Arkansas Republicans have been talking a big game on their prospects of taking over the State Senate, but so far their rhetoric doesn’t match the reality. A few days ago, I reviewed the fundraising reports of seven State Senate campaigns and found that Democratic candidates dramatically out-raised their Republican opponents last quarter.
Today, I’ll briefly review three more Senate races that could be considered competitive next year. To win control of the State Senate, there are three big GOP targets for taking control of the Senate: Sens. Larry Teague (D-Nashville), Robert Thompson (D-Paragould) and former State Rep. Bruce Maloch (D-Magnolia), who is running for an open seat in south Arkansas currently held by a term-limited Percy Malone.
However, none of these candidates have Republican opposition yet and the Democrats are raising significant money for what should be tough races.
Robert Thompson, who is running for re-election to State Senate raised $30,715 on his primary finance report last quarter and had $28,080 cash on hand. Thompson showed $2,116.70 in his report for carryover funds. Party-switcher State Rep Linda Collins-Smith’s name has been mentioned as a potential GOP opponent against Thompson, but she apparently didn’t raise any money last quarter.
Bruce Maloch, a former state representative running for State Senate, raised $40,050 on his primary finance report and had $39,246.51 cash on hand.
Larry Teague didn’t raise much in the quarter, but he’s sitting with $45,287 in the bank.
The GOP contends all 3 seats are ripe for their pick-ups, but so far the Democratic candidates have no opposition and are out there raising campaign money while Republicans still search for candidates to oppose them.
To win control of the Senate, Republicans must hold onto everything they currently have, win almost all of the 12 open seats and defeat one or two Democratic incumbents. However, two of the open seats have a decidedly Democratic-lean: Sue Madison’s open seat in Fayetteville area and Jim Luker’s open seat in the Wynne area and neither of those seats have an announced Republican opponent.
Once you start digging into into the numbers, the prospects for the Republicans winning control of the State Senate look daunting. If Democrats just win 5 of the 12 open Senate seats, and hold onto their incumbents, they’ll still control the Senate by a razor-thin 18-17 margin. Smart money says 2 of those 5, Madison’s and Luker’s seats, will likely stay in Democratic hands. You can play with the formula of winning and losing open seats or incumbents winning or losing, but it still becomes clear that the Republicans have no margin for error to win the Senate, while the Democrats do.
As I said previously, it’s still a very long time until November 2012, but in many critical Senate races Democrats are taking the lead in organizing and fundraising.