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this page updated Sept. 23, 2018

U.S. Senate Races, 2017-18               

  • Starting balance Jan. 2018:  51R, 47D, 2I.*
  • 35 seats at stake in 2018:  24D, 9R, 2I.**
  • 4 retirements:  4RFlake (AZ), Corker (TN), Hatch (UT), Cochran (MS)
  • 31 seeking re-election:  23D, 6R, 2I.
  • Balance after Nov. 6, 2018:  tbd.

*In AL, Doug Jones (D) won the Dec. 12, 2017 special election and was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2018; he will face election in 2020.
**For MN Sen. Al Franken (DFL) resigned effective Jan. 2, 2018; Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (DFL) was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2018 and will face election in Nov. 2018.
**For MS, Sen. Thad Cochran (R) announced on Mar. 5, 2018 that he would resign effective April 1.  Gov. Phil Bryant (R) appointed Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith to replace him.  There will be a special election in Nov. 2018; if no candidate gets 50% + 1 there will be a runoff.
CAMPAIGN LITERATURE

2018

Primary
DEM. INCUMBENT
REP. CHALLENGER
MORE
CA
June 5
Dianne Feinstein vs. Kevin de León n/a
n/a
CT
Aug. 14
Chris Murphy
Matthew Corey
Jeff Russell (G)
Richard Lion (L)
Fred "Mitch" Linck (SA)
DE
Sep. 6
Tom Carper
Rob Arlett Demitri Theodoropolous (G)
Nadine Frost (L)
FL
Aug. 28
Bill Nelson
Rick Scott
(w/ins)
HI
Aug. 11
Mazie Hirono
Ron Curtis
Arturo Reyes (Non)
IN
May 8
Joe Donnelly
Mike Braun
Lucy Brenton (L)
MD
June 26
Ben Cardin
Tony Campbell
A.Vohra (L)
N.Simon (I)
MA
Sept. 4
Elizabeth Warren
Geoff Diehl Shiva Ayyadurai (I) 
MI
Aug. 7
Debbie Stabenow
John James
Marcia Squier (G)
J.Wilhelm (NLP)
G.Huffman (USTP)
MN
Aug. 14
Amy Klobuchar
Jim Newberger
Paula Overby (G)
Dennis Schuller (LMN)
MN
Aug. 14
Tina Smith [Al Franken]
Karin Housley Sarah Wellington (LMN)
Jerry Trooien (I)
MO
Aug. 7
Claire McCaskill
Josh Hawley
Jo Crain (G)
Jepheth Campbell (L)
Craig O'Dear (I)
MT
June 5
Jon Tester
Matt Rosendale
Steve Kelly (G)
Rick Breckenridge (L)
NJ
June 5
Bob Menendez
Bob Hugin
Madelyn Hoffman (G)
Murray Sabin (L)
indep.: Hank Schroeder Natalie Lynn Rivera Kevin Kimple Tricia Flanagan
NM
June 5
Martin Heinrich
Mick Rich
Gary Johnson (L)
NY

Kirsten Gillibrand
Chele Farley (w/in)
ND
June 12
Heidi Heitkamp
Kevin Cramer
n/a
OH
May 8
Sherrod Brown
Jim Renacci
n/a
PA
May 15
Bob Casey Jr.
Lou Barletta
Neal Gale (G)
Dale Kerns (L)
RI
Sep. 12
Sheldon Whitehouse
Bob Flanders Raymond McKay (I)
VA
June 12
Tim Kaine
Corey Stewart
Matt Waters (L)
WA
Aug. 7
Maria Cantwell
Susan Hutchison
n/a
WV
May 8
Joe Manchin
Patrick Morrisey
Rusty Hollen (L)
WI
Aug. 14
Tammy Baldwin
Leah Vukmir
(w/ins)
*In West Virginia Don Blankenship, who finished third in the Republican primary, sought to run in the general election as the nominee of the Constitution Party.  The Secretary of State ruled Blankenship should not appear on the ballot due to the state's "sore loser" law, and the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld that decision in an Aug. 29 ruling.


Primary
IND. INCUMBENT
DEM. CHALLENGER
REP. CHALLENGER
ME
June 12
Angus King
Zak Ringelstein
Eric Brakey
VT
Aug. 14
Bernie Sanders
no Democrat
other candidates:
Reid Kane (LU) and
six independents
Lawrence Zupan
* In Vermont H. Brooke Page won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, as well as the nominations for U.S. House, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer and state auditor.  However on Aug. 24 Paige withdrew from all contests except secretary of state; the Vermont Republican Party state committee met on Aug. 29 and selected new nominees including Lawrence Zupan for Senate.  See Paul Heintz. "Bernie Sanders' GOP Opponent Drops Out of Senate Race—and Five Others,"  Seven Days, Aug. 24, 2018.


Primary
REP. INCUMBENT
DEM. CHALLENGER
MORE
AZ
Aug. 28
Jeff Flake  ...retiring
Martha McSally
Krysten Sinema
(w/ins)
MS
June 5
Roger Wicker runoff June 26:
David Baria
def. Howard Sherman

Danny Bedwell (L)
MS
Nov. 6
if no majority,
runoff Nov. 27
Cindy Hyde-Smith [Thad Cochran]   ...retired effective April 1, 2018
being challenged by Chris McDaniel
Mike Espy
Tobey Bartee (I)
NE
May 15
Deb Fischer
Jane Raybould
Jim Schultz (L)
NV
June 12
Dean Heller
Jacky Rosen
Tim Hagan (L)
Barry Michaels (I)
TN
Aug. 2
Bob Corker  ...retiring
Marsha Blackburn
Phil Bredesen
six independents
TX
Mar. 6
Ted Cruz
Beto O'Rourke
Neal Dikeman (L)
UT
Jun 26
Orrin Hatch  ...retiring  Mitt Romney Jenny Wilson
Tim Aalders (C)
Craig Bowden (L)
sev. others
WY
Aug. 21
John Barrasso
Gary Trauner
n/a




Overview
Of 34 seats at stake, 24 are held by Democrats, two others by Independents who caucus with the Democrats, and eight by Republicans.  While Democrats only need a net gain of two seats, due to the map they face long odds in achieving that goal. 
For Republicans, the narrow majority in the Senate has proven difficult to work with; they would like to pick up some seats. 

Ten Democratic incumbents represent states that voted for Trump in 2016, and five of those states are generally considered Republican (IN, MO, MT, ND and WV). 
Thus the campaigns of Sens. Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin will be closely watched.  President Trump helped convince U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci to challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer to challenge Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.  Democrats have a few possibilities for pick ups.  Sen. Dean Heller (NV) is seen as the most vulnerable Republican, and they are also eying Arizona (Flake open seat) and Texas (Cruz). 

There are just a handful of open seats; three Republican Senators are retiring at the end of term.  Sens. Bob Corker (TN) and Jeff Flake (AZ) had stood up to Trump at times.  Sen Orrin Hatch (UT), 83 years old and first elected in 1976, is retiring.  In addition to the open seats, a couple of appointed Senators will face the voters.  On Dec. 7 Sen. Al Franken (DFL-MN) announced he would resign amid sexual harrassment allegations.  On Dec. 13 Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) announced he would appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (DFL) to fill the seat.  Franken resigned on Jan. 2, 2018 and Smith was sworn in.  The prospect of two seats up in Minnesota may make things interesting.  There will also be two seats up in Mississippi, where Sen. Thad Cochran announced on March 5 that he would resign effective April 1 due to health reasons.  Gov. Phil Bryant (R) appointed Agriculture and Commerce Secretary Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) to fill the position.
 
The 2018 primaries, still underway, are setting the stage for the general election.  No incumbents appear likely to be defeated. 
Steve Bannon's threat to primary GOP senators who have not been sufficiently supportive of President Trump received a lot of attention, and may have helped Corker and Flake decide to retire, but Bannon appears completely marginalized after the Moore campaign debacle and after he lost his position at Breitbart.  On the Democratic side, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA), 85 years old and first elected in a 1992 special election, won 44.2% of the vote  in the June 5 top two primary (32 candidates were on the ballot), but was dealt a setback on July 14 when the California Democratic Party voted to endorse her opponent, state Sen. Kevin de León.  Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ) seems to have weathered his corruption trial. 

While the Dec. 12, 2017 U.S. Senate special election in Alabama produced a very surprising Democratic win, it is important not to read too much into that result as former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was an extremely flawed candidate.  Moore defeated appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R) in the Sept. 26 primary.  Allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in November, but Moore refused to withdraw.  Republican leaders posited all manner of scenarios, including running a write in candidate, possibly Strange or Attorney General Jeff Sessions; having Strange resign and hold a special election; and voting to expel Moore from the Senate if he were in fact elected.  The Democratic nominee, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, faced long odds in this very red state; the last Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate was Sen. Howell Heflin, who retired in 1996.  As Election Day drew close Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed his tune, stating on Dec. 3 that, "I'm going to let the people of Alabama make the call."  On Dec. 4, President Trump endorsed Moore; in one tweet he stated, "Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!"  Following Trump's move, the RNC quickly restored its support for Moore.  McConnell did say that if Moore were elected his case would be put to the Senate ethics committee.  Meanwhile Democrats started using the RNC's support of Moore to attack Republican candidates (+).  On Election Day, propelled by high turnout among black voters, Jones achieved the upset, defeating Moore by 1.5 percentage points (+); he took office on Jan. 3 and will not be up for re-election until 2020.

There is considerable room for improvement in the representativeness of the Senate.  Currently 23 of the 100 U.S. Senators are women (17D, 6R).  Eleven of the 24 Democrats and two of the eight Republicans seeking re-election (or election) are women.  In terms of ethnic diversity, there are nine minority Senators—C.Booker (D-NJ), K.Cortez-Masto (D-NV), T.Cruz (R-TX), T.Duckworth (D-IL), K.Harris (D-CA), M.Hirono (D-CA), R.Menendez (D-NJ), M.Rubio (R-FL), T.Scott (R-SC) (+).

Links:
Party Committees
:  DSCC  [Organization]   |   NRSC  [Organization]   |   FEC
 
Key Super PACs:  D - Senate Majority PAC (+)  |   R - Senate Leadership Fund
Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball
The Cook Political Report

Alabama Special Election (Dec. 12, 2017)
Roy Moore (R)   |   Doug Jones (D)   |   Ron Bishop (L) w/in   |   Lee Busby w/in launched Nov. 27



Senate Primary Dates
Mar.

May
June

Aug.
Sept.
6-TX

8-IN
8-OH
8-WV
15-NE
15-PA
5-CA
5-MS
5-MT
5-NJ
5-NM
12-ME
12-NV
12-ND
12-VA*
28-MD
28-UT

2-TN
7-MI
7-MO
7-WA
11-HI
14-CT
14-MN
14-VT
14-WI
21-WY
28-AZ
28-FL
4-MA
6-DE
11-NY
12-RI
none in Apr., July.             NCSL Primary Dates

 

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