First off, I hope you all had a terrific Thanksgiving break. I was back in Pittsburgh this past week (currently in San Diego visiting relatives, heading back to Los Angeles tonight) to welcome my newest baby niece into the world. So that’s why I went dark this past week. I’m now back and I’m doing some catch-up posting. Before we took off the for Thanksgiving, Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone released an article that reminded us that winning the Democratic U.S. Senate Majority is just as important as winning the White House as well as maintaining and growing our majority in Congress:
The fight to dislodge Donald Trump from the presidency has sparked unprecedented interest in the 2020 Democratic primary, drawing dozens of candidates, including no fewer than seven sitting senators. But the fight to wrest the Senate from Republican control — and oust Mitch McConnell as majority leader — is arguably just as important. Take it from Amy McGrath, the former Marine fighter pilot aiming to win McConnell’s Kentucky Senate seat, who sees curbing McConnell’s power as essential to healing our republic. “He’s the epitome of Washington dysfunction, everything we hate about politics,” she says. “You cannot drain the swamp until you get rid of Mitch McConnell.”
The stakes could hardly be higher. Unless Democrats flip the Senate, the grand plans of the presidential candidates are dead on arrival. Capturing the chamber is just as crucial if Trump is re-elected; it would give Democrats control of the legislative agenda, budget, and judicial confirmations, ending McConnell’s reign as Trump’s rubber stamp. “I’m not sure McConnell sees the Congress anymore as an independent branch of government,” says Sen. Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat, “but simply to be there for the president.”
Republicans currently hold a three-seat edge in the Senate, 53 to 47. At first glance, the 2020 electoral map looks favorable to Democrats. Republicans must defend 23 seats to the Democrats’ 12. But the terrain is challenging: 20 of the GOP incumbents hail from states Trump carried in 2016.
Still, nonpartisan analysts like Democratic chances. “The Senate’s in play,” says Nathan Gonzales, editor of Inside Elections, which handicaps federal races. “Democrats have enough takeover opportunities to get there without having to win everything on the table.”
The path to a Democratic majority will be shaped by political dynamics that the candidates can’t fully control — including the tumult of Trump’s possible impeachment and the strength of the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nominee. In 2016, every Senate contest went in the direction of the presidential vote.
Concerning some political watchers is the gap between the agenda of Democratic front-runners like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — who are promising a wealth tax, free college, and a Green New Deal — and the Democratic Party’s favored Senate candidates, who are running as reformers, not revolutionaries, reflecting the pragmatic, donor-friendly ideology of the Senate’s top recruiter, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
Republicans hope to weaponize this dissonance. “Democrats are going to have a hard time navigating the top of the ticket,” says a GOP strategist close to the Senate fight. Republicans are also counting themselves lucky it isn’t worse. Democrats failed to land several recruits who could have turned their states into toss-ups — including former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Gov. Steve Bullock in Montana. “We’re very happy with the field,” insists Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. “The biggest challenge Chuck and I had was that we had good choices.”
A dozen races will be vital in determining control of the Senate, including two seats where Democrats must play defense, and 10 pickup opportunities, presented below in rough order of their likelihood of flipping. “We’ve got a good shot at this,” says Cortez Masto, running through the math for Senate control, with and without a Democratic vice president’s tiebreaking vote. “If we take the White House, we need three seats; if we don’t, we need four. I’m confident we have more than that.”
While U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D. AL) and Gary Peters (D. MI) are mentioned as the most vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbents, Dickinson emphasizes that races in Colorado, Arizona, Maine, North Carolina, Iowa, and both Georgia’s main and special elections are the bigs ones to watch that could help Democrats win the majority they need. They also mention that Kansas, Texas, and Kentucky are all wild card races to watch out for. Give the article a read and please do donate and get involved with these Democratic Senate candidates campaigns: