DemDaily: Update on the Senate Landscape!

June 1, 2023

The landscape of the 2024 Senate races has come into focus, with Democrats defending twice as many seats as the GOP in their quest to hold onto their narrow 51-49 majority in the United States Senate.

34 of the 100 US Senate seats are up for election in 2024, with Democrats defending 23 seats, including three Independents that caucus with the Democrats. Republicans will be defending 11 seats, including one special election held concurrent with the regularly scheduled November 5, 2024 elections.

Of the 23 seats held by Democrats, 15 are considered "safe," including three retirements in the deep-blue states of California (Diane Feinstein), Delaware (Tom Carper) and Maryland (Ben Cardin).

Their remaining eight seats, however, comprise the top battleground contests of 2024. To maintain control of the US Senate, Democrats must hang on to vulnerable seats in Arizona, Ohio, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where Senator Debbie Stabenow is retiring.

Comparatively, Republicans are defending nine safe seats and just two vulnerable seats -- in Florida and Texas, two of the country's largest electoral states.

The Landscape
Arizona: Incumbent Kyrsten Sinema, who officially left the Democratic party to become an Independent last December, has filed paperwork, but has yet to announce her reelection. Should the centrist Senator run she will face challenges from both the left and the right in the general election.

Four-term Phoenix-based Congressman Ruben Gallego, who announced January 23, has all but cleared the Democratic field and outraised Sinema in the first fundraising quarter of 2023, raising $3.7 million to her $2.1 million.

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is the only Republican contender, but former GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs 50.3% to 49.6% in November, has not taken her name out of contention.

California: In the race to succeed retiring Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), who announced her retirement February 14, the jungle primary -- where all candidates run regardless of party -- will be among the most competitive and undoubtedly the most expensive of this cycle. The top contenders, all Democrats, are Congresswoman Katie Porter, Congressman Adam Schiff, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who entered the race February 21.

A May 17-22, 2023 poll conducted by Berkeley IGS showed Porter with 17%, Schiff with 14%, Lee with 9% and "Other" garnering 10%. "Undecideds" accounted for 32% and Republican Eric Early, an attorney and perennial candidate, secured 18%, representing the token GOP vote. The top two vote-getters from the primary advance to the general election in November.

Florida: Senator Rick Scott (R), a former governor and Trump ally who unseated incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson by less than 1% in 2018, is considered vulnerable due to his controversial policies.

Scott is being challenged for the GOP nomination by wealthy lawyer and former assistant state attorney Ken Gross, while Democrats are still struggling to recruit a viable candidate. Potential contenders include Brevard County School Board Member Jennifer Jenkins, former Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, State Senator Shev Jones and former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Maryland: The retirement of three-term Senator Ben Cardin (D), announced April 2, set off a frenzy of candidates vying for the safely Democratic seat in the state that voted for Joe Biden by 33 points over Trump in 2020,

Among the crowded field of contenders are Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, three-term Congressman and millionaire Total Wine & More tycoon David Trone (CD-6), and Montgomery County Council At-Large member Will Jawando. A decision on whether popular Congressman Jamie Raskin (CD-8), who is recovering from cancer, will enter the race is expected "early June."

Michigan: In the historic battleground state, where four-term Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) is retiring, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D) is the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, with the unofficial support of Stabenow and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Former State Representative Leslie Love and Michigan Board of Education President Pamela Pugh are also running for the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, State Board of Education member Nikki Snyder and business owner Michael Hoover have entered the race.

MontanaJon Tester, a moderate Democrat in a red state that Donald Trump won by 57% in 2020, announced his reelection bid February 22. Tester is widely seen as the only Democrat who can weather a GOP challenge in the highly competitive state.

Although no Republican has announced, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) is courting Bridger Aerospace CEO and decorated veteran Tim Sheehy to enter the race. Congressman Matthew Rosendale (R), who lost to Tester in 2018, is also considering another Senate run, possibly with the support of the conservative Club for Growth PAC.

Nevada: In the Silver State, which witnessed one of 2022's closest Senate races, freshman Senator Jacky Rosen is facing her first reelection. Although a proven campaigner who unseated incumbent Dean Heller (R) in 2018, she is drawing serious general election opposition in the battleground state.

Former State Assemblyman and 2020 election denier Jim Marchant, who declared earlier this month, and unannounced establishment favorite Sam Brown, a disabled veteran and 2022 Senate candidate, are expected to vie for the Republican nomination.

Ohio: Three-term incumbent Sherrod Brown survived his last reelection in 2018 with 53.4%, but the Buckeye State has become increasingly conservative, handing Trump victories in 2016 and 2020.

The Ohio Republican primary is shaping up to be a two-man race between State Senator Matt Dolan, who announced in January, and Cleveland businessman and Trump ally Bernie Moreno.

Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians, finished third with 23.3% in the chaotic 2022 Republican Senate primary won by now-Senator J.D. Vance, who endorsed Moreno on Monday. Congressman Warren Davidson announced he would not run this week.

Pennsylvania: Three-term Democratic Senator Bob Casey has yet to draw formal opposition, but in the critical swing state, which is essential for Democrats in the 2024 presidential, it's unlikely the GOP will hand Casey a free ride.

National Republicans appear to have recruited former senior Treasury Department official and hedge fund executive David McCormick, who has been promised the full support of the McConnell-linked Senate Leadership Fund. The path for McCormick, who was defeated by fewer than 1,000 votes in the 2022 GOP Senate primary by Dr. Mehmet Oz, was cleared in late May when radical conservative and former 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano announced he would not run for Senate.

Texas: Two-term Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who fended off high-profile Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in 2018 by fewer than three points, is facing a formidable challenge from Democratic Congressman Colin Allred (CD-3).

Allred, a former NFL player and three-term member from Dallas and its northeastern suburbs, raised $2 million within 36 hours of his May 3 announcement. A May 21, 2023 University of Texas at Tyler poll of registered voters found Cruz leading Allred 42% to 37%, with 14% undecided (MOE +/- 3.0%).

West Virginia: Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat and frequent swing vote for the GOP who was reelected in 2018 by 3.3%, is facing a challenge from popular Republican Governor Jim Justice, who launched his campaign April 27.

Justice will first have to win a competitive primary, however, against conservative Freedom Caucus Congressman Alex Mooney, who has the endorsements of several state lawmakers.

A May 23, 2023 East Carolina University poll of registered voters found Justice decisively leading Manchin 54% to 32% in a head-to-head matchup. The poll also showed Mooney narrowly leading Manchin 41% to 40% (MOE +/- 3.7%). Manchin, who has not announced his reelection campaign, has also been mentioned as a possible third-party presidential candidate.

Wisconsin: In the perennial swing state, incumbent Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, who was re-elected with 55.4% of the vote in 2018, is still unchallenged for her bid for a third term.

While Wisconsin is a swing state, which Biden carried by less than 1% in 2020, no Republican has won Baldwin's seat since Joseph McCarthy in 1952. Potential GOP contenders include four-term Congressman and marine veteran Mike Gallagher and two-term Congressman Tom Tiffany.

Related
DemDaily: Carper Announces Retirement from Congress 5/23/23
DemDaily: Cardin Retirement Sets Off Maryland Melee 4/3/23
DemDaily: Justice Jumps Into Senate Race 3/28/23
DemDaily: Measuring Michigan 2/28/23
DemDaily: The Race to Replace Feinstein 2/15/23

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Kimberly Scott
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Sources: Washington Post, Roll Call, CBS, Independent Record, CNN

 

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