Sometime back in early December I wrote an article entitled, An Early Peak At The 2020 Senate Races, which was published on January 2nd. Things look even better for a Democratic takeover of the upper chamber with a month passed and the House freshman may have shown progressives a path to attain that goal. Let’s explore.
At this point the raw numbers still stand at the Republicans having to defend 21 seats while the Democrats only have 12 to defend. At this writing the Republicans still hold a 53-47 edge in the Senate. That means the Democrats would have to post a net gain of 4 seats to take control of the chamber; 3 if they take the White House in 2020 which appears possible, but far from a sure thing at this point. I am assuming that Doug Jones cannot retain his seat in Alabama meaning the Democrats have to flip 4 and very possibly 5 seats. That is a tall order but three things have occurred in the interim that make it more possible than it was some month ago.
Republicans Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Pat Roberts of Kansas announced that they will retire at the end of their terms making their seats open seats. It is always much easier to win an open seat than to knock off an incumbent. Tennessee is somewhat purple and Kansas’ GOP is plagued with bad candidates who have a lot of sway in the state party but not with the electorate. The DNC has to be looking at both seats as pickup opportunities.
The other development is that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey named Martha McSally to replace Jon Kyl who took the late John McCain’s seat in what is now even more apparently a temporary move to assure the confirmation of Brett Kavanagh. If you recall McSally lost the election for Jeff Flake’s vacated seat last November. It isn’t much of a stretch to say she will be vulnerable in 2020.
That still leaves the already vulnerable John Cornyn of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Thom Tillis of North Carolina in place. That’s seven very plausible pickup opportunities at a quick count and it’s early in the game.
Now in order to turn those opportunities into victories a large turnout of Democratic leaning voters is an absolute necessity! The House freshmen may well have given us one talking point that will motivate progressives and particularly young people; it is the Green New Deal.
I was born in the Truman administration so I didn’t live though it but I am very familiar with the New Deal of the FDR era. I wish I was more knowledgeable on the subject but I understand how critical climate change is. The Green New Deal is somewhat a combination plan. My thumbnail description of it is that it is an economic stimulus package addressing economic inequity and climate change. Considering that the recovery and the subsequent Trump economy has left most Americans (particularly young people) behind coupled with the fact that young people care about inequity (whether adversely affect by it or not) along with climate change it is both good public policy and a way to get young voters to the polls.
I am still among those who feel Trump’s original error was not leading his legislative program with a legitimate infrastructure package. That would have been the move of a smart politician who wanted to do something good for his country, its people and build a bipartisan bridge. Unfortunately for America and Americans Trump is neither a smart politician nor interested in any of those things.
With divided government the House Democrats can and should pass a Green New Deal package of bills which will either die in the Republican Senate or be vetoed by Trump. Politically that doesn’t matter! It will show the voters the importance of voting and the difference between the parties. It will also give 2020 Congressional candidates a great talking point which when they take control they can turn into a reality.
Progressives, via the Democratic Party, can take back the Senate in the next election. It won’t be easy but it will be worth the effort.
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