Senate Landscape: Recruiting Unknowns Remain
The recent additions of former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., to the roll of GOP Senate candidates this cycle may have looked like an end point for Senate recruiting. While most of the fields in the major races are set, there are still a few unknown variables to keep an eye on:
-- Florida: Mack's entrance gives Republicans a fresh boost of energy in a race that's otherwise been characterized by anemic fundraising and lackluster candidates. But the nomination isn't going to be handed to him. Some Republicans are eying state CFO Jeff Atwater, the former state Senate President, as another attractive alternative to add to the mix.
-- West Virginia: As my colleague Julie Sobel recently pointed out, the Mountain State will play host to both a Senate race and a gubernatorial contest in 2012, but no GOP contenders have surfaced in either so far. Businessman Bill Maloney, who lost a close special election to Gov.-elect Earl Ray Tomblin, could run in either, but the governor's race is the more likely choice if he makes another run. GOP Chairman Mike Stuart's name won't appear on a ballot next year, he confirmed this week.
The big question mark is Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who could be more interested in running for the Senate in 2014. Capito is popular, but so is Manchin, and his standing may be enough to scare away top flight GOP talent.
-- Arizona: Former state Democratic Party Chairman Don Bivens has entered the race, but many Democrats are still waiting on a decision from former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who received a call from President Obama urging him to run.