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by Michael Rosenthal

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In the 30 years I've been helping to raise money for worthy Democratic candidates, I don't think I've ever felt that our situation was more desperate than it is now. Here's what we're up against:

  • Of the 33 Senate seats up in 2012, 23 are currently held by Democrats (including the 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats), meaning we have to defend more than twice as many seats as Republicans do.
  • 7 Democratic incumbents are retiring in 2012, compared to only 2 Republican incumbents.
  • If we have a net loss of 4 or more seats (3 or more if we also lose the Presidency), we will lose control of the Senate. If we lose the Senate and the Presidency (and Republicans keep control of the House), then all the crazy policies Republican candidates have been espousing will be enacted!
  • Thanks to the Supreme Court's horrendous Citizens United decision, there are no limits to the amounts of money corporations, wealthy individuals and labor unions can spend on elections.
  • Republicans are working across the country to disenfranchise traditionally Democratic voters: the young, the poor and African Americans. They've already passed laws in several states to make it much harder to register to vote.
  • The right wing noise machine, most notably FOX News, is repeating and amplifying its lies 24/7.

However small our voices and pocketbooks are, we need to respectively raise and open them now! Here is my list of key candidates for whom our contributions could do the most good.

Please read the blurbs about each candidate and contribute as much as you can to as many candidates as you can.



Image of Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

MA-Sen

Elizabeth Warren is a tireless advocate for consumers and is not afraid to tell it like it is. Watch this short video and you'll see why I'm so enthusiastic about her candidacy: This is our best chance to pick up a seat that is currently held by a Republican. Scott Brown won the special election to fill the remainder of Ted Kennedy's term, beating a lackluster Democratic candidate. Let's replace Brown with someone who will truly represent the 99%!

Image of Tammy Baldwin

Tammy Baldwin

WI-Sen

Incumbent Democratic Senator Herb Kohl is retiring. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin is a strong progressive who would be a great addition to the Senate. Wisconsin is an unpredictable state -- progressive champion Senator Russ Feingold was defeated in 2010 (though I think a lot of Wisconsans who voted against him wish they could take it back!) -- so Tammy Baldwin needs our help! Her opponent is former Governor Tommy Thompson.

Image of Claire McCaskill

Claire McCaskill

MO-Sen

Missouri is always a tough state for Democrats. Claire McCaskill squeaked by to win her first term in 2006 with just under 50% of the vote. She was substantially behind in the polls this time around until her neanderthal opponent came out with his infamous, ignorant, insensitive and inexcusable comment about "legitimate" rape and the female anatomy. We still can't take McCaskill's reelection for granted. In fact, though Akin's misogynistic words have clearly helped McCaskill, the race is still looking very close.

Image of Sherrod Brown

Sherrod Brown

OH-Sen

Sherrod Brown is particularly strong on economic issues. As a result, corporate and other right wing interests are spending obscene amounts of money to try to defeat him. In fact, they're spending more on this Senate race than any other. Brown needs and deserves all the help we can give him.

Tim Kaine

VA-Sen

Jim Webb is stepping down after one term. In 2006, Webb narrowly defeated incumbent George Allen, with a huge assist by Allen himself and his infamous "macaca" remark. Popular former Governor and former Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine will attempt to keep the seat blue. His likely opponent is the very same George Allen. You might think this would be a cakewalk, but Virginia took a hard turn to the right in the last election and most observers rate this race as a tossup.

Image of Jon Tester

Jon Tester

MT-Sen

Jon Tester is a moderate Democrat; still he is light years ahead of his Republican opponent on most issues. This is likely to be an extremely close race. Tester won his first election with only 49.2% of the vote, so this contest is a major target for Republicans.

Image of Shelley Berkley

Shelley Berkley

NV-Sen

This is probably our second best opportunity for a Democratic pickup. Republican Senator Dean Heller was appointed in 2011 to fill the remainder of John Ensign's term after the ethically challenged Ensign resigned in disgrace. 7 term Congresswoman Shelly Berkley should give Heller a strong challenge as he stands for his seat for the first time. Berkley is good on most issues, though she'd probably be classified more as a moderate than a progressive. Her most recent National Journal composite ratings are 67% liberal, 33% conservative.

Image of Heidi Heitkamp

Heidi Heitkamp

ND-Sen

When incumbent Senator Kent Conrad announced his retirement, the idea of keeping this seat in Democratic hands seemed hopeless. But our prospects improved when former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp entered the race.

It'll still be tough -- this is probably our least likely win on this list -- but Heitkamp was twice elected Attorney General by wide margins. In that office, she was heavily involved in the lawsuit against the tobacco industry and was instrumental in obtaining large settlements for each state.

Some polls show Heitkamp ahead of very conservative Congressman Rick Berg for the Senate seat. And Republicans are worried. Karl Rove's Crossroads is spending sizable sums against Heitkamp.

Image of Richard Carmona

Richard Carmona

AZ-Sen

This race was off the radar until recently, when polls began to show it as extremely close. That's why I've added it at the last minute. Here's what Al Franken says about Richard Carmona:

He’s a combat-decorated Army veteran, the first in his family to graduate from college, a former trauma surgeon and deputy sheriff, and the 17th Surgeon General of the United States. This is a guy who once rappelled from a helicopter to rescue a paramedic stranded on a mountain. They don’t make ‘em any tougher.

And as I’ve spent time with him on the campaign trail, I’ve seen that he would be a force in the Senate. He’s got great ideas for creating jobs, balancing the budget in a responsible way, and fixing our broken immigration system.

The pundits didn’t think a Democrat could win in Arizona this year. But the pundits didn’t know about Rich Carmona.

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