Possible retirements before 2024 have Senate Democrats on edge

Explanation

Senate Democrats returned to Washington this week to use their newly-established majority this week, but the prospect of retirement among their ranks is already raising concerns about their prospects in the next election.

Democrats will defend a sprawling map of 23 Senate seats in 2024, with three incumbents in states President Donald Trump won in 2020 — Ohio, West Virginia and Montana. They are also defending their seats in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and Michigan.

He said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) plans to run for re-election, but Democrats are holding their breath as Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. .V.) decide. will they stay in re-election battles in red states where they have shown surprising staying power. The skepticism comes as national Democrats face questions about whether they will support incumbent Sen. Kirsten Sinema if she runs for re-election in Arizona or withdraw her endorsement. her potential Democratic challenger, Rep. Ruben Gallego, who announced his candidacy earlier this week.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who added that he encouraged Manchin and Tester to stick around, “I sincerely and sincerely hope they run.” “There’s no doubt they’re in really tough states in tough political environments.”

Both men said they would consider their decisions this week.

“Honestly, people want me to be home,” Tester said, adding that he will make a decision in the first half of the year. “But they also want me to be here. So we’ll figure it out.”

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One factor Democrats know is that Tester’s long commute to his farm in Montana is weighing on him. “You don’t just win an election, you have to have a family behind you,” Tester said.

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Manchin said Monday he did not have a timetable for his decision. “I don’t get pushed around in West Virginia,” he said.

Democrats attribute some of their surprising gains in last year’s midterms to incumbent Senate candidates, while many Republicans have decided to retire. In 2022, Republican senators in Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina are retiring, leading to more competitive races than Republicans would have liked, and a Democratic pick in a midterm election year that has historically tended to favor the party out of power.

“It’s their decision what they want to do, but I clearly want all of our current candidates to be re-elected, and I’m very happy to make sure they are re-elected,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich. .), head of the campaign committee of Democratic senators. “If our incumbents run, we will retain the majority.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) announced her retirement earlier this month, setting up a potentially crowded Democratic primary to replace her and making the seat more accessible to Republicans.

Sen. Tim Kaine (DWA)’s announcement last week of his re-election bid was met with a sigh of relief, said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (ill.), the House’s No. 2 Democrat, was ousted by Democrats who worried he might retire. “I’m so glad he’s on board, he’s a great senator,” she said.

Ten of the Democratic senators up for re-election in two years are over 70, including 89-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), who told CNN she will decide whether to run again for the electoral seat or not. in the coming months. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an 81-year-old independent, said he would make an announcement about his future at “the appropriate time.”

Among Democrats, Sen. Tammy Baldwin has not officially announced her plans, but told a local news station in December that she “widely expects to run again in Wisconsin.” Nevada Sen. Jackie Rosen is also expected to file another bid. But in Pennsylvania, Sen. Robert Casey Jr., who is battling prostate cancer, said he’s focused on just that before making a final decision in 2024. “I just want to get over it,” he said Monday.

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The 2024 Senate map is the GOP’s dream. But the strength of candidates is unstable.

Sen. Ben Cardin, 79, said he has not decided whether to run for re-election in Maryland, while a spokesman for Sen. Angus King, 78, a 78-year-old independent who runs with the Democratic Party, declined to be asked if he would. he answered whether he will nominate his candidate in the re-election. citing a local news report that he is ready for a publicity stunt.

Brown said he doesn’t believe the Democratic herd is headed for the exits, even if Manchin or Tester don’t decide. “What happened last time with the Republicans was a bit of a domino effect — [former senators] Toomey and Portman and North Carolina and Missouri,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to happen this time, I’m not worried about it at all.”

The new chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.), said he believes that even if Tester does not resign, Republicans could have a strong run against him.

“If he decides to run again, there will be a real difference,” he said, citing inflation, energy and the Second Amendment. National Republicans believe that Representative Matthew M. Rosendale (R-Mont.), whom Tester defeated in 2018, and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) are eyeing the seat, though neither has announced plans to run.

Although Republicans have far fewer current candidates for re-election, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is one of them and said Monday that he has not yet decided whether to run for the seat. Given his public breaks with Trump, Romney, 75, could face a tough nomination from the ruling Communist Party. Sen. Mike Brown’s retirement could also lead to a Republican primary in the red state of Indiana, where Rep. Jim Banks has announced he will run for the seat and former Gov. Mitch Daniels is considering entering the fray. from conservative critics, including Donald Trump Jr.

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Perhaps the dilemma facing Democrats in 2024 is how to fight the race in Arizona, where Sinema, who is an independent but affiliated with them, is up for re-election, but Gallego, a Democrat, is already facing challenges. If Sinema decides to run again, it will create a three-way race that will likely boost the Republican candidate. He is a key voice for the narrow majority of Democrats to endorse President Biden’s nominees and other issues.

Peters said it was too early to discuss whether the party’s national office would back Sinema and had not spoken to him about whether he would run again.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Sinema an “excellent” senator but declined to endorse him. “He’s done a lot of good things here, but it’s too early,” he said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seemed to enjoy the drama, praising Sinema and saying he looks forward to reading how Democrats respond to questions about his support.

“It’s a big challenge for the majority of Democrats in the Senate to decide whether to support him or someone running on the Democratic ticket,” he told reporters with a smile. “I’m sure you were asking a number of questions along these lines before we got here. I look forward to reading what answers you have, if any.”

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