As of now, 33 US Senate seats will be on the ballot in 2012 (that could change with retirements, etc), with double the number of Democrats as Republicans up for reelection, notes Roll Call Politics. They rate Bob Casey's seat as "Lean Democratic" and newbie Joe Manchin's as a "tossup."
They also throw newly-minted state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai into the mix for a possible Casey challenger:
Casey is among the Democratic incumbents in Democrat-leaning states who should be safe in 2012. But if the recent cycle taught us anything, it’s that few Democrats are safe in a cycle where the national environment trumps local concerns.
In many states, downballot Democrats like Casey are expected to benefit from President Barack Obama’s place atop the ballot. But Pennsylvania, which features a substantial Democratic voter registration advantage, is not one of them — at least right now. Just 42 percent of Pennsylvania voters would have re-elected Obama if the election were held last week, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Nov. 9.
The anti-abortion-rights Casey reported just $872,000 in his campaign account at the end of September, a number that might not be enough to scare off a Democratic primary challenger, never mind a Republican opponent.
No one has stepped forward yet, but potential candidates have expressed interest to the state GOP chairman. Those to watch include Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican just elected to his fourth term in Congress. Rep. Jim Gerlach has also demonstrated an interest in statewide office, and state Rep. Mike Turzai of the Pittsburgh area has been in the conversation as well.
Republicans are treating Manchin like he is their prime target in 2012, going after the former governor of West Virginia as if he had already announced he was seeking re-election. Manchin won a special election to serve out the remainder of the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D) and would face voters again in two years.
His office, preparing for the transition since Manchin was sworn in Monday, did not respond to repeated calls for comment about his political future.
West Virginia Republican sources said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) is the “obvious” choice to run for Senate in 2012. Should she pass on a bid, former Secretary of State Betty Ireland would be the best candidate, the sources said. Beyond that, there is a relatively thin bench with any statewide name recognition, a situation the GOP sources said spells chaos for the party two years from now if Capito does not run.
If Manchin does not seek re-election, one potential candidate is former Sen. Carte Goodwin, whom Manchin appointed to the seat after Byrd’s death this summer. But Goodwin may choose to run for state office or Congress instead, depending on the results of redistricting. Another name mentioned on the Democratic side is state Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis, who would be able to self-fund her candidacy.
Manchin’s election leaves the governor’s mansion vacant, so the race to replace him will be the next contest commanding Mountain State voters’ attention. Sources from both parties think candidates to challenge Manchin will emerge once that race shakes out.
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