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Only 19 state senate challengers topple incumbents in 2010

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September 29, 2010

Bill Ferguson, one of 19 challengers to defeat an incumbent state senator in a 2010 primary

By Leslie Graves

In a year characterized at the national level by fierce primary contests, a Ballotpedia analysis indicates a much lower level of competitiveness in state senate primaries.

In 2010, state senate elections are being held in 43 states, with 1,167 state senate seats at stake. There was no primary challenger in 708 of the 1,167 state senate districts in play in 2010, leaving 459 districts with a primary.

A total of just 19 challengers in 11 states defeated an incumbent state senator, including 12 Democrats and 7 Republicans.

The 19 challengers who toppled an incumbent represent 4.1% of all 459 incumbent-challenger primary contests in 2010, and 1.6% of all state senate seats at stake in the year.

Six of the victorious challengers were from Maryland. Minnesota, New York and West Virginia each had two successful primary challengers, while Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Nevada had one each.

Donkey symbol.png Successful Democratic Party challengers:


2010 State senate elections
Parties with candidates
Impact of term limits
Successful challengers
Defeated incumbents
State house elections
State senate elections
State legislative elections


New York:

South Dakota:


West Virginia:


Gop logo2.jpg Successful Republican Party challengers:







West Virginia:

(Note: The incumbent defeated by Lori Klein in Arizona had only been in office starting in 2010 as an appointee.)