Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic former governor of New Hampshire, announced Friday that she will challenge the vulnerable Republican incumbent, John Sununu, in next year’s Senate race. Shaheen stands a good chance of winning in increasingly blue New Hampshire. A University of New Hampshire poll conducted in July had her leading Sununu by a comfortable 16-point margin well before she decided to enter the race. Another Democratic former governor, Mark Warner, said Thursday that he will run for Senator John Warner’s seat in Virginia. (John Warner, who is unrelated to Mark Warner, is retiring after five terms in office.) Combined, the entries of Shaheen and Warner are a major blow to the GOP’s hopes of regaining control of the upper house.
The Republicans will have to defend 22 Senate seats in 2008, but the Democrats only have to defend 12 to maintain their current razor-thin majority. Now, with Warner the presumed favorite in Virginia and Shaheen’s strong challenge in a blue-leaning state, the Democrats look set to not just hold their majority but actually increase their lead.