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Senate 2010: Part Three

A Commentary By Larry Sabato

Friday, February 27, 2009

Two weeks ago we discussed the basic framework for 2010's thirty-six Senate elections. Last week we reviewed the seventeen Democratic Senate seats that are on the ballot in the midterm year. Now let's see how the nineteen Republican-held seats for 2010 are shaping up in the initial stages:

Richard Burr (R-NC): Democrats are on a roll in North Carolina, with a stunning trio of 2008 victories for Barack Obama, Gov. Beverly Perdue, and Senator Kay Hagan (defeating Sen. Elizabeth Dole, once thought to be invulnerable). Despite all that, the last remaining major GOP officeholder in the Tar Heel State, first-term Sen. Richard Burr, will not be easy to dislodge. He's got a good reputation, comes across well in the media, and tends to his constituencies. Two statewide Democratic figures, Attorney General Roy Cooper and former Treasurer Richard Moore, have been mentioned as possible Burr opponents. One of the many Democratic House members from North Carolina could also run, especially U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, ex-quarterback of the Washington Redskins and a Blue Dog who represents part of western North Carolina. This is unsettled as yet, and Burr will have to work hard for reelection, thinking of Dole--who was often absent from the state--as a cautionary tale. It's actually worse than that, and you, dear reader, won't believe this, but the last time a U.S. senator holding this seat was reelected was 1968. (Trivia answer: He was Democrat Sam Ervin of Watergate fame.) All of Ervin's elected successors got one term each as the seat wobbled between the parties--Robert Morgan (D), John East (R), Terry Sanford (D), Lauch Faircloth (R), and John Edwards (D). Truly, this is a berth for which the occupant should rent an apartment and not buy a house in D.C. For now, we'll list it as LEANS REPUBLICAN but if the Democrats play their cards right, and 2010 is a decent year for them, Burr will have to fight history to get a second term.

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