Senate Plans

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 31, 2017
— Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), two of the Senate’s most elderly members, were at the top of the potential retirement list in 2018. But, as we mentioned in our updates during the preceding 10 days, both are now sending re-election signals.

Below is a re-cap of the 21 senators who have made public comments about their 2018 campaign status (a total of 33 are in-cycle):

California: Sen. Feinstein stated during a radio interview within the past few days that she is “leaning” toward seeking re-election, feeling that her age during the next campaign (85) will not be a particular detriment either to her political ability or in representing her constituents. She stopped short, however, of making a formal campaign announcement.

Delaware: Sen. Tom Carper (D) said in early December that he has not yet decided whether he will seek a fourth term in 2018. The senator has been in elective office for 40 consecutive years, and will be 72 at the time of the next election.

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson (D) was also thought to be a retirement possibility, considering that he will be 76 years of age in 2018, and will complete 30 years of congressional service in that same year. Repeatedly, however, Sen. Nelson has said that he will seek a fourth term next year.

Indiana: In what promises to be a hotly contested campaign, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) announced his re-election intention in January, and is beginning to hire political staff.

Maine: Sen. Angus King (I) underwent prostate cancer surgery in 2015, but said at that time that his health status would not alter his re-election plans. He reiterated in May that he would seek a second term in 2018.

Maryland: Sen. Ben Cardin (D) spent 20 years in the Maryland legislature, 20 years in the US House of Representatives, and he will complete 12 years in the Senate come 2018 when turning 75 years of age. He says he has not yet decided whether he will seek another term.

Massachusetts: Earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) publicly stated that she will seek re-election in 2018.

Minnesota: While openly deliberating about entering the 2018 governor’s race, a contest that she would have begun as a clear favorite, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) ended such speculation in December when she announced for a third senatorial term.

Missouri: Facing what will be a tough re-election campaign in a state that continues to turn more Republican, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) said in September that she will run for re-election, and is actively building a 2018 campaign structure.

Montana: In another campaign that promises heavy competition, Sen. Jon Tester (D) publicly stated immediately after the November election that he will seek a third term in 2018.

Nevada: Like Klobuchar in Minnesota, Sen. Dean Heller (R) had been contemplating an open seat race for governor. He, too, decided to run for re-election, announcing his decision in December. With Nevada being a toss-up state but leaning more Democratic in the past few elections, 2014 notwithstanding, this Senate race will be at the top of all the competitive charts.

New Jersey: Despite being under federal indictment and potentially heading to a trial in September, Sen. Bob Menendez (D) announced in May that he is running for re-election. He is actively fundraising and continuing to build his re-election campaign effort.

New York
: While rumors abound that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) may enter the 2020 presidential race, she did confirm after the November election that she would seek a second full term next year.

Ohio: In yet another race that could venture into toss-up status, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) unsurprisingly announced that he will seek a third term in 2018 and is constructing a campaign staff.

Pennsylvania: In November, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) said in a national television interview that he is seeking re-election for a third term.

Tennessee: Sen. Bob Corker (R) is another statewide office holder that was mentioned in conjunction with an open governor’s race. He has made no comment suggesting that the will run for the top state position, and appears poised to seek re-election. He has not, however, formally announced his future political plans.

Texas: Upon dropping out of the presidential contest in May, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) announced that he would seek a second term.

Utah: Despite comments that the 2012 campaign would be his last, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) is now saying he has not yet decided whether to seek re-election.

Vermont: After the presidential campaign ended, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) has said on more than one occasion that he will “likely” run for re-election in 2018.

Virginia: After losing the Vice Presidential campaign as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D) said shortly after the election that he would remain in politics and seek re-election to the Senate.

West Virginia
: Sen. Joe Manchin (D) ended speculation about whether he would seek a return to his former position as governor early in the 2016 campaign cycle. He said at the time, and reiterated since, that he will seek re-election in 2018.

Note: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is not in-cycle until 2020, but upon confirmation as Attorney General, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) will appoint a replacement. There will be a special election held concurrently with the 2018 regular election for the winner to serve the balance of the current term. This will add a 34th race to the 2018 election cycle.

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