Feb 15 Democrat Evan Bayh's decision not seek
re-election to the U.S. Senate makes an already tough political
situation even tougher for President Barack Obama's Democrats
in the November election.
With big majorities in both the Senate and the House of
Representatives, Democrats are still heavily favored to retain
control of both chambers in November but face growing worries
about the extent of their possible election losses.
Public dissatisfaction with the economy, unemployment and
Obama's agenda helped fuel Republican Scott Brown's election in
heavily Democratic Massachusetts, sending shockwaves through
Democratic political circles.
Democrats control 59 seats in the chamber to Republicans'
41. To regain Senate control, Republicans must win 10 states
held by Democrats while retaining all of their own seats,
including several vulnerable ones. That will be difficult.
Here are the 10 most vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in
* NEVADA - Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid offers the
country's biggest target for Republicans, who accuse him of
neglecting Nevada while waging national battles on behalf of
Obama's agenda. Even after a heavy advertising blitz through
the last three months of 2009, Reid trails potential Republican
opponents by double digits in opinion polls in a state where
the economy has nosedived.
* INDIANA - With two-term Democratic Senator Evan Bayh out
of the picture, Democrats could face a tough time holding on to
the seat. Republican Dan Coats, a former U.S. senator, has not
formally announced he would seek the seat but his name surfaced
earlier this month as a challenger to Bayh. Coats has been
hammered by Democrats since then for his work as a lobbyist and
for living and voting in Virginia for the past decade.
* ILLINOIS - Obama's former Senate seat, left vacant by the
departure of short-term appointee Roland Burris, will be the
focus of an expensive and brutal battle between Republican
Congressman Mark Kirk and Democratic state Treasurer Alexi
Giannoulias. Republicans already have painted Giannoulias as a
corrupt insider, while Democrats call Kirk a flip-flopper.
* DELAWARE - Republican Congressman Mike Castle, one of the
party's last House moderates and a popular fixture in state
politics for more than 40 years, is a big favorite to win Vice
President Joe Biden's old seat. Castle's candidacy was
bolstered when Biden's son, Democratic state Attorney General
Beau Biden, passed on the race.
* NORTH DAKOTA - The retirement of three-term Democratic
incumbent Byron Dorgan put this Senate seat in play in a rural,
conservative, Republican-leaning state. Democrats are still
uncertain on their candidate, giving popular Republican
Governor John Hoeven a clear path and a running head start.
* ARKANSAS - Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln trails all
her potential Republican opponents in opinion polls in another
conservative state where her vote to back Obama's sweeping
healthcare overhaul was highly unpopular.
* PENNSYLVANIA - Democratic incumbent Arlen Specter, who
switched parties last year because he feared he would lose as a
Republican, might fare no better as a Democrat. He faces a
strong Democratic primary challenge from Congressman Joe
Sestak. If he survives, he will face former Congressman Pat
Toomey -- who almost beat him in a Republican primary in 2004.
* COLORADO - Democrat Michael Bennet was the Denver public
school superintendent when he was appointed to the Senate last
year to succeed Ken Salazar, who became Interior secretary.
Bennet has been successful raising money but faces a primary
fight from a former Colorado House speaker. If he survives, he
will have tough competition in November from the probable
Republican candidate, former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton.
* CALIFORNIA - Incumbent Barbara Boxer appears vulnerable
and could face a strong Republican challenge from either former
Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina or former Congressman
Tom Campbell. But California remains a Democratic state with
expensive media markets. National Republicans might decide to
sink their money into more promising races.
* CONNECTICUT - With the retirement of unpopular incumbent
Chris Dodd, Democrats improved their chances of holding this
seat. It cleared the way for Richard Blumenthal, the popular
Democratic state attorney general, who has a big early lead on
his potential Republican opponents -- former Congressman Rob
Simmons, former wrestling executive Linda McMahon and
businessman Peter Schiff.
(Reporting by John Whitesides and Jackie Frank, editing by
Eric Walsh and Sandra Maler)