AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
Following a disastrous two years under Democrat rule, Republicans appear to be in a prime position to retake majority control of the House of Representatives this November. Over in the Senate, however, things remain less certain about Republican chances to do the same, even if the GOP still has good reason to be optimistic based on historical trends and public polling data.
In total, 34 Senators are up for reelection this term. 20 are Republicans, while 14 are Democrats. In order to retake the Senate, Republicans will have to win at least one seat currently held by a Democrat – assuming they can hold all 20 of their own seats, no easy task even in what looks to be a good year for the GOP. While 17 of the Republican seats up this year seem at this point to be safe holds, the GOP will face tough races in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, where Pat Toomey and Richard Burr are both retiring, and in Wisconsin, a purple state where incumbent Ron Johnson has become a favorite target of the left.
Democrats, while defending fewer seats overall in 2022, have more vulnerable incumbents, and are running under a Democrat brand that has become quite unpopular thanks to a host of radical policies that have wreaked havoc on American life. Here are five Senate seats currently held by Democrats that Republicans hope to flip this fall.
Georgia – Raphael Warnock
Republicans are particularly eager to win back Warnock’s seat after what transpired in Georgia in 2020. Incumbent Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp following Senator Johnny Isakson’s retirement in 2019 due to health reasons, was running in a special election to finish out the remainder of Isakson’s term. However, after neither she nor Warnock gained 51% of the vote in the November election, the two-faced off in a runoff election in January of 2021. Warnock defeated Loeffler by 2 percentage points. When Republican David Perdue lost to Jon Ossoff in another runoff for Georgia’s other Senate seat, Democrats gained an effective majority in the chamber.
Now, Warnock is up for reelection just two years later, this time for a full 6-year term. However, voters may not take too kindly to Warnock’s extreme positions on a number of issues, most notably his outspoken support for Democrats’ repeated attempts at a federal takeover of elections that would have eliminated numerous election integrity measures like Voter ID and instituted universal mail-in voting and ballot harvesting.
Leading the field to unseat Warnock is former University of Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker, who has earned the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Walker enjoys celebrity status in his home state and has excellent name recognition, particularly for a first-time candidate. Also running on the Republican side are state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and former Navy SEAL and Trump White House appointee Latham Saddler.
Nevada – Catherine Cortez Masto
After a three-point victory in 2016, Masto is running for her second term in 2022. Since taking office, Masto has taken a number of extreme positions on issues like immigration, abortion, and climate change, which could leave her out of favor with many voters in Nevada, which typically votes Democratic but has grown more Republican since the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
Leading the field to unseat Masto is former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who has earned the endorsement of both former President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Laxalt is hoping to capitalize on the GOP’s inroads with Hispanics in 2016 and 2020, as well as Nevada’s large population of working-class voters.
New Hampshire – Maggie Hassan
While most mainstream outlets have largely ignored this race, Hassan may be one of the most vulnerable Democrat incumbents this fall. An October poll from the University of New Hampshire found that just 33% of New Hampshire residents have a favorable opinion of Hassan, while 51% viewed her unfavorably. Moreover, just 28% of Granite Staters say the U.S. is “heading in the right direction” – something that is no doubt tied to Hassan’s support for radical Democrat policies in the Senate like an elections bill that would have threatened New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status.
However, Republicans have thus far failed to capitalize on Hassan’s apparent weak position, with no candidate rising to the top of the pool of potential challengers. The two most high-profile Republicans in the state, Governor Chris Sununu and former Senator Kelly Ayotte (who lost to Hassan by 0.1 percentage points in 2016), both announced that they would not run. Don Bolduc, a former Army Brigadier General, appears to be leading the field, but currently lags significantly behind Hassan in fundraising efforts.
Arizona – Mark Kelly
Kelly first won his Senate seat by ousting former Representative Martha McSally, who was appointed to replace the late John McCain. Now, Kelly is running for a full 6-year term. He is a skilled fundraiser and has amassed an impressive war chest heading into the election. However, Arizona has been particularly hard hit by Democrats’ open border policies. Kelly also has a far more liberal record than his more moderate counterpart, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, something that does not bode well for Kelly in a year where Democratic extremism is on the ballot.
The field of challengers to take on Kelly is a crowded one, and with a late primary on August 2, a frontrunner may not become clear for some time. The two most likely candidates appear to be Attorney General Mark Brnovich and venture capitalist Blake Masters, who has the backing of Peter Thiel, a prominent conservative donor with close ties to former President Donald Trump. Although Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate, his approval will likely go a long way toward determining who the eventual nominee will be.
Colorado – Michael Bennet
Bennet will be running for a third term in 2022 in a state that has become more and more Democratic in recent years. Unsurprisingly, most pundits expect Bennet to keep his seat.
However, Colorado has also seen its share of problems related to illegal immigration, and spiraling inflation has hit the Centennial State especially hard. Should the border crisis continue to escalate, and the economy continue to worsen, a Republican with the right messaging may just have a shot to send Bennet packing this November.
By most estimations, Republicans almost assure themselves control of the Senate by winning three or more of these races. Winning just one or two and securing a majority is still possible, but will require an exceptionally strong showing from GOP incumbents.
However, both protecting Republican incumbents and effectively attacking vulnerable Democrats can be accomplished in largely the same way – by emphasizing Democrats’ radical policies. Unlike Republican challengers, incumbent Democrats have a voting record that they must run on, and it is one that likely does not sit well with most Americans. While all Democrats may be vulnerable on different issues, they are all complicit in supporting the progressive agenda that has been pushed by Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer all throughout this Congress.
A similar strategy helped Republicans hold every GOP seat and flip 12 Democratic seats in 1980, handing Republicans control of the chamber for the first time since 1955. In that election, voter backlash to the deeply unpopular Jimmy Carter, largely over economic concerns – not so dissimilar from what Joe Biden is facing today – swept Ronald Reagan and a Republican Senate into power. While Republicans will have to wait another two years for a chance at the White House, they can capitalize on the same sort of frustration with Democrats’ failed policies this year, and perhaps stave off complete disaster by placing a much-needed check on Biden’s radical ambitions.
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