Two unpleasant, though certainly not unexpected, developments have severely hampered our chances of staying close to where we are in the Senate over the last few days. First, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee reiterated that he would not challenge Sen. Mark Pryor. With the Arkansas GOP in disarray, Huckabee was the only person who could have seriously challenged Pryor this November, and even he would have entered the race at least a slight underdog. Now, it appears that Pryor will not only go without a serious challenge, but that he will run without any challenger at all. Not only that, but with over $4 million in the bank already, Pryor is well on his way to becoming a life-long Senator if he wants to be.
Iowa Rep. Steve King announced that he would seek reelection, effectively also announcing that he would not challenge Sen. Tom Harkin. While the Iowa GOP is considerably more competent than its Arkansas counter-part, this effectively means that Harkin will coast to reelection. This is the first time in his Senate career that Harkin will go without viable opposition, though he should not get too comfortable in his seat. Our bench in the state is fairly deep, and King likely passed mainly because this will be a tough year for us. Six years down the road, though, should he decide to seek reelection, Harkin will likely face stiff opposition.
And in South Dakota, former Lt. Gov. Steve Kirby opted out of a battle with Sen. Tim Johnson. Johnson, to be fair, is enjoying wildly high approval ratings in the wake of his brush with death from 2006 and would only have been vulnerable to a challenge from Gov. Mike Rounds. Once Rounds said that he would not run, our chances effectively dropped to nil. The only way that this race becomes competitive (God forbid) is if Sen. Johnson has a relapse between now and November.
In terms of our Senate prospects for this year, no amount of spin can soften these blows. They hurt, badly. Effectively this leaves us with a single target, Sen. Mary Landrieu, barring very surprising developments in New Jersey or South Dakota.