There are two parts to this story, both equally devastating to the Democrats and spectacular for the Republicans. And is has to do with North Dakota.
The first part came last Tuesday, when Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) stunned the political world by announcing he would not seek a fourth term.
Today part two is expected at 7 pm Eastern time today, when Gov. John Hoeven (R), who is in his third term and yet remains extraordinarily popular, is likely to announce he is a candidate to succeed Dorgan.
The news has been confirmed by several sources, including the Bismarck Tribune, the Fargo Forum, the Associated Press, and other media outlets.
Democrats currently are without a candidate. Their seemingly most logical choice, Rep. Earl Pomeroy — who is elected statewide — said he would not run. Some are pushing for ex-Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, who lost to Hoeven in the 2000 gubernatorial race by ten points. State party chair Mark Schneider had this to say today about the likely Hoeven candidacy:
Less than two years ago the Governor asked the people of North Dakota to elect him as Governor, and now he wants to move on. If Hoeven won, the state would be faced with the prospect of a freshman Senator in the minority party and a new governor.
"We're not surprised by the timing, considering that Hoeven has always changes his mind to best fit the political climate. He did start out as a Democrat, after all.
Doesn't sound like anything to make Hoeven shake in his boots.
No Republican has won a Senate race in North Dakota since Mark Andrews in 1980. He was defeated after one term by Kent Conrad.
The current situation in North Dakota, as well as the one in Connecticut, alters our 2010 Senate map, which was last updated Nov. 11.
Here's the latest on all 37 Senate seats up in 2010, including next week's special in Massachusetts:
SAFE DEMOCRATIC (9): California (Barbara Boxer), Hawaii (Daniel Inouye), Indiana (Evan Bayh), Maryland (Barbara Mikulski), New York (Charles Schumer), Oregon (Ron Wyden), Vermont (Patrick Leahy), Washington (Patty Murray), Wisconsin (Russ Feingold).
DEMOCRAT FAVORED (5): Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln), Colorado (Michael Bennet), Connecticut (open seat — Chris Dodd retiring), Massachusetts special (open seat — Paul Kirk will not run), New York special (Kirsten Gillibrand).
TOSSUP DEM SEATS (4): Delaware special (open seat — Ted Kaufman will not run), Illinois (open seat — Roland Burris will not run), Nevada (Harry Reid), Pennsylvania (Arlen Specter).
EXPECTED DEM LOSSES (1): North Dakota (open seat — Byron Dorgan retiring).
EXPECTED GOP LOSSES (0): None at the moment.
TOSSUP GOP SEATS (4): Kentucky (open seat — Jim Bunning retiring), Missouri (open seat — Kit Bond retiring), New Hampshire (open seat — Judd Gregg retiring), Ohio (open seat — George Voinovich retiring).
REPUBLICAN FAVORED (3): Florida (open seat — George LeMieux will not run), Louisiana (David Vitter), North Carolina (Richard Burr).
SAFE REPUBLICAN (11): Alabama (Richard Shelby), Alaska (Lisa Murkowski), Arizona (John McCain), Georgia (Johnny Isakson), Idaho (Mike Crapo), Iowa (Charles Grassley), Kansas (open seat — Sam Brownback retiring), Oklahoma (Tom Coburn), South Carolina (Jim DeMint), South Dakota (John Thune), Utah (Bob Bennett).