ShareThis Page

Retirements make 2014 harder for Democrats

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:12 p.m.

With barely a moment to celebrate an increase in their Senate majority, Democrats have a steeper challenge in keeping control of the chamber in 2014, thanks to the surprise retirements of two senior Democratic senators, Iowa's Tom Harkin and West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller.

Those departures mean that in 2014, Democrats must try to hang onto two open seats in addition to defending 18 incumbents — and seven of the 20 races are in states that voted Republican in the presidential election. The Red-State senators on the 2014 ballot include Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Max Baucus of Montana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

Republicans will have 13 senators up for re-election, all but one — Susan Collins of Maine — from Red States.

Democrats — counting independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — hold a 55-45 advantage over Republicans in the Senate.

The map is daunting for Democrats, but the math is hard for Republicans, said Matt Canter of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

To take the majority in the Senate, Republicans must win six of the seven Red-State Democratic seats. “Republicans essentially have no room for error if they're going to actually contest the majority,” he said. “This is a difficult map for Democrats, but Republicans face a very steep climb, and I don't think the retirements this week dramatically change the map where we sit today.”

Rep. Bruce Braley, a fourth-term Democrat from the northeastern part of Iowa, said in a statement Sunday that he is considering running for Harkin's seat. “While Senator Harkin's shoes are impossible to fill, in the coming days my family and I will carefully weigh a possible candidacy for Senate,” Braley said on Facebook.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.