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 CaseyThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Fred Upton says it is 'tragic' to see Americans reject masks, social distancing; Russia claims it will approve COVID-19 vaccine by mid-August People with disabilities see huge job losses; will pandemic roll back ADA gains? The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 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 BrownOvernight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw Chamber of Commerce, banking industry groups call on Senate to pass corporate diversity bill MORE by 44-41, and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), losing to Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - At loggerheads, Congress, White House to let jobless payout lapse Overnight Defense: Senate poised to pass defense bill with requirement to change Confederate base names | Key senator backs Germany drawdown | Space Force chooses 'semper supra' as motto Democrats call for expedited hearing for Trump's public lands nominee MORE by 48-44.

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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 McCaskillDemocratic-linked group runs ads in Kansas GOP Senate primary Trump mocked for low attendance at rally Missouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties MORE, and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), who leads Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseLiability shield fight threatens to blow up relief talks Democrats call for McConnell to bring Voting Rights Act to floor in honor of Lewis Hillicon Valley: Russian hackers return to spotlight with vaccine research attack | Twitter says 130 accounts targeted in this week's cyberattack | Four fired, dozens suspended in CBP probe into racist, sexist Facebook groups 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 CorkerCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE, leads Ford by 46-42.

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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 Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Tuesday's primaries Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Red flags fly high, but Trump ignores them 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) MenendezVOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage Bottom line Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads 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 CantwellThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mike Roman says 3M on track to deliver 2 billion respirators globally and 1 billion in US by end of year; US, Pfizer agree to 100M doses of COVID-19 vaccine that will be free to Americans Overnight Energy: Supreme Court reinstates fast-track pipeline permit except for Keystone XL | Judge declines to reverse Dakota Access Pipeline shutdown OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget 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 Clinton2020 Democratic Party platform endorses Trump's NASA moon program Davis: My recommendation for vice president on Biden ticket Pelosi: Trump trying 'to suppress the vote' with attacks on mail-in ballots MORE, is the author of Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race.