The chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said Wednesday that despite a difficult map, the GOP's failure to avoid divisive primaries and recruit strong candidates in key states has Democrats "optimistic" they'll hold the Senate majority next year.
"Republicans have not missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity," Michael Bennet, the junior senator from Colorado, told reporters during a pen-and-pad session near the Capitol. "What's stunning about this map today is how small the competitive landscape is. Republicans have failed to put any blue or purple state into play and find themselves mired in divisive primaries that pit tea-party conservatives against establishment Republicans favored by the Washington elite."
Bennet was referencing the GOP's failure, at least so far, to get behind qualified candidates in a host of blue states such as Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, and Virginia, all second-tier battlegrounds where the party was expected to at least make it a competitive race. Republicans have also struggled to recruit in Michigan, though Rep. Dave Camp's acknowledgment this week that he might run rekindles hope that they can win the state's open-seat contest. That means the Republican Party's path back to the majority in the Senate — it needs to win a net of at least six seats for control in 2015 — runs almost entirely through seven red states, including Alaska, Arkansas, and Louisiana. In some of them, like North Carolina, a bare-knuckles fight in a GOP primary could thwart Republican candidates before they even reach the general election, Bennet said.