Twenty-three Democratic senators will be up for reelection in 2012 compared to only thirteen Republicans. The conservative Web site RedState.com is looking for potential tea party targets–among the Republicans, not the Democrats. From the RedState article: As you are settling down from yesterday’s victories, you will want to also pay attention to this list. While many will be focusing on a potential Presidential pick for the GOP, we should not all get distracted by that. We have a significant opportunity to improve the Senate GOP through some primaries. Here is a list of potential targets for primaries — these are all of the Senate Republicans up for re-election in 2012: John Barasso (WY) Scott Brown (MA) Bob Corker (TN) John Ensign (NV) Orrin Hatch (UT) Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) Jon Kyl (AZ) Richard Lugar (IN) Olympia Snowe (ME) Roger Wicker (MS) Note that this is just the list of Senate Republicans running. Not all will be targets, but it will be from these men and women that the tea party movement starts looking for targets. Now, before you all get giddy about Olympia Snowe, I would respectfully suggest that Corker, Hatch, Hutchison, Lugar, and Wicker make better targets as we have a much greater certainty of both beating them in primaries and also winning the general election. Wicker and Corker in particular make exciting prospects for the tea party movement. * * * * It is a sign of the sorry state of our politics that truly distingushed senators like Richard Lugar and Orrin Hatch are in RedState’s “make better targets” group. Hutchison could have been just as highly regarded had it not been for her catastrophic race against Perry. The incentive for Hutchison to run again is that, if the Republicans take the Senate in 2012 — as they almost certainly will be favored to do, with so many prime Democratic targets available — she would become chair of the influential Commerce committee. In a bygone era, having a Texan chair a committee whose jurisdiction includes energy would have been a major asset in a Senate race, but these days ideology trumps self-interest, and Hutchison’s conservative credentials took a mortal hit when Perry hung the label of Kay “Bailout” around her neck. (Just as it no longer matters to voters that a politician has a prominent position in Washington, neither does it matter that she was right and Perry was wrong about the bailout. So what if it saved the national, and perhaps the world, financial system and has proven to be a moneymaker for the government? It was against the ideology of the Tea Party. That will make her a prime target in the 2012 elections.) If Hutchison does run for reelection, she will almost certainly face primary opposition from David Dewhurst and possibly others. Her inept race against Perry depleted her campaign treasury and eroded her reputation as a skilled and popular politician. If the January financial reports do not show that she has raised a substantial amount of money, that will be an indication that she intends to quit rather than face another brutal race. Her favorable/unfavorable numbers have rebounded since last March’s primary — in a recent poll, they were 56% favorable, 25% unfavorable, not as good as the days when her favorables were in the 60s, but still solid. Even so, I don’t think she’s electable in 2012 against a strong primary opponent like Dewhurst.
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