Four More Senate Races That Might Not Be Nail-Biters
Let's round out our review of the 2020 US Senate elections — all 33 of 'em! — with a look at four more elections that probably won't take too long to call on Election Night. With, as always, the proviso that this is 2020, and we can't rule out the possibility that any of these elections may be thrown into chaos by the unanticipated arrival of velociraptors, murder hornets, or a flaming ice rink resurfacer — the dreaded Zamburni.
Louisiana: Bill Cassidy (R) vs. Adrian Perkins (D) And Nine Million Others
Louisiana doesn't bother with primary elections; instead, November 3 will be a mad scramble for votes, and if one candidate gets 50 percent plus one vote, then that's the state's US Senator. If not, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will compete in a "general election" on December 5. (The system has long been colloquially known as a "jungle primary," but because of the freakin' racist connotations of that term, it's also called an "all-access primary," a "nonpartisan blanket primary," or a "weirdass clusterfuck goddamn Louisiana primary.") Incumbent Republican Bill Cassidy is running for a second term after beating sorta-Democrat Mary Landrieu in 2014. Cassidy is probably best known for his cosponsorship, with Lindsey Graham, of an absolute suck-ass Obamacare "replacement" bill in the Senate, which the two introduced after Republicans failed to pass the "skinny" repeal of the ACA in July 2017. That utter turd of a bill, which would have slashed federal funding of health insurance, failed to get any traction, and instead, the Senate GOP and Donald Trump turned to an even bigger priority, passing the Big Fat Tax Cuts For Rich Fuckwads. Even so, that mess should be held against Cassidy forever.
It's not likely to happen, sadly. Cassidy does have one very prominent opponent, Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins (D), and the fuck-tussle ballot also includes another Republican, four other Democrats, a Libertarian, and a crowd of independents. Perkins is an appealing red-state Democratic candidate: the grandson of sharecroppers, he attended West Point, served as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan, then graduated from Harvard Law School. He has endorsements out the wazoo, from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Stacey Abrams, and a photogenic guy named Barack Obama, among many others.
Perkins is indeed calling attention to Cassidy's attempt to gut Obamacare, and says that "as a medical doctor, [Cassidy] should have known better." Perkins has great positions on everything else, too, but the fact remains that he's running in one of the reddest states out there, and Donald Trump continues to poll strongly in the state, as does Cassidy. Perkins is a candidate to keep an eye on in the future, but even if Cassidy doesn't get over 50 percent in two weeks, Perkins would still be a long shot in the runoff.
Tennessee: Bill Hagerty (R) vs. Marquita Bradshaw (D)
In Tennessee, it's a normal election, to fill the seat of Republican Lamar Alexander, who's retiring from the Senate after occasionally making muted unsupportive noises about Donald Trump. Progressive Democrat Marquita Bradshaw won the Democratic primary in August, which astonished and delighted us because her total campaign expenditures were less than $25,000, and no, for a change we're not missing a zero there. Bradshaw has an awesome criminal justice reform agenda, supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and wants to overturn Citizens United and enshrine DACA in law, with a pathway to citizenship. And as the Tennessee chapter chair of the Sierra Club, she's made fighting environmental racism not just a focus of her campaign, but her career. We like her, we REALLY like her!
The downside of winning a primary election on a shoestring, however, is that it means you really need to do some astounding fundraising for the general election, especially if you're running in a red state where the last Democrat to win election to the Senate was Al Gore, who really did help make this internet possible, and also had a thing or two to say about climate. The Republican in the race, private equity money man and former US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, won the GOP pissing contest over who was the most conservative, Trump-loving person in the state, and has loaned his campaign assloads of money because he has it. Since her surprise win, Bradshaw has managed to raise $893,000 compared to Hagerty's $1.75 million in the same period. The experts are all calling this one for Hagerty, because Tennessee, money, and so on. We would absolutely love to see Bradshaw pull off another people-powered surprise, but she knows she's a long shot — which is why she jumped out of a perfectly good airplane in September (with a parachute), encouraging Tennesseans to take a "leap of faith" for her campaign.
New Mexico: Ben Ray Luján (D) vs. Mark Ronchetti (R)
The race for the open seat of retiring Democrat Tom Udall is likely to be called pretty early, hooray, and likely to be a win for Democrat Ben Ray Luján, who has served five terms in the US House of Representatives. New Mexico has been a pretty reliable blue state for years, making it the place that progressives in neighboring Arizona and Texas say they're from if they're travelling. Especially right after some pol back home has been an embarrassment again. What polling there's been has shown Luján with a solid lead over his Republican opponent, Albuquerque TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti. Luján is already the senior Latinx member of the House, so if he wins the Senate race, he would instantly become one of the country's most prominent Hispanic politicians. As Vox notes, more than 40 percent of New Mexico voters are Latinx, and that should help Luján considerably.
That, and the fact that he's running against a TV weatherman who's never held office. Ronchetti also said back in March that "fires aren't caused by anything other than a spark or a lightning strike. … Climate change doesn't cause fires, come on." After Luján called Ronchetti out on that, the weather guy grudgingly admitted that climate change needs addressing, and said both "human activity" and drought cause wildfires. At a 2019 University of New Mexico conference, Ronchetti decried the "politicization" of climate, complaining that weather events are too frequently depicted as indicators of climate change. He did at least acknowledge that the science is real. But his campaign site emphasizes his opposition to the Green New Deal, and insists that while climate "can and must be addressed," he is "tired of those who believe that dismantling our energy economy is the only way to do so." Nope, he doesn't say fuck-all about how it should be "addressed."
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows in this race.
New Hampshire: Jeanne Shaheen (D) vs Some Fuckwad From Colorado
Jeanne Shaheen, who has the distinction of being the first woman in the USA to be elected as both a governor and a US senator, is likely to stomp Republican challenger Corky Messner, a Colorado attorney who only became a permanent resident of New Hampshire in 2018, after owning a vacation home in the state since 2007. Do New Englanders care about that sort of thing?
Messner threw $3.8 million of his own money into the primary, which accounted for about 90 percent of his fundraising. He's running as a political outsider who can shake things up, and Shaheen's campaign is happy to remind voters that Messner is such a complete outsider that you might even call him a carpetbagger, though that particular term hasn't been spoken by Shaheen herself.
At a recent debate, Messner defended himself from the charge that Republicans seek to undo protections for preexisting conditions by claiming it's nothing to worry about, because not that many people in New Hampshire have preexisting conditions, anyway, no big deal. Besides, he said, he doesn't think the Supreme Court will overturn Obamacare, even though that's a top priority of Donald Trump, who Messner praised throughout the debate. Trump endorsed Messner during the primary, which ought to go over great in New Hampshire, where the Great Man's approval rating in recent polling has hovered between 40 and 45 percent.
Messner does at least have one yooge beautiful similarity to Trump: In July, the Washington Post reported that a foundation set up by Messner to help "inner city" kids had only awarded college benefits to one (1) student in ten years, despite holding several raffles of luxury vehicles to fund "scholarships," which you may notice is a plural.
So at least he's sincere in his admiration for Trump.
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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.