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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Politics

Carl Cameron

Washington, DC

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Of Hoosiers,Buckeyes,Tar Heels&Health Care

May 3, 2010 - 10:32 PM | by: Carl Cameron

2010 primary voters head to the polls in three states this first Tuesday in May.

Republicans need 10 more Senate and 40 more House seats to win both Congressional majorities. The GOP is close, but not yet there. Still, Democrats in Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina have cause for concern, they vote next and see little cause for celebration.

In Indiana there is an open senate seat after Senator Evan Bayh’s (D) retirement. Bayh looked at the polls and decided he couldn’t win reelection. It’s gonna be tough for Congressman Brad Ellsworth, a conservative Democrat who voted for the health care bill, and is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination to keep the seat in the “D” column.

There are five candidates vying for the Republican nomination. The frontrunner is Dan Coats, a former senator, turned ambassador to Germany, then lobbyist, who was recruited by national GOP officials. Former Congressman John Hostettler (R) won the endorsement of Rep. Ron Paul (R) and the Texas congressman’s network but it is not moving voters. State Senator Marlin Stutzman (R) has several Tea Party groups backing him but not enough to win without a huge groundswell. Current odds have Coats winning the primary and the general.

The health care vote will figure in several congressional races in tomorrow’s vote. In Indiana two Blue Dog Democrats voted for the measure, Rep. Baron Hill and Rep. Joe Donnelly, and have thus angered the conservative middle in their districts.

In North Carolina three Democrats broke with their party to oppose the healthcare law; Rep. Larry Kissell, Rep. Mike McIntyre and Rep. Heath Schuler, who are also from conservative districts where polls showed overwhelming opposition to the Democrats new health care plan.

In Ohio, that bellwether of all swing states, Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Zack Space voted against health care while Blue Dog Rep. Charlie Wilson voted for it.

Though Ohio Senator George Voinovich (R) is bowing out, for now the GOP looks likely to keep the seat in the fall. Former Congressman and White House Budget Director Rob Portman is uncontested for the GOP nomination. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has a huge lead over Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner, though both are considered long shots against Portman in the general election.

In North Carolina there is a quirky thing about freshman Republican Senator Richard Burr’s seat–no first termer has been reelected in more than 40 years. Burr was thought vulnerable until the Democrats’ health care plan, which he opposed. Now Burr is ahead in the polls over all the pro-health care Democrats vying to oppose him in the fall.

There IS an anti-incumbent sentiment nationwide BUT the vast majority of incumbents historically get re-elected and that will again be the case this year.

Tea Partiers have picked some new conservative faces to support over the establishment GOP candidates in several places. Remember, Tea Partiers will campaign against solid Republicans if as incumbents they become ossified or out of touch (see Kay Bailey Hutchison).

The Tea Party movement is potent and maturing, every GOP race will be touched by them, but they are increasingly sophisticated about picking their battles. Don’t look for many primary surprises. Tea Partiers are mostly simmering in the primaries and planning to bring things to a boil in November.

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