Control of the U.S. Senate increasingly appears to hang on the fate of an unlikely trio of Democratic incumbents who were elected along with Bill Clinton in 1992, hail from liberal-leaning states and have lived mostly charmed political lives.
At the start of the year, few observers thought the Senate was up for grabs in part because it seemed implausible that Washington’s Patty Murray, California’s Barbara Boxer and Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold were in any serious danger.
All three had won their last elections comfortably. And they were stockpiling the sort of money that flows readily to three-term senators.
But with the political environment turning toxic for Democrats and incumbents, Murray drawing perhaps her toughest possible opponent and Boxer and Feingold facing self-funders, the three Class of 1992 veterans are in the fight of their long political lives as the battle for control of the Senate moves from traditional battlegrounds to blue state venues.
The Senate majority could rest in their hands since it’s difficult to conjure a scenario where Republicans could pick up the 10 seats they need to reclaim the Senate without knocking off at least two of the three.
None of them will be easy to defeat—each is keenly attuned to the threat and has begun hammering the opposition. Senior Democrats, however, are increasingly worried about the trio and especially Murray and Feingold.