Ensign Says Top Of Ticket Affecting Senate Races

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nevada Republican John Ensign says there's no
question Democrats are poised to pick a number of seats in the U.S.

Democratic leaders think they could end up with an elusive 60-40 majority thanks to a coattail effect from Barack Obama, as well as from the already weak economy and an unpopular war.

Ensign is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He says it's clear that the top of the ticket is affecting Senate races, along with the financial crisis. He says, quoting now, "It's a fairly toxic atmosphere out there" for Republicans.

Ensign acknowledged that Democrats could still exercise firm control by just coming close to the 60 votes. He says if they get to 57 or 58 seats, they'll be able to override a Senate filibuster on many issues because they always seem to be able to pick off a few Republican votes.

Democrats currently have 51 seats under their control, including two occupied by independents. But they are overwhelmingly favored
to pick up GOP-held seats in Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado,
three states where Republican senators are retiring.

Also on the list of endangered Republicans are: Sens. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina; John Sununu of New Hampshire; Norm Coleman of Minnesota; Gordon Smith of Oregon; Saxby Chambliss of Georgia; Roger Wicker of Mississippi and possibly even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-10-31-08 1643EDT