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Bennett says GOP control of Senate possible

Published: Thursday, Jan. 21 2010 10:09 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, says the GOP win in the Massachusetts Senate race has some Republicans suddenly sounding a bit like Don Quixote singing "The Impossible Dream," as they believe working to retake control of the Senate in elections this year is not just tilting at windmills.

"With (Scott) Brown's victory, there are even some Republicans who are beginning to dream dreams of gaining back control of the Senate," said Bennett, who is part of the Senate GOP leadership team as counsel to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Bennett says such a comeback for Republicans — after spending a year on the short end of a 60-40 "filibuster-proof" supermajority — is an extreme long shot, but suddenly has at least become mathematically possible with the win in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.

Bennett said for such an impossible dream to become real, "We would have to win every seat that's in play, plus one or two that are leaning Democratic and are not in the toss-up column."

But he said Brown's win shows that some seats that pundits have thought likely leaned Democratic may actually be toss-ups, "like, for example, California" and a seat now held by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

With that, Republicans taking back Senate control "is mathematically possible now when it wasn't before," Bennett said.

"I'm not predicting that, but the very fact that is now possible, whereas a year ago we Republicans were hoping we could hold onto 40, demonstrates how much the landscape has changed," he said.

Bennett is in the middle of his own tough Senate campaign this year, but mostly against several conservative Republicans. The Utah seat is seen as likely remaining in Republican hands, no matter what happens to Bennett.

Bennett said he is not in denial about facing a tough challenge. "There are some of my colleagues who are in denial and think they are in no trouble. I realize I need to run as good of a race as I have ever run," he said, adding he has worked hard organizing for a year and feels "very, very good about our campaign."

e-mail: lee@desnews.com

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