Five Senate ag seats in play as election nears
One week before general elections, five Republican-held seats on the Senate Agriculture Committee are considered competitive, according to key rating agencies.
Seats in states without representation on the Senate Agriculture Committee are the most likely to shift from one party to the other, but could determine which party is in control of the Senate and how many senators from each party sit on the committee.
The Cook Political Report has projected that there is a 60 to 70 percent chance the Democrats will win a majority of Senate seats.
At present there are 11 Republican senators in the majority on the Senate Ag Committee and nine Democrats in the minority.
The Senate Agriculture Committee seat most likely to change party hands is that of Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who is behind Theresa Greenfield, the Democratic candidate, according to polls.
The Cook Report considers the race a “Toss Up,” while Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics says the race “Leans Democrat.”
But there are four other races that are also rated competitive.
The Georgia race between Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., Rep. Doug Colilns, R-Ga. and Democrat Raphael Warnack is rated a “Toss Up” by the Cook Report and “Leans Republican” by the Crystal Ball.
Polls show Warnock ahead, but the Georgia race is complicated by the fact that candidates of both parties run against each other in the November election, with a runoff election in January if no candidate gets 50 percent or more next week.
Next, the Kansas race for the open seat held by retiring Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., between Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan. and Democrat Barbara Bollier, is rated “Leans Republican” by both Cook and the Crystal Ball.
The New York Times reported this weekend that a poll showed Bollier trails Marshall by just 4 percentage points, 46 to 42. The poll also showed that President Donald Trump, who won Kansas by more than 20 points, leads Democrat Joe Biden by only 7 points in Kansas this year.
Next in ranking is the race between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Democrat Amy McGrath. Cook and the Crystal Ball both rate that race “Likely Republican.”
Finally, there’s the race between Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, a Democrat.
While Mississippi is considered a Republican state, recent polling has shown the race surprisingly close. Cook still rates the race “Solid Republican,” but the Crystal Ball says it is “Likely Republican.”
There are other Senate races that are more likely to shift control of the Senate from Republican to Democrat and shift the balance on the committee toward the Democrats, which would return Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to the committee chair, rather than seat Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who is in line to succeed Roberts upon his retirement.
The seats most likely to shift from Republican to Democratic are in Colorado and Arizona.
In Colorado, former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper appears to be ahead of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, and in Arizona, astronaut Mark Kelly also appears to be ahead of Republican Sen. Martha McSally.
Cook has rated the Maine Senate race between Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic challenger Sara Gideon as a “Toss Up,” but the Crystal Ball says it “Leans Democratic.”
Both rate the North Carolina Senate race between Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham a “Toss Up,” but the polls continuously show Cunningham ahead.
Cook rates both the Montana and South Carolina Senate races as “Toss Ups,” while the Crystal Ball ranks both as “Lean Republican.”
In Montana, Sen. Steve Daines is being challenged by Democrat Steve Bullock, while in South Carolina, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is being challenged by well-funded Jaime Harrison, associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Cook rates the Texas race between Republican Sen. John Cornyn and Democrat MJ Hegar and the Alaska race between Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan and Independent candidate Al Gross as “Lean Republican,” while the Crystal Ball rates Texas as “Likely Republican” and Alaska as “Lean Republican.”
Cook also rates the Georgia Senate race between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Osoff as “Toss Up,” while Crystal Ball rates it as “Lean Republican.”
Both ratings agencies expect Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama to lose his seat to Republican Tommy Tuberville, a retired college football coach,
And in Michigan, both Cook and Crystal Ball say Democratic Sen. Gary Peters is likely to hang on to his seat, despite a strong race by Republican John James, a combat veteran and businessman.