Republicans Eye Five Senate Races in 2012 Affecting Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 30, 2010   |   1:17PM   |   Washington, DC

Republicans are already eying five Senate races in 2012 that they say involve incumbent senators who may have a tough time winning re-election bids.

While most of the attention in the next election cycle is already focused on the massive presidential race and the Republican nomination that will ultimately produce a candidate to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama, the Senate is another key focus for pro-life advocates.

With the Supreme Court potentially one vote away from reversing Roe v. Wade and its allowance for virtually unlimited abortions, a pro-life president and pro-life Senate is needed to confirm a justice who could become the fifth vote.

Ron Jesmer, the director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told CNN that races in Montana, Virginia, Nebraska, Florida and North Dakota are ones where Democratic senators could be replaced with Republicans. Four of the states have pro-abortion members up for re-election while Nebraska has Ben Nelson, who is pro-life but upset pro-life advocates when he voted for the abortion-funding ObamaCare bill even after his amendment to stop the abortion funding in it fell short.

Jesmer said Nelson is in “serious trouble and kind of in a league of his own” in terms of how much his seat is in jeopardy. He added that pro-abortion Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota also “is in a lot of trouble.”

“There are other states where depending on if one candidate runs, there could be some other good challenges,” he added.

Those could include Missouri and Pennsylvania where a pro-abortion senator and a pro-life senator with a weak pro-life voting record face re-election in perennial battleground states that both elected pro-life Republicans to the Senate this year.

Of the five states, Jesmer mention, 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain won Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota — making it appear those states would be in play in the next Senate race. Florida and Virginia went to Obama in 2008 but conservatives will be working overtime to flip the states back to the GOP column and those efforts will help both the presidential and Senate candidates.

Still, “I don’t think anything is going to be easy,” he admitted.

The 2010 elections provided Republicans, and, subsequently, pro-life interests, with big gains in the Senate and made it more difficult for the pro-abortion Democrats who control the Senate to push through their legislative agenda or judges without having to work much harder to stop filibusters. The pro-life movement hopes to add to those gains and potentially place the Senate in the hands of pro-life Republicans who can process votes for judicial nominees from a potentially pro-life Obama replacement.

Republicans gained six seats in this year’s elections of the nine they needed to retake the majority in the Senate and the races in those states will potentially determine if they can regain the majority next time around.

While Republicans will focus on the Democratic incumbents, Democrats say senators such as Dick Lugar of Indiana, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts may face tough re-election bids as well.