Let's look at the election of 2010:
- 35 of the 100 Senators will be up for election this round, including interim reelections in Colorado (Sen. Ken Salazar is becoming the Secretary of the Interior) and New York (Sen. Hillary Clinton is becoming the Secretary of State). This will also include Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who is likely to face off against Gov. Sarah Palin in expectation of either a 2012 or 2016 Presidential bid (if she's smart, she'll hold off until 2016 and 6 years in the Senate to make an honest bid). Ohio's former Governor and current two-term Senator, George Voinovich, is also up for his third term.
- There are 36 gubernatorial races. This is fun because some power players will be term-limited, including: Bill Richardson (D-NM), Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS, rumor has it she will run for Senate, and retiring Senator Brownback will run for Governor, thus merely reversing the two roles), Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Ed Rendell (D-PA), Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA, who is rumored to want to run for Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat), Sarah Palin (R-AK), and Mark Sanford (R-SC, who is rumored to be on the short list of people they want to move up the Republican hierarchy). Our own popular Gov. Strickland is also up for reelection, with rumors of lightly tainted Rep. Rob Portman running against him.
- The House elections are more difficult to talk about, as there are 435 of them. But, DCCC Chair Van Hollen feels that upwards of 70 Democrats are vulnerable.
How does this play in Ohio? Let's look at the ones we know are going to be fun here at home:
Governor Race -- Ted Strickland (D, i) v. Unknown (R)
Strickland is still very popular for a swing state Governor in the rust belt -- as recently as December, 54% of the populace approved of the job he was doing. That's pretty good. He stayed out of the election, for the most part, except for a little bit of talk about whether he would be a VP candidate to which he responded: "Absolutely not. If drafted I will not run, nominated I will not accept and if elected I will not serve. " That's pretty emphatic, and I know it impressed me. He's been pretty "up" on serving Ohio, and it seems that he's happy and good at the job.
I suspect that Strickland's fate is tied to two major points:
- The success of Barack Obama.
- The reorganization of the Republican party.
If Barack performs adequately or well, and things start to show mild improvement, I think Strickland will be a shoo-in. On the other hand, if Obama starts to falter or things aren't looking better, I think Strickland will be an easy target. On the flip side, if the Republicans get their act together, and they field a really strong candidate (not a joke like Ken Blackwell), or if they do something amazing like the 1994 Contract With America, then I think Strickland could, at the very least, face some difficult competition.
Former 2nd Congressional District Representative and White House budget director Rob Portman is thinking about a run for the Governor's mansion. (And Wikipedia, though it's uncited, says former 12th Congressional District Representative John Kasich is a possible contender... though that seems like a weak choice because he doesn't have the statewide name, though he served for 18 years.)
Senatorial Race -- George Voinovich (R, i) vs. Unknown (D)
As of now, it looks like George Voinovich is planning on running and not retiring, though there were some rumors (the man is 74 years old). Otherwise, Rob Portman was one they were pointing to as a possible candidate for the Republicans. Unlike Strickland, Voinovich is very much at risk for being "offed." He's definitely a target, considering the Democratic swings in 2008. With Ohio going blue for Obama, and strong Republican incumbents like Chabot being knocked out, it is likely that the Democrats will target Voinovich as an easy pick off.
And there is no shortage of people willing to take him on, it seems. The "Democratic bench" is heavy, and Public Policy Polling has surveyed a few over the last few months to see how they would match up. It does not look good, as GV only enjoys a 30% approval rating, with only 37% of his own party approving. The match-ups, then, look like this:
Voinovich - 38% vs. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher - 40%
Voinovich - 42% vs. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson - 32%
Voinovich - 38% vs. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner - 42%
Voinovich - 39% vs. Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman - 37%
Voinovich - 33% vs. Rep. Tim Ryan (17th CD) -- 33% (TIE)
Voinovich - 37% vs. Rep. Betty Sutton (13th CD) - 32%
At this point, the only definitive person he blows out of the water is Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. And there are a lot of people missing on that list -- including popular Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory (though there's one huge skeleton in the closet that would come out, I think, in a brutal Senatorial race). Mind you, this is two years back, and it all still hinges on the success of Barack Obama and the Republican leadership.
The exciting part, if a woman wins (and I'm rooting for Jennifer Brunner, btw, though Tim Ryan is cute cute cute), it would be the first female Senator from the state of Ohio.
Electoral-vote.com lists two Ohio Represenative races as "hot" this time around, and I tend to agree:
Ohio's First Congressional District - Steve Driehaus (D, i) vs. Unknown (R)
Driehaus knocked off Chabot by a measly 2 points. It would be a good fight, again. But who would they get to run? Perhaps Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine?
Ohio's 15th Congressional District - Mary Jo Kilroy (D, i) vs. Unknown (R)
Kilroy beat Stivers by 0.8% in a strongly Republican district. It's likely to be a hot spot.
Oh, and something I'll add to the predictions...
Ohio's 2nd Congressional District -- Jean Schmidt (R, i) vs. Unknown (D)
And they better not pick Vic Wulsin again. The woman cannot win an election. Sorry, Vic, we love you.