Seven Senate Races You Won't Have To Stay Up Late To Call
2020 has already been a hell of a decade, hasn't it? The next ten years (October 12, 2020 to January 20, 2021) promise to be pretty nuts, too. With all the craziness out there, let's take a few minutes to look at several races for the US Senate that won't be nail-biters, although some of them may at least be good for comic relief.
Earnest But Doomed
These races feature Democratic candidates for whom there's a lot of good to be said, but who are either up against Republicans who are superglued to their seats, or in states that are so deep red that the electorate for a Democrat just isn't there this year. But keep an eye on these folks — they may be back if the national Republican party has trouble holding together in the post-Trump era. Or they may be leading guerilla cells if the nation completely falls apart. It's 2020, after all.
Idaho: Jim Risch (R) vs. Paulette Jordan (D) Jim Risch, who in 2008 won the seat of disgraced former Sen. Larry "Wide stance" Craig (Craig's seat in the US Senate, not the one in the Minneapolis airport that caused all the trouble). Since then, Risch has been reliably and boringly Republican, such a bland mainstream conservative that in 2013 we had to convince Yr Editrix that he was in fact a real person. Even Idahoans forget he's there, but that "R" following his name is likely to keep him in office, even though he's 77 and he distinguished himself by literally falling asleep during Donald Trump's impeachment trial in January.
Challenger Paulette Jordan is actually a pretty exciting candidate, and would be a strong contender in some state with sane people. A former state legislator, Jordan in 2018 became the first Native American woman to win a major party's nomination for governor in the USA, and she garnered more votes than any Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Idaho history. Idaho being Idaho, she lost to Republican Brad Little. She's been endorsed by the Idaho Statesman, although she remains a long shot for the Senate. Just 40, she's definitely one of those Democratic "rising star" people who's likely to continue making a name for herself. Watch for her — maybe a major sub-Cabinet appointment in a Biden administration? Gotta elect Joe to do that.
South Dakota: Mike Rounds (R) vs. Dan Ahlers (D) Like Risch, Mike Rounds is one of those Republican incumbents who's just plain gonna win because he's in a red state and he's an incumbent. Rounds even managed to stay awake during the impeachment trial, so he has that going for him. What has he achieved since he was elected in 2014? A quick scan of the Wonkette archive isn't especially enlightening. Rounds supported Obamacare repeal and supports dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but is sometimes counted among GOP "moderates" because he doesn't want to deport Dreamers and thinks protecting our elections from interference might be a nice idea.
The Democrat running against Rounds is former state legislator Dan Ahlers, who seems like a really nice guy with not a lot of fundraising or media. Compared to Rounds's $3.8 million in fundraising in the last reporting period, Ahlers brought in just $77,492. He's running on affordable healthcare, police reform, and pointing out to farmers the Trump administration's disastrous trade wars, but not exactly getting traction. South Dakota would probably elect a bag of hammers to the Senate if it had an "R" after its name, and it looks like this fall the bag of hammers will be reelected.
West Virginia: Shelley Moore Capito vs. Paula Jean Swearengin Shelley Moore Capito looks likely to be the first Republican reelected to the US Senate from West Virginia in ages, mostly because that state remains red, red, red. Capito is one of those kinda-sorta "moderates" who only votes with Donald Trump's agenda 95 percent of the time. Back in 2017, it briefly looked like she might have joined Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski in voting to save Obamacare, but nah, she stuck with her party and Trump on that. She's also pretty bad on climate, having confused climate with weather ("Is the climate changing? Yes, it's changing, it changes all the time, we heard it raining out there ... I'm sure humans are contributing to it."). She predictably supported Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement and his reversal of Obama's Clean Power Plan. Gross.
Capito is opposed by Democratic activist Paula Jean Swearengin, a genuine coal miner's daughter who in 2018 challenged Joe Manchin from the left and has all the right progressive positions on economic diversity, climate, healthcare, and labor, meaning that in 2020, she's not likely to win, but she's building support and a national profile. You probably haven't heard the last of her — another possible Biden appointee, if Joe's smart. And wins, don't forget, he has to win.
Wyoming: Cynthia Lummis (R) vs. Merav Ben-David (D) We would love to tell you there's a really competitive race for the seat being vacated by Mike Enzi, who's retiring this year after four terms in the Senate. But it's Wyoming, which remains the poster child for why the Senate and the Electoral College are permafucked, giving a structural advantage to Republicans even though the majority of Americans prefer Democratic policies, and so we remain, as we say, fucked. Here, read about the race here at Vox, we need to wrap this thing up, goddamn it.
Incumbency Works For Democrats Too, Hooray!
And now, to improve our mood, several races where Democratic incumbents have solid leads because they're in populous states with big Democratic majorities, huzzah.
Illinois: Dick Durbin (D) vs Mark Curran (R) Dick Durbin, one of the most senior (and therefore powerful) members of the Senate, isn't in much danger from Mark Curran, a former sheriff of Lake County, Illinois. Curran did manage to raise his name recognition in the worst possible way in July, when he slagged John Lewis as "not much of a civil rights leader" because Lewis supported abortion rights, and that's why there's so much gun violence in Chicago, because no one respects "Life" any more. Fuck him, and fuck the Chicago Tribune's bizarre endorsement of Curran too.
New Jersey: Cory Booker (D) vs. Rik Mehta (R) Well duh, Cory Booker has this. Mehta, a pharmacist and attorney, recently made news by attending Donald Trump's COVID-19 party in New Jersey hours before Trump announced he had been diagnosed with the disease. Mehta excused Trump's campaigning while infected, saying, "Based on everything we know from both a public health and a scientific medical perspective, there is absolutely no reason for concern," because what is a deadly pandemic anyway? Mehta said he and his wife were wearing masks at the event, so there's that at least, but New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy correctly said Mehta's comments "should disqualify him from seeking public office." Murphy also said "I don't even know who Rik Mehta is," which is a statement we endorse. Oh, also, much of Mehta's campaign staff quit on him in August because the campaign was broke. Booker may just squeak out a win.
Virginia: Mark Warner (D) vs. Daniel Gade (R) What a difference six years make! In 2014, Mark Warner won in a tight race against Ed Gillespie, who went on to lose again in a 2018 gubernatorial bid. But now, Warner is comfortably ahead of Republican nominee Daniel Gade, an Iraq War vet and newcomer to politics. Gade earned a bit of praise for denouncing Donald Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacists, making clear in an October 3 debate that "If you are a white supremacist and you are watching — I don't want your vote. I don't want your money, and shame on your attitudes and disrespect." He's even willing to embrace real policing reform, including an end to qualified immunity for police. So that's an improvement over most Republicans out there. Warner, the ranking Dem on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leading voice to hold Donald Trump responsible, is likely to keep his seat, good for him. As the national GOP starts becoming indistinguishable from QAnon, it'll be interesting to see where folks like Gade end up.
That's it, we're done. Three weeks and a few days to go before this election, and Yr Dok Zoom got himself a cold. Achoo! Have fun!
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.