News broke overnight that former Republican New York Gov. George Pataki has decided not to run for Senate, leaving incumbent-appointee Kirsten Gillibrand all but assured to win the election for her first full term in November. (Pataki's decision not to run also makes it harder for several Republicans upstate to win House races, as they'd be counting on a solid ticket-topper to help them.) And now comes word that former WI Gov. Tommy Thompson won't challenge Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Thompson, still fairly well admired in the state for his innovations and his pragmatism as governor, was polling fairly well against the incumbent Democrat. Though Feingold still faces a potential challenge from Republican/ex-beer executive Dick Leinenkugel, his seat is safe for now. With Wisconsin and New York safe, Democrats now have good reason to believe that even a tsunami election in November won't be able to dislodge their Senate majority, though they still expect to lose at least three to five seats.
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