Massive fundraising in Maine. A countdown clock in Alabama. Calls and texts encouraging potential challengers in Colorado. Just a few weeks after 2018’s Election Day, the signs are clear: the 2020 Senate campaigns are already underway.
Democrats start 2020 in a solid position, though they remain in the minority in the upper chamber of Congress. Of the 12 Democratic seats up for re-election, only two are from states President Donald Trump won in 2016 — Alabama’s Doug Jones and Michigan’s Gary Peters. Republicans have more seats to defend, with 22 GOP seats on the line.
“The map looks good for the Democrats — I’ll tell you that,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the new chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told CNN.
Democrats will have opportunities to flip seats and potentially win back the majority in 2020. But the party could face difficult races against Republican incumbents in purple states like Maine and Colorado. Democrats will also have to defend the most vulnerable seat currently on the map in the deep red state of Alabama.
Republicans optimistic in Alabama
Jones hopes that his campaign playbook of running on health care, against tariffs and carefully explaining his vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh will allow him to save his seat.
But Republicans are confident they can take it back, presuming they put up a significantly stronger candidate than Jones’ last opponent, Roy Moore, who lost by only a point and a half despite facing accusations of sexual assault, which he denied. Even before the 2018 midterms were over, the Alabama Republican Party was counting down the days on its website until Jones “is unseated” in the 2020 contest.
One question looming over the race is whether Jeff Sessions, who formerly held the Senate seat, decides to run after President Donald Trump fired him as attorney general. If Sessions shows signs of entering the race, that would change the political calculus for other Republicans considering a bid.