Introducing the NewsHour Senate Six

By: Christina Bellantoni

Sen. Scott Brown, who won a special election in 2010 to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, will face off against democrat Elizabeth Warren this fall. The contest is expected to be one of the tightest and most-watched in the country.

The presidential race is not the only contest that could change the course of the nation this fall.

The NewsHour is introducing the Senate Six — a handful of races that we’ll track most closely this election year.

A third of the Senate seats are on the ballot in November, and these six are not the only competitive races. But each of these contests will tell us a lot about the direction the nation is headed, and they will serve as the NewsHour’s guide to the battle for the majority this fall.

Republicans need just four seats to win control of the chamber, or three should they win the presidency and the GOP vice president would become the tie-breaking vote. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is ready for battle, having already reserved $25 million ads.

Our Senate Six is broken down into three categories.

True Battlegrounds: Montana and Virginia

Polls in these states have been showing virtual ties for months, and you shouldn’t expect that to change.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester came to Washington after a surprise, narrow win in 2006. He unseated Sen. Conrad Burns in a Democratic wave year. The margin was so close (less than 3,600 votes) it wasn’t declared until the day after the election, and that — coupled with Jim Webb’s Virginia victory — meant Democrats would now be in charge of the Senate.

Tester, a dirt farmer, has represented his state by sometimes going against his own party leadership, but the GOP is working to tie him to President Obama in part because of his support for the health care reform law. He’ll face Rep. Denny Rehberg, who, as the state’s at-large Congressman, has already been winning statewide

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