Tag Archives: Sen. Tammy Baldwin

Fox News: Six More Democrat Senators Could Retire

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

Senate

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) to retire

Retirements: Six Possible — Late last week, Fox News Online ran a story suggesting that six more Democratic senators may opt for retirement in 2024 following the lead of Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), who announced last week that she will not seek a fifth term.

In addition to Sen. Stabenow’s retirement, California Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) declared her Senate candidacy even though incumbent Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has yet to disclose her own re-election plans.

With this backdrop, the six senators listed below are (in order of most likely to retire to least):

  1. Dianne Feinstein (CA): It is presumed that Sen. Feinstein, who will turn 91 years of age before the next election, will retire. Some are expressing their belief that Rep. Porter is disrespecting Sen. Feinstein’s long career – elected in 1992, she has served longer than any sitting Democratic member – and is potentially forcing the senator’s hand to make an announcement. With some in the leadership urging her to resign early due to health constraints, it appears evident that she will not seek re-election.
  2. Joe Manchin (WV): With faltering job approval numbers and from a state that is now becoming ruby red politically, speculation has been out there for some time that Sen. Manchin may not seek re-election or could instead attempt to regain his former position as governor. 
    Already, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) has announced that he will challenge Sen. Manchin next year. Gov. Jim Justice (R), who will be term-limited in 2024 and has strong approval numbers, has not closed the door regarding running for the Senate. Polling suggests that both Gov. Justice and Rep. Mooney would begin a race against Sen. Manchin with a definitive advantage.
  3. Bob Casey, Jr. (PA): Last week Sen. Casey announced that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will have surgery in the coming months. He said his prognosis for a full recovery is excellent and plans on seeking re-election. If there is a downturn in his health, however, there is certainly a chance that his campaign plans could be forced to change. For now, Sen. Casey looks to be a sure bet to run for a third term, but unfortunately his precarious health situation could be an impediment to his quest.
  4. Jon Tester (MT): Sen. Tester is beginning to appear on more potential retirement lists, as he did in the Fox News story. Montana, like West Virginia, is another state that is turning solidly Republican making Sen. Tester’s re-election less than a sure thing. 
    The last time he was on the ballot (2018) he defeated current US Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) by only a 50-47 percent margin in a state that has only grown more conservative since that time. In the 2020 election, Republican candidates won all eight of Montana’s statewide elections with victory margins between nine and 19 percentage points. During the same period, Sen. Tester’s voting record has moved decidedly to the left where he can no longer be considered a centrist incumbent. 
    Additionally, Montana’s other senator, Republican Steve Daines, is now chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), thus guaranteeing that Montana will be a top national GOP target with heavy funding to support the party’s eventual nominee. Therefore, with obvious lucrative opportunities available to Sen. Tester in the private sector, he might decide his future is more appealing on the outside of elective politics than fighting what will likely be a more difficult re-election campaign than he has before experienced.
  5. Tim Kaine (VA): Sen. Kaine, the Democrats’ 2016 vice presidential nominee and former Virginia governor, stands for a third term in 2024. The Fox analysis placed Sen. Kaine on the potential retirement list with the reasoning that Virginia could be moving more to the right, thus suggesting the senator might face a more difficult re-election campaign. 
    Such an analysis is incorrect. Despite Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the 2021 Governor’s race – a two-point win where the last three weeks of the campaign turned decidedly his way under circumstances that are unlikely to be repeated — the state has clearly established itself as a reliable Democratic bastion. Expect Sen. Kaine to run again and face relatively weak opposition. He will likely romp to a decisive re-election victory.
  6. Tammy Baldwin (WI): Sen. Baldwin was placed on the potential retirement list for a reason similar to Sen. Kaine being included. The Fox News analysis cited Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R) tight victory — 50.4 percent with a 26,728-vote margin of 2.65 million ballots cast — as an indication that the state is becoming more favorable to Republicans. 
    This is the first time there has been a hint that Sen. Baldwin is a retirement possibility, and a close 2020 Senate race at the same time a Democratic governor was being re-elected should not be indicative of any future voting trend in a state that either party can win. There is little current reason to think that 60-year-old Sen. Baldwin would retire. Therefore, fully expect her to be on the ballot next year competitively vying for a third term.

Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy to Resign

Wisconsin’s US 7th Congressional District

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 28, 2019 — Five-term Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) announced Monday that he is resigning from Congress effective Sept. 23. Rep. Duffy indicated his reason for leaving mid-term is that his wife and his expectant child, their ninth, has already been diagnosed with challenging health issues.

Therefore, his 7th Congressional District will go to special election once Gov. Tony Evers (D) sets the schedule. The congressional vote will likely coincide with the state’s spring election, where statewide and district judges are on the ballot and many localities use the dates to hold their own elections. The Wisconsin calendar pinpoints the Spring Primary for Feb. 18, 2020, while the Spring General election will run concurrently with the Wisconsin presidential primary on April 7.

The Badger State’s 7th CD occupies a full quarter of the state’s land area, beginning on the shores of Lake Superior and stretching to Buckhorn State Park close to Wisconsin’s center. The district covers a large land mass and is populated with small towns spread throughout the 26 counties that it covers or touches. WI-7 contains 21 whole counties and parts of five others. Its largest city, Wausau, which is Congressman Duffy’s hometown, has just under 40,000 people.

The district’s electorate now votes solidly Republican but, before Rep. Duffy was elected in 2010, this seat remained in Democratic hands for 41 consecutive years in the person of former Rep. David Obey (D) who first won in a 1969 special election and retired in the 2010 cycle. The district’s pre-Obey history, however, was solidly Republican. A member of the GOP had represented the seat for 82 of its first 96 years of existence.

Since the Duffy resignation was unexpected, no potential successors are being discussed, but that situation will quickly change.

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Primary Results:
Pawlenty Falls; Wisconsin Set

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 15, 2018 — Forty states have now chosen their nominees for the fall, as voters in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin made their choices known yesterday.


MINNESOTA

The big story was former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty failing in his bid to return to the Governor’s mansion. Pawlenty, who served from 2003-2011 and won two tough general elections, lost last night to Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the party’s 2014 gubernatorial nominee and this election’s endorsed Republican Party candidate. Johnson recorded a 53-44 percent primary victory.

For the Democrats, US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), who scored the barest of re-election victories in 2016, won a highly competitive party primary last night with a 42-32-24 percent win over state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), the party-endorsed candidate, and Attorney General Lori Swanson who was originally running for re-election but switched races when she failed to win the party endorsement at the state convention. Rep. Walz performed strongly in his southern Minnesota base, carrying every county from the Iowa border through the central part of the state while splitting the Twin Cities area. Though Rep. Murphy won a convincing victory at the party convention, she was never able to convert her momentum into a winning coalition among voters.

In the two Senate races, two-term Democratic incumbent Amy Klobuchar was easily re-nominated for the fall as was appointed Sen. Tina Smith. Sen. Klobuchar is a lock in the general election, while Sen. Smith will face a competitive challenge from state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Croix River Valley), who scored a clear Republican primary victory.

In the competitive House races, Republican Jim Hagedorn, who came within less than one percentage point of upsetting Rep. Walz in 2016, again won the party nomination, this time over state Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) who had support from some conservative organizations. Hagedorn will face the Democratic winner, former Defense Department official Dan Feehan, in what should be a hotly contested general election campaign.

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Supreme Politics

By Jim Ellis

July 11, 2018 — President Donald Trump’s choice of US Circuit Judge of the DC Court of Appeals Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely fundamentally change the 2018 Senate election cycle.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the White House, where President Trump nominated him to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. | C-SPAN

Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks at the White House, where President Trump announced Monday that Kavanaugh would be his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. | C-SPAN

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) already publicly indicating that he is planning to keep the Senate working through August, the Supreme Court confirmation process now guarantees such will happen. With majority Republicans having leverage over the confirmation hearings and vote schedule, we can expect a great deal of politics will be accompanying the legal rhetoric that awaits us during the remaining summer months.

The Senate political map helps Judge Kavanaugh in his confirmation battle. Both sides will mount crushing pressure on those members perceived as swing votes, and the eventual targets will be backed into such a position where it will be impossible to avoid political damage once their eventual vote is cast. The three Democrats who supported Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch when he was confirmed on April 7, 2017 are:

  • Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

The three will naturally be the top targets for this confirmation battle, and there is a strong chance that each will also vote for Judge Kavanaugh. Already trapped in tough re-election battles, these senators will be hard-pressed by both sides pushing them to vote for or against Kavanaugh; but considering their respective states voted for President Trump in margins of 19 (IN), 36 (ND), and 43 (WV) percentage points suggests the density of pressure to support the nominee will overwhelm the opposition.

After last night’s announcement, Sen. Manchin issued a statement saying he is particularly interested about Judge Kavanaugh’s position on healthcare issues, especially those affecting people with pre-existing conditions as they relate to healthcare insurance coverage. Sen. Manchin says over 800,000 people in his state of West Virginia fall into this category.

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New Year Senate Preview – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2018 — Continuing our New Year’s preview, today we look at the 2018 Senate races from the Democrats’ perspective.

THE DEMOCRATS

Sen. Claire McKaskill | (Facebook)

Sen. Claire McKaskill | (Facebook)

Because they are now defending 26 of the 34 in-cycle seats, with the addition of the Minnesota special election, the Dems must primarily develop a solid defense before venturing into attack mode. If they are to have any chance of gaining a 51-49 majority, they will realistically have to win all 26 of the incumbent and open seat races they are forced to risk. This includes three contests already considered toss-up campaigns: Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill likely facing Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), Sen. Joe Donnelly in the Indiana race, and the budding Florida campaign likely between Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott.

Regardless of whom Sen. Donnelly ultimately faces in the Hoosier State, he will draw a top-tier opponent. Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) battle for the Republican senatorial nomination, and they also face a credible third challenger in former state Rep. Mike Braun (R-Jasper). Braun has the strong ability to finance his own campaign, thus allowing him to adequately compete with the two congressmen. Since he has the promise of becoming his own force, Braun could conceivably strike a chord with the Republican electorate if the two congressmen continue fighting amongst themselves and allow him to slip by both of them.

Republicans will also be competitive in several other Senate races, as they project to have a strong opponent against West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins battle for the GOP nomination to be decided in May), while state Treasurer Josh Mandel looks to provide a stronger challenge to Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) than he did in 2012 when he fell 51-45 percent. The Pennsylvania GOP electorate looks to be coalescing behind Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) but upsetting Sen. Bob Casey Jr. is still a highly formidable task, and this developing contest must be considered a long shot as the new year begins.

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The Trump 10

By Jim Ellis

March 2, 2017 — There already has been a great deal of talk about the difficult campaign road ahead that Democrats face in 2018. With having to defend 25 of 34 states in next year’s election, the minority party finds itself being forced to play defense in what should be a very offensive election cycle for them.

Republicans, theoretically, have a chance to gain seats in the midterms because they have offensive opportunities, similar to what the Democrats enjoyed in 2016. In that cycle, Republicans were forced to defend 24 of 34 in-cycle states, but were able to sustain their majority status, nonetheless.

The Trump 10 refers to the number of in-cycle Senate states that President Trump carried, where Democrats must defend. The following is a list of the 10 incumbents seeking re-election who should be in politically precarious positions. The group is listed in order of vulnerability, based upon the Democratic performance in the presidential race, the strength of the incumbent, and presumed challenger capability.

1) Indiana – Sen. Joe Donnelly – President Trump and the Republicans, ostensibly led by Vice President Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor, racked up large percentages in the Hoosier State. The trend, and the quality of potential Republican challengers such as representatives Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) and Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette), arguably makes Sen. Donnelly the most vulnerable of Democrats seeking re-election.

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New Wisconsin Senate Data

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 24, 2017 — The 2018 Senate Democrats have the same problem as last year’s Senate Republicans. That is, the Dems must protect too many seats in the coming election, which obviously diminishes opportunities for gains.

The Dems current situation is worse than the Republicans’ in the previous cycle. In 2018, the party candidates must win 25 of the 34 in-cycle seats (now including the Alabama special election for purposes of completing the current term that Attorney General Jeff Sessions began) just to break even. The 2016 Republicans were forced to defend 24 states to the Democrats’ 10, and ended the campaign cycle dropping a net two seats.

Adding further vulnerability to the Democrats’ potential quagmire is seeing 10 of their 25 incumbents hailing from states that President Trump carried last November. In nine of those 10 – Michigan is the lone exception – the state’s other senator is a Republican.

One of the top Republican conversion targets is the Badger State of Wisconsin. Here, first-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) seeks re-election in what should be a highly competitive general election campaign.

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