Democrats who are hoping to retake control of the Senate in 2020 shouldn’t get their hopes too high up.
While the GOP may have more seats to defend this time than it did in 2018, the DNC is finding it difficult to recruit good candidates to challenge incumbent Republican senators. In some instances, candidates that the DNC was hoping would run for Senate are now attempting to run for the presidency instead. In other cases, potential candidates are simply not interested in a Senate run, perhaps because they know that doing so is a lost cause, and they have better things to do with their time than plan a concession speech.
Some of the Democratic politicians the party was counting on to run against Republican Senators include Stacey Abrams, Cindy Axne, Joaquin Castro, Beto O’Rourke and John Hickenlooper. Stacey Abrams, who recently stuck her foot in her mouth by telling supporters that the party no longer needs to concede elections that it doesn’t consider to be “fair”, has passed on a Senate run and is instead busying herself with a new nonprofit group called Fair Fight Action, which is meant to fight against what she views as Republican voter suppression.
Rep. Cindy Axne and Rep. Joaquin Castro prefer rerunning for the House of Representatives rather than battling a Republican incumbent, a move that some say shows a lack of confidence in Sen. Chuck Schumer’s potential leadership of a Senate with a Democrat majority. Beto O’Rourke, Gov. John Hickenlooper and others are more ambitious than some of their peers, and have opted to join the overcrowded Democratic presidential primary race.
Naturally, the GOP hasn’t failed to notice the DNC’s difficulties in attracting good Senate candidates to take on GOP incumbents. National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Jesse Hunt recently told reporters that the DNC’s difficulty in finding potential Senate candidates shows that politicians in the party know that the Democratic Party is leaning leftward, and are therefore hesitant to take on competitive races.
The DNC defended itself by saying that it has plenty of candidates to consider, and that it’s perfectly normal for many aspiring politicians to launch their campaign closer to election day. While the latter point is true, the reality of the matter is that the Democratic Party will be at a disadvantage if it has to support unknown Senate candidates. Name recognition can make or break a race.
When 2020 comes around, Republicans in the Senate will have to defend 22 seats — Democrats will only have to defend 12. Only two Republican senators are running for re-election in states that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Democrats, on the other hand, are defending seats in two red states (Kansas and Alabama) as well as two seats in battleground states (New Hampshire and Michigan).
Democrats will need to either wrest four Senate seats from Republican control without losing any seats that it currently holds, or win three more seats along with the Presidential election in 2020. Given the fact that the Democrats are in disarray as moderates and far-left socialists battle over key issues, the Senate could very well remain in the hands of the Republican Party, ensuring that Democrat dreams such as Medicare for All, gun control, forgiveness of college debt and the repeal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs act never become reality.