A Struggle in the Trenches for the US Senate

The Story:

It appears at this writing that the control of the US Senate will remain in Republican hands when the new members are inaugurated in January.  But this week’s election has made it very clear is that the Senate will remain the scene of protracted trench warfare.

Some Key Races:

Thirty-five Senate seats were up for grabs this year. Some of them were essentially lay-ups, as when a popular incumbent faced only nominal opposition, which was the case with the re-election of Senator Ed Markey (D-MA.)

But there were some key races in which in which incumbency did not appear going in to be a decisive advantage, or in which there was no incumbent running.

  1. In Maine, Susan Collins (R) ran as the incumbent, but she appeared to have tied her own fate too closely to that of President Trump: and Trump is very unpopular Down East. Many observers thought this race would go to Sara Gideon (D).
  2. In Tennessee, Lamar Alexander (R) was not running for reelection. He is looking forward to the joys of retirement. The Republican Party nominated Bill Hagerty to replace him, against the opposition of Marquita Bradshaw (D), an environmental activist.
  3. In Colorado, incumbent Cory Gardner (R), like Collins, sought reelection in a state that likes its Republicans with an independent/moderate streak, and the great obstacle to his reelection was a sense that Gardner had not demonstrated sufficient independence of the President before running for reelection.
  4. In Wyoming, as in Tennessee, the incumbent, Mike Enzi (R), was not running again. The campaign pitted Cynthia Lummis (R) against Merav Ben David (D).


In Maine, Collins kept her seat. In the closing days of the campaign, she successfully portrayed Gideon as an outsider (from distant Rhode Island).  Meanwhile Hagerty beat Bradshaw to keep the Tennessee seat, also, “red.” In Wyoming, Lummus buried Ben David. On the other side of the ledger, though, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) ousted Gardner — for a newly blue seat.

The Thing to Know:

There was a fair amount of discussion, before this vote, of whether this would be a year for a “blue wave” or a “red wave.” It appears not to have been anything so unilateral as the word “wave” suggests. It appears to be a lot of disconnected incidents in a long drawn out war in the trenches.

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