The Top Ten List

 

 

The Senate Seats Most Likely to Switch Parties in 2016

Posted:  July 5, 2016

(scroll down for update!)

1.  Wisconsin (Republican Senator Ron Johnson is running for re-election)

 

Senator Ron Johnson defeated the popular Senator Russ Feingold (yes – he of “McCain-Feingold” fame) back in the Republican “wave” year of 2010, and this year Feingold is trying to get his seat back. The rematch is being watched closely, as it is widely regarded as a good barometer as to how the battle over the Senate majority will end up. As of this writing (early July, 2016), Feingold is holding on to a double-digit lead in the RCP Average.

 

Rating:  Virtually certain to switch from Republican to Democrat

 

2.  Illinois (Republican Senator Mark Kirk is running for re-election)

 

Back in 2010, Mark Kirk delivered a bit of an embarrassment to President Obama by winning Obama’s old Senate seat. In the time since then, Senator Kirk has tried to please both the Republican leadership in the Senate and his overwhelmingly Democratic constituents, and as you might have expected, neither group is particularly happy with him as a result. He is not all that popular in Illinois, and with Representative Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down, as his opponent and the Democratic turnout usually being higher in a Presidential election year, it will be almost impossible for Kirk to hold on to his seat. There has been very little polling, but the only poll Real Clear Politics (RCP) lists – albeit from a year ago – shows Representative Duckworth ahead by 6 points.

 

Rating:  Virtually certain to switch from Republican to Democrat

 

***scroll down for an update on the #3 position***

3.  Ohio (Republican Senator Rob Portman is running for re-election)

 

Senator Rob Portman, who played a key role in the George W. Bush Administration’s economic policy (serving as both U.S. Trade Representative and Budget Director), is in the race of his life against former Governor Ted Strickland (one of the top Democratic recruits for this year’s Senate races). Current (July 2016) polling shows an extremely tight race, with Senator Portman leading in the RCP Average by just half a percentage point.

 

Rating:  Highly probable to switch from Republican to Democrat

 

4.  New Hampshire (Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte is running for re-election)

 

Senator Kelly Ayotte is widely considered to be a rising star in the GOP, taking prominent roles in many Senate battles since first winning election to the Senate in 2010. However, this year she will be facing Governor Maggie Hassan, and with this being a Presidential election year, Democratic turnout will be higher than it was in 2010. The RCP Average has Senator Ayotte leading by 1.5 points, but this includes an ARG poll showing her ahead of Governor Hassan by a whopping 9 points – way off from all other polling (every other poll taken since April shows the two candidates alternating the lead, but always within a margin of just 2 points). The ARG poll is probably an “outlier”, but time will tell.

 

Rating:  Probable to switch from Republican to Democrat

 

5.  Pennsylvania (Republican Senator Pat Toomey is running for re-election)

 

Senator Toomey, a former President of the “Club for Growth” (a very conservative activist group), first won election in the Republican “wave” year of 2010 as a Tea-Party favorite. The Tea Party has, of course, seen its power and influence fade significantly since then (2010 was probably their peak year), and Toomey now finds himself in a bit of trouble – at least in terms of his re-election chances. Although he has not trailed in a single poll (going back over more than a year), his current (July 2016) lead over the Democratic candidate, former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Katie McGinty, in the RCP Average is just 5 points – an average of a PPP poll giving him a lead of just 1 point and a Quinnipiac poll showing a lead of 9 points. Which poll is closer to the truth? It’s hard to say. A year’s worth of polling shows wild fluctuations, ranging from Toomey leading by 20 points (Quinnipiac, Sept. 25 – Oct. 5, 2015) to Toomey leading by just that 1 point (the most recent PPP poll, taken June 22-23, and another Quinnipiac poll, this one taken April 27 – May 8). Given the Democratic turnout in Presidential election years and the fact that Pennsylvania is shaping up to be a critical state this year (meaning all sorts of attention will be paid to Pennsylvania by both Presidential candidates), Toomey could have a real problem.

 

Rating:  Likely to switch from Republican to Democrat

 

 

6.  Florida (Republican Senator Marco Rubio is running for re-election)

 

Senator Rubio had “retired” from the Senate in order to run for President, and with his seat “open” the Republicans had five candidates running for the seat – two Congressmen (Ron DeSantis and David Jolly), two businessmen (Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox), and the state’s Lieutenant Governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera. However, Senator Rubio’s Presidential run did not go well, and he has now reversed course and is running for re-election. When Rubio suddenly entered (or re-entered?) the race in late June, he polled over 50% right away and all of the other “politicians” in the GOP primary (Jolly, DeSantis, and Lopez-Cantera) immediately dropped out. On the Democratic side, the candidates are Representative Patrick Murphy and former Representative Alan Grayson, with Murphy the likely nominee (he’s currently ahead by about 6 points). According to the RCP Average, a Rubio-Murphy race would be extremely close.

 

Rating:  Somewhat likely to switch from Republican to Democrat

 

 

7.  Nevada (Democratic Senator Harry Reid is retiring)

 

The Senate seat held by Senator Harry Reid is the only seat on this list that is currently held by an incumbent Democrat – and it only rates as number 7 here , which should serve as an indication of how I believe the overall Senate races will go. Senator Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, has said he will campaign hard for his potential Democratic replacement, former State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who will be facing GOP Representative Joe Heck. There is very little polling on this race; in fact, RCP has not yet created a page for polling for the Nevada Senate race [UPDATE (7/13/16): They have now – find it here).

 

Rating:  Somewhat likely to switch from Democrat to Republican

 

8.  North Carolina (Republican Senator Richard Burr is running for re-election)

 

Senator Richard Burr is one of those Senators who few people have ever heard of and who have few accomplishments in the Senate, despite having served two full terms. In addition, North Carolina is shaping up to be a key battleground this year, and the Democrats will be pushing hard in the state. The Democratic candidate, former State Representative Deborah Ross, is within 5 points in the RCP Average.

 

Rating:  Somewhat likely to switch from Democrat to Republican

 

9.  Arizona (Republican Senator John McCain is running for re-election)

Senator John McCain is in “the race of his life” (his words), a situation so extreme that he doesn’t feel he can take 4 days away from the campaign trail to attend the Republican National Convention. Well, that’s his explanation anyway. The real reason he won’t be attending the convention – and the reason he is in such a tight re-election race – is the name that will be at the top of the ticket: Donald Trump. Trump’s positions and statements on immigration and Hispanics have been so toxic in Arizona that McCain has caught serious flak for even admitting he will probably vote for Trump. McCain will also be facing a strong opponent in Representative Ann Kirkpatrick. McCain’s lead in the RCP Average is in single digits, which should serve as an indication of just how bad this year could be for the GOP in down-ballot races with Trump as the Presidential nominee.

 

Rating:  Possible but unlikely to switch from Democrat to Republican

 

10.  Iowa (Republican Senator Charles Grassley is running for re-election)

 

Senator Grassley is used to breezing to re-election, but his credibility among Iowa voters as something of a “maverick” who will do what it takes for his home state has vanished in the current partisan atmosphere in Washington. He is now seen as a partisan who will follow the Republican leadership no matter what (especially in the wake of the GOP refusal to even consider President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland; Senator Grassley is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and in that capacity has very publicly “fallen in line” behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refusing to schedule committee hearings on the nomination), and this hasn’t played well in a true battleground state like Iowa. The Senator now finds himself in a tighter-than-usual re-election race; according to the RCP Average, he has only a single-digit lead over his Democratic opponent, former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge.

 

Rating:  Possible but Unlikely to switch from Republican to Democrat

 

UPDATE (7/13/16):  With one fell swoop, former Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) has altered the 2016 Senate landscape. The vacancy created by the (second) retirement of Republican Senator Dan Coats of Indiana was not expected to have a significant effect on the battle for control of the Senate; Indiana may be something of a battleground state this year in the Presidential race (at least the Democrats hope so), but it was not going to be a battleground at all in the Senate race; the consensus was that Congressman Todd Young, a former Marine who won the Republican primary, would easily defeat former Representative Barron Hill, the Democratic primary winner.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the general election: Hill withdrew his name from the ballot yesterday, clearing the way for Bayh’s entry into the race. Bayh served two terms as the state’s governor, two terms in the Senate, and has nearly $10 million in left-over campaign funds in an account that has lain dormant since he left the Senate. He is also the son of former Senator Birch Bayh, so his name recognition is immense in the state.

The Republicans are talking a good game about the race between Bayh and Young still being “competitive”, but if they really believe that they’re nuts. Young recently reported raising just over $1 million – or roughly 10% of Bayh’s war chest – and doesn’t have nearly the name recognition Bayh has. Bayh won both his elections to the Senate by double-digit margins, and his favorability ratings are high among both Republicans and Democrats. You have to feel a little sorry for Todd Young – overnight he went from being “Indiana’s next Senator” to just being the sacrificial lamb who will lose – badly – to Evan Bayh. Regardless of how “competitive” this race turns out to be, Bayh’s presence on the ballot will force the GOP to spend a ton of money on Indiana’s Senate race (something they were not expecting to have to do), taking precious resources away from other races across the country, which helps the Democrats across the board.

The bottom line here is that I am now placing Indiana’s Senate seat at position #3 on this “Top Ten” list, with a rating of “Virtually Certain to switch from Republican to Democrat”. This would knock either Senator Charles Grassley’s Iowa seat or John McCain’s Arizona seat out of the “Top Ten”, although either seat would still be rated “Possible but Unlikely to switch from Republican to Democrat”.

If all three “Virtually Certain to switch from Republican to Democrat” states (Wisconsin, Illinois, and now Indiana) go the way I think they will, the Democrats would only need to win two more seats to take control of the Senate if Trump wins the Presidency – or just one more seat if Hillary wins (because her Vice President would provide the tie-breaking vote if the Senate is evenly divided).

With Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket, that should be easy enough to accomplish.

 

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The Senate Seats Most Likely to Switch Parties in 2012

Posted:  November 23, 2011

 

1.  North Dakota (Democratic Senator Kent Conrad is retiring)

Kent Conrad’s North Dakota seat is widely regarded as the most likely Senate seat to change parties in the 2012 elections.  The race is shaping up as a contest between North Dakota’s lone House member, Republican Rick Berg, and the state’s former Attorney General, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.

Rating:  Certain to switch from Democrat to Republican

Updated Final Result:  Democrats held this seat.

 

2.  Nebraska (Democratic Senator Ben Nelson has not yet announced his 2012 plans)

Senator Ben Nelson, who won re-election in 2006 with 64% of the vote, is arguably the most conservative Democrat in the Senate (although West Virginia’s Joe Manchin would give him a run for his money on that score), but this is apparently no longer conservative enough for his constituents in Nebraska. The main issue working against him is his very public bargaining during the health care reform battle, which was widely derided in the conservative media. He ultimately provided the final vote needed for cloture for the health care bill in exchange for (among other things) protecting Nebraska from added expenses resulting from the expansion of Medicaid (his critics dubbed this arrangement the “Cornhusker Kickback”).  The likely Republican candidate is State Attorney General Jon Bruning.

Rating:  Certain to switch from Democrat to Republican

Updated Final Result:  Republicans took this seat.

 

3.  Wisconsin (Democratic Senator Herb Kohl is retiring)

Wisconsin has seen a turbulent political year, to say the least. Massive demonstrations against the elimination of collective bargaining rights for state employees lasted for weeks and made national news in the Spring of 2011, a recall effort came within one seat of taking the majority in the State Senate away from Republicans in August, and recall efforts are now proceeding against Governor Scott Walker, with a possible recall election in the Spring of 2012. In the midst of all this turmoil, Senator Herb Kohl announced his retirement, creating an open seat. The leading Republican in the race is former Governor Tommy Thompson, who also served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Bush Administration and briefly entered the 2008 Republican presidential primaries. The leading Democrat is Representative Tammy Baldwin, one of the most liberal members of the House and the first openly-gay non-incumbent ever elected to the House of Representatives. Former Senator Russell Feingold was being pressured to enter the race, but he declined and has now endorsed Baldwin.

Rating:  Probable to switch from Democrat to Republican

Updated Final Result:  Democrats held this seat.

 

4.  Montana (Democratic Senator Jon Tester is running for re-election)

Senator Jon Tester defeated Republican Senator Conrad Burns in 2006 largely because of Burns’ involvement in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Tester now faces re-election for the first time, and finds himself in a very close election with Montana’s sole Representative in the House, Republican Denny Rehberg.

Rating:  Probable to switch from Democrat to Republican

Updated Final Result:  Democrats held this seat.

 

5.  Massachusetts (Republican Senator Scott Brown is running for re-election)

Senator Scott Brown won a surprise victory (largely due to the inept campaign of his Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley) in the 2010 special election held to fill the seat once held by the late Ted Kennedy, becoming the first Republican Senator from Massachusetts in 30 years. His likely opponent is Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, who served most recently as a special advisor to President Obama on the creation and implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created by the Wall Street Reform bill (often simply called “Dodd-Frank”, after the bill’s main sponsors, Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Barney Frank) in 2010. She had previously served as the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel that oversaw the Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Rating:  Somewhat Likely to switch from Republican to Democrat

Updated Final Result:  Democrats took this seat.

 

6.  Nevada (Republican Senator Dean Heller is running for re-election)

Disgraced Republican Senator John Ensign resigned in May of 2011, creating an open seat. Republican Representative Dean Heller was appointed to fill the vacancy, and is now running for his first full term. His likely opponent is Democratic Representative Shelley Berkley.

Rating:  Somewhat Likely to switch from Republican to Democrat

Updated Final Result:  Republicans held this seat.

 

7.  Missouri (Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is running for re-election)

Senator McCaskill has had her share of controversies, including private jet travel for which she had billed the taxpayers (she has since paid the money back, but the damage was already done). She faces an uphill battle against former Republican State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who must first face Republican Representative Todd Akin in the Republican primary.

Rating:  Somewhat Likely to switch from Democrat to Republican

Updated Final Result:  Democrats held this seat.

 

8.  Florida (Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is running for re-election)

Senator Bill Nelson is running for re-election. On the Republican side, Representative Connie Mack IV, former Senator George LeMieux and State Senator Adam Hasner, have all announced they will run. Polls taken in October and November of 2011 show Nelson leading both Hasner and LeMieux, but trailing Mack.

Rating:  Possible but Unlikely to switch from Democrat to Republican

Updated Final Result:  Democrats held this seat.

 

9.  Virginia (Democratic Senator Jim Webb is retiring)

Senator Jim Webb’s surprising retirement after just one term in office created an open seat. The leading Democrat in the race is former Governor and DNC Chair Tom Kaine, while the leading Republican is former Senator George Allen, Jr. Webb defeated Allen in 2006, due in large part to the video of Allen using a racial epithet (“Macaca”) to refer to an Indian-American Webb campaign worker who had been travelling with Allen.

Rating:  Possible but Unlikely to switch from Democrat to Republican

Updated Final Result:  Democrats held this seat.

 

10.  Michigan (Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow is running for re-election)

Senator Stabenow is running for re-election in one of the states hardest hit by the ongoing economic troubles. Her likely Republican opponent is Republican Representative Pete Hoekstra, but there have been rumors that former Republican Governor John Engler is considering entering the race.

Rating:  Possible but Unlikely to switch from Democrat to Republican (Probable to switch if Engler runs)

Updated Final Result:  Democrats held this seat.

 

Editor’s Note:  There were two seats that were not regarded as likely to switch when this Top Ten List was first posted in November of 2011.  Senator Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine surprised everybody by retiring unexpectedly, and Senator Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana was defeated in the Republican primary.  The Democrats took the seat in Indiana, and an Independent who will caucus with the Democrats took the seat in Maine. The net result was a gain of two seats for the Democrats.

 

 

 

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The Senate Seats Most Likely to Switch Parties in 2010
Posted:  August 17, 2010
UPDATED 10/24/10
Results added to each entry

There has been a lot of talk of a coming Republican take-over of Congress this November, but I don’t think so.  While it is probable that the Republicans will gain seats, I don’t think they will make enough gains to actually take over either the House or – especially – the Senate.  What follows is my take on the top ten Senate seats that are most likely to switch parties with the November elections (rated either “certain”, “probable”, “somewhat likely”, or ”possible, but unlikely”):
1.  North Dakota (Kent Conrad – retiring):  This race was shaping up to be one of the most competitive of the cycle, with incumbent Democrat Kent Conrad facing the strongest challenge of his career in Republican Governor John Hoeven – that is, until Senator Conrad announced that he would not run for reelection. Governor Hoeven is now regarded as a virtual shoe-in for the Senate seat.  His Democratic opponent, State Senator Tracy Potter, doesn’t stand a chance.
Rating:  Certain to switch from Democrat to Republican
Result:  Hoeven won [Republican pick-up]
2.  Delaware (Joe Biden’s former seat, currently held by Democrat Ted Kaufman, who is not running):  Ted Kaufman, a long-time aide to Joe Biden when he was a Senator, was appointed to fill the seat until this November’s election when Biden vacated the seat to become Vice President.  Many (including myself) regarded Kaufman as little more than a place-holder for Beau Biden, Joe’s son and Delaware’s Attorney General, but the younger Biden surprised everybody by announcing he would not run.  Meanwhile, the state’s lone Representative in the House, Republican Mike Castle, surprised no one when he announced he would run.  Representative Castle has been in the House for 18 years and served as the state’s Governor before that, and is easily the most popular Republican politician in Delaware.  His opponent will be Newcastle County Executive Chris Coons who, while a credible candidate, is unlikely to defeat Castle.
Rating:  Certain to switch from Democrat to Republican [UPDATE (10/23/10):  In a stunning primary upset last month, Christine O’Donnell defeated Mike Castle for the Republican nomination.  O’Donnell’s repeated gaffes and extreme positions make this seat certain to remain Democratic (Chris Coons is polling far ahead of O’Donnell).]
Result:  Coons won [Democratic hold]
3.  Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln):  Senator Lincoln, arguably the Senate’s most conservative Democrat, is facing her toughest reelection battle yet.  She wasn’t even able to garner the 50% of the primary vote needed to avoid a run-off, but did manage to defeat Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter to move on to the general election.  Unfortunately for her (and the Democrats), the Republican nominee, Congressman John Boozman, is leading Senator Lincoln in current polling by more than twenty points.  Despite Senator Lincoln’s huge fund-raising advantage, a deficit this big is not likely to be overcome before November.
Rating:  Certain to switch from Democrat to Republican
Result:  Boozman won [Republican pick-up]
4.  Indiana (Evan Bayh – retiring):  The announcement that Evan Bayh would not run for reelection stunned the political world, and also handed this Senate seat to the Republicans.  Senator Bayh would have easily won reelection, but the Democratic nominee, two-term Congressman Brad Ellsworth, will have a tough time defeating former Senator Dan Coats, the Republican nominee and already a familiar name to Indiana voters.
Rating:  Certain to switch from Democrat to Republican
Result:  Coats won [Republican pick-up]
5.  Kentucky (Jim Bunning – Retiring):  Republican Jim Bunning was widely regarded as the most vulnerable incumbent among Senators facing reelection this year until he announced his retirement (many say he was pushed out by Senate Majority Leader – and fellow Kentuckian – Mitch McConnell).  The Republicans’ “establishment” candidate (hand-picked by Senator McConnell) was Kentucky’s Secretary of State Trey Greyson, but in a severe repudiation of Senator McConnell by his home-state voters, Greyson was handily defeated in the Republican primary by “Tea-Party” favorite Rand Paul, the son of Texas Congressman and former Presidential candidate Ron Paul.  The younger Mr. Paul has never run for office before, and this became obvious when he gave interviews to NPR and Rachel Maddow the day after the primary and said (repeatedly) that he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had he been in the Senate at the time.  Wow.  The ensuingbru-ha-ha led to Mr. Paul canceling a scheduled appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press – only the third time in the show’s more than 60-year history that a scheduled guest had cancelled.  Meanwhile, the Democratic nominee is the state’s Attorney General, Jack Conway.  Mr. Conway, a seasoned politician, has not made any mistakes on the campaign trail and the race is currently considered a “toss-up” – which is stunning considering this is Kentucky we are talking about.  As the campaign wears on, Mr. Paul’s statements will continue to cause controversy and Mr. Conway is likely to win.
Rating:  Probable to switch from Republican to Democrat
Result:  Paul won [Republican hold]
6.      Ohio (George Voinovich – retiring):  The Ohio Republican Party is still in disarray after the disastrous scandals that plagued the recent Bob Taft administration.  They have nominated Rob Portman, a former Congressman and – more significantly – a former major player on the George W. Bush Administration’s economic team, having served as both U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  His Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, has already branded Portman as an “architect” of the Bush economic policy – not an inaccurate statement – and it remains to be seen whether this resonates with voters.
Rating:  Probable to switch from Republican to Democrat [UPDATE (10/24/10):  Recent polling indicates that Portman is significantly ahead of Fisher.  It is now probable that this seat will remain in Republican hands.]
Result:  Portman won [Republican hold]
7.  Missouri (Christopher “Kit” Bond – retiring):  The race to replace Senator Bond could become the closest race of the cycle.  Both major nominees are well known statewide and come from dominant political families.  The Democratic candidate is Robyn Carnahan, currently Missouri’s Secretary of State.  She is the daughter of beloved former Governor Mel Carnahan, who was killed in a plane crash in 2000 while campaigning for Missouri’s other Senate seat against then-incumbent Senator John Ashcroft.  Governor Carnahan actually defeated Senator Ashcroft (despite the distinct disadvantage of being dead), and his wife (and Robyn’s mother), Jean Carnahan, was appointed to the seat in his place (she narrowly lost a special election in 2002 to fill the remainder of the term).  In addition, Robyn Carnahan’s brother, Russ Carnahan, is a Congressman from the St. Louis area.  The Republican candidate is Roy Blunt, a long-time Congressman and former House Majority Whip. He is also the father of Matt Blunt, a former Governor of Missouri.  This will be one to watch, but my money is on Carnahan.
Rating:  Somewhat Likely to switch from Republican to Democrat [UPDATE (10/24/10):  Recent polling indicates that Blunt is significantly ahead of Carnahan.  It is now probable that this seat will remain in Republican hands.]
Result:  Blunt won [Republican hold]8.  New Hampshire (Judd Gregg – retiring):  Senator Gregg’s retirement creates an open seat in New England, easily the most Democratic region in the country.  The Democratic candidate will be Congressman Paul Hodes, who already represents half of the state in the House, and has the endorsement of Representative Carol Shea-Porter, who represents the other half.  The Republicans are facing a fierce primary fight, which will hurt their eventual nominee since the primary is on September 14th, just seven weeks before the November election.  The strongest candidate appears to be the state’s former Attorney General, Kelly Ayotte, but she is by no means assured of the nomination and is likely to come out of the primary race severely weakened and short of funds.
Rating:  Somewhat Likely to switch from Republican to Democrat. [UPDATE (10/24/10):  Recent polling indicates that Ayotte is pulling ahead of Hodes.  It is now somewhat likely that this seat will remain in Republican hands.]
Result:  Ayotte won [Republican hold]

9.      Nevada (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid):  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was considered by many to be the most vulnerable incumbent in this year’s Senate races (especially after Jim Bunning of Kentucky announced his retirement), but that may have changed with the results of the Republican primary.  Despite Senator Reid’s unpopularity (he continues to poll below 50%), the Republicans have not had an easy time coming up with a strong candidate to challenge him.  All three of their top-tier candidates, Governor Jim Gibbons, Lieutenant Governor Brian Kroliki, and former Congressman John Porter, declined to run for various reasons.  Instead, there were three second-tier candidates vying for the Republican nomination:  former state GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden, who became the clear favorite of the Republican establishment; Danny Tarkanian, son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, and former state assemblywoman Sharon Angle.  Lowden’s campaign went downhill after she suggested that we should consider a barter system for health care, such as bringing the doctor a chicken as payment for services.  No, I’m not kidding (neither was Lowden – she actually continued to defend the idea in later interviews).  A chicken.  Wow.  It got so bad that Nevada’s Secretary of State had to issue a regulation prohibiting the wearing of chicken costumes at polling places on election day.  Ultimately, Sharon Angle won the Republican primary, which may have been the best thing that has happened to Harry Reid in years. Angle is closely aligned with the Tea Party movement, and holds a number of controversial positions, including favoring the “phasing out” of social security (she considers it a form of welfare), the complete elimination of the Department of Education, and has said that unemployment benefits have “spoiled” laid-off workers.  The result of all this is that, for the first time this entire election cycle, Harry Reid has been consistently ahead in the polls – not by much, but ahead nonetheless.  The latest good news for Senator Reid is that a group calling itself the “Tea Party” – although it is not the right-wing activist movement of the same name – has qualified for the November ballot and has nominated someone named Jon Ashjian.  The only possible result of this would be to cause confusion among voters who support the tea party movement and pull votes away from Sharon Angle (who is aligned with the right-wing activist movement) and allow Senator Reid to be reelected with less than 50% of the vote.  Don’t count Harry Reid out just yet…
Rating:  Possible but Unlikely to switch from Democrat to Republican
Result:  Reid won [Democratic hold]
10.   Illinois (Barack Obama’s former seat, currently held by Democrat Roland Burris, who is not running):  President Obama’s former Senate seat would be a major coup for the Republicans, and they have managed to make this race a toss-up in spite of the Democratic leanings of Illinois.  The Republicans have nominated Congressman Mark Kirk, and the Democratic candidate is State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.  This race got ugly quickly, and is likely to continue that way.  Giannoulias has an ever-so-slight lead in every poll taken since June, except for one in which the candidates were tied.
Rating:  Possible but Unlikely to switch from Democrat to Republican
Result:  Kirk won [Republican pick-up]
If all of the above seats switch parties, this would mean gains of 6 Republican seats and 4 Democratic seats, for a net gain of 2 seats for the Republicans [see above UPDATES, which revise these numbers].  Other races to watch include:  North Carolina, where incumbent Republican Senator Richard Burr is polling under 50% against Secretary of State Elaine Marshall; Florida, where the race is really between Republican candidate (and Tea Party favorite) Marco Rubio and Governor Charlie Crist, a former Republican who is running as an Independent (the likely Democratic candidate, Representative Kendrick Meek, is far behind); and California, where incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer is maintaining a small lead over former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina [Results: Burr, Rubio, and Boxer all won as expected.  The Republicans gained a total of six seats].

 

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Potential Republican Candidates for President in 2012
Originally posted:  May 12, 2009
Revised: July 20, 2009 [see below]

Time will tell which of the following potential candidates will actually run, but one thing is certain – whoever eventually emerges as the Republican nominee will have to fight hard for the nomination, while President Obama, who will likely face only token opposition in the Democratic primaries and will have the advantage of incumbency to beef up his already-prolific fund-raising ability, will be able to save his campaign war chest for the general election campaign.  While this is potentially good news for Democrats, it is important to remember that, just as it is anytime a President is up for re-election, the 2012 election will be more of a referendum on the Obama Administration than anything else.  Given the current economic situation, the Democrats clearly should not begin the celebrations just yet.
The Top Ten potential candidates for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination are as follows (these are listed alphabetically, rather than in any order of likelihood or preference):
1.  Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi – A former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Governor Barbour has been trying to boost his national prominence by appearing on various political talk shows (usually criticizing President Obama), traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire, and offering his views on issues of national importance.
2.  John Ensign, Senator from Nevada – Senator Ensign is in his second term in the Senate and would be up for re-election to his Senate seat in 2012.  He has served as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and is currently the Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.  [UPDATE (7/15/09):  In June of 2009, Senator Ensign admitted to an extra-marital affair with a member of his campaign staff, and he has resigned as Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.  Over the ensuing weeks, several eyebrow-raising details about financial arrangements with his mistress have emerged, including – but in no way limited to – a doubling of her salary during the affair, her 19-year-old son being hired as a “consultant” to the NRSC, and Senator Ensign’sparents both paying the mistress, her husband, and two of their three children $12,000 each (for a total of $96,000 to the family) in “gifts” – after the affair was made public (many have suggested this at least looks like “hush money”, something Senator Ensign has denied).  On July 14th, 2009, Senator Ensign announced that he would not resign from the Senate, and that he would run for re-election to his Senate seat in 2012 – apparently ruling out a 2012 Presidential run.]
3.  Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives – Speaker Gingrich served as a Congressman from Georgia for two decades and as Speaker of the House for four years.  He was the primary architect of the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, and a key author of the Republican Party’s “Contract with America” that same year.  He resigned from the House following the 1998 mid-term elections, in which the Republicans lost 5 House seats – the worst performance in a mid-term election in over 60 years for a party that did not hold the White House (historically, the Party that does not hold the White House gains an average of 32 House seats in mid-term elections).  Many pundits saw the election losses as a direct result of public reaction to the Republicans’ attempt to remove President Clinton from office, and Speaker Gingrich publicly accepted the blame.  Since he left the House he has written several well-received books and has served as a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.  He has been married 3 times; he has confessed that he conducted an extra-marital affair during his second marriage (with the woman who eventually became his third wife) at the same time that he was leading the charge to drive President Clinton from office over statements President Clinton had made about an extra-marital affair.
4.  Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas – Governor Huckabee finished second in delegates (behind John McCain) during the 2008 Republican primaries, and has made no secret of his desire to run again in 2012 (although he has not made an official announcement).  He has traveled repeatedly to Iowa, written a book, and started his own TV show (on Fox News Channel) and radio show.  He is a former Baptist minister, and is very popular with the religious right.
5.  John Huntsman, Jr., Governor of Utah – A former United States Ambassador to Singapore and official in both the Reagan and (first) Bush Administrations, Governor Huntsman was re-elected as Governor in 2008.  He is very popular among fiscal and social conservatives, but is more moderate on environmental issues.  [UPDATE (5/17/09):  Governor Huntsman has been nominated by President Obama to serve as United States Ambassador to China (among other things, Governor Huntsman is fluent in Mandarin Chinese), effectively ruling out the possibility of a 2012 Presidential run.]
6.  Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska – The 2008 Republican Vice-Presidential nominee is widely expected to be among the front-runners for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination.  She is extremely popular with the party’s right wing and enjoys constant media attention.   [UPDATE (7/4/09):  Governor Palin held a press conference on July 3rd, 2009, announcing that she would not run for re-election as Governor in 2010, and that she would resign as Governor later that month.  Whether this helps or hurts a 2012 Presidential bid remains to be seen, but in my view any benefit she might hope to gain from this will be heavily outweighed by her having quit – in her first term – the only elective office she has ever held outside of Wasilla, Alaska (which, according to the 2000 census, has a population of 5,469).]
7.  George Pataki, former Governor of New York – Governor Pataki was considered a possible candidate for President in 2008, but declined to run.  He has been approached by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to run for the New York Senate seat formerly held by Hillary Clinton and currently held by Kirsten Gillibrand, but has not yet committed one way or the other (running for this Senate seat would effectively rule out a 2012 Presidential run).  In April of 2009 he traveled to Iowa to give a speech in which he criticized President Obama, a move considered by many as a sign he will run for President in 2012.
8.  Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota – Governor Pawlenty is in his second term as Governor of Minnesota, and served as co-chair of John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign.  He was the chairman of the National Governors Association in 2007 and 2008, and is regarded as a fiscal conservative.     [UPDATE (6/3/09):  Governor Pawlenty has announced that he will not seek re-election as Governor in 2010, fueling speculation that he is preparing for a 2012 Presidential run.]
9.  Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts – Governor Romney finished third in delegates (behind John McCain and Mike Huckabee) in the 2008 Republican primaries.  He is a successful businessman and served as the president and CEO of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, where he received high praise for turning a deficit of over $300 million into a profit of over $100 million.  Although he has made no formal announcement, he has essentially been running for the 2012 nomination ever since the November, 2008 elections, and has finished first in several polls among Republican voters.  He is the son of former Michigan Governor and 1968 Republican Presidential Primary candidate George Romney.
10.  Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina – Governor Sanford was considered for the Vice Presidential nomination in 2008, and is currently the President of the Republican Governors Association.  He has gained national prominence for his efforts to refuse federal stimulus money, which many regard as an attempt to position himself as a strong fiscal conservative for the 2012 Presidential race.  [UPDATE (6/30/09):  After having gone missing – quite literally – for almost a week (his staff had claimed he was “hiking the old Appalachian trail”; it turned out he was actually in Buenos Aires, Argentina), Governor Sanford held a rambling, disjointed press conference on June 24th, 2009, during which he admitted to an extra-marital affair with a woman in Argentina and announced his resignation as President of the Republican Governors Association.  He later gave an interview to the Associated Press, during which he referred to his mistress as his “soul mate” and stated that he was “trying to fall back in love” with his wife.  Due to his bizarre statements and handling of the affair, it is now widely believed that he is no longer a viable candidate for anything – much less President.]
While the ten potential candidates listed above are those I consider most likely to run, there are certainly many other potential Republican candidates, including Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico, former Secretary of Homeland Security and Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, 2008 Republican Primary candidate and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City, and even former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida.
It’s not too early to start watching for signs of intent from any of these potential candidates.  Signs that would indicate plans to run would include visits to key early states (such as Iowa and New Hampshire), campaigning for Congressional and Senatorial candidates, holding fund-raisers, appearing on national news and political talk shows, and so on.
Happy watching!
REVISED (7/20/09):  Now that at least three – and arguably four – of the top ten potential candidates listed above are no longer viable Presidential candidates (John Ensign and Mark Sanford have self-destructed over extra-marital affairs and Jon Huntsman has been nominated by President Obama as Ambassador to China; I would also argue that Sarah Palin’s resignation as Governor of Alaska will be devastating to her chances in a Presidential race), it seems appropriate to revise this “Top Ten List” by elevating four of the other potential candidates into the Top Ten.  Accordingly, I would add the following (as with the original list, these are listed alphabetically, rather than in any order of likelihood or preference):
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City – Mayor Giuliani rose to national prominence in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and came to be known as “America’s Mayor”.  He ran in the Republican Presidential primaries in 2008 and was regarded as the early favorite to win the nomination.  A serious political miscalculation may very well have cost him the nomination: his decision not to participate in the early contests (the caucuses in Iowa, Nevada and Wyoming or the primaries in New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina), and instead choosing to wait until the Florida primary to actively campaign, meant that other candidates had the chance to develop name recognition and momentum, garnering victories while Mayor Giuliani sat on the sidelines.  As a result, he finished a distant third in the Florida primary and left the race shortly thereafter, endorsing John McCain.
Governor Piyush “Bobby” Jindal of Louisiana – Elected in 2007 at the age of 36, Governor Jindal is currently the youngest Governor serving in the United States and the first Governor of Indian ancestry (as in India, not Native American) in United States history.  He was highly regarded in conservative circles until he gave the official Republican response to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on February 24th, 2009.  His tepid speech (especially in comparison to the oratorical skills of President Obama, whose speech immediately preceded his) was roundly criticized, including by many Republicans who were not shy about expressing their disappointment.  In December of 2008 Governor Jindal appeared to rule out a 2012 Presidential bid in response to a question at a news conference in Richmond Virginia (he was appearing in support of Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia – this alone is an indication of his national prominence), but he later backtracked from that statement.  If he were to run in 2012 and win, he would become the youngest President in United States history.
Representative Mike Pence of Indiana – Representative Pence has long been considered a rising star within the Republican Party, and was frequently mentioned as a potential Presidential candidate for the 2008 election.  Known as a strong conservative, he is currently the third-highest ranking member of the House Republican leadership, serving as the Chairman of the House Republican Conference.[UPDATE (11/8/2010):  Representative Pence has resigned as Chairman of the House Republican Conference, fueling speculation that he will run for President in 2012], and has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
Former Secretary of Homeland Security and Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania – Secretary Ridge is a moderate Republican who favors abortion rights but is strong on fiscal and national security issues.  He served seven terms in the House of Representatives and was twice elected Governor of Pennsylvania (he resigned to become the Director of Homeland Security in 2001; he became the first Secretary of Homeland Security in January of 2003, after that Department was established by Congress).  He recently announced that he would not run in the Senate race to challenge Senator Arlen Specter in 2010 – a race he may very well have won; many have interpreted this as an indication that he is keeping his options open for 2012.

 

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Who Will Replace Justice David Souter?
Posted:  May 1st, 2009

The news that Associate Justice of the Supreme Court David Souter plans to retire at the end of the Court’s current term in June has started the inevitable “buzz” about who President Obama will nominate to replace him.  This wasn’t that much of a surprise; Justice Souter has made no secret of the fact that he does not enjoy Washington D.C. and would like to return to his beloved New Hampshire while he is still young enough to enjoy it.This is not likely to be the only seat on the Supreme Court that President Obama will have the opportunity to fill during his first term; Justice John Paul Stevens is 89 years old, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 76 and recently underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that President Obama will have at least three – and perhaps more – seats to fill before he leaves office. This will be a chance for President Obama to leave a lasting legacy for the country, given that Supreme Court Justices stay in office until they retire or die (they can also be impeached, but that is exceedingly rare). While it is true that Justices Souter, Stevens and Ginsburg are all generally regarded as being from the liberal wing of the Court (and their replacements would therefore not alter the current ideological balance on the Court), President Obama will be able to replace them with much younger Justices who can remain on the Court for decades.

One interesting note that has not received much in the way of comment is that President Obama himself – were he not President – would be a potential nominee in his own right, either to a federal district court or a circuit court of appeals, or perhaps even to the Supreme Court. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he became the first African-American editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review, and he taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School for over ten years. At the very least this should be reassuring; this makes him a President who is likely to select only the best-qualified individuals to the Supreme Court.

Trying to determine who a President will nominate to the Supreme Court is always a little bit like trying to read the proverbial tea leaves, but President Obama has commented numerous times on the traits he would look for in a Supreme Court nominee.

In explaining his vote against the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts, then-Senator Obama said, “The problem I had is that when I examined Judge Roberts’ record and history of public service, it is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.”

He gave a similar critique of Justice Samuel Alito, “When you look at his record — when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution, I have found that in almost every case, he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless; on behalf of a strong government or corporation against upholding Americans’ individual rights.”
In July of 2007, he said, “I think the Constitution can be interpreted in so many ways. And one way is a cramped and narrow way in which the Constitution and the courts essentially become the rubber stamps of the powerful in society. And then there’s another vision of the court that says that the courts are the refuge of the powerless…we need somebody who’s got the heart — the empathy — to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old — and that’s the criteria by which I’ll be selecting my judges.”

In November of 2007, he said, “I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and . . . when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it’s not just the particular issue and how they rule, but it’s their conception of the Court. And part of the role of the Court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don’t have a lot of clout…sometimes we’re only looking at academics or people who’ve been in the [lower courts]. If we can find people who have life experience and they understand what it means to be on the outside, what it means to have the system not work for them, that’s the kind of person I want on the Supreme Court.”

In October of 2008, he cited Justices Souter and Stephen Breyer as examples of the type of Justice he would like to nominate to the Court: “I think that Justice Souter, who was a Republican appointee,[and] Justice Breyer, a Democratic appointee, are very sensible judges. They take a look at the facts and they try to figure out: How does the Constitution apply to these facts? They believe in fidelity to the text of the Constitution, but they also think you have to look at what is going on around you and not just ignore real life.  That, I think is the kind of justice that I’m looking for — somebody who respects the law, doesn’t think that they should be making law … but also has a sense of what’s happening in the real world and recognizes that one of the roles of the courts is to protect people who don’t have a voice.”

These statements lead to a clear judicial philosophy that President Obama will be looking for – someone with real-life experience, someone empathetic to the struggles of everyday citizens, and someone who will hold those citizens in at least equal standing to faceless corporations or the rich and powerful.
For their part, the Republicans are already opposed to President Obama’s nominee; Senator John Kyl of Arizona, the Republican Whip in the Senate, has threatened a filibuster on the nominee’s confirmation vote, and others on the right have called President Obama’s nominee “overly passionate”, “lawless”, and a “judicial activist”.  Perhaps someone should point out to them that President Obama hasn’t even selected a nominee yet!  This is just ridiculous.  In my view the Republicans, in their desperate thrashing about, are merely confirming their status as “the Party of NO”; it doesn’t matter who President Obama chooses – they are opposed.

So here it is:  The Top Ten List of
Potential replacements for Justice David Souter
1.  Sonia Sotomayor (born 1954) – After growing up in a Bronx housing project, Sotomayor has risen to become a judge on one of the most powerful courts in the land: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. As a Hispanic woman, Sotomayor would make an attractive candidate if Obama is looking to diversify the court. There has never been a Hispanic on the Supreme Court, and there is only one woman currently on the bench (Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Sotomayor might also have bipartisan appeal. She is politically moderate; President George H.W. Bush appointed her to her first federal judgeship, and President Bill Clinton elevated her to the Circuit Court of Appeals.   [UPDATE:  On May 26, 2009, Sotomayor was nominated by President Obama to replace Justice David Souter. She was confirmed by the Senate on August 6, 2009.]

 

2.  Elena Kagan (born 1960) – Few names have been floated as often as a potential Obama nominee as Kagan, formerly the Dean of the Harvard Law School — Obama’s alma mater. Like Obama, she also taught at the University of Chicago. Kagan served in Clinton’s White House as an associate counsel and domestic policy advisor, and is serving as Solicitor General of the United States in the Obama Administration. President Clinton nominated her for a position on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but Republicans stalled her approval. Kagan clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.  [UPDATE:  On May 10, 2010, Kagan was nominated by President Obama to replace Justice John Paul Stevens. She was confirmed by the Senate on August 5, 2010.]

 

3.  Cass Sunstein (born 1954) – A preeminent and prolific law scholar and an advisor to Obama’s presidential campaign, Sunstein was a colleague of President Obama’s at the University of Chicago and then taught at Harvard Law School. He is currently the head of the White House Office of Informational and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama Administration. Sunstein has decried the Supreme Court’s more conservative justices, including Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. He calls them judicial fundamentalists who have advocated “earthquake-like” changes in the law. Sunstein argues for a minimalist approach to jurisprudence. He believes justices’ decisions should be narrowly tailored to the case at hand and should lean heavily on precedent. Sunstein has said minimalists believe “the Supreme Court is not our national policy maker.”

 

4.  Harold Hongju Koh (born 1955) – The Dean of Yale Law School is a Korean-American and an expert on international law and human rights. From 1998 to 2001, he served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor under President Clinton. He also worked in the Department of Justice and is currently serving as Legal Counsel for the State Department. Koh is considered a staunch liberal. He has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He said in an interview with the Yale newspaper that gay rights are especially important to him. Koh also served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.

 

5.  Leah Ward Sears (born 1955) – She is the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, but that is hardly Sears’ only trailblazing achievement. She was the first woman and the youngest person ever to serve on the court when Gov. Zell Miller appointed her in 1992. She was also the first African-American to serve on a Georgia superior court. Sears, like Sotomayor, will present an attractive pick for Obama if he looks to increase the diversity of the U.S. Supreme Court. Sears plans to step down from the Georgia Supreme Court in June 2009. She describes herself as a moderate, but she has often been targeted by Georgia’s conservatives.

 

6.  Merrick Garland (born 1952) – President Clinton appointed Garland to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. Garland also served in the Department of Justice during the Clinton administration; as an associate deputy attorney general he oversaw the Oklahoma City bombing and Unabomber cases. Garland was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. This impressive résumé makes him one of the most experienced of Obama’s potential nominees. Recently, Garland joined two other judges in throwing out the Bush administration’s “enemy combatant” designation for a Chinese Muslim held at Guantánamo Bay. He is considered politically moderate.

[UPDATE:  On March 16, 2016, Garland was nominated by President Obama to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. The Senate – or, more accurately, the Republican leadership in the Senate – has refused to act on the nomination, taking the unprecedented position that Justice Scalia’s seat should remain vacant for over a year so it can be filled by the next President. ]

 

7.  Diane Pamela Wood (born 1950) – Wood is a distinguished law academic. President Clinton nominated Wood to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 1995 after she worked in his Department of Justice. She is also a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School and was also a lawyer in private practice. She started her law career as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. She is considered somewhat liberal.

 

8.  Ruben Castillo (born 1954) – A United States District Court judge in Chicago, Castillo was appointed by President Clinton in 1994. The judge is the son of a Mexican immigrant father and a Puerto Rican mother, and he was the first member of his family to graduate from college. After starting his career in private practice, Castillo became an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago. During one of Castillo’s prosecutions, a drug kingpin took out a contract on his life, and Castillo and his family had to be placed in police protective custody. Castillo also served as the director of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

 

9.  Deval Patrick (born 1956) – As the first African-American governor of Massachusetts and a friend of Barack Obama’s, Patrick is often mentioned as a potential Supreme Court nominee. Patrick would bring something that is in short supply on the court: executive experience. But he would also bring a major risk: He has never served in the judiciary. Despite that gap in his résumé, he has some background in the law. Before he was governor, Patrick was a lawyer and President Clinton appointed him the assistant attorney general for civil rights in 1994 — the nation’s highest civil rights position. Patrick is solidly liberal and supports a number of positions, such as same-sex marriage, that could make him a target for Republicans during the confirmation process.

 

10.  Jennifer Granholm (born 1959) – The governor of Michigan and that state’s former attorney general, Granholm has many of the strengths and weaknesses that Deval Patrick has. She would bring executive experience, but she has also never served in the judiciary. Granholm backed Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential primary, but she stumped for Obama during the general election and served on his economic transition team. She also stood in for Sarah Palin during Joe Biden’s preparation for the vice-presidential debate.

While those listed above are, in my humble opinion, the most likely to make President Obama’s “Top Ten list” for any Supreme Court nominations he may have the opportunity to make, there are certainly others that have been mentioned as possibilities.  What follows is a list of other individuals who have been mentioned in various news accounts as potential nominees for a Supreme Court appointment under President Obama.

United States Courts of Appeals judges
2nd Circuit:
Robert A. Katzmann (born 1953)
Barrington Daniels Parker, Jr. (born 1944)
4th Circuit:
Roger L. Gregory (born 1953)
7th Circuit:
Ann Claire Williams (born 1949)
Richard Posner (born 1939)
9th Circuit:
M. Margaret McKeown (born 1951)
Johnnie B. Rawlinson (born 1952)
Sidney Runyan Thomas (born 1953)
Kim McLane Wardlaw (born 1954)
11th Circuit:
Charles R. Wilson (born 1954)

United States District Court judges
Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr. (born 1957) – Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
Adalberto Jordan (born 1961) – Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Vicki Miles-LaGrange (born 1953) – Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma
Richard W. Roberts (born 1953) – Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Martha Vázquez (born 1953) – Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico

State Supreme Court justices
Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr. (born 1955) – Chief Justice, Virginia Supreme Court
Carlos R. Moreno (born 1948) – Associate Justice, California Supreme Court
Robert D. Rucker (born 1953) – Associate Justice, Indiana Supreme Court
Patricia Timmons-Goodson (born 1954) – Associate Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court

Executive Branch officials
Hillary Clinton (born 1947) Secretary of State, former Senator for New York
Eric Holder (born 1951), Attorney General
Janet Napolitano (born 1957), Secretary of Homeland Security, former Governor of Arizona, former Arizona Attorney General, former United States Attorney.
Ken Salazar (born 1955), Secretary of the Interior, former Senator from Colorado, former Colorado Attorney General.

State Governors
Christine Gregoire (born 1947), Governor of Washington, former Washington Attorney General

United States Senators
Robert Menendez (born 1954), Senator from New Jersey

Supreme Court litigators
Robert Barnett (born 1946), private attorney
Beth Brinkmann (born 1958), former Assistant to the Solicitor General
Teresa Wynn Roseborough (born 1958), former Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Virginia A. Seitz (born 1956), private attorney
Seth P. Waxman (born 1951), former Solicitor General

Academics
Pam Karlan (born 1959), Stanford Law School professor
Richard Revesz (born 1958), dean of New York University School of Law
Kathleen Sullivan (born 1955), Stanford Law School professor

 

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© 2009-2016 by David Bleidistel.  All rights reserved.