In the past few months, the 2020 U.S. senate election cycle has seen
some significant changes, especially in the names of those who seek
to be on the November ballot.
Most recently, Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, whose
seat was not up next year, announced his early retirement. His GOP
appointed replacement will now have to run in 2020. Georgia is no
longer safe Republican territory, and the state’s other senator, David
Perdue, also a Republican, is up for re-election next year. The GOP
Georgia governor is therefore under pressure to make a strong
appointment to replace Isakson.
Two other GOP incumbents, in Tennessee and Kansas, have decided
not to seek re-election in 2020, and three GOP incumbents running
for re-election, Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, Senator Cory
Gardener of Colorado, and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina,
are considered vulnerable.
Should the Democrats win four of these seven seats, and not lose any
of their own, they would regain control of the senate in 2021.
However, there are at least four Democratic incumbent seats up in
2020 that the liberal party might lose. One is in usually heavily
conservative Alabama where a controversial GOP nominee lost in
2018, and is running again in 2020 against the Democrat who beat
him. If Alabama Republicans fail to put up any other nominee, they
would probably lose an almost certain pick-up. Similarly, in normally
conservative Kansas, another controversial Republican is running,
and if the state party can’t find a better nominee, they risk losing a
seat they now hold --- and otherwise should win.
In Michigan, the Democratic incumbent, Senator Gary Peters, is
considered quite vulnerable, and the GOP has an especially strong
challenger, John James, running in the race. In New Hampshire,
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen is thought to be vulnerable,
especially if former Trump staffer Corey Lewandowki challenges
her. Finally, Democratic (DFL) Senator Tina Smith could have a
serious race now that a damaging GOP primary battle has been
avoided, and former Congressman Jason Lewis is the probable
nominee challenging her in a state that the president wants to win.
The one Democratic Senator to retire so far is from New Mexico,
but this liberal state is expected to replace him with another
The Democratic Party has recruited likely strong challengers in
Arizona and Colorado. The Republicans are likely to recruit strong
challengers in Michigan and New Hampshire. Altogether, ten
senate races are currently considered in play in 2020.
But with unexpected resignations, retirements, and the course of
the also upcoming presidential election unknown. other senate
seats could become competitive in the coming months.
The GOP controls the senate 53-47. It is likely but not certain that,
14 months out, the Democrats will make at least some net gains.
Whether those gains will be enough to retake control remains to be
seen, but it is almost certain that, with Donald Trump at the top of
his party’s ticket, the Republicans will have a voter turnout asset
they lacked in the “blue wave” 2018 midterm elections. Less
certain is whether the Democratic nominee will be a greater or
lesser turnout asset.
Copyright (c) 2019 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.