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2024 Senate Map Presents Opportunities and Challenges for Republicans

by | Jun 13, 2023

By Karen Cross, Political Director

Editor’s note. This story appears in the June Issue of National Right to Life News, the pro-life newspaper of record. Please share this and the other important stories, columns, and editorials with your pro-life family and friends.

Aside from the White House, the biggest prize in the 2024 elections is control of the U.S. Senate. On the line is the fate of pro-life (and pro-abortion) legislation as well as judicial nominations, including nominees to the Supreme Court if vacancies should arise. To retake the U.S. Senate in 2024, Republicans need a net gain of two seats, or just one seat if they also retake the White House. With the balance of power coming down to just one or two seats, each individual race takes on heightened importance.

Let’s look at what are considered the most competitive races at this point in the cycle. 

Arizona

Pro-abortion Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s decision to leave the Democratic Party and register as an Independent paves the way for an unpredictable three-way race in Arizona. Sinema has not confirmed if she will run for re-election. Regardless of her decision, pro-abortion Congressman Ruben Gallego (D) is mounting an aggressive campaign to replace her as the Democrat nominee. 

While Sinema has cultivated a reputation as a moderate on some issues, her position on abortion is unambiguous. Both Sinema and Gallego support a policy of unlimited abortion for any reason until birth. Both Sinema and Gallego have voted for versions of the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).” The WHPA would enshrine unlimited abortion in federal law and tear down existing protections on the state level, including parental involvement and informed consent measures. Both also support using tax dollars to pay for abortions. Both have voted against the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. 

In May, CNN reported that Sinema holds a significant financial edge over Gallego with about $10 million in the bank compared to$2.7 million for Gallego.

At this early stage of the Republican primary, Pinal County Sherriff Mark Lamb is in the race, but other likely or potential candidates include Congressman Andy Biggs, Arizona Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope, former Congressman Matt Salmon, former Senate candidate Blake Masters, former GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, former gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson, and former prosecutor and attorney general candidateAbe Hamadeh. Former Governor Doug Ducey, Congressman Dave Schweikert, and Congressman Juan Ciscomani have officially declined to run.

The Cook Political Report categorizes the race as a Tossup.

Michigan

Both parties are preparing for a major showdown for the seat left open by pro-abortion Senator Debbie Stabenow’s retirement. Many key Democratic leaders have coalesced behind pro-abortion Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D) as their preferred candidate. Slotkin received an early endorsement from EMILY’s List, a mega-fundraiser for Democrat women who support a policy of unlimited abortion.

Michigan State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh, former State Representative Leslie Love, businessman Nasser Beydoun, and attorney Zack Burns are also vying for the Democratic Party nomination. 

Potential Republican candidates include Congresswoman Lisa McClain, State Senator Ruth Johnson, former gubernatorial candidate Kevin Rinke, and former Congressman Peter Meijer. Freshman Congressman John James and former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley have ruled out bids for the seat. 

Montana

Pro-abortion Senator Jon Tester (D) is officially running for re-election. He first won the seat in 2006 and, despite being a Democrat in a generally red state, has proven difficult to defeat. Potential candidates on the Republican side include pro-life Congressman Matt Rosendale, who may be eager for a rematch after narrowly losing to Tester in 2018, and pro-life Congressman Ryan Zinke. 

In Tester’s 2012 and 2018 re-election campaigns, Democrats successfully boosted third party candidates, specifically Libertarian Party candidates, in an effort to swing otherwise-Republican votes away from the GOP. In 2018, the Libertarian candidate received more votes than the difference between Tester and the GOP nominee. Per the Associated Press, Democrats employed a similar tactic in a Congressional race in 2022. Republicans are attempting bar this type of election manipulation and ensure a fair head-to-head fight between the GOP nominee and Tester.

Nevada

Pro-abortion Senator Jacky Rosen (D) is one of the most vulnerable Democrat incumbents heading into the 2024 cycle. Nevada was one of the closest states in the 2020 election.

Two potential GOP nominees are Adam Laxalt, the former Attorney General and GOP nominee for Senate in 2022, and Jim Marchant, a former state representative and GOP nominee for secretary of state in 2022. Polling sponsored by Nevada Newsmakers found that in head-to-head matchups, Laxalt would defeat Rosen by 1% while Rosen would defeat Marchant by 5%. Laxalt initially indicated he would not run but has not made a final decision about the race while Marchant has announced his intention to run. 

Other potential GOP candidates include former Senate candidate Sam Brown, Senate Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert, attorney and retired boxer Joey Gilbert, television personality Rick Harrison, former Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer Brian Krolicki, and former Governor Brian Sandoval, who is currently serving as president of the University of Nevada- Reno (UNR). 

Ohio

Pro-abortion Senator Sherrod Brown (D) is up for re-election in the Buckeye State. In 2022, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) won re-election by nearly twenty points. The same year, Republican Senator JD Vance won an open Senate seat. Defeating Brown, an incumbent, will be a taller order. Brown has a reputation for successfully courting many of the working-class voters principally responsible for Ohio’s ongoing political realignment from a purple swing state to a state that decidedly leans Republicans.  

In the race thus far on the Republican side is State Senator Matt Dolan and Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno. The Cook Political Report rates the race a Tossup. 

Pennsylvania

Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (D) has announced that he will run for re-election in 2024. He first won the seat in 2006 defeating Republican Senator Rick Santorum by 17 points. In subsequent elections, Casey had little trouble fending off Republican challengers with a 9-point victory in 2012 and a 13-point victory in 2018.

For most of his career, Casey’s appeal to many Pennsylvania voters, including many Republicans, was his pro-life stance. Casey’s father was a popular governor and a highly regarded pro-life voice in the Democratic Party. In recent years, however, Bob Casey, Jr.’s reliability as a pro-life vote in the Senate has waned. He previously voted to protect unborn children from painful late abortions and to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions, but in 2022, pro-life Pennsylvanians watched in dismay and disappointment as he voted in favor of the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act” (WHPA). As explained previously, the WHPA would enshrine unlimited abortion in federal law and tear down existing protections on the state level, including protections put in place by the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act—legislation signed into law by his own father. 

Businessman and 2022 Senate candidate Dave McCormick, who is pro-life, is likely to run for the Republican nomination. On May 25th, State Senator and former gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano announced that he will not run for the seat. 

According to a survey by Franklin and Marshall, about 29% of Pennsylvanians think Casey is doing an excellent or good job as a Senator. That is a marked dip in approval from the 43% he received in October 2018 prior to his last election. The poll, however, also showed Casey leading McCormick by a margin of 42%-37%. With over a year to go and his campaign not even officially underway, McCormick has ample time and opportunity to make up the gap. 

Virginia

Pro-abortion Senator Tim Kaine (D), Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, is up for re-election in the Commonwealth of Virginia. While Virginia has generally veered blue in recent federal elections, Republicans have made inroads in the state with the election of a Republican governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general in 2021. Republicans also successfully flipped the tossup 7thCongressional District in 2022 electing pro-life Congresswoman Jen Kiggans. Virginia is one to watch!

West Virginia

Senator Joe Manchin (D) has yet to announce if he intends to run for re-election. However, on the Republican side, two major candidates have campaigns already underway: Governor Jim Justice and Congressman Alex Mooney, both of whom are pro-life. A recent ECU survey found Justice leading Manchin by 22 points and leading Mooney in the Republican primary by double-digits.

Wisconsin

Pro-abortion Senator Tammy Baldwin (D) may face her toughest race yet in 2024. Wisconsin is almost assuredly going to be a top battleground on the presidential level. Baldwin is endorsed by EMILY’s List, which is already fundraising heavily on her behalf. 

Republicans weighing bids include Congressman Mike Gallagher, Congressman Tom Tiffany, businessman Eric Hovde, and businessman Scott Mayer. Other potential candidates include former Congressman Sean Duffey, Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffey, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and 2022 Lieutenant Governor candidate Roger Roth.

In addition to these states, there have been major developments in California and Maryland with California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, both pro-abortion Democrats, announcing they will not seek re-election in 2024. While neither race is expected to be particularly competitive, both races have drawn candidates from swing Congressional districts. 

In California, pro-abortion Congresswoman Katie Porter (D) is running for the open Senate seat, a move which makes the tossup 47th District she currently represents even more competitive for Republicans. In Maryland, pro-abortion Congressman David Trone (D) has thrown his hat in the ring for the open Senate seat, making Maryland’s 6th District more attainable for Republicans.

Races will come into clearer focus as filing deadlines and primaries pass. The first filing deadline is in November, and the first Congressional primaries begin on Super Tuesday—March 5, 2024. Stay tuned for further updates.

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