10 Races to Watch in 2010

But he is facing a stiff challenge from former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio who is backed by the conservative Club for Growth and many of the state's TEA Party activists.

Crist's No. 1 conservative apostasy is that he embraced President Obama's economic stimulus package. Crist further complicated his situation by inaccurately telling CNN that he "didn't endorse" the stimulus. Crist's camp is fighting back, however, and is making a concerted effort to paint Rubio as less than a down-the-line conservative.

Two Florida Democrats are competing for the Senate nomination: Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre.

Meek is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who backed Hillary Clinton for president and is now being helped by former President Bill Clinton. The Meek camp, which was recently allowed to meet with reporters at the offices of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, thinks that Rubio would be tougher to beat than Crist. Although Meek would try to paint either Republican as wanting to take Florida back to "Bush-style" economics, the Meek camp thinks it can also paint Crist as walking away from the problems facing state government. Democrats also fear that Rubio, who is Cuban-American, would be able to cut into Democratic support among Latinos.

Ferre, who led Miami from 1975-83, was born in the American territory of Puerto Rico. He has come out against President Obama's troop build-up in Afghanistan and has accused Meek, who supports the president, of putting party ahead of sound judgment.

Missouri Senate

Next year's Missouri Senate race features two of the best-known families in state politics.

The Democratic candidate is Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. She is the daughter of Jean Carnahan, who served in the U.S. Senate, and the late Mel Carnahan, who was governor of Missouri.

The Republican candidate is Rep. Roy Blunt, the former House Republican Whip, whose son, Matt, served as the state's governor from 2005-09.

Democrats are bullish on Carnahan's chances: Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (D.S.C.C.), recently told ABC's "Top Line" that Missouri is the party's best pick-up opportunity in 2010.

Carnahan's strength in the race is that she holds statewide office and isn't burdened by a legislative voting record that she has to defend. She is currently driving Republicans in the state crazy by not staking out positions on controversial issues.

Blunt, for his part, has the national environment going for him. Both candidates will be well-funded: at the end of the third quarter, Blunt had $2.2 million on hand and Carnahan had $1.8 million. The outcome in Missouri will be closely scrutinized for clues about the 2012 presidential race: in 2008, the state went for John McCain over Barack Obama by a narrow 4,000-vote margin.

Nevada Senate

Republicans are hoping to turn Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., into the Tom Daschle of 2010. Back in 2004, Daschle, who was the Democratic leader at the time, was defeated in his bid for re-election by then-Rep. John Thune, R-S.D.

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