By Samantha Kimmey
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Olympia Snowe showed her importance to the Senate's pro-choice firewall when she voted against the Blunt Amendment. After she retires her most likely GOP successor on this issue is Hawaii's former governor, Linda Lingle.
While representing New Mexico's 1st District from 1998 to 2009, Wilson voted in support of embryonic stem cell research and voted against a 1999 amendment to prevent the FDA from testing and approving drugs that chemically induce abortion. She was criticized by far-right conservative groups that claimed she supported tax hikes, reported Congressional Quarterly Roll Call in 2011. Though her record is considered fairly conservative by Democratic standards – she voted with her party 89 percent of the time while in office – she could be a target for ultra-conservative groups.
If Lingle and Wilson are the only two victors--which at this point looks possible-- GOP women will only manage to hold on to their five Senate seats, given the retirements of Snowe and Hutchison.
Snowe's retirement also critically hampers Republican chances of claiming a Senate majority, since liberal-leaning Maine could go blue in November. Six Republicans are running for the seat, one of which is state Sen. Debra Plowman; but Angus King, the liberal-leaning independent former governor, is the clear frontrunner at the moment, according to ABC News.
To add another GOP women's seat to the Senate, the party's best chances currently rest with the following candidates.
Linda McMahon, the pro-choice former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is vying for Joe Lieberman's open seat in Connecticut and has raised well over a million dollars. But she would face a Democrat, Christopher Murphy, who has over $3 million. McMahon just ran for Connecticut's other Senate seat, in 2010, and lost. The primary is in August.
Sarah Steelman, Missouri state senator, also has a chance to pull out another U.S. Senate seat for GOP women. Steelman is running for the Senate seat currently occupied by Democrat Claire McCaskill, who will be running for her second term this year. The race is considered a tossup in the general election, but Steelman is running against two others for the Republican nomination, including current U.S. Rep. Todd Akin. By the end of 2011, all three campaigns had over one million dollars, though Akin was slightly leading Steelman, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But the primary isn't until August, giving all the candidates months to get ahead – or fall behind.
Deb Fischer, Nebraska state senator, is running in the state's U.S. Senate race. The seat, opened up by retiring Democrat Ben Nelson, would be an unlikely win for Fischer; as of the end of 2011, she had about $300,000, compared to Jon Bruning, who had about $2.8 million. The primary is in May.
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Samantha Kimmey is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York.
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