PAC For A Change – Races to Watch
Mitch McConnell is deeply unpopular in his home state of Kentucky, but he has an important advantage. Because of his position as Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has the ability to raise campaign funds like rain falling from the sky. And you can count on McConnell to use that money to tarnish his likely opponent, Amy McGrath. (McConnell has already depicted McGrath’s name on a headstone in his graveyard of political opponents.) McGrath is a former Marine fighter pilot running a vigorous campaign. McConnell has an edge, but he will be tested as the impeachment inquiry moves forward and he struggles to shake off being tagged as “Moscow Mitch.” We’ve already started campaigning against Mitch McConnell – check out our 35 Years of Bad ad at pacforachange.com/videos.
After losing the 2018 election to Kyrsten Sinema, Martha McSally was appointed to fill John McCain’s seat for two years. If she is reelected in 2020, she would fill the remainder of that term and have to run again in 2022. In 2018, McSally ran as a Trump clone (as she was in the House, voting with Trump 97% of the time) and a McCain critic. This appeared to hurt her last time and will again. Mark Kelly, the Democratic candidate and former astronaut, Navy veteran, and husband of Gabby Giffords, is a formidable foe for McSally.
Long-time Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has struggled to find his footing during the Trump Administration, leaving him potentially vulnerable as he faces reelection in 2020. While Graham showed a remarkable openness to bipartisanship and looked to John McCain’s leadership in the past, since McCain’s death, Graham has shown no ability to separate himself from Trump. Graham is being challenged by a formidable Democratic candidate, former state Democratic chairman Jaime Harrison. As impeachment plays out, Graham will be tested as the story of Donald Trump’s chaos and malfeasance play out. Harrison is working hard and building the campaign warchest that he needs to run a strong campaign. We’ve started telling voters the truth about Graham – check out our Flip-Flop ad at pacforachange.com/videos
Texas has the reputation of being deeply red, although in 2018 two Congressional Districts flipped from red to blue in Texas. And this year “Texodus,” is underway. Fully 25 percent of Texas GOP House members have already announced their retirements. More robust local and Congressional campaigns can create a surge of turnout and help the Democratic Senate candidate. Encouraged by Beto O’Rourke’s close race against Ted Cruz, many Democrats are lining up against incumbent John Cornyn. Cornyn continues to be one of Trump’s most vocal supporters, and most reliable votes, casting votes with Trump more than 95 percent of the time. In fact, Donald Trump, Jr. has called Cornyn Trump’s “biggest ally.” All of this combines to put Texas on our watch list.
This purple state is trending blue. In 2018, Mainers elected a Democratic governor (to succeed the Neanderthal Republican Paul LePage) and replaced a GOP Member of Congress. Senator Susan Collins had been historically very popular, but she infuriated her constituents and thousands of grassroots Democratic donors with her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh and especially her specious speech casting Kavanaugh as an even-handed moderate. If a strong Democratic challenger emerges, Collins may be headed for the exit – possibly retiring before the campaign begins. (2014: Collins 67 – Bellows 31)
In 2018, Democrats flipped the state’s Congressional delegation from 3-1 Republican to 3-1 Democratic. 2020 should be another good year, partly because Trump’s approval rating has tanked and Democratic presidential candidates will be camped out in Iowa for the next 12 months. A recent state poll showed voters disapproving of Trump’s role in the shutdown by a 17-point margin (39-56%). If Democrats are running well against Trump – and if former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack runs for Senate – Ernst could be in trouble. (2014: Ernst 52 – Bruce Braley 44)
This purple state is a big question mark. Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012, and Trump won by 3.7% in 2016. In 2018, Dems chipped away at GOP state legislative majorities but didn’t flip any House seats. First-term GOP Senator Thom Tillis has been squirrelly on the shutdown, calling for negotiation but chiefly blaming the Dems. Like Colorado’s Cory Gardner, Tillis has alienated constituents by supporting Trump far more than they do, voting with the president 95% of the time. North Carolina will be a heavier lift for Dems than blue Colorado, but it’s definitely in play. (2014: Tills 49 – Hagan 47)
Two Senate races will be held in Georgia next year because of the retirement of Johnny Isakson. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is expected to appoint a Senator to replace Isakson in early 2020, and that person will stand for election in November 2020. Georgia is trending blue, evidenced by the near-victory of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. At least one Democrat is running: Matt Lieberman, son of former Senator Joe Lieberman. Other Democrats are considering running. This will likely go to a runoff election in January 2021. We are watching this closely to see who emerges from the primary.
David Perdue is a freshman Republican running for reelection for the first time. The open Senate seat in Georgia discussed above has led to uncertainty, as potential candidates assess their chances and the likelihood of success in each race. Several candidates are considering running for one of the two Georgia Senate seats, including Jon Ossoff, known for running in the CD6 special election, and Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. Also considering the race is Sarah Riggs Amico who ran for Lt. Governor garnering 48 percent in 2018. Another race to watch closely.