The Washington Times - April 2, 2010, 11:40PM

Mid-term election season is well under way, and 2010 is likely to be a remarkable year for a number of statewide elections with challengers taking on incumbents sitting in Capitol Hill offices and Governor seats across the country. The Water Cooler will begin a regular round-up of some these races and other stories relating to the elections happening around the nation, so be sure to stop by and check out who may be running for office in your state.

This Week: New York Senate race, Michigan’s Dan Benishek, Wisconsin’s Sean Duffy

(NY Senate): New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, has a number of potential Republican challengers looking to take her seat in 2010. Among them are former Congressman Joseph DioGuardi, former Reagan and G.H.W. Bush  administration economic policy advisor David Malpass, and former New York Port Authority Commissioner Bruce Blakeman. While Ms. Gillibrand is not as politically strong as other New York Democrats, as this will be her first run for the seat she was initially appointed to by New York Democrat Governor David Paterson following Hillary Clinton’s departure from the Senate, nevertheless, possible Democratic primary candidates are no longer considering challenging her. With well known individuals like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New York Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman, and former Bush administration official Dan Senor no longer considering a run on the GOP ticket, the strongest shot New York Republicans have right now, according to Real Clear Politics  polling, is former New York Governor George Pataki.

(MI - 01) Dan Benishek: A previously unknown Republican candidate for Rep. Bart Stupak’s seat in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, Dan Benishek found his popularity and war chest shoot up instantly following Mr. Stupak’s announcement he and other self-proclaimed pro-life Democrats would vote for the passage of the health care bill. As a result of Mr. Stupak’s 180 on the health care bill, opponents of the health care legislation looked at Dr. Benishek, who only had a Face Book page for a campaign website when those who felt betrayed by Mr. Stupak found the Republican candidate. Politically, Mr. Stupak’s once assured re-election is not only looking questionable in November, but he is also facing also an ethics probe on Capitol Hill.   

(WI - 07) Sean Duffy: Sean Duffy went from being a reality show cast member on MTV’s Real World San Francisco to becoming District Attorney in Wisconsin’s Ashland County who is challenging Wisconsin Representative David Obey, a Democrat, in this year’s Congressional mid term elections. Rep. Obey has won this seat overwhelmingly for the past forty years, but according to CQ Politics, Mr. Duffy would enter the race with 40 percent of the vote and likely exceed that total moving the Republican District Attorney from CQ Politics rating of the race from Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic.