issues except trade (he supports free trade while she opposed NAFTA), but insisted that he was more electable in November. Smith, however, beat him handily in the open primary, and Murray fell below the magic 50 percent mark that incumbents aim for.

Recent polling suggests that moderate Republicans generally are rallying behind Smith, giving her a chance of overtaking Murray, who remains in front. Smith, a tireless campaigner, emphasizes her own populism and voted against the GOP tax cut proposal so that she could demonstrate her commitment to Social Security. Murray is trying to portray Smith as too conservative.

Both public and private polling have shown the race closing in the final days, but it's not entirely clear that Smith has the money or time to overtake Murray. The betting at the wire is that the senator will hold onto her seat, though unimpressively.
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WISCONSIN - Russ Feingold (D), elected in 1992 (53%).
Sen. Russ Feingold, a state legislator who upset two tough primary opponents and knocked off a sitting senator to win the seat six years ago, made his mark campaigning as a political outsider who wanted to reform Congress. He continues to be a leading advocate of campaign finance reform, pushing his McCain-Feingold bill in the Senate. Rep. Mark Neumann (R), who dissuaded primary opposition, is the GOP challenger. He is an anti-tax, pro-life conservative, and is as tenacious as they come. Neumann, who represents a Democratic-leaning congressional district in the southeast part of the state, has some personal money and is being picked as the GOP's best chance for an upset in November.

The air war between Feingold and Neumann has heated up. Neumann has emphasized cutting government waste in his TV spots and complained that Feingold has voted for too many wasteful programs. Neumann voted against the Republican plan to cut taxes, which would have allowed Feingold to portray the Republican as not entirely committed to protecting Social Security. For his part, Feingold has complained that the Republican's charges about supporting government waste are simply untrue. The senator also complains that Neumann has not taken steps to keep outside groups from spending heavily on his behalf, creating a situation where the Republicans (and their "special interest" friends) are trying to "buy" the Senate seat. Polling shows this race close, and outside groups are likely to continue to advertise heavily in this inexpensive state.
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