2010 ought to have the potential to be one of those hot years in Northwest politics: All three states have U.S. Senate seats up, and not only that, all three are held by the states' senior senators.
And here we are with 11 months to go, and no serious contests have developed in any of them.
Part of it is that the three senators - Democrat Patty Murray in Washington, Democrat Ron Wyden in Oregon and Republican Mike Crapo in Idaho - are all fairly well liked and have established strong voting track records. In 2004, Murray pulled a landslide against Republican George Nethercutt, a solid candidate with serious assets and substantial funding. That same year, though, Wyden was only marginally challenged by the quiet campaign of Al King, a barely-known rancher. And Crapo had no Democratic challenge at all - a first for either major party in a Senate race in Idaho history; but that came after a landslide win in 1998.
There's still no Idaho Democrat announcing against Crapo, though one or two little-known figures are talking about it, quietly. The same situation obtains, more or less, in Oregon. The probability is that the opposition parties will fill their ballot slots in both states, but that's probably as far as they get.
And in Washington? Joni Balter's Seattle Times column today scans the Murray situation and finds not much by way of realistic prospects for the Republicans. This race would be problematic for all the major names. Possibly the best Republican contender would be Attorney General Rob McKenna, but he'd need to be out raising money, hard and fast. His odds of beating Murray still wouldn't be good, not as good as winning the governorship in 2012 (which is what he seems to have in mind, and which may be a realistic goal).
So far looks like three strikes, and three easy re-elects, in the Northwest Senate picture.
EDITED Names in the 2004 Washington races corrected.