Tenn. may give Dems sixth senator they need

For months I have wondered which would be the sixth seat the Democrats could win to capture the Senate.
Because Vice President Dick Cheney would, of course, break any 50-50 tie in favor of the GOP, the Democrats, down 55-45 now, have to gain six seats in the 2006 election to get control.

For months I have wondered which would be the sixth seat the Democrats could win to capture the Senate.

Because Vice President Dick Cheney would, of course, break any 50-50 tie in favor of the GOP, the Democrats, down 55-45 now, have to gain six seats in the 2006 election to get control.

Five prime Democratic targets have been obvious for some time. According to the latest Rasmussen polls, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) belongs on the endangered-species list, trailing Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenators offer tax bill aimed at helping first responders McConnell: Midterms will be 'very challenging' for GOP Trump congratulates 'special guy' Barletta on win in Pennsylvania MORE Jr., his Democratic challenger, by 56-33. Also behind, although by lesser margins, are Sens. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), who trails Rep. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google struggle to block terrorist content | Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy in US | Company exposed phone location data | Apple starts paying back taxes to Ireland Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Senate Dems call for probe into why Trump has not issued Russia sanctions MORE by 44-41, and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), losing to Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOvernight Defense: Over 500 amendments proposed for defense bill | Measures address transgender troops, Yemen war | Trump taps acting VA chief as permanent secretary Not only do we need to support veterans, but their caregivers, too Trump Jr. prepares to hit the campaign trail ahead of midterms MORE by 48-44.

Burns, handicapped by his association with Jack Abramoff, may be headed to defeat. DeWine, a former client of mine, has manifest campaign skills and could come back, but it doesn’t look good.

Ahead of their Democratic challengers but well below 50 percent are Sens. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), who holds a narrow 43-40 lead over Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillCalif. gov candidates battle for second place Senate panel advances Trump's CIA nominee Five votes to watch in fight over Trump's CIA nominee MORE, and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), who leads Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Pruitt gets Senate grilling | Dems want investigation into Pruitt's security chief | Interior officers arrested 13 in border surge | Advisers pan science 'transparency' plan Dems claim Pruitt's former security chief intervened to hire business associate Pruitt: ‘I don’t recall’ asking security agents to use sirens MORE by 44-42. Talent is a great candidate and could come back but would probably be defeated in a Democratic trend. Chafee, a prime RINO (Republican in name only), never really has captured the hearts of his state after succeeding his father and could also be a casualty of a GOP landslide in one of the country’s most Democratic states.

If all five lose, a fair bet right now, who would be the sixth seat without which the Republicans would remain in charge of the Senate?

Now the Zogby poll indicates that Harold Ford, the Democratic candidate to succeed Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) in Tennessee, is running a surprisingly strong race against his three possible Republican opponents. That could be the sixth seat.

Zogby has Ford tied with former Rep. Ed Bryant, with each winning 42 percent of the vote, and trailing by a small margin, 43-41, against former Rep. Van Hilleary. A third possible candidate, Chattanooga Mayor Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump to hold Nashville rally amid efforts to boost GOP Senate hopeful Kim Jong Un surprises with savvy power plays Tax reform postmortem reveals lethal dose of crony capitalism MORE, leads Ford by 46-42.

Ford, one of a new generation of African-American politicians with considerable appeal across party lines, has two defects as he runs for the open seat: He is black in a state with the lowest African-American population in the old Confederacy, and his uncle is facing serious corruption charges. But both of these drawbacks are quite obvious to the voters of Tennessee. If they are insufficient to doom his candidacy, this man may be a winner.

Ford himself is a Southern version of Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe true commander in tweet Meghan Markle's pre-royal 'finishing lessons' and an etiquette of equality Hannity on Acosta claim he was tough on Obama: 'Only thing missing were the pom-poms' MORE (D-Ill.), a moderate who has the capacity to attract independent votes. Ford rejects the extreme liberal ideology of many other black Democratic congressmen. He has also, one hopes, absorbed the lessons his ethically challenged family has to teach him about keeping his nose clean. Harold Ford is exactly the kind of black Democrat whom moderates would love to love.

There are other possible problems on the Democratic horizon. The most serious is in New Jersey, where the open seat of former Sen. Jon Corzine (D), now the governor, is contested by Corzine’s anointed heir, Democrat Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump close the deal with North Korea? Senate must save itself by confirming Mike Pompeo Poll: Menendez has 17-point lead over GOP challenger MORE, and Republican Tom Kean Jr., the son of the former governor.

Rasmussen’s polling has Kean holding a narrow 40-37 lead. Since Kean is obviously a statewide name and Menendez has been little-known outside of his district, the congressman would seem to have the edge. New Jersey, once a toss-up state, has become a true blue enclave largely because of Hispanic in-migration, a vote that will turn out in droves for Menendez.

Rasmussen also reports that Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Twitter CEO meets with lawmakers to talk net neutrality, privacy Senate Dems urge Trump to remain in Iran deal ahead of announcement MORE (D-Wash.) has been falling of late in his polling, so that might be another Republican target. But neither Washington state nor New Jersey can be counted on for the Republican Party.

All of this is to show that President Bush had better shake himself up and address the gas-price and energy issues that he has so far failed to speak out about, except for one mention in his long-ago State of the Union address. It is only by an ongoing relevance to this nation’s key problem that Bush can hope to avert the disaster looming on the horizon.

Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump, taxpayers want Title X funding protected from abortion clinics President Trump’s historic rescissions package is a welcome step to cut wasteful spending America will be stronger with our immigration policy based on facts MORE, is the author of Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race.