Two senators from states with little in common and at opposite poles of the country found each other this month: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Mark Kelly of Arizona, who have banded together to push for a gas tax cut. oil.
Their bill — the Gas Rebate Act, which would suspend 18.4 cents in federal taxes per gallon — soon found two other eager donors: Senators Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Catherine Cortez Masto of Georgia. Nevada.
The gas tax holiday may face a dim outlook, but the reality is that four of its main backers just happened to be the four most vulnerable Democratic senators mid-term. This November episode highlights how much they want to ring a populist bell, something that could save them their jobs.
While most of the attention surrounding the term until now has focused on the battle for the House and the interstate battles over redrawn districts, the Democrats’ fragile Senate majority is also struggling. take place.
Collectively, the four Democratic senators most at risk – Mr. Warnock, Mr. Kelly, Ms. Cortez Masto and Ms. Hassan – are neither national stars nor high-ranking members of the leadership. They are vulnerable not because of the policies they have passed or not adopted. Instead, they were incumbents in battleground states in a year of politically hostile weather for Democrats, with rising inflation, voter anger at the party in charge and the President Biden is approving jobs.
Although the president has won all 4 of their states in 2020, his margins are so thin that small changes in partisan enthusiasm or loyalty among loyal voters , especially the suburban ones, could bring victory to the Republican Party.
Mr. Warnock, Georgia’s first Black senator, and Mr. Kelly, a former astronaut, are defending seats in the longtime Republican stronghold that Mr. Biden carried by less than a percentage point. Cortez Masto, the first Latina senator, is seeking re-election in a state where presidential disapproval is registered at 52% in a recent poll.
Even in New Hampshire, where Mr. Biden won seven points, Republicans feel there is an opportunity to oust Ms. Hassan, a former governor, after New Hampshire Poll shows that less than a fifth of residents think the country is on the right track.
The climate in 2022 is still subject to change. Hyperinflation may be moderate. A black woman’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, or the court’s withdrawal of abortion rights, could excite Democrats. And with the majority of Republicans caught up in Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, Republican candidates getting through tough primaries could be too polarize to win. Democrats are also hoping to win Republican-held seats in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
But history is not in favor of Democrats. The party that holds the White House almost always loses midterms. Even important legislation – Barack Obama’s healthcare reform, or Ronald Reagan’s signed tax cut – has made small difference. Midterm voters are often more motivated by economic conditions or a desire to check the ruling party.
“The individual candidates and the races they run are important, but history tells us,” said Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the Center for Nonpartisan Politics at the University of Virginia. The political climate was the single most significant contributor to midterm results.”
Here’s a look at the Democrats’ most endangered senators.
Georgia: Pastor and former soccer star
Mr. Warnock called himself “the most vulnerable Senate Democrat wanting to run for re-election”. He won his seat in the 2021 run-off thanks to a strong black voter turnout and the defeat of some Republicans after Mr. Trump unleashed the sham of rigged elections.
But Georgia is still a right-wing country, and grievances with Mr. Biden are more acute there than nationally. The president’s job approval was in the mid-30s in two public polls last month. While Mr. Warnock has emphasize How the Democratic Senate majority bailed out the pandemic, his opponents did being attacked his reliance on wealthy, out-of-state campaign contributors.
“Biden has lost highly educated, white voters who have immigrated to Warnock and are willing to return to the Republican party,” said Brian Robinson, a GOP strategist in Georgia.
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution Poll shows Mr Warnock is statistically tied in the general election to former soccer star Herschel Walker, who was signaled to the race by Mr. Women have claimed Mr. Walker threaten them with violence, and he admitted history of mental illness. But his stature with Republicans has been little affected.
Mr. Walker has avoided public events and is generally all news media friendly. In an interview, he said the John Lewis Voting Rights Act proposed by Democrats was “not consistent with what John Lewis stands for,” even though the Georgia congressman, who passed away in 2020, spent his life his life for the right to vote. Mr. Walker later complain “It’s completely unfair to someone like me” when asked about the bipartisan multi-billion dollar infrastructure bill, perhaps Congress’ greatest achievement of 2021.
At some point, Mr. Walker may have to confront Mr. Warnock, an orator who hold the podium once belonged to Pastor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Jason Carter, the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia in 2014, said, “I have a football signed by Herschel Walker in my office right now, but I don’t want him to be a senator. My doctor and I are not alone.”
Arizona: Draw a Contrast with Processes
Mr. Kelly is defending the seat he won in 2020, where he outperformed Mr. Biden in all 15 counties. The race is underway in the shadow of a year-long right-wing crusade in Arizona to undo Biden’s victory, which has cast many traditional Republicans out.
Among the Republican candidates, Attorney General Mark Brnovich acknowledged that Mr. Trump lost in Arizona, but he has been trying to regain credibility with the base since. The Republican field also includes venture capitalist Blake Masters, who has drawn grassroots anger over China and about the porous Mexican border, and Jim Lamon, an entrepreneur who has run TV Inflammation Advertisement.
“You’ve got Republican candidates doing whatever it takes to beat Trump in a state that has already defeated Trump,” said Tony Cani, a Democratic strategist. Democracy said.
Mr. Kelly has kept up his attacks against Republicans to date, instead emphasizing his roots as the son of two police officers and his support for popular laws like the holiday. gas tax and a ban on stock trading by Congress.
Kirk Adams, a Republican strategist, said the often underpowered wings of the GOP in Arizona will rally around the nominee ultimately nominated.
“There is one unifying theme right now, alarm and concern about the Biden administration,” said Adams, a former top aide to Governor Doug Ducey, with whom anti-Trump Republicans have tried. across all factions of the Republican Party. to join the race.
Mr. Kelly, the husband of Gabrielle Giffords, a former congresswoman who was fatally wounded in a mass shooting in 2011, has sought to defend himself by contrasting with progressives. He criticized Mr Biden for not recording a record number of migrants apprehended at the border as “a crisis”, and he denied criticism of the state Democratic Party of Senator Kyrsten Sinema for refusing to change the rules of filming.
Nevada: The battle to see who will fight stronger
A war of words over Mr. Trump’s defeat in 2020 is likely to revive the Senate race in Nevada, where the leading Republican, Adam Laxalt, has fueled an attempt to reverse his 33,000-vote victory. Mr. Biden in this state. He called the sham of a stolen election “Hot Topic” in his campaign this year. He has the backing of both Mr. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader.
Cortez Masto, first elected in 2016, was a defender of Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader who died last year.
Cortez Masto said in an interview: “I always compete in tough races. “I know that Mitch McConnell will continue to put millions of dollars into this race.”
Both Mr. Laxalt and Ms. Cortez Masto are former state attorneys general. Mr. Laxalt is concerned about rising crime, undocumented immigrants and inflation. The state’s tourism-dependent economy has the nation’s second-worst unemployment rate, at 6.4%.
Mr. Laxalt has accused Ms. Cortez Masto for not keeping up with the police and reporting violent crimes. “Vegas cannot survive if the violence continues to increase,” he said at a rally this month. “We are a tourist economy. People are scared to come here.”
Cortez Masto, who says she helped channel Justice Department grants to local police departments, is trying to determine her race, promote her procurement of funding to combat wildfires and drought in infrastructure legislation, which Mr. Laxalt opposes.
“Let me tell you, there is a stark difference between me and Adam Laxalt,” said Cortez Masto. “Every day, I talk to the Nevadans, hear what they need and fight for them.”
New Hampshire: A survivor of previous red waves
Ms. Hassan, who won the Senate seat with just 1,000 votes in 2016, appears to have had a major breakthrough as the most popular official in the state, Governor Chris Sununu, tell Republican members He will not run for the Senate.
But voters’ disapproval of Ms. Hassan, reached 51 percent, drew a second group of Republicans to the margins, including Chuck Morse, the president of the state Senate, and Kevin Smith, the town director of Londonderry. They join Don Bolduc, a retired army general.
Hassan, who was twice elected governor, has $5.3 million in her campaign account, far ahead of her rivals.
Her campaign boasts that she was one of the original bipartisan negotiators on the infrastructure deal and secures funding for two of the state’s priorities, coastal resilience and high-speed internet. high (many new Hampshirites work from home). However, Republicans point out that New Hampshire gets the fewest dollars on the highway of any state.
“I would say there’s no chance of that without a catastrophe in our primaries,” said David Carney, a Republican strategist who advises Mr. Morse. It’s always possible – that she might get re-elected.”
Rising fuel costs, in the absence of public transport and where most homes are heated by kerosene, are among the factors driving voters’ pessimism about the country’s direction. On the other hand, a Supreme Court ruling that undermines Roe v. Wade this year could anger New Hampshire voters, one of the most pro-abortion advocates among abortion-rights advocates. .
Hassan has won three statewide races, including re-election as governor in 2014, a brutal midterm term for Democrats. “President Obama was unpopular in New Hampshire in 2014,” said Ray Buckley, the state’s Democratic chairman.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/us/politics/vulnerable-senate-democrats.html The Senate’s Most Vulnerable Democrat