Early Look at the 2020 Senate Races, Part 4: The West

U.S. senatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., celebrates her primary election victory, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. McSally will face U.S. Rep. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., in the November election as they seek the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

U.S. senatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., celebrates her primary election victory, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. McSally will face U.S. Rep. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., in the November election as they seek the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Nine races are on tap out West with seven of those Senate seats currently in Republican hands.


Although Dan Sullivan (38/32) has yet to declare his candidacy for reelection, some pundits are weighing in on his vulnerability in 2020.  This is based on some very early polling pitting Sullivan against Anchorage Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar showing a virtual tie.  Alaska is one state where having an independent on the ballot can have dramatic effects on electoral outcomes.  Even if Dunbar ran as an independent, Sullivan would still have a difficult time, the poll revealed.  Further, about 80% of Republicans polled said they would support Sullivan.  However, that figure of 80% is rather low for an incumbent, so he has not won over the hearts and minds of Alaska Republicans.  Although only one Democrat has declared their candidacy, they are an afterthought.  Where is the Trump factor?  He currently enjoys a decent 48% approval rating in Alaska.  Prediction: GOP hold


Front page writer, streiff, here at Redstate has a great article on this race.  Martha McSally (35/35), after managing to lose to Krysten Sinema, who sports hooker boots, pink tutus, practices witchcraft and is bisexual, was appointed to this seat vacated by John Kyl after he was named to replace John McCain. She will face the husband of Arizona’s resident martyr (Gabby Giffords), ex-astronaut and gun grabber Mark Kelly.  McSally acts as if because she has the “R” after her name in Arizona, she is entitled to the Senate seat.

This is an important state that must remain in GOP control.  Given the opposition, McSally herself and 2018 results, Ducey has to correct this problem since he appointed her to the seat.  He has three choices in my opinion: (1) dump McSally outright, (2) summon McSally and tell her to right the ship, or (3) encourage a primary challenger and he has the perfect foil here- his chief of staff Kirk Adams.  Ducey needs to stand up to the Arizona GOP establishment, which is still controlled by McCain operatives, and tell them to take a hike.  Then, to save face since he appointed both Adams and McSally, he can leave it to the GOP voters of Arizona to decide, then endorse whoever wins the primary. And McConnell and his PAC needs to stay out of the fray. McSally cannot count on Trump’s coat tails in Arizona come 2020.  Prediction:  Unless something changes, Democrat pick up.


Cory Gardner (35/35) is an overlooked vulnerable Republican running in a purple state that is quickly turning blue.  After all, in 2018 they chose a hardened socialist as Governor.  Although facing no primary opposition, twelve Democrats are biting at the chomps to take him on in 2020.  The saving grace for Gardner is that first the Democrats have to sort out their house with at least 4-5 of those twelve candidates viable.  It may be an expensive Democratic primary.  Although Trump lost Colorado in 2016 (and likely will in 2020), Gardner cannot count on the top of the ticket to carry him over the finish line.  What troubles many conservatives about Gardner is his stances on immigration. He opposes dismantling DACA and spoke out against Trump’s travel ban.  He also authored a letter to the Justice Department protesting family separation at the border.  According to one outlet, he was ranked the 8th highest bipartisan Senator in the 115th Congress.

Among those Democrats are Andrew Romanoff, the ex-state house speaker who seems to find some office to run for every two years in Colorado.  However, there appears to be some momentum for ex-state senator Mike Johnston who, according to FEC filings, has been a good fundraiser with a lot of in-state donors.

This is a very tough one to call.  A staunch conservative likely cannot garner enough votes in Colorado today to win a statewide election.  Tom Tancredo found that out.  This is a tough balancing act for Gardner and one slip moves the dial in the opposite direction.  However, one has to hope there are still enough non-stoned, sane people in Colorado that they shun an over-the-top liberal.  Seeing a socialist governor in action may be Gardner’s best hope.  Prediction: TOSS UP (but not optimistic)


Although officially undeclared, Republican incumbent Jim Risch (43/23) has the numbers to win reelection come 2020.  Thus far, only businesswoman Nancy Harris has thrown her hat in for the Democrats.  This is strong Trump territory where he sports a 57% approval rating.  Prediction:  GOP hold


Steve Daines (50/44), the Republican incumbent, is definitely running and will most likely face off against Wilmot Collins, the first black mayor of Helena who barely won that race.  Although former governor Brian Schweitzer has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate, another more popular soon-to-be former governor with a likely better chance, Steve Bullock, opted for a presidential run.  With a March 9 filing deadline, both may still jump in here especially if Bullock pulls from the presidential race.  From the numbers by Daines, it seems the majority of Montana voters have a good idea about him and seem poised to send him back to the Senate.  Prediction: GOP hold.


Tom Udall, the incumbent Democrat, decided to retire which caught the party somewhat off guard and flat-footed.  At first glance, this looks like a GOP target.  The list of possible candidates is long with some noticeable names- Susana Martinez, Steve Pearce, and John Sanchez.  Martinez left the Governor’s office relatively unpopular so although she has the name recognition, she has baggage to deal with.  Pearce, although conservative, also has some baggage and his anti-climate change stances may not sit too well with New Mexico’s electorate.  And Sanchez, having been Lt. Governor to Martinez, may also be a drawback.  An interesting possibility is former Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry who was a popular mayor who managed to decrease city spending $140 million without decreasing services.  He also instituted an educational reform program that has been copied and lauded nationally on both sides of the aisle.

For the Democrats, it will likely be Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.  Young, charismatic and Hispanic, he has built up a reputation in the House as a fighter for environmental regulation and Indian affairs, two items big in New Mexico.  This race might just be the sleeper of 2020.  Prediction: Democrat hold in a close race if Berry, easy against anyone else.


Democratic incumbent Jeff Merkley (45/28) will definitely seek reelection.  Thus far, in fact, he is the only declared candidate for the seat other than little known pastor Larry Reese on the GOP side.  This is Oregon, the land of Portlandia and antifa (well, at least in Portland) where a virtue signal and five cents will get you a free latte at the nearest Starbucks.  Prediction: Democrat hold.


John Cornyn (42/25) is the GOP incumbent up for reelection and also the Senate’s Majority Whip who currently faces no primary opposition.  Five Democrats have declared their candidacy with possibly more in the waiting.  But first, the Castro brothers have decided against a run, as has resident moron, Robert O’Rourke who is still chasing dreams of being president right after he catches that elusive unicorn jumping over the rainbow.

The Democrats have this vision of turning Texas blue (Georgia may be a better bet) that they seem fixated upon.  They were buoyed by O’Rourke’s performance against the more popular than Cornyn Ted Cruz in 2018.  Thus far, the only two viable candidates to step forward are former Rep. Chris Bell and failed 2018 Congressional candidate M.J. Hegar, a retired Air Force Major.  The other three are just nobodies with no chance including an activist for the Poor People’s Campaign.

Despite Cornyn’s numbers and despite what happened in 2018, he is going back to the Senate in 2021.  This is a state where Trump still enjoys a 50% approval rating.  In the area of NAFTA and federal spending, he has stood outside the prevailing conservative narrative.  Other than that, he is pro-life, pro-gun, pro-law enforcement, and pro-American.  Prediction: GOP hold.


Finally, there is Wyoming where Republican incumbent Mike Enzi is calling it quits.  This cleared the way for Cynthia Lummis, who retired from the House to be replaced by Liz Cheney, to declare her candidacy and likely cakewalk to a primary win.  Thus far, only community organizer and progressive activist, Yana Ludwig (who used to go by the first name Ma’ikwe) is the Democratic candidate.  Her online site reads like a New Age utopian novel where she resides in an “income sharing community in the belly of the fossil fuel beast.”  One can tell that in a state where Trump enjoys highest approval ratings of all the states at 62%, her candidacy is likely going in the poop hole.  Unless someone with a better resume and name recognition steps forward for the Democrats, it will be funny to watch Lummis dispatch this fruitcake.  There are two potential Democrats- former governor Dave Freudenthal and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Gary Trauner, but other than them, the Democrats would have to reach into their thin state legislative bench to find someone.  Prediction: GOP hold.