Women And The GOP -- Part II, US Senate

Continuing from my last post, where I looked at the GOP's chances of adding women Governors in the 2010 election cycle. Now, let's turn our attention to the US Senate.

This has been a particular embarrassment for the party, as they currently have just four women among their 40 Senators, down from five a couple of years ago -- and soon to be three, when Kay Bailey Hutchison resigns, as expected, to focus on her gubernatorial campaign. (Democrats have 13 of 60; Martha Coakley could make it 14.)

Snowe and Collins of Maine are not up for re-election in 2010; Murkowski of Alaska is, but should easily retain her seat.

There are likely to be at least a half-dozen new Republican Senators elected next year: there are six seats where Republicans are retiring for starters, plus two open seats where Democrats are leaving (Delaware and Illinois), and several other vulnerable Dems.

But there are very few serious female Republican candidates in those races. Probably the best shot is Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, although her odds are maybe 50-50 at best. 

The Republican nominees in the other five GOP-held open seats (FL, KS, KY, MO, NM) will all be men. The only women even running in those states are a couple of long-shot women in Florida who are also-rans to the Crist-Rubio battle.

Women are running in the GOP primaries in the two Dem-held open seats, but have no chance against Mike Castle in Delaware and Mark Kirk in Illinois.

In the challenges to potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents, there are a couple of possibilities, but not great ones. In Nevada, three women are running for the GOP nomination against Harry Reid, including Sue Lowden who is arguably the frontrunner. Jane Norton has a shot in a crowded primary field in Colorado, to take on appointed freshman Michael Bennet. World Wrestling Entertainment exec Linda McMahon is an underdog to Rob Simmons in the Connecticut primary, to challenge Chris Dodd.

The one other possibility is Carly Fiorina, who is expected to soon announce her campaign against Barbara Boxer in California. Fiorina already has a conservative challenger in the primary, and Boxer looks pretty safe at the moment anyway, although that could change.

And  that's about it. Peg Lukik is running in Pennsylvania, but is a longshot against Pat Toomey. There's a woman running in Utah against incumbent Republican Bob Bennett, but she's not even the top challenger to Bennett in that primary. And or course there's former adult actress Stormy Daniels's entertaining campaign against sinful GOP incumbent David Vitter in Louisiana.

Bottom line, the GOP will be lucky to add one woman to get back to four, with an outside chance of getting all the way back to five, where they were in 2006. (And that's assuming Snowe and Collins don't defect!)

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