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While Republicans narrowly control the House of Representatives, Democrats have a similarly weak hold on the Senate, but that could change dramatically during next year’s elections.
There are at least five seats currently held by Democrats that are at risk of flipping, giving Republicans more than enough to take control of the upper chamber and either assist a GOP president with policy and judicial picks or thwart President Joe Biden at every turn, should he win.
The nightmare scenario for Democrats begins with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who — according to polling — is far behind GOP candidate Jim Justice, the state’s current governor, and announced last month he won’t seek reelection.
“I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate,” Manchin said at the time.
Manchin, a moderate and a former governor himself won 60 percent of the vote in 2012, but that margin shrank to just 3 points in 2018. Former President Donald Trump carried West Virginia by nearly 40 points in the 2020 election, Fox News noted.
The outlet added:
Democrats control the U.S. Senate with a 51-49 majority, but Republicans are looking at a favorable Senate map in 2024, with Democrats defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs. Three of those seats are in red states that Trump carried in 2020 — West Virginia, Montana and Ohio.
Five other blue-held seats are in key swing states narrowly carried by President Biden in 2020 — Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“Democrats have multiple pathways to protect and strengthen our Senate majority and are in a strong position to achieve this goal,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein claimed following Manchin’s retirement announcement.
“In addition to defending our battle-tested incumbents, we’ve already expanded the battleground map to Texas and Florida,” Bergstein added, pointing to what he called “unpopular Republican incumbents.”
After Manchin announced, however, National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairman Sen. Steve Daines said, “We like our odds in West Virginia.”
Justice, a former Democrat-turned-Republican during Trump’s first campaign, has been endorsed by the former president.
“The first Democrat to jump into the race following Manchin’s departure is 32-year-old Zachary Shrewsbury, a native West Virginian and Marine Corps veteran,” Fox reported.
Meanwhile, Democrats were relieved when Sen. Jon Tester of Montana confirmed earlier this year that he would run for re-election in 2024, despite the state’s 16-point victory for Trump three years ago. The incumbent has amassed an impressive $15 million in fundraising this year.
He will face one of two Republican opponents — Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and recipient of the Purple Heart who completed more than 200 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other places around the world; and Rep. Matt Rosendale, who narrowly lost to Tester in 2018 and is now said to be considering another run.
“Sheehy, the CEO of Bridger Aerospace, a Montana-based aerial firefighting and wildfire surveillance services company, enjoys the NRSC’s backing,” Fox News noted.
In Ohio, meanwhile, Sen. Sherrod Brown is the only Democrat to have won a non-judicial statewide election in the state over the past 10 years. He is running for a fourth term next year and will be heavily targeted by the GOP in a former election battleground that has shifted to the right in recent years.
“Trump carried Ohio by eight points in his 2016 presidential election victory and his 2020 re-election defeat. Last year, Trump’s handpicked Senate candidate in Ohio — Sen. JD Vance — topped longtime Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan by six points despite Ryan running what political experts considered a nearly flawless campaign,” Fox News reported.
Brown is known for populist causes, but he has voted with Biden 98 percent of the time, according to the political analyst site FiveThirtyEight.com.