BREAKING NEWS Minnesota will continue to ease restrictions at restaurants, gyms starting Wednesday Full Story

With Franken's resignation, the Senate landscape shifts again

As the calendar nears 2018, the battle for control of the Senate is shifting in all sorts of unexpected ways -- chang...

Posted: Dec 7, 2017 4:37 PM
Updated: Dec 7, 2017 4:37 PM

As the calendar nears 2018, the battle for control of the Senate is shifting in all sorts of unexpected ways -- changes driven primarily by bad behavior but also a national political environment heavily colored by President Donald Trump's widespread unpopularity.

Consider this series of recent developments:

  • In next week's Alabama special election, Democrat Doug Jones has a fighting chance to score a major upset over Roy Moore due in large part to allegations made against the Republican by a number of women that he pursued relationship with them when they were teenagers and he was in his mid-30s.
  • The resignation of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat, on Thursday creates a special election to fill his seat in 2018 -- a race where Republicans will have at least a fighting chance of a pickup, depending on how candidate recruitment shakes out.
  • Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, has decided he is going to run for the seat being left behind by the retirement of Republican Sen. Bob Corker next fall. Bredesen, who spent eight years as mayor of Nashville before serving two terms as governor, is widely seen as the best possible Democratic candidate and makes the state potentially competitive for his party.

These three moments don't all work in one party's favor. A Jones win coupled with Bredesen's candidacy would clearly give Democrats momentum. The Franken resignation takes a seat that wouldn't even be on the map in 2018 -- his term isn't up until 2020 -- and makes it a problem that Democrats have to deal with in a year when they are already defending more seats than Republicans.

This series of events lands in what has already been a very unpredictable Senate election cycle. On its face, 2018 should be a banner year for Senate Republicans, with just nine seats to defend and 25 Democratic seats (not counting the now-open Minnesota seat) to target. Of those 23 Democratic seats, almost half -- 10 -- were carried by President Trump in 2016 including five (Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia) where Trump won by double digits.

It hasn't turned out that way -- yet! -- for Republicans as Trump's unpopularity has created a national political environment where Democratic candidates are coming out of the woodwork to run while top-tier Republicans are more hesitant to do so.

In Montana and North Dakota, two strongly Republican states represented by Democrats, Republicans have yet to land an "A"-type candidate. In Indiana and West Virginia, there are crowded primaries on the Republican side that will likely be nasty and expensive even before a dime is spent on the Democratic incumbents.

And Steve Bannon-backed primary challengers are making life difficult for Republican incumbents, chasing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake into retirement and leading Nevada Sen. Dean Heller to brag that he "helped write" a tax bill that's widely unpopular.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott -- who Republicans hope will run against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson next year -- put the heartburn Trump is causing even his staunchest allies in perspective when asked at a Republican Governors Association meeting last month whether Trump will help or hurt GOP candidates in the midterms. "We'll see what happens in 2018," Scott said.

Would he want Trump to campaign for him in Florida? "I don't know if I'm going to be a candidate. We'll worry about that next year," Scott said. Can Trump help Republicans on the ballot next year? "You'd have to ask them."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

The 2018 cycle started with Democrats expecting to play defense across the board. There were just too many seats to defend, and only two pickup opportunities (Arizona and Nevada) when they need to add three seats -- and hold onto all of their own -- to take control of the Senate.

If you asked Republicans at the start of the 2017 whether it was more likely that they would lose their majority or wind up with 60 seats at the end of 2018, they would have chosen the latter option every single time.

Now, the Senate majority looks in play -- even if Republicans still retain an edge due to the sheer number of Democratic seats in play and where those seats are.

If Jones wins next Tuesday in Alabama or Bredesen can turn Tennessee competitive -- and Trump stays unpopular -- the stakes get a lot higher. Add in Minnesota and the playing field is even bigger and less predictable.

It's not immediately clear whom that heightened unpredictability benefits. But Democrats surely never expected to be even sniffing at talk of regaining the Senate majority come 2019. And, for now, that's a possibility you wouldn't get laughed out of the room for bringing up.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 26980

Reported Deaths: 1159
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin9099657
Ramsey3351149
Stearns205614
Nobles15775
Anoka152779
Dakota144664
Washington70035
Olmsted68911
Rice5243
Kandiyohi5141
Scott4712
Clay44930
Mower4462
Wright3492
Todd3441
Sherburne2492
Carver2402
Benton1853
Steele1700
Freeborn1590
Blue Earth1490
Martin1355
St. Louis11914
Lyon1012
Unassigned9611
Pine930
Nicollet8811
Cottonwood820
Winona8115
Crow Wing815
Watonwan790
Carlton750
Goodhue736
Otter Tail731
Chisago691
Polk632
Itasca5610
Dodge540
Chippewa521
Morrison480
Le Sueur471
Douglas460
Meeker460
Becker440
Jackson420
Murray410
McLeod410
Isanti360
Pennington300
Waseca290
Mille Lacs241
Rock230
Faribault220
Wabasha200
Swift191
Beltrami180
Sibley170
Brown172
Fillmore171
Norman150
Pipestone130
Kanabec121
Aitkin120
Marshall120
Cass112
Big Stone110
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Redwood70
Yellow Medicine70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Red Lake40
Traverse40
Grant40
Clearwater30
Houston30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21114

Reported Deaths: 593
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4614140
Woodbury286137
Black Hawk178849
Buena Vista10672
Linn97879
Dallas95226
Marshall91418
Wapello63615
Johnson6198
Muscatine56741
Crawford5512
Tama41129
Scott38510
Dubuque35921
Louisa35011
Pottawattamie31910
Sioux3060
Jasper26917
Wright2210
Washington1968
Warren1671
Plymouth1522
Story1311
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9913
Poweshiek928
Hamilton760
Webster741
Henry732
Boone720
Bremer716
Clarke690
Des Moines681
Taylor660
Clinton651
Guthrie553
Cedar501
Benton431
Cherokee410
Monroe415
Jones370
Shelby370
Osceola360
Jefferson360
Marion350
Dickinson350
Buchanan341
Iowa340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Madison292
Lee290
Sac280
Davis280
Emmet270
Fayette270
Clay270
Monona260
Harrison260
Hardin240
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Lucas222
Mills200
Grundy200
Franklin200
Humboldt201
Pocahontas200
Delaware191
Floyd191
Hancock180
Appanoose173
Butler161
Kossuth160
Carroll151
Ida150
Greene150
Keokuk140
Jackson140
Page140
Audubon131
Cass130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Winnebago110
Calhoun100
Union100
Van Buren90
Adair90
Montgomery92
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Unassigned20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Rochester
Broken Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 61°
Mason City
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Albert Lea
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 64°
Austin
Broken Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 61°
Charles City
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
Weekend looks nice
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Chris' PM Weather Forecast 6/5

Image

Gyms, fitness centers set to reopen

Image

Easing restrictions for MN restaurants and gyms

Image

Charles City vigil for George Floyd

Image

Hawkeye Harvest Foodbank partnership

Image

Next phase of Minnesota reopening

Image

Rental Assistance program for Rochester

Image

IA Care Homes Could Reopen to Visitors

Image

'Color Me Mine' Location Closes for Good

Image

Getting Your Fair Food Fix During the Pandemic

Community Events