Efforts to hold on to Republicans who have won races in difficult states became apparent on Monday when Senator Rob Portman surprised Republicans by announcing that he would not seek a third term in Ohio. Republicans will still be favored in Buckeye state, but now have to grapple with an elementary school that already looks crowded, with a laundry list of Republicans who are considering or are already taking steps towards running.
And there are already concerns that more might run to the exits with him as the GOP prepares to serve in the minority for the first time since 2013. The Senate’s map for next year has enough swing states for Republicans to retake the majority – but they do might as well lose more seats.
So senior Republicans are hoping to announce soon if someone else is about to say goodbye – like Portman this year, rather than former Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, in 2012 when she retired two weeks before the registration deadline.
“It’s harder when you have vacancies than when you have incumbents. I hope we run out,” said Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), who led his party’s campaign arm in 2010 and 2012. When they retire, I think the right thing to do is do so early on to give other people a chance to get in. “
But Johnson and other undecided senators seem in no rush. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who is 87 years old, said he should check in with him “in a few months”. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), The # 4 GOP Leader, said he did not have a specific schedule as to when to make an official decision. Missouri is a red state and Republicans would be preferred there, although Blunt narrowly won in 2016.
“I still plan to run. But it’ll be official when I announce a campaign. And I’m not doing that yet,” said Blunt. “I really haven’t thought about it much to tell you the truth. … Me keep thinking that there will be a little respite, it hasn’t happened until now. “
Republican strategists and advisers said concerns over a wave of retirements stemmed from the party unexpectedly losing a majority in Georgia earlier That month, senators who had been in power for two years suddenly fell to minority status, and the Capitol was besieged by a violent mob the following day.
In addition, the GOP is preparing for its second impeachment trial and has been answering questions about Trump’s combative rhetoric, unpredictable political decisions, and the occasional broadsides against members of his own party for almost five years.
“Which GOP Senator in 2022 did not think of leaving after the uprising and four years of Trump?” said T.J. Petrizzo, a Republican lobbyist and donor.
Right now the focus is mostly on Johnson, the new one Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, tried to persuade them to run again last autumn.
Bill McCoshen, a veteran GOP strategist in Wisconsin, said the Republican base in the state hoped he would seek a third term and saw some of his recent comments on the 50:50 split in the chamber as positive signs.
“The base wants to see him run again and they think he’s starting to turn it around,” said McCoshen. “I think he understands the importance of his seat in Republican hopes of regaining the majority in 2022 and the grassroots hope he will consider not running.”
Other senators on the retirement watch list include 80-year-old Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Who has been in office since 1975 and has just become the second temporary President of the Senate. Leahy was admitted to hospital Tuesday after feeling ill on the advice of the Senate doctor treating her, according to a statement from his office. 86 years old on the Republican side Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) Is being viewed as a possible retirement, although his seat would certainly be Republican. Shelby said he would deal with his future after impeachment.
Grassley, who would be in the ’90s for much of a potential eighth term, doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about: “I’ve done it seven times. It’s no different than any other time,” he said Tuesday. Grassley’s grandson, Pat Grassley, is the spokesman for Iowa State House and could succeed him.
The House Republican Caucus was also plagued by a wave of retirements in 2018 that ultimately contributed to the chamber’s loss. However, with Democrats only controlling a 50:50 Senate and facing a mid-term election with a Democrat in the White House, the Republicans’ direct path back to majority is likely to prevent a major run on the exits.
“The big change here is from majority to minority,” said Scott Reed, a veteran GOP agent and former top political strategist with the US Chamber of Commerce. “It’s no fun being the highest-ranking member in the minority. You are losing all your strength. “
However, Reed downplayed any concerns about the impact retirements could have on their prospects in 2022.
“I don’t think that’s cause for panic,” he said.
Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, also opposed the idea that retirement was an issue.
“We are confident that we will have strong candidates in all of these states, and they will be a clear alternative to the Democrats’ radical agenda to fundamentally change America,” Hartline said in a statement. “And we are confident that we will hold these seats and win back the majority.”
In some ways, the 2022 elections will be different from any other. Trump has hinted that he will continue to play in the primary and improve the prospects of those who opposed him.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the only GOP Senator standing for re-election and voting against dismissing Trump’s second trial as unconstitutional. She repeated that she was running for re-election on Tuesday: “How is it that everyone is asking me that today?”
“An impeachment doesn’t come at a convenient time for people’s campaign plans,” Murkowski said of whether their vote will hurt their prospects in Alaska. She won re-election in 2010, even after losing her primary to a right-wing candidate and being forced to run a campaign enrollment in the general election.
Republicans are confident that despite what Trump has done to change the party, the upcoming split times will be conventional. They already state that they are violating Biden’s agenda and are betting on 2022 after setting a precedent with the party without power making profits.
After all, the GOP only has to take one seat for the majority and has opportunities in Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire and Georgia, among others.
“I think it will be a good term for us because we are in the middle of the term of office of a Democratic president who wants to destroy the economy. I think we will have the momentum,” said Senator Kevin Cramer (RN.D.) .
Cramer said he is not overly concerned about retirement but admitted, “It’s easy for me to say. John Hoeven runs in North Dakota.”