THE SENATE OF THE FUTURE.

THE SENATE OF THE FUTURE. If the Democrats fall short of control of the Senate tonight or after a Virginia recount, or even if they hold only a one seat margin, begin to familarize yourself with the list at this link.

These are the Senators of Class II, those whose seats will be up in 2008. There are 12 Democrats, and 21 Republicans. Of the Dems, the only likely retirees would be Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey (the GOP just took its last best shot at a NJ Senate seat), perhaps John Kerry, and perhaps Biden if he gives up his seat to run for president, which if he asked me, I would advise against. The only vulnerable Dem in the class is Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

Of the 21 Republicans, on the other hand, there are a few likely retirements: John Warner, Pete Domenici, and Ted Stevens, from Virginia, New Mexico, and Alaska respectively. The first two states are trending seriously Democratic, the third always has possibilities. (Plus, Mark Warner might run for the John Warner seat, and would be unbeatable.) Then there's Wayne Allard in Colorado, Norm Coleman in Minnesota, Gordon Smith in Oregon, and John Sununu in New Hampshire, whose two congressional districts just went Democratic. A decent candidate could take any of those bluer-by-the-day states. And then there's a third tier of Senators up in 2008 which includes Mike Enzi in Wyoming, James Inhofe in Oklahoma, and Pat Roberts in Kansas, who are probably not vulnerable in ordinary terms, but in each of those states there is an extremely popular governor who won reelection tonight -- Dave Freudenthal, Brad Henry, and Kathleen Sebelius. Any of them would start out as very strong Senate candidates.

That's seven possible pick-ups in 2008, plus three more that could be picked up with the right candidate. And what if Harold Ford runs against Lamar Alexander in Tennessee? What if Susan Collins in Maine draws a strong opponent? What about Elizabeth Dole, whose image of competence is as shattered as Dick Cheney's? That's thirteen seats the Republicans have to worry about either a little or a lot. And almost no potential for gains.

If the Democrats handle the next two years well, they could have 56 or more seats in the Senate when the next president takes office.

--Mark Schmitt

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