FACTBOX-US Democrats face battle for Senate majority

Feb 18 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama hit the campaign
trail on Thursday for two Senate Democrats embroiled in tough
re-election battles as Democrats face a growing challenge in
November to their control of the U.S. Congress.[ID:nN18229999]

Obama visited Colorado and Nevada on behalf of Senate
Democrats Michael Bennet and Harry Reid, members of an
expanding class of congressional incumbents fighting for their
political lives in November’s elections.

Obama’s Democrats are increasingly worried about retaining
their majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives
amid deep public dissatisfaction with the economy, unemployment
and Obama’s agenda.

In the Senate, Democrats control 59 seats to Republicans’
41. To regain a majority, Republicans must win 10 states held
by Democrats while retaining all of their own seats, including
several vulnerable ones. That will be difficult but not
impossible.

Democrats also are unlikely to finish the elections with
the 60 seats need to reclaim the “supermajority” required to
overcome Republican procedural roadblocks.

Here are the 10 most vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in
November:

* NEVADA – Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid offers the
country’s biggest target for Republicans, who accuse him of
neglecting Nevada while waging national battles on behalf of
Obama’s agenda. Even after a heavy advertising blitz through
the last three months of 2009, Reid trails potential Republican
opponents by double digits in opinion polls in a state where
the economy, which relies on tourism and gaming, has
nosedived.

* INDIANA – With two-term Democratic Senator Evan Bayh
deciding to retire, Democrats could face a tough time holding
on to the seat. Republican Dan Coats, a former U.S. senator,
surfaced earlier this month as a possible contender. Coats has
been hammered by Democrats since then for his work as a
lobbyist and for living and voting in Virginia for the past
decade.

* ILLINOIS – Obama’s former Senate seat, left vacant by the
departure of short-term appointee Roland Burris, will be the
focus of an expensive and brutal battle between Republican
Representative Mark Kirk and Democratic state Treasurer Alexi
Giannoulias. Republicans already have painted Giannoulias as a
corrupt insider while Democrats call Kirk a flip-flopper.

* DELAWARE – Republican Representative Mike Castle, one of
the party’s last House moderates and a popular fixture in state
politics for more than 40 years, is a big favorite to win Vice
President Joe Biden’s old seat. Castle’s candidacy was
bolstered when Biden’s son, Democratic state Attorney General
Beau Biden, passed on the race.

* NORTH DAKOTA – The retirement of three-term Democratic
incumbent Byron Dorgan put this Senate seat in play in a rural,
conservative, Republican-leaning state. Democrats are still
uncertain on their candidate, giving popular Republican
Governor John Hoeven a clear path and a running head start.

* ARKANSAS – Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln trails
all her potential Republican opponents in opinion polls in
another conservative state where her vote to back Obama’s
sweeping healthcare overhaul was highly unpopular.

* PENNSYLVANIA – Incumbent Arlen Specter, who became a
Democrat last year because he feared he would lose as a
Republican, might fare no better in the election as a Democrat.
He faces a strong Democratic primary challenge from
Representative Joe Sestak. If he survives, he will face Pat
Toomey, a former representative who almost beat him in a
Republican primary in 2004.

* COLORADO – Democrat Michael Bennet was the Denver public
school superintendent when he was appointed to the Senate last
year to succeed Ken Salazar, who became Interior secretary.
Bennet has been successful raising money but faces a primary
fight from a former Colorado House speaker. If he survives, he
will have tough competition in November from the probable
Republican candidate, former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton.

* CALIFORNIA – Incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer appears
vulnerable and could face a strong Republican challenge from
either former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina or former
Representative Tom Campbell. But California remains a
Democratic state with expensive media markets. National
Republicans might decide to sink their money into more
promising races.

* CONNECTICUT – With the retirement of unpopular incumbent
Chris Dodd, Democrats improved their chances of holding this
seat. It cleared the way for Richard Blumenthal, the popular
Democratic state attorney general, who has a big early lead on
his potential Republican opponents — former Congressman Rob
Simmons, former wrestling executive Linda McMahon and
businessman Peter Schiff.

Stock Today

(Reporting by John Whitesides in Washington; Editing by Bill
Trott)

FACTBOX-US Democrats face battle for Senate majority