DemDaily: Update on the Senate Landscape! Part One (Arizona-Maryland)

November 27, 2023

The landscape of the 2024 United States Senate races is now clearly defined, with Democrats defending twice as many seats as the GOP in their quest to hold onto their narrow 51-49 majority.

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 are defending 11 seats.

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

Seven states comprise the top battleground contests of 2024. To maintain control of the Senate, Democrats must hang on to vulnerable seats in Arizona, Ohio, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where Senator Debbie Stabenow is retiring.

Following Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's November 9 retirement announcement, the West Virginia Senate race has moved from the Toss Up to Solid Republican category.

Comparatively, Republicans are defending nine "safe" seats, including a special election in Nebraska to fill the remaining term of Ben Sasse, who resigned in January 2023. Former Governor Pete Ricketts (R) was appointed interim Senator for the remainder of the 118th United States Congress.

In addition, vulnerable GOP incumbents are facing challenges in Florida and Texas -- among the country's largest electoral states.

The Races To Watch (Arizona-Michigan)

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

The likely Democratic nominee is four-term Phoenix-based Congressman Ruben Gallego, who has been outraising Sinema since he announced January 23.

Gallego raised nearly $3.1 million in the third quarter and spent $1.9 million, leaving just over $5 million in the bank. Sinema, who is said to be actively pitching a new campaign strategy to donors, raised $826,000 in the same period, but retained $10.8 million on hand.

Trump ally Kari Lake (R), who lost the 2022 gubernatorial election to Democrat Katie Hobbs 50.3% to 49.6%, entered the race October 10 and won't report on fundraising until the fourth quarter. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, who is also vying for the GOP nomination, raised $475,000 and finished the quarter with $307,000 on hand.

An October 25-31 Noble Predictive Insights survey of registered voters showed Gallego leading among 39% of respondents, followed by Lake (33%) and Sinema (29%). In a head-to-head between Gallego leads Lake 49%-44%.

A "jungle," or nonpartisan blanket primary, is one where candidates of all parties run at once and the two highest performing contenders from the primary advance to the general election.

California: In the race to succeed the late Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), who announced her retirement February 14 and passed away September 29, the crowded jungle primary is well underway,

The top three contenders, all Democrats, are Representatives Barbara Lee (CD 12), Katie Porter (CD 47) and Adam Schiff (CD 30). Former EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler, who on October 1 was appointed interim US Senator through the 118th Congress, is not running.

At the California Democratic Party's November 18 endorsing convention, Lee received the most delegate votes (47.7%), narrowly outpacing Schiff (40.18%) and Porter (16.06%). As no candidate reached the 60% threshold necessary to win, no endorsement was made.

A November 11-14 poll of registered voters conducted by Emerson College/Inside California Politics showed a plurality (39%) of voters are undecided, while 16% preferred Schiff and 13% Porter. Former professional baseball player Steve Garvey, the leading Republican candidate, received 10%, and Lee 9%.

Schiff is leading the cash race, entering the fourth quarter with $32 million in the bank -- more than all his opponents combined -- while Porter reported $12 million and Lee $1.3 million.

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 with a mere 35% approval rating. Scott is being challenged for the GOP nomination by wealthy Panama City attorney Keith Gross.

Democrats' hopes of regaining the seat were buoyed with the August 22 entry of former Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. The first Ecuadorian American to be elected to Congress, Mucarsel-Powell unseated two-term Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo in 2018, but lost her 2020 reelection bid to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R). She was heavily recruited by Senate Democratic Leadership -- who pledged financial support -- as well as EMILY's List and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus after a July Global Strategy Group poll showed her leading Scott 44% to 43%, with 13% undecided.

In her first five weeks, through September 30, Mucarsel-Powell raised over $1.7 million and had close to $1.1 million on hand, compared to Scott's accumulated $14 million, albeit with just over $3 million on hand. Gross, who entered the race in August, had raised just over $1 million and had $45,550 on hand.

Maryland: The retirement of three-term Senator Ben Cardin (D), announced May 1, set off a frenzy of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in the state that awarded Joe Biden a 65% victory in 2020.

The lead contenders are Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) and three-term Congressman and millionaire Total Wine & More tycoon David Trone (CD-6).

Montgomery County Council At-Large member Will Jawando withdrew from the race October 20 and endorsed Alsobrooks. She has secured the lion's share of endorsements from local and state elected officials, along with Maryland Congressmen Steny Hoyer (CD-5) and Glenn Ivy (CD-4), Maryland's junior Senator Chris VanHollen, and popular Governor Wes Moore who announced his support October 23.

Alsobrooks, who hopes to make history as Maryland's first Black Senator, also has the support of EMILY's List, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Machinists Union (IAM), and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), among others.

Her campaign received close to $3.3 million Between May 9 and September 30, ending the third quarter with $2.1 million cash on hand. Trone reported taking in close to $10 million since May, 97% of which was self-funded. He ended the third quarter with $436,568 on hand.

Trone has the endorsements of 50 of his US House colleagues, including Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (CD-02). He is also endorsed by the Maryland Education Association, the National Education Association and SMART Union, among others.

Next Up: Update on the Senate Landscape! Part Two. Michigan-Wisconsin

DemDaily: Following Feinstein 10/2/23
DemDaily: The Most Popular (and unpopular) Senators 9/13/23
DemDaily: Florida US Senate Race Heats Up! 8/23/23
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

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Sources: Ballotpedia, NBC, CNN, CalMatters, OpenSecrets, Maryland Matters, Cook, Inside Elections, Sabato, SOSs

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