U.S. Senate election, 2006

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Seats up for election. Republican incumbents are red, Democratic incumbents are blue, open Republican seats are pink, open Democratic seats are light blue, and the open independent seat is yellow. States without a seat up for reelection are gray.
Seats up for election. Republican incumbents are red, Democratic incumbents are blue, open Republican seats are pink, open Democratic seats are light blue, and the open independent seat is yellow. States without a seat up for reelection are gray.

Elections for the United States Senate will be held on November 7, 2006, with 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate being contested. Since Senators are elected for six-year terms, those elected will serve from January 3, 2007 until January 3, 2013. Those Senators who were elected in 2000 will be seeking reelection or retiring in 2006.

The 2006 House election is scheduled for the same date as the Senate election, as well as many state and local elections, including those for 36 state governors.


Major Parties

Of the seats being contested, 17 are held by Democrats, 15 are held by Republicans, and 1 by an independent who votes with the Democratic caucus.

The Senate is currently composed of 55 Republicans, who have been in the majority since 2003, 44 Democrats, and 1 independent. (The independent, former Republican Jim Jeffords of Vermont, began voting with the Democratic caucus in 2001, but will not seek re-election.)

To gain a majority in the Senate, Democrats will need 51 seats, holding their 17 seats at risk and acquiring a gain of 6 or 7 seats depending on whether the open Vermont seat is won by a Republican. (With only 50 seats, the Democrats would remain in the minority as Vice President Dick Cheney as President of the Senate, breaks all tie votes.

To gain a "working majority" of 60 members, the number of votes required to break a filibuster, Republicans will need to gain five seats and hold their 15 seats at risk.

2006 Races


14 up for re-election


14 up for re-election

Daniel Akaka (HI) George Allen (VA) Democratic (MD)
Jeff Bingaman (NM) Conrad Burns (MT) Democratic (MN)
Robert Byrd (WV) Lincoln Chafee (RI) Democratic (NJ)
Maria Cantwell (WA) Mike DeWine (OH) Republican (TN)
Thomas Carper (DE) John Ensign (NV) Independent (VT)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) Orrin Hatch (UT)
Kent Conrad (ND) Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX)
Dianne Feinstein (CA) Jon Kyl (AZ)
Edward Kennedy (MA) Trent Lott (MS)
Herb Kohl (WI) Richard Lugar (IN)
Joe Lieberman (CT) Rick Santorum (PA)
Ben Nelson (NE) Olympia Snowe (ME)
Bill Nelson (FL) James Talent (MO)
Debbie Stabenow (MI) Craig Thomas (WY)

Races to watch

It is not yet clear which seats will have the most competitive races. Incumbent senators have a high rate of re-election, even when their party affiliation is at odds with the political trends of their state. The most competitive races tend to be those where the incumbent has retired, and those races in which the incumbent has served only one term are frequently competitive.

Additional special elections that are held due to the death or resignation of Senators in the interim would change the party balances listed above.

  • Best chance to switch from R to D
    • Rhode Island (Lincoln Chafee)
    • Pennsylvania (Rick Santorum)
    • Montana (Conrad Burns)
    • Tennessee (Open)
    • Missouri (Jim Talent)
  • Best chance to switch from D to R
    • Minnesota (Open)
    • Florida (Bill Nelson)
    • Nebraska (Ben Nelson)
    • Washington (Maria Cantwell)

Retiring Senators

  • Jon Corzine (D-NJ) – Corzine could easily have won reelection if he had run. He is, however, Governor of New Jersey, having won the 2005 gubernatorial election. He has appointed Rep. Bob Menendez to fill his seat, and he will have a clear primary field in 2006. Republican State Senator Thomas Kean, Jr., the son of the former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean announced on March 25, 2005 that he will run for the U.S. Senate seat.
  • Mark Dayton (D-MN) – On February 9, 2005, Mark Dayton announced that he would not seek a second term in the Senate, leaving an open seat to be contested. Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy, the GOP candidate, secured major GOP endorsements and will not face any serious challengers. On the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) side, there are a three candidates seeking the DFL nomination and endorsement, including Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar and veterinarian, Ford Bell. Klobuchar and Ford have promised to abide by a DFL endorsement. Minneapolis attorney Klobuchar and Kennedy are the only two candidates who have been elected to office.
  • Bill Frist (R-TN) – Frist has previously promised to leave the Senate when his second term ends in 2006, and is widely considered to have presidential aspirations. This will leave an open seat, contested by Democratic candidate Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., and Republicans former Rep. Ed Bryant, former Rep. Van Hilleary, Tennessee Republican Party Chairwoman Beth Harwell, and Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker.
  • Jim Jeffords (I-VT) – Jeffords left the Republican Party to become an independent soon after being re-elected as a Republican in 2000. On April 20, 2005, he declared he would not seek another term, possibly for health reasons. Rep. Bernard Sanders, an independent and self-described socialist, is running in 2006; Mega-Multi-Millionaire Businessman Richard Tarrant is the 2006 Republican candidate; Cris Ericson, struggling artist & musician, is another 2006 Independent candidate (formerly the 2004 Marijuana Party candidate); Craig Hill is the 2006 Green Party candidate.
  • Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) - Sarbanes announced on March 11, 2005 that he would retire in 2006 rather than run for re-election. Sarbanes' seat was previously considered safe; Maryland is a Democratic-leaning state. Former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume and Rep. Ben Cardin have announced their candidacies for the Democratic nomination. Most other prominent Maryland Democrats have decided not to run or are not likely to enter the race. Maryland Republicans have recruited Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who is generally seen as their best chance to capture the seat. Steele is African-American and Republican strategists feel he can cut into the usual large Democratic leads among blacks.

Notable Democratic incumbent races

  • Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – Cantwell is drawing fire from liberals and progressives in Washington for many of her votes during President Bush's first term, including her vote for the Iraq War Resolution and the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice. 2004 gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, widely considered the strongest possible GOP candidate, declined to run against Cantwell, making her re-election fairly likely despite her close victory in 2000. Cantwell's apparent unpopularity among Democrats and Washington's adoption of a run-off primary [1] could potentially complicate her chances. Lobbyist and Insurance Company CEO Mike McGavick is the likely GOP candidate.
  • Kent Conrad (D-ND) – Conrad faces the problem of being a Democratic senator in an increasingly Republican Great Plains state, and hopes to avoid the fate of Tom Daschle. Governor John Hoeven, re-elected by a 43-point margin in 2004, has been courted by President Bush to challenge Conrad, and would have been a formidable opponent. Hoeven, however, has declined to run, and Conrad is expected to cruise to reelection.
  • Ben Nelson (D-NE) – Nelson, one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, is running for re-election in a state that went for George W. Bush by 35 percentage points. Don Stenberg, who Nelson narrowly defeated in 2000, has declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination. Mike Johanns, the Secretary of Agriculture and former governor, would have been the favorite to take the seat, but did not run. Two other major Republicans are in the primary, Pete Ricketts, former COO of Ameritrade and David Kramer, for state GOP chair
  • Bill Nelson (D-FL) – As the only southern Democrat facing re-election, Nelson will draw major regional attention to this race. Florida also will elect a new governor in 2006, and the cost of two major campaigns in a large state could require that one of the Republican candidates have a high profile. Rep. Katherine Harris, who served as Secretary of State during the 2000 election, is the presumed favorite in a Republican primary. Polls show Nelson with a decent lead and at or over the crucial 50% mark for an incumbent. Top Republicans, including Governor Jeb Bush and those close to President Bush, have tried to find a candidate to oppose Harris in the primary but have given up and lent their support to the Harris candidacy. [2]
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) – the poor Michigan economy in conjunction with low approval ratings make Stabenow potentially vulnerable, although the state voted Democratic in last year's Presidential election. Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller passed on the race, as did Jane Abraham, wife of former Senator and former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who lost to Stabenow in 2000. Keith Butler, a conservative African-American clergyman, Mike Bouchard, Oakland County Sheriff , and Jerry Zandstra are announced Republicans in the race.

Notable Republican incumbent races

  • George Allen (R-VA) – Allen is a popular Senator but he faces Jim Webb as a result this race is competitive.
  • Conrad Burns (R-MT) – Burns faced a strong challenge from current Governor Brian Schweitzer in 2000, being re-elected by a mere 3% in a state that went for Bush twice by margins of over 20%. This, combined with the increasing strength of the state Democratic party, could make this a competitive race. Popular state senate president Jon Tester has announced his candidacy.
  • Rick Santorum (R-PA) - Santorum is a very conservative member of the Senate in a state that went for John Kerry in 2004 by 2.5%. Democrats believe that Santorum's seat is extremely vulnerable, and are making it a priority for a pick-up in 2006. Democrat Bob Casey, Jr., Pennsylvania's state treasurer, announced his candidacy on March 5, 2005. Currently, his only primary opponents are college professor Chuck Pennacchio and Alan Sandals [3]. Polls pitting Casey against Santorum have generally indicated greater support for Casey by 10 or more percentage points. [4]
  • Jim Talent (R-MO) – Talent, who was elected to the four remaining years of this term in a 2002 special election, will face a strong Democratic challenge for his seat. Unlike most states, Missouri will not hold an election for governor in 2006, making this the only statewide race in a traditional battleground state. Talent was elected by a very slim margin, which suggests that he might be vulnerable. Claire McCaskill, the state auditor and 2004 Democratic gubernatorial candidate is running against Talent and is even with him in the most recent polls.
  • Mike DeWine (R-OH) – DeWine has low approval ratings and the current scandal involving the Ohio Republican party could hurt his re-election chances. Democratic hopes have been raised by the ongoing "Coingate" scandal and the unpopularity of Governor Bob Taft. The Senator's son, Pat DeWine, lost the Republican nomination for the 2nd Congressional District, suggesting DeWine's influence may be waning. DeWine could also face a tough primary challenge from several more conservative Republicans unhappy with his relatively centrist stances including his role as one of the Gang of 14 who intervened to stop a showdown over judical nominees. The Repulican nominee will have to face Congressman Sherrod Brown.

Complete list of Senate contests in 2006

State Incumbent Status Competing candidates See also
Arizona Jon Kyl (R) Won 4th term Jim Pederson (D)

Richard Mack (L)

Main Article
California Dianne Feinstein (D) Won 3rd full term Colleen Fernald (D)

Dick Mountjoy (R)
Don Grundmann (AIP)
Todd Chretien (G)
Michael Metti (Lib)
Marsha Feinland (PFP)
Jeff Mackler (Write-In)
Lea Sherman (Write-In)

Main Article
Connecticut Joseph I. Lieberman (I) Won 4th term Ned Lamont (D)

Alan Schlesinger (R)
Ralph Ferrucci (G)
John Mertens (Independent Party)
Timothy Knibbs (Concerned Citizens)

Main Article
Delaware Thomas Carper (D) Won 2nd term Jan Ting (R)
Main Article
Florida William Nelson (D) Won 2nd term Katherine Harris (R)

Floyd Ray Frazier (I)
Brian Moore (I)
Belinda Noah (I)
Roy Tanner (I)
Lawrence Sidney Scott (Write-In)
Bernie Senter (Write-In)

Main Article
Hawaii Daniel Akaka (D) Won 3rd full term Ed Case (D)

Mark Beatty (R)
Jerry Coffee (R) - Withdrew.
Chas Collins (R)
Jay Friedheim (R)
Eddie Pirkowski (R)
Steve Tataii (R)
Lloyd "Jeff" Mallan (L)
C.K.J. Amsterdam (I)

Main Article
Indiana Richard Lugar (R)

Steve Osborn (Libertarian)

Won 6th term Main Article
Maine Olympia Snowe (R) Won 3rd term Jean Hay Bright (D)

Bill Slavick (I)
Michael Beardsley (Write-In)

Main Article
Maryland Paul Sarbanes (D) Sarbanes retired. Cardin won 1st term. Ben Cardin (D)

Michael S. Steele (R)
Kevin Zeese (G)

Main Article
Massachusetts Edward Kennedy (D) Won 8th full term Ken Chase (R)
Main Article
Michigan Debbie Stabenow (D) Won 2nd term Mike Bouchard (R)

David Sole (Green)
Leonard Schwartz (L)
W. Dennis FitzSimons (US Taxpayers)

Main Article
Minnesota Mark Dayton (D) Dayton retired. Klobuchar won 1st term Amy Klobuchar (DFL)

Mark Kennedy (R)
Ben Powers (Constitution)
Michael Cavlan (Green)
Robert Fitzgerald (IP)
Charles Aldrich (L)
Jeff Miller (New Union)
Peter Idusogie (I)
Rebecca Williamson (Write-In)

Main Article
Mississippi Trent Lott (R) Won 4th term Erik Fleming (D)

Harold Taylor (Libertarian)

Main Article
Missouri Jim Talent (R) Talent lost. McCaskill won 1st term Claire McCaskill (D)

Frank Gilmour (L)
Lydia Lewis (Progressive)

Main Article
Montana Conrad Burns (R) Burns lost. Tester won 1st term Jon Tester (D)

Stan Jones (L)

Main Article
Nebraska Ben Nelson (D) Running for 2nd term Pete Ricketts (R)
Main Article
Nevada John Ensign (R) Won 2nd term Jack Carter (D)

David Schumann (IAP)
Ed Hamilton (R)
Brendan Trainor (L)

Main Article
New Jersey Bob Menendez (D) Won 1st full term Tom Kean Jr. (R)

Ed Forchion (LMP)
Len Flynn (L)
Greg Pason (Socialist)
Angela Lariscy (Socialist Workers)
Daryl Brooks (I)
J.M. Carter (I)
N. Leonard Smith (I)

Main Article
New Mexico Jeff Bingaman (D) Won 5th term Allen McCulloch (R)

Orlin Cole (Write-In)

Main Article
New York Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) Won 2nd term John Spencer (R)

Howie Hawkins (G)
Kathleen McFarland (Jobs)
Jeff Russell (LIBT)
Bill Van Auken (Socialist Equality)
Roger Calero (SWP)

Main Article
North Dakota Kent Conrad (D) Won 2nd term Dwight Grotberg (R) Main Article
Ohio Mike DeWine (R) DeWine lost. Brown won 1st term Sherrod Brown (D)

Richard Duncan (Independent)

Main Article
Pennsylvania Richard J. Santorum (R) Santorum lost. Casey won 1st term. Bob Casey, Jr. (D)

Carl Edwards (Constitution)
Carl Romanelli (G)
Tom Martin (L)
Stanley Hetz (Socialist)
Ved Dookhum (Write-In)

Main Article
Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee (R) Chafee lost. Whitehouse won 1st term. Sheldon Whitehouse (D), Carl Sheeler (D)
Steve Laffey (R)
Main Article
Tennessee William H. Frist (R) Frist retired. Corker won 1st term. Bob Corker (R)

Harold Ford, Jr. (D)
Chris Lugo (G)
Ed Choate (I)
David Gatchell (I)
Emory "Bo" Heyward (I)
H. Gary Keplinger (I)

Main Article
Texas Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) Won 3rd full term Barbara Ann Radnofsky (D)

Scott Jameson (L)
Amanda Ulman (Write-In)

Main Article
Utah Orrin Hatch (R) Won 6th term Pete Ashdown (D) Main Article
Vermont Jim Jeffords (I) Jeffords retiring. Sanders won 1st term. Bernie Sanders (I)

Richard Tarrant (R)
Craig Hill (G)
Peter Diamondstone (Liberty Union)
Cris Ericson (I)
Steve Moyer (I)

Main Article
Virginia George Allen (R) Allen lost. Webb won 1st term. James H. Webb (D)

Gail Parker (G)

Main Article
Washington Maria Cantwell (D) Won 2nd term Mike McGavick (R)

Mark Wilson (D)
Aaron Dixon (G)
Bruce Guthrie (L)
Robin Adair (Independent)
David Rosenfeld (Write-In)

Main Article
West Virginia Robert C. Byrd (D) Won 9th term John Raese (R)

Jesse Johnson (Mountain)

Main Article
Wisconsin Herbert H. Kohl (D) Won 4th term. Robert Lorge (R)

Rae Vogeler (G)
Ben Glatzel (I)

Main Article
Wyoming Craig L. Thomas (R) Won 3rd term Dale Groutage (D)

William McPherson (I)

Main Article

Party abbreviations

AI Alaskan Independence
B Builders
C Constitution
CNY New York Conservative
D Democratic
G Green
I (none)
L Libertarian
LU Liberty Union
M Marijuana
NL Natural Law
PC Personal Choice
PFP Peace and Freedom
PG Pacific Green
R Republican
Ref Reform
SW Socialist Workers
UC United Citizens
V Veterans

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