2020 Senate Review – Part II

By Jim Ellis

March 26, 2019 — The second of our three-part Senate review covers the races alphabetically from Louisiana through New Mexico:

  • Louisiana – Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) – Sen. Cassidy will seek a second term next year but, as in Kentucky, no real action will occur in the federal campaigns until the 2019 governor’s race is decided. Currently, Sen. Cassidy faces no serious opposition. Likely Republican

  • Maine – Sen. Susan Collins (R) – Sen. Collins appears near the top of the 2020 Democratic target list, but she may not be as vulnerable as it might appear on paper. The four-term senator is a good fit for her constituency; she racked up win percentages of 67 and 61 in her past two elections (2014; 2008) and, unless Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/ Portland) runs, the Dems don’t appear to have a top tier candidate.
    Neither newly elected Democratic Gov. Janet Mills nor Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) appear to be looking at a Senate run. Currently, Lean Republican and closer to Likely Republican than Toss-up

  • Massachusetts – Sen. Ed Markey (D) – Sen. Markey’s only concern is a potential Democratic primary challenger and, with Rep. Seth Moulten (D-Salem) looking more toward the presidential contest than the Senate, the veteran incumbent should be secure for a second full term. Adding his long tenure in the House, Sen. Markey will be in Congress 44 consecutive years at the end of the current session. Safe Democratic

  • Michigan – Sen. Gary Peters (D) – Republican manufacturing company owner and retired Army Ranger John James’ better-than-expected performance against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) last year, and first-term Sen. Peters’ below-average polling numbers are moving Michigan fast up the Republican target list. Assuming James runs, the Michigan Senate race could become quite interesting. Lean Democratic

  • Minnesota – Sen. Tina Smith (D) – Republicans were enthused with special election Senate candidate Karin Housley in 2018, but appointed Sen. Smith’s 53-42 percent victory now makes her a less enticing target. Still, the state is on the GOP conversion list and Housley, who this time will have to relinquish her state Senate seat, is again a potential candidate. Defeated 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Donna Bergstrom, a retired Marine Corps officer, is also a possible candidate. Currently, Lean Democratic but could move either toward Likely Democratic or Toss up

  • Mississippi – Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) – Like Minnesota’s Sen. Smith, Mississippi Sen. Hyde-Smith must run for a full-term next year after winning her own 2018 special election. She is again likely to face former US agriculture secretary and Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D), who the senator defeated 54-46 percent in the special. It is likely that Sen. Hyde-Smith will have a less controversial run in the 2020 general election than she did in 2018. Currently Lean Republican but headed toward Likely Republican

  • Montana – Sen. Steve Daines (R) – Democrats have apparently lost their top candidate recruitment target as Gov. Steve Bullock (D) looks to announce his presidential candidacy. With most of the political attention geared to the open governor’s race – Gov. Bullock is ineligible to seek re-election – Sen. Daines could draw only minor opposition. Likely Republican

  • Nebraska – Sen. Ben Sasse (R) – Sen. Sasse seeks an initial re-election and his only real obstacle is a potential Republican primary. His carrying of the Senate amendment to prohibit live birth abortion and siding with President Trump on his emergency declaration for the border wall funding was designed to protect his right flank. The moves will probably work. Sen. Sasse appears in strong shape for re-nomination and re-election. Safe Republican

  • New Hampshire – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) – The Granite State has been America’s most politically inconsistent entity during the 21st Century. In many elections partisan waves have occurred from the top of the ballot to the bottom, only to be reversed two years later.
    Sen. Shaheen has already announced for a third term, and though the Republicans have yet to field a candidate, the chances for a competitive 2020 campaign are high. Of the names mentioned, including former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), only one draws even with the incumbent through early polling: Gov. Chris Sununu (R). If the two-term governor (New Hampshire allows its governors only two-year terms) decides to run, this is a toss-up campaign. If not, Sen. Shaheen becomes a clear favorite. Likely Democratic today, but the outlook changes if Gov. Sununu runs

  • New Jersey – Sen. Cory Booker (D) – Sen. Booker is a declared presidential candidate, but the New Jersey legislature and governor changed state election law last year to allow individuals to simultaneously seek more than one office. Therefore, regardless of how Sen. Booker performs in the presidential race, his Senate seat awaits. Unless Booker wins the national nomination, he is set to secure a second term in his current position. Safe Democratic

  • New Mexico – Sen. Tom Udall (D) – Sen. Udall was first elected to the Senate in 2008, after winning the New Mexico attorney general’s position in 1990, and securing his first US House term in 1998. He is a lock to win a third Senate term next year. Safe Democratic

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