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« Fiorina Enters California Senate Race | Blog Home Page | Strategy Memo: Start Spreading The News »

Lessons To Be Learned (And Quickly For Some)

As everyone tries to explain what the elections last night mean for 2010, there's a cliche in some of the analysis: that the midterm elections are a lifetime away. There's no disputing that the general election is a full year away, but time is not on the side of many candidates as you look at the primary calendar. And two news items just today underscore the problems facing Republicans in particular as they plan for Senate races.

Believe it or not, the first primary election of 2010 is just 90 days away, in Illinois. Given the debate over New York-23 and its implications for the GOP, that may make Mark Kirk the latest test case in just how moderate or conservative a Republican can be to win a primary and, ultimately, the election. Today, Chris Cillizza reports that the Senate hopeful is appealing for Sarah Palin's endorsement. Her support for Doug Hoffman spurred Dede Scozzafava out of the race, but ultimately could not keep the seat from going to a Democrat. Kirk seems convinced that he needs her backing to win on February 2, however, before he can think about November.

A more significant problem for the GOP, however, comes as a result of NRSC chair John Cornyn's announcement today that the committee would not commit any resources in contested primaries. A day after tough Democratic losses, it had to feel like Christmas come early at the DSCC as they mapped out how this could change the entire playing field.

One could make the case that the GOP has primaries or the threats of primaries in every key Senate race except for Delaware. And now, would-be challengers who may have been holding off for fear of the NRSC's organizational might have seen a major roadblock taken away. Cornyn's announcement has local reporters across the country checking in with these candidates as well as the increasingly nervous Washington-preferred challengers (one, Carly Fiorina, announced her candidacy just today). And Democratic state committees and some candidates in these states have cranked out press releases celebrating the decision.

The calendar comes into play here, too, because some of the GOP's most contested primaries take place later in the calendar year, meaning that any major battle, particularly one expected in Florida, and others in New Hampshire, Colorado, and Connecticut, will produce a nominee with less time to recover before a general election campaign.

After the jump, a chronological clip-and-save of the 2010 primary season.

February 2
Illinois (Senate & Governor)

March 2
Texas (Senate & Governor)

May 4
Indiana (Senate)
North Carolina (Senate)
Ohio (Senate & Governor)

May 11
Nebraska (Governor)

May 18
Arkansas (Senate & Governor)
Kentucky (Senate)
Oregon (Senate & Governor)
Pennsylvania (Senate & Governor)

May 25
Idaho (Senate & Governor)

June 1
Alabama (Senate & Governor)
New Mexico (Governor)

June 8
California (Senate & Governor)
Iowa (Senate & Governor)
Maine (Governor)
Nevada (Senate & Governor)
North Dakota (Senate)
South Carolina (Senate & Governor)
South Dakota (Senate & Governor)

June 22
Utah (Senate & Governor)

July 20
Georgia (Senate & Governor)

July 27
Oklahoma (Senate & Governor)

August 3
Kansas (Senate & Governor)
Michigan (Senate & Governor)
Missouri (Senate)

August 5
Tennessee (Governor)

August 10
Colorado (Senate & Governor)
Connecticut (Senate & Governor)

August 17
Washington (Senate)
Wyoming (Governor)

August 24
Alaska (Senate & Governor)
Arizona (Senate & Governor)
Florida (Senate & Governor)

August 28
Louisiana (Senate)

September 14
Delaware (Senate)
Maryland (Senate & Governor)
Massachusetts (Governor)
Minnesota (Governor)
New Hampshire (Senate & Governor)
New York (Senate & Governor)
Rhode Island (Governor)
Vermont (Senate & Governor)
Wisconsin (Senate & Governor)

September 18
Hawaii (Senate & Governor)