The victories in Illinois by Rep. Mark Kirk (R) and state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) coupled with former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats' (R) decision to challenge Evan Bayh (D) in the fallĀ  is likely to stir chatter about the possibility that Republicans could challenge for the Senate majority come November.

In Illinois, Republicans had been privately hoping that Giannoulias would be the Democratic nominee -- believing that his ties to his family's struggling bank and connections to the Chicago political world made him a very vulnerable general election candidate. The National Republican Senatorial Committee moved quickly to begin framing Giannoulias as a corrupt insider with a web video launched last night that highlights his alleged mafia ties. (Kirk, of course, has significant vulnerabilities of his own including his flip-flop on cap and trade.)

Coats' decision in Indiana gives Republicans a serious candidate against Bayh for the first time since the Democratic...

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