Senate Snippets

By Jim Ellis

April 19, 2022 — We have seen recent changes in many key 2022 in-cycle Senate races. Below is a competitive state-by-state recap:

Alabama: Polling now consistently shows that the GOP nomination battle, which will determine who will replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), is turning into a two-way race. Early leader Mo Brooks, the northern Alabama congressman who former President Trump originally endorsed only to see him recently rescind his support, has now dropped well back. It appears clear that “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant and former Business Council of Alabama President & CEO Katie Britt will advance to a runoff election. The Alabama primary is May 24 with the succeeding runoff scheduled for June 21.

Alaska: State Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) withdrew from the race to seek re-election to the legislature, and 2020 Senate nominee Al Gross filed to run for the at-large US House special election; thus the Democrats have no announced candidate. Candidate filing is June 1 for the Aug. 16 primary. The new election system will send four candidates to the general election, so whoever comes forth as a Democratic contender will likely advance to November. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is seeking re-election.

Arizona: Recent polling continues to show a tight GOP contest among Attorney General Tim Brnovich, and businessmen Blake Masters and Jim Lamon. Candidate filing is closed, so the field is set for the Aug. 2 primary. The eventual Republican nominee will challenge freshman Sen. Mark Kelly (D).

Arkansas: Sen. John Boozman continues to campaign hard in a Republican primary battle against former University of Arkansas football player and Iraq War veteran Jake Bequette. The senator is still a heavy favorite for re-nomination and re-election.

California: Appointed Sen. Alex Padilla (D) is a cinch for election to a full term in the autumn.

Colorado: Only state Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Fremont) and construction company owner Joe O’Dea qualified for the Republican primary either through the state nominating assembly or petitioning onto the ballot. Early leaders Deborah Flora, a talk show host, and former Olympian Eli Bremer failed to qualify. Sen. Michael Bennet (D) is favored for re-election.

Connecticut: Seven Republicans have announced their candidacies against Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D). The two most credible candidates appear to be former Republican National Committeewoman Leora Levy, who has almost $1 million cash-on-hand, and state Senate Minority Leader Themis Klarides. This race may draw a bit of attention, but it’s still a very long shot for any Republican to beat Sen. Blumenthal.

Florida: Both Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) have now each raised more than $30 million for the 2022 race, and both have over $13 million cash-on-hand. Sen. Rubio remains favored in a state that is moving closer to the GOP, but Rep. Demings has now actually raised a bit more money than the incumbent. A close finish here is virtually guaranteed.

Georgia: Polling suggests that former University of Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker will win the Republican nomination outright on May 24, thus setting the stage for the general election between he and freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D).

Iowa: After a lower court Iowa judge removed former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) from the US Senate ballot by invalidating enough petition signatures where she failed to meet the minimum qualification, the state Supreme Court, with a Republican majority, reinstated her on Friday just before the ballot finalization deadline in association with the state’s June 7th primary. Polling shows Finkenauer holding a big lead in the Democratic race, the winner of which challenges Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) in November. Grassley, first elected in 1980, is running for an eighth term.

Louisiana: The most recent polling suggests that Sen. John Kennedy (R) is in position to win a second term outright in the jungle primary that is scheduled concurrently with the Nov. 8 general election.

Maryland: With Gov. Larry Hogan (R) officially opting out of the US Senate race, incumbent Chris Van Hollen (D) becomes the prohibitive favorite to win a second term in November.

Missouri: Domestic violence and child abuse accusations made against resigned Gov. Eric Greitens (R) have led to three recent polls suggesting he has fallen from the lead. Two surveys gave Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) a small edge, while the other found Attorney General Eric Schmitt topping the field. The candidates are vying to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R).

Nevada: The latest two Nevada Senate surveys, one from late March (Blueprint Polling) and the other in early April (Suffolk University), find Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) now trailing former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R). The Nevada race becomes one of the key contests that will determine the next Senate majority.

New Hampshire: A series of polls find Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) leading her race for re-election, but she is well below the 50 percent mark in almost all of the results. With the state trending Republican in polling since the 2020 election, this race becomes key to determining the next Senate majority. The Republicans’ biggest problem is not having a nominee until the state’s Sept. 13 primary.

North Carolina: Six consecutive polls taken since March 23 find US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) substantially leading former Gov. Pat McCrory for the Republican nomination. The eventual GOP nominee will face consensus Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley, the former state Supreme Court Chief Justice. Sen. Richard Burr (R) is retiring.

Ohio: The Republican primary is a tough five-way race among candidates who are now closely bunched together. The latest polling suggests that state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians MLB club, has moved into contention. Former President Trump just endorsed author J.D. Vance, which could move votes. The primary election is May 3. Democrats are coalescing behind US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown). Sen. Rob Portman (R) is retiring.

Oklahoma: The special election field to replace resigning Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) is now set. The GOP contenders are: US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville), former US EPA Administrator and ex-state Attorney General Scott Pruitt, state Transportation Commissioner and ex-state House Speaker T. W. Shannon, state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), ex-National Security Council chief of staff Alex Gray, and former Inhofe chief of staff Luke Holland. Ex-Rep. Kendra Horn is unopposed in the Democratic primary. The eventual Republican nominee becomes a strong favorite in the general election.

Pennsylvania: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) has opened large polling leads against US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia). Republicans have a crowded field but the race appears to be narrowing between former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and television doctor Mehmet Oz. The general election battle will become another of the most important races in determining the Senate majority. Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is retiring.

Washington: Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley continues to perform well in fundraising (March 31 report shows over $4.2 million raised) and polling, but Sen. Patty Murray (D) is still a heavy favorite in one of the most reliable of Democratic states.

Wisconsin: Polling shows Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes holding a discernible lead in the Democratic primary, but Milwaukee Bucks basketball club Senior VP and ex-Obama White House aide Alex Lasry has strong resources. He has loaned his campaign just under $6 million in making a push for the party nomination. The Wisconsin primary is not until Aug. 9. Sen. Ron Johnson (R) is seeking a third term.

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