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Senate Showdown 2018: 12 Important Races to Watch

With the Republicans’ 51-49 edge in the Senate, the Democrats need to gain at least two seats on November 6. Here are 12 critical races.


Four Democrats hope to flip seats from Republican control:

Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema

Arizona: Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D) vs. Representative Martha McSally

Three-term Congresswoman and a former Arizona State Representative Sinema, who’s bisexual, is aiming to win the seat of outgoing Senator Jeff Flake (R). In the state’s Aug. 28 Democratic primary, she coasted with 80% support. Her Republican rival, Congresswoman McSally, won with 53% of the vote. As of Aug. 8, Sinema ($10.7 million) led McSally ($7.7 million) in campaign donations. The race is considered a toss-up.

Nevada Congresswoman Jacky Rosen

Nevada: Representative Jacky Rosen (D) vs. Senator Dean Heller (R)

One-term Congresswoman Rosen is challenging Senator Heller, who’s the incumbent. In the state’s June 12 primary, both candidates won by more than 70% margins. As of June 30, both campaigns had raised in excess of $8 million. While this is viewed as a seat the Democrats can win, the race is considered a toss-up.

Former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen

Tennessee: Phil Bredesen (D) vs. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R)

Former governor Bredesen and eight-term Congresswoman Blackburn are locked in a tight battle to take outgoing Senator Bob Corker’s (R) seat. Both won the state’s Aug. 2 primary by large margins. As of July 15, both campaigns had raised in excess of $8 million. The race is considered a toss-up.

Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke

Texas: Representative Beto O’Rourke (D) vs. Senator Ted Cruz (R)

Three-term Congressman O’Rourke is trying to upset one-term Senator Cruz. Both won their primaries by significant margins; O’Rourke received 62% of the vote against two challengers. Cruz has major national recognition due to his failed presidential bid in 2016. As of June 30, O’Rourke’s campaign had out-raised Cruz’s by nearly two-to-one ($23.6 to $13.2). It’s one of the most expensive races of 2018 and perhaps the most important. The Cook Political Report considers it a toss-up.


Eight Democrats hope to hold their seats:

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

Florida: Senator Bill Nelson (D) vs. Governor Rick Scott (R)

While three-term Senator Nelson ran unopposed in the state’s Democratic Aug. 28 primary, current Florida Governor Scott won the Republican primary with 89% of the vote. As of June 30, nearly $50 million had been raised by the candidates ($31.2 by Scott and $18.2 by Nelson). Though Nelson was ahead by 7% in the latest Quinnipiac poll, this race is considered a toss-up.

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly

Indiana: Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) vs. Mike Braun (R)

One-term Senator Donnelly is facing a challenge from former State Representative Braun, who won the Republican primary on May 8 with just 41% of the vote. Donnelly ran unopposed. As of June 30, both campaigns had raised nearly $9 million. The race is considered a toss-up.

MIssouri Senator Claire McCaskill

Missouri: Senator Claire McCaskill (D) vs. Josh Hawley (R)

State Attorney General Hawley is trying to knock off two-term Senator McCaskill. She won the state’s Aug. 7 primary with 83% of the vote; Hawley received 59% support. As of July 18, McCaskill, with $20.8 million in contributions, had raised four times as much as Hawley ($5.3 million). The race is considered a toss-up.

Montana Senator John Tester

Montana: Senator Jon Tester (D) vs. Matt Rosendale (R)

Two-term Senator Tester is up against State Auditor Rosendale, who won the state’s July 16 Republican primary with just 34% of the vote. Tester ran unopposed. As of June 30, Tester’s campaign had raised $11.8, nearly six times the contributions Rosendale ($2.1 million) had received. President Trump attacked the Senator after he released documents that revealed professional misconduct by White House doctor Ronny Jackson, who Trump had nominated to head the Department of Veterans Affairs; Jackson subsequently withdrew his name. Despite Trump’s protestations, Tester is expected to hold his seat.

North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp

North Dakota: Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D) vs. Representative Kevin Cramer (R)

One-term Senator Heitkamp is in a very close race with Congressman Cramer, who won the state’s June 12 Republican primary with 88% of the vote. Heitkamp ran unopposed. As of June 30, Heitkamp’s campaign had raised nearly $9 million compared to Cramer’s $3.3 million. This race is considered a toss-up, though Heitkamp has trailed in recent polls. With cannabis legalization also on the North Dakota ballot, she should appeal to the state’s marijuana supporters.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown

Ohio: Senator Sherrod Brown (D) vs. Representative Jim Renacci (R)

Two-term Senator Brown is competing against Congressman Renacci, who won the state’s May 8 Republican primary with 48% of the vote. Brown ran unopposed. As of June 30, Brown’s campaign had received $17.2 million compared to Renacci’ $6.2 million. All polls indicate that Brown will hold his seat.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin

West VirginiaSenator Joe Manchin (D) vs. Patrick Morrisey (R)

Two-term Senator Manchin is attempting to fend off State Attorney Morrisey, who won the state’s May 8 Republican primary with just 35% of the vote. Manchin took the Democratic primary with 70%. As of June 30, Manchin ($6.3 million) had raised twice as much as Morrisey ($3.1 million). The moderate Democrat—he voted for Neil Gorsuch to become a Supreme Court Justice—is vulnerable in a red state. The race is considered a toss-up, though The Cook Political Report says it’s «leaning Democrat.»

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin

Wisconsin: Senator Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. State Senator Leah Vukmir

One-term Senator Baldwin is being challenged by State Senator Vukmir, who held off Kevin Nicholson to win the state’s Aug. 14 Republican primary with 49% of the vote. Baldwin, who’s been endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), ran unopposed. She has a huge war chest ($19.3 million to Vukmir’s $2 million), and is expected to hold her seat.

Two other Senate races in Michigan and Pennsylvania appear to be solidly in the Democrats’ favor, with two-term Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and two-term Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Jr. both expected to win.

Also on the Nov. 6 Ballot

Michigan Poised to Become the 10th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Mormons Opposing Medical Marijuana Initiative in Utah

Dueling Medical-Marijuana Initiatives in Missouri Likely to Confuse Voters

North Dakota’s Recreational Marijuana Initiative

Pro-Cannabis Candidates Head the Midterms Ballot

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