The Senate Seven, plus one

With two top Dems already announcing their retirement from the U.S. Senate despite their party holding a filibuster-proof 60-40 majority, things are looking sweet for a conservative revolution next November, so long as the GOP remembers its Reagan conservative roots. While over-confident Dems are already selecting office furniture for their re-election, there are at least seven vulnerable Dem seats that could change hands in a year – but only if the GOP remains humble, cagey and conservative.

Here’s the Top Seven Vulnerable Dem seats:

1. Connecticut – Christopher Dodd – OUT!

Facing strong challenges in a solidly blue state from Republican hopefuls Rob Simmons and former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, Dodd stepped down today, clearing a path for popular Connecticut state attorney general Sidney Blumenthal to step in and try to hold the seat for his party; no polls as yet indicate how Blumenthal would fare against McMahon or Simmons.

2. South Dakota – Brian Dorgan – OUT!

Dorgan, one of the somewhat moderate libs in the party, was getting destroyed by 19 points by SD Governor John Hoeven, and stepped down from pursuing a second term last week. No word on who might step forward to face off with Hoeven, but whispers center around former Senate minority leader Tom Daschle, though some are hoping for a fresher face that state voters haven’t rejected as recently as Daschle. Time will tell.

3. Colorado – Michael Bennet – Trailing by 10 points

Bennet has only 37 percent support and is facing off with popular former GOP Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who has 46 percent support and growing. So far, Bennet sounds like he’ll be fighting to keep his seat.

4. Ohio – Lee Fisher – Trailing by 7 points.

This seat is actually held currently by retiring Republican Senator George Voinovich, but this is a state where Democrat Sherrod Brown won easily in 2008, riding the Obama coattails. So with Republican Rob Portman holding a lead larger than the poll’s margin of error, that spells trouble for Dems hoping to pick up a seat.

5. New York – Kirsten Gillibrand – Leading by only 0.2 percent… In NEW YORK!

Gillibrand’s case is a special one; appointed by controversial New York Governor David Paterson, Gillibrand is a by-the-book liberal who goes off-book on gun control. Facing a stiff challenge from popular former GOP Governor George Pataki, who has a history of winning in New York, if Pataki wins, it could be a watermark of where things will trend throughout the rest of the nation next November.

6. Pennsylvania – Arlen Specter – Trailing by 4 points

Specter, a former RINO who finally got honest and switch to the Dems, is facing a serious threat from GOP challenger Pat Toomey. Many voters still feel burned by Specter’s party-switch, and this is the first time he will be facing voters since the balance-shifting about-face in the Senate.

7. Arkansas – Blanche Lincoln – Support at 40 percent or lower

While the GOP is busy picking from among four candidates to oust her, all four potential challengers are polling well ahead of Ms. Lincoln. She may be paying the deepest price for her handling of health care, as well as other issues.

8. Nevada – Harry Reid – Polling in the mid-40s

The GOP is choosing from two strong contenders, but so far both poll well ahead of the sitting Senate Majority Leader, who has come under fire for his handling of health care and the Senate, as well as some local scandals that his people have tried to sweep under the rug.

While the GOP has several seats at stake as well, if conservatives can rally the party and take, say, five out of eight of these vulnerable seats at minimum, it could be enough to swing the Senate back to a balance of power that would force Dems to at least deal with a GOP minority, rather than shut them out entirely.

It might take two strong election cycles at minimum for Republicans to ever hope to win back the Senate, but they could gain a lot of ground next November; instead of a 60-40 Dem majority, there’s a chance the gap could narrow to as close as 53-47 next fall; that would put control of the Senate back up for grabs in 2012.

Unless, of course, the GOP finds a way to blow it. Nominating a bunch of Democrat-Lite candidates in the mold of John McCain would be a sign of a blown opportunity to come.

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