Roberts seat not the only uncertainty in Senate ag races
Editor’s note: This article on the 2020 Senate elections is the second of two stories about congressional elections affecting rural America and agriculture. An article on the House was published in The Fence Post last week.
The continued speculation about who will be the Republican candidate to succeed retiring Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has dominated coverage of Senate races in rural states, but the Kansas seat is not the only one among the current members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee that could change hands.
Ballotpedia lists six candidates running for the Republican nomination for the Roberts seat, not including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been uncertain about whether he will run.
Ballotpedia also lists four candidates for the Democratic nomination. Kansas elected a Democratic governor in 2018, but The Cook Political Report still ranks the open seat race in 2020 as “likely Republican.”
The Cook Report provides four ratings for Senate races: “solid,” “likely,” “lean” and “toss-up.”
As it stands now, 12 Democratic senators and 23 Republican senators will be up for re-election in 2020. Four seats are considered toss-ups — one for the Democrats, three for the Republicans.
The Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, and Jennifer Duffy, the senate editor of The Cook Report, has said she believes the majority will be in play by the time the election is held.
The only “toss-up”
Of the 10 members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee who are running for re-election in 2020, only one, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, is rated a “toss-up.”
Incumbents in “likely Republican” districts
But the Cook Report ranks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., who sit on both the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee, as well as Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Sen. Jon Ernst, R-Iowa, who are members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, as “likely Republican.”
Incumbent in “likely Democrat” district
On the Democratic side, The Cook Report ranks Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and the open seat on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee being vacated by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., as “likely Democrat.”
Other notable rural races
There are a number of competitive races of senators who don’t sit on either the Senate Agriculture Committee or the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, but come from states that have substantial rural populations or agricultural interests.
The Cook Report ranks Sens. Doug Jones, D-Ala., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Martha McSally, R-Ariz., as “toss-ups,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., as “lean Democrat,” and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., as “lean Republican.”
The Cook Report ranks the open seats of retiring Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., as “likely Republican” and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., as “solid Republican.” ❖