NEW ODDS

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - / Bruce Tins­ley

“Months ago, when Democrats were rid­ing high from their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive wave elec­tion and an un­usu­ally large num­ber of Repub­li­can se­na­tors were de­cid­ing to re­tire, it looked plau­si­ble that Democrats would hold the line in 2010 and pos­si­bly even add a seat or two. With the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate and the cir­cum­stances in key states now very dif­fer­ent, those odds have changed,” Char­lie Cook writes at www.na­tion­aljour­nal.com.

“Next year there are seven Repub­li­can re­tire­ments com­pared to only three for Democrats, but none of the open GOP seats are in Demo­crat-friendly states. The only ones in states Obama car­ried — Florida, New Hamp­shire and Ohio — are fickle and more pur­ple than blue. Ad­di­tion­ally, the like­li­hood of young and mi­nor­ity vot­ers turn­ing out in large num­bers for Democrats like they did last year is low. This makes Demo­cratic hopes in each of th­ese states prob­lem­atic at best,” Mr. Cook said.

“And Demo­cratic at­tempts to knock off the two GOP in­cum­bents who might be vul­ner­a­ble — Sens. David Vit­ter in Louisiana and Richard Burr in North Carolina — ap­pear to be slim and di­min­ish­ing. It’s not very likely that many Repub­li­can in­cum­bents will lose re-elec­tion in the South th­ese days. If Vit­ter be­haves him­self and Burr very vis­i­bly hits ev­ery county a cou­ple times in the next year, Democrats have vir­tu­ally no chance in ei­ther state.

“Ba­si­cally, there is a real chance that Democrats won’t flip any GOP Se­nate seats. This is not — re­peat, not — to say that Democrats can’t pick up any Repub­li­can seats, but their chances cer­tainly aren’t what they used to be.

“At the same time, things look very tough for Democrats in three toss-up races: Nei­ther Sen. Christo­pher Dodd in Con­necti­cut nor Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid in Ne­vada is polling well, and the GOP has a chance in the Illi­nois open seat con­test. Ap­pointed Sen. Michael Ben­net in Colorado and party-switcher Arlen Specter in Penn­syl­va­nia have to deal with for­mi­da­ble pri­mary chal­lenges be­fore they can even get to what are likely to be tough gen­eral elec­tion cam­paigns.

“In Cal­i­for­nia, it’s un­clear how tough the re-elec­tion chal­lenge will be for Demo­cratic Sen. Bar­bara Boxer. The big­gest ques­tion there is whether Carly Fio­r­ina, the for­mer CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is ready for prime-time pol­i­tics.

“Fi­nally, add to that list Sen. Blanche Lin­coln in Arkansas, who is looking more and more vul­ner­a­ble, de­spite a lack of name-brand com­pe­ti­tion.

“That’s seven Demo­cratic Se­nate seats in real dan­ger, and that doesn’t in­clude the Delaware open seat if GOP Rep. Michael Cas­tle runs, or if Demo­cratic Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand in New York faces a top-drawer chal­lenger.” as re­sult of rag­ing for­est fires, but Congress doesn’t seem to know that. The Se­nate was all set [late last month] to award $2.8 mil­lion of stim­u­lus money for for­est fire man­age­ment to . . . the District of Columbia,” the Wall Street Jour­nal’s Stephen Moore writes at www.opin­ionjour­nal.com.

“Hold on! Wash­ing­ton, D.C., doesn’t have any forests, let alone for­est fires. So Sen. John Bar­rasso of Wy­oming brought an amend­ment to the Se­nate floor to wipe out the funds and re­as­sign the money to the U.S. For­est Ser­vice to spend where fires ac­tu­ally are a risk. The amend­ment passed unan­i­mously so if any se­na­tors fa­vored the orig­i­nal fund­ing plan, they ap­par­ently didn’t feel like speak­ing up,” Mr. Moore said.

“In an in­ter­view, Mr. Bar­rasso said he was ‘amazed’ when he saw where the fund­ing was go­ing. ‘The last time Wash­ing­ton, D.C., faced a cat­a­strophic fire,’ he quips, ‘is when the Bri­tish burned down the White House in 1814.’

“Mr. Bar­rasso’s ag­gra­va­tion is un­der­stand­able. Wy­oming, with its huge acreage of na­tional for­est land, was al­lot­ted zero

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Hot un­der the col­lar: Sen. John Bar­rasso, Wy­oming Repub­li­can, raised is­sue with $2.8 mil­lion of stim­u­lus money awarded to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to fight for­est fires.

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