Wisconsin: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) (Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., retiring)
Republicans have a chance to pick up a seat in Wisconsin, where popular Sen. Herb Kohl is retiring after four terms. Republicans in the state actually steered clear of hard-right candidates, instead turning to a reasonably popular former governor, Tommy Thompson. Democrats nominated Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who has represented a deep blue district since 1999.
Given the convulsive political landscape in Wisconsin, it was hard to know just how the race would play out, but Democrats, stung by recent victories by Republicans in the state, had to be nervous.
Well, the race is still close — within 2.2 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average. But Baldwin has opened up a steady-if-narrow lead over Thompson, who has been hamstrung by statements made during the primary.
If Baldwin manages to win, it will represent not just an important hold for Democrats, but an important civil rights milestone: Baldwin would become the first openly gay senator elected to the body.
North Dakota: Former State A.G. Heidi Heitkamp (D) vs. Rep. Rick Berg (R) (Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., retiring)
When Kent Conrad announced his retirement from the Senate, most prognosticators simply moved the race into the “likely Republican” column without much thought. The Dakotas have been moving steadily right, and few thought that the race would be very competitive.
Well, the seat may still go to the Republicans, but it won’t be for lack of trying. Former State Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp has run a surprisingly tough race, forcing Republicans to contest a seat they expected to win easily. While most polls still give Rick Berg the edge, Heitkamp has been as close as two points in recent polling. Given the relative paucity of polling in the state, it’s possible that Heitkamp could be a surprise on Tuesday. Even if she isn’t, she’s managed to help Democrats across the country, simply by drawing resources from the GOP.
Read more: 2012 election, denny rehberg, elizabeth warren, george allen, Heidi Heitkamp, Jim Tester, joe donnelly, richard mourdock, Rick Berg, scott brown, senate, tammy baldwin, Tim Kaine, tommy thompson
Image Credit: Donkey Hotey
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