THE MID-TERM ELECTIONS on November 8, 2022, are just a couple of months away and the balance of power for Congress could likely come down to one or two key U.S. Senate races. As of the writing of this article on July 14, I am sure the political map for the U.S. Senate will likely look very different when this article appears in the September 2022 edition of 3PL Perspective, but I will do my best to handicap these races, some of which haven’t selected a challenger yet through the primary process.
This article will focus solely on the U.S. Senate, as most political pundits all agree that the Republicans will retake the House of Representatives and gain anywhere from 15-30 seats in the 2022 midterms. Again, a lot could happen between now and then at the global level. We will focus on seven key Senate races that RealClearPolitics.com (my favorite political website) has as toss-ups. These seats include Arizona (Mark Kelly incumbent), Georgia (Raphael Warnock incumbent), North Carolina (open seat), Nevada (Catherine Cortez Masto incumbent), New Hampshire (Maggie Hassan incumbent), Pennsylvania (open seat), and Wisconsin (Ronald Johnson incumbent). Of the five seats where the incumbent is running for office again, four of those five are seats held by Democrats with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) being the lone Republican. Of the two open seats in play, both are currently held by the Republican party.
The sitting senator from the State of Arizona is Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) former astronaut and husband of former Member of Congress Gabby Giffords who was tragically shot in the head in 2011 in a failed assassination attempt outside an event in Tucson. As of July 2022, Senator Kelly has raised more than $38 million for his re-election, proving that he is prolific in fundraising. Arizona will be a very interesting State to watch and even though from all accounts Senator Kelly is well-liked, he will need to run an excellent campaign to get him re-elected.
The four main individuals running on the Republican side are Mark Brnovich, Blake Masters, Jim Lamon, and Michael McGuire. In terms of donations, Jim Lamon, a businessman who is self-funding a large portion of the race, has $13 million on hand; Blake Masters has $3.7 million, Attorney General Mark Brnovich has $2.5 million, and Michael McGuire has $2 million on hand. Money does not mean everything in a political race, but it certainly helps and can paint a picture of where donors think the race might end up. President Trump has endorsed Blake Masters who has not been shy about throwing punches at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Republican primary is being held on August 2, and I think it will largely depend on who wins the primary if the seat can really be put into play. RCP’s latest polls have Senator Kelly beating all challengers in a generic ballot by 4-10 points. The Republican primary winner will likely be either Lamon or the Trump-supported Masters.
Prediction: Senator Kelly wins.
The incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) won his seat in 2020 to serve out the remaining term for Senator Loeffler (R-GA) who was appointed to the Senate following the retirement of Senator Isakson (R-GA). Now that we have played six degrees of separation of the Georgia Senate, let’s get back to the analysis. Senator Warnock who is a pastor by profession hasn’t created any waves during his 18 months of Senate service.
Former University of Georgia Heisman Trophy running back Herschel Walker is running against Senator Warnock with strong backing from President Trump. Walker is running as a Trump candidate who doesn’t come from the traditional political background and who is looking to shake things up. Senator Warnock has currently raised over $73 million, a quite impressive haul compared to Walker who has only raised $16 million as the confirmed Republican nominee.
The current Quinnipiac poll favors Senator Warnock with a 10-point advantage, but the average of the polls has it at Warnock +1.6. In my opinion, a major reason why Democrats Warnock and Ossoff won the Georgia Senate races in 2020 had to do with the stimulus checks or the lack of another $2k check for individuals. 2022 will be more favorable for Republicans, and I think Walker has a legitimate chance even though he may be considered by a lot of people a flawed candidate.
Prediction: Walker wins narrowly.
This seat that is being vacated by Senator Burr (R-NC) who has served in Congress since 1955, first in the House of Representatives and then the U.S. Senate. Senator Burr is not only an institution in Congress but also in the State of North Carolina. Additionally, he is famous for driving his Volkswagen Thing (retired from production in 1980) around Capitol Hill.
The North Carolina Senate race is all set between Congressman Ted Budd (R-NC) and Cheri Beasley who was the first African-American woman to serve as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Congressman Budd who has served in Congress since 2017 has raised over $4.5 million for the race, while Justice Beasley has raised almost $10 million, giving her a substantial advantage.
RCP has the race as Budd +3.8 points for the polls average, with several induvial polls showing Budd with an advantage as high as +8 points. In a favorable year for Republicans and the fact that President Trump carried the State in 2020 in a bad year for the former president, my guess is that Congressman Budd wins, but needs to run a very good race, as Justice Beasley is an impressive candidate.
Prediction: Budd wins
The Nevada Senate race in 2022 will be the first Senate race since the passing of former Majority Leader Harry Reid lost his battle with cancer in 2021. One thing is for sure in the State of Nevada: the Reid political machine and its influence were never underestimated.
However, Republicans were able to land their top tier candidate in Adam Laxalt who is the former Attorney General for the State, Navy veteran, son of former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and grandson of Paul Laxalt the former Governor and U.S. Senator from Nevada. Many political pundits have this race as one of the top two races that will flip parities in 2020, due in large part to former A.G. Laxalt, who has raised almost $6 million thus far, while incumbent Senator Cortez Masto has raised a whopping $20 million. The primary was held on June 14, which might explain the lack of donations for Laxalt, but I expect that number to increase rapidly.
The political headwinds will carry Laxalt across the finish line, and as I said before, the National Republican Senatorial Committee landed the perfect candidate in this race.
Prediction: Laxalt wins
Sitting U.S. Senator Hassan (D-NH) took a major sigh of relief when a few months ago current Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH) decided not to enter the race for the U.S. Senate. Sununu had been heavily recruited by the Republican Party and could have been a perfect candidate, but the Governor, but the Governor decided to not run for the upper chamber of Congress, but rather run for re-election as Governor.
The New Hampshire primary is really late in the process and not being held until September 13 which doesn’t leave a lot of time for the eventual candidate to run for the race, especially after a contested primary.
The high-profile candidates in the race on the Republican side are General Don Bolduc (raised $380k), New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse (raised $750k) and Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith (raised $410k). All candidates fall way behind Senator Hassan who has raised almost $17 million for the racegeneric polls have Senator Hassan beating all challengers by at least 3-4 points.
I think the fact that Senator Hassan, the State’s the former Governor, is a well-known commodity in the State of New Hampshire, the primary battle for the Republican candidate is going to be hotly contested, and the race is so late, Senator Hassan will hold the edge in this race.
Prediction: Hassan wins
This will arguably be the most watched race in the U.S. Senate and could absolutely determine the outcome of the control of power for the Senate. It is an open race to replace retiring Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). On the Democrat side you have Lt. Governor John Fetterman (raised over $16 million) who is a selfproclaimed acolyte of Bernie Sanders and TV reality star and medical doctor Dr. Mehmet Oz (raised over $15 million) who prevailed in a very tight primary in the State, largely in part from the support of President Trump.
RCP doesn’t have any polling on the race yet, but looking at other polls from throughout the country, they have Lt.
Governor Fetterman ahead by 5-6 points. I think it will be a lot tighter than that. Lt.Governor Fetterman recently suffered from a stroke, which inside sources say will not hurt his chances but is something to keep a close eye on. Politico has this as the No. 1 race that will flip in November with Fetterman winning.
Pennsylvania is always one of those States that can swing either way in the midterms or the Presidential elections, and 2022 will be no different. This will be a very close race to watch.
Sitting Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is running for his third term in the U.S. Senate and by all accounts seems to be running a decent race and raising a lot of money (over $9 million). Senator Johnson was one of those senators who, when first elected, stated he would only serve two terms, but I don’t believe that will hurt him too much with voters back in Wisconsin. Senator Johnson has been known to be a major fiscal hawk and opposed all the stimulus checks and PPP loans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Democratic primary is not until August 9, 2022, and of the candidates running, the two most prominent would be Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (raised $4 million) and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry (raised $9 million) who has donated millions personally to the campaign for the seat.
It is interesting to note that the two previous elections for Senator Johnson came in 2010 & 2016, favorable years for Republicans, whereas the next election in 2020 was the polar opposite for the party. Senator Johnson is on a good reelection cycle in the Senate, and as long as he runs a good campaign, he will once again be re-elected for a 3rd term.
Prediction: Johnson wins
In conclusion, please keep in mind this article was written in July 2022, and a lot can and will change between now and then. I for one will be very excited to see how good or how bad I did on these predictions come November.