Ratings Changes in Two New Senate Open Seats

Nathan L. Gonzales February 10, 2011 · 11:01 AM EST

Two Senate retirements this week pull two seats into more competitive categories.

In Virginia, Sen. Jim Webb’s retirement is a significant problem for Democrats. Webb would have been difficult to paint as a Washington insider, but now that he’s not seeking a second term, his open seat becomes more difficult to hold. Former governor/current Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine and former Cong. Tom Perriello generally are seen as the Democrats’ best options, but each has serious liabilities. The party might be better off finding an outsider who is less defined by national politics. Move to Toss-Up.

In Arizona, Sen. Jon Kyl’s retirement could be a headache for Republicans, since they will now be forced to defend an open seat. Current and former members of the Arizona congressional delegation are likely to take a look at running, but neither party has an automatic successor to Kyl. While the Grand Canyon State leans Republican, the Senate race certainly is more competitive than it was yesterday. Move to Lean Republican.