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Archive for Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Democrats target 7 states for 2006

December 28, 2005

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— Despite being New York's less-famous senator, Charles Schumer stayed busy in 2005, keeping a hand - or quote - in almost every major congressional battle.

Now he is out to prove he has the strategy to elect Senate Democrats and maybe wrest control from the Republicans.

Schumer, the head of Senate Democrats' campaign efforts, said Tuesday he was focusing on seven states where he believes they can take GOP-held Senate seats in 2006: Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee and Arizona.

"If the stars align right, we could actually take back the Senate," Schumer said.

The Senate currently has 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and one Democratic-voting independent. In 2006, there are five open Senate seats, as well as 14 Democratic senators seeking re-election and 14 Republicans seeking re-election.

Schumer heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which had more than $22 million available, according to their last fundraising report. That's more than double the cash available to their counterparts in the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

NRSC spokesman Brian Nick said Schumer's current fundraising advantage "means zilch" and his list of target states "is suspect at best."

The NRSC also is looking at replacing some Democratic senators in places like Maryland, Minnesota and New Jersey.

Missouri GOP strategist Lloyd Smith, who is a senior adviser to Republican incumbent Jim Talent, added that Democrats would need a lot more than a financial edge to win next year's race in his state.

"There's gonna be an attempt to nationalize this race by the Chuck Schumers and the Hillary Clintons, but ultimately the political singing senators from New York aren't going to play that well here," Smith said.

But one political observer said Schumer's list of seven target states in 2006 might not be as far-fetched as his detractors claim.

Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University politics professor, said the conditions in Tennessee might be ripe for a Democratic win.

"People think this race would lean Republican, all other things being equal. But it's in play," Oppenheimer said. "For the Democrats, it's certainly doable."

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