NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Kyrsten Sinema triumphs over Martha McSally: Democrats pick up a U.S. Senate seat

Big news out of Ari­zona tonight: The Asso­ci­at­ed Press has called the Grand Canyon State’s U.S. Sen­ate race for Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­tender Kyrsten Sine­ma, and Repub­li­can Martha McSal­ly has con­ced­ed the race in a con­grat­u­la­to­ry tweet.

Sine­ma’s vic­to­ry is a big deal for Democ­rats, because it dou­bles the num­ber of Sen­ate pick­ups for the par­ty from one to two, and off­sets major loss­es else­where.

It also rep­re­sents a break­through for the par­ty in the moun­tain­ous south­west. Democ­rats have swung Neva­da, Col­orado, and New Mex­i­co into their col­umn in recent cycles, but Ari­zona has con­tin­ued to vote Repub­li­can in statewide races.

Until now, that is.

Sine­ma will become Ari­zon­a’s first female sen­a­tor and its first Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor in decades. The last Demo­c­rat to rep­re­sent Ari­zona in the U.S. Sen­ate, Den­nis DeConci­ni, retired in 1994. DeConci­ni was replaced by Repub­li­can Jon Kyl.

Democ­rats’ hopes of cap­tur­ing a Sen­ate major­i­ty in the midterms depend­ed on sav­ing all of its endan­gered incum­bents plus pick­ing up seats.

The par­ty was­n’t able to accom­plish the for­mer, but with Jacky Rosen’s vic­to­ry in Neva­da and Sine­ma’s vic­to­ry in Ari­zona, it is accom­plish­ing the for­mer.

To recap, the Sen­ate Democ­rats lost three mem­bers in last week’s midterms: Claire McCaskill, Hei­di Heitkamp, and Joe Don­nel­ly. All of them rep­re­sent Mid­west­ern states that vot­ed for Trump by large num­bers in 2016. The Repub­li­cans tar­get­ed each for defeat, and Trump made their ouster his top pri­or­i­ty in the 2018 midterms.

Trump also tried to top­ple Mon­tana’s Jon Tester, but Tester — ini­tial­ly elect­ed to the Sen­ate in 2006 in the first blue wave of the cen­tu­ry — was able to sur­vive despite vot­ing against Brett Kavanaugh. So was West Vir­gini­a’s Joe Manchin, the only Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor to vote in favor of Kavanaugh­’s con­fir­ma­tion.

The out­come of Flori­da’s U.S. Sen­ate race, mean­while, remains unknown. Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Bill Nel­son trails Rick Scott by a very small mar­gin and a recount is under­way. Scott is suing to halt the recount from pro­ceed­ing.

Should Nel­son lose, Repub­li­cans will have gained four seats while los­ing two. Should Nel­son win, Repub­li­cans will have gained three seats while los­ing two.

As much as it hurts for Democ­rats to lose any U.S. Sen­ate seats, these midterms could have been so much worse for the par­ty.

Tester and Manch­in’s vic­to­ries, cou­pled with Rosen and Sine­ma’s vic­to­ries, make the 2020 U.S. Sen­ate map much, much bet­ter for Democ­rats. With­out those four wins, Democ­rats would have been left in a ter­ri­ble posi­tion going into the next cycle.

Democ­rats were defend­ing a pletho­ra of seats in deep red states this cycle, while Repub­li­cans were defend­ing just one Sen­ate seat in a state that vot­ed for Hillary Clin­ton. Because Sen­ate terms are for six years and because there are only one hun­dred Sen­ate posi­tions, the impli­ca­tions of every win or loss are mag­ni­fied.

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One Comment

  1. This is such a huge win. Con­grat­u­la­tions to the Ari­zona Democ­rats!

    # by Thema Pillinger :: November 14th, 2018 at 5:32 PM