Pro-Life Advocates Will Have Tough Time Recapturing Senate in 2008

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 16, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Advocates Will Have Tough Time Recapturing Senate in 2008 Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 16
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — In politics, two years is the equivalent of a lifetime and anything can happen between now and the 2008 presidential elections to change the landscape. However, a preliminary look at the next Senate elections shows pro-life advocates will have a difficult time recapturing the upper chamber of Congress.

The most significant reason revolves around the fact that most of the top Senate races in the next election cycle will involve pro-life advocates playing defense and there are relatively few opportunities, at this juncture, to pick up new seats.

In 2008, Republicans will defend 21 Senate seats while Democrats will have just 12 to defend.

On the Republican side, there are quire a few first term senators facing their first-ever re-eletion — normally the first and only opportunity a party has to knock off an incumbent in the Senate.

Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John Cornyn of Texas are all first term pro-life senators.

They all were elected with only 50-55 percent of the vote in their initial campaigns — signs that they can expect a tough race next time around.

Abortion advocates have already started working on the Minnesota campaign and Coleman may be the most endangered senator in the country now — especially given the large margin by which pro-life Rep. Mark Kennedy lost this year’s Senate race. Fortunately, Coleman is going into the election cycle having already raised $1.7 million.

Chambliss ($2.2 million), Graham ($2.3 million), and Cornyn ($2.7 million) have already raised enough to potentially draw B-tier candidates, but the rest of the first-term senators need to begin raising significant campaign cash if they want to be re-elected.

Wayne Allard, a pro-life Colorado senator elected last time around with just 51 percent, hails from a highly competitive state where Democrats just retook the governor’s office. He will also be at the top of pro-abortion lists to knock off. He’s raised only $120,000 for his re-election bid and need to begin heavy fundraising now if he wants to go back.

James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Gordon Smith of Oregon could potentially see difficult races.

However, the rest of the Republicans, such as Ted Stevens of Alaska, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Michael Enzi of Wyoming should see relatively safe re-election contests.

The Nebrasks Senate race could change dynamics depending on the whether pro-life Sen. Chuck Hagel runs for president.

On the Democratic side, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor is the only first-term senator up for re-election. He won’t with 54 percent of the vote and has just over $500,000 in his campaign account. A top-tier candidate would definitely have a shot at winning in this competitive state.

The top Senate contest involving a Democrat will be the South Dakota race where pro-abortion Sen. Tim Johnson won by a scant 50 percent last time around. He’s raised $650,000 but pro-life advocates are already preparing for another brutal Senate election here. If control of the Senate is up for grabs on election night, and it almost certainly will be, political observers will likely be staying up late waiting for results on this one.

After Pryor and Johnson the possible pickups are slim.

Pro-abortion Sen. Tom Harkin in Iowa and Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana won with just 54 and 52 percent last time around. Harkin always seems to have a tough race each time but pro-life advocates never seem to be able to pull it out. Landrieu’s race is a better hope for a replacement. Both have raised modest sums of money.

Carl Levin, an abortion advocate from Michigan, has raised just $200,000 but he likely will be able to crank up his fundraising machine quickly and protect the seat he last won by more than 60 percent.

The rest of the seats, including Max Baucus in Montana, Richard Durbin in Illinois, and John Rockefeller in West Virginia, just don’t appear to give pro-life candidates much hope unless pr-life advocates fund top-tier candidates and can heavily finance their campaigns.

Delaware’s seat could find itself in the mix depending on pro-abortion Sen. Joe Biden’s decision. If he runs for president, Republicans may have a chance to pick up the seat but most GOP candidates from this left-leaning state aren’t pro-life. If he stays, Biden is a lock to retain his seat.

Ultimately, pro-life advocates will be in trouble again in 2008. The presidential race will have overtones that will affect each state to certain degrees but pro-life candidates will largely be on the defense and all of the dominos will need to fall the right way to regain the Senate.