As the 2010 midterm election approaches and Americans prepare to head to the polls, the pundits are forecasting a banner night for Republicans. Many are predicting gains of well over 50 seats in the House of Representatives, more than the 39 needed to gain a majority, and control of the Speaker's gavel. In the Senate, a GOP net gain of between seven and nine seats is likely, which would leave Republicans just short of the 10 seats needed for control of the upper chamber.
Many seats expected to be hotly contested and extremely close are in states or districts that are significant for the dairy industry. In Wisconsin, Senator Russ Feingold (D) is facing a strong challenge from businessman Ron Johnson (R). In Pennsylvania, former congressman Pat Toomey (R) is facing off with Representative Joe Sestak (D) in the race for Senator Arlen Specter's (D) seat. California Senator Barbara Boxer (D) is also facing her toughest challenge to date from business executive Carly Fiorina (R).
In addition, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, is widely expected to lose her seat to Representative John Boozman (R-AR). That means, if Democrats keep control of the Senate, the chairmanship of the powerful committee gearing up to write the next Farm Bill will shift to another, as-yet-undetermined senior Democrat on the committee.
Incumbents in key dairy districts, such as Representatives Steve Kagen (D-WI-8), Jerry McNerney (D-CA-11), Betsy Markey (D-CO-4) and Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD-AL), all face tough re-election battles as well. While there are certain to be at least 43 new members of the House of Representatives as a result of retirements, pundits are predicting an additional 40 to 50 incumbents, mostly Democrats, will lose their seats.
For the dairy industry, this will mean getting to know many new names and faces.
"Republicans are expected to gain seats in both the House and Senate, likely enough to win the majority in the House," said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president for legislative affairs and economic policy. "We'll have to work proactively to establish relationships with new members of the 112th Congress early on to ensure we're effective down the road."
IDFA members are encouraged to visit www.dairycounts.org, IDFA's political involvement program, for more information on the 2010 midterm elections.