Dems’ Senate Hopes Just Got Completely Dashed

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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Senate Democrats’ hopes to hold its narrow majority in the upper chamber likely just got crushed by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s Thursday announcement not to seek reelection in 2024.

Manchin’s decision opens the door for Republicans to flip the seat red with West Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Justice expected to win the party’s nomination and no viable Democratic candidate emerging so far. A victory in West Virginia would put the upper chamber’s partisan control at 50-50 if Democrats can hold their seats in several other contentious races, a proposition that appears unlikely.

“You look at three very difficult states in Arizona, Montana, and Ohio and then four pure purple states in Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The odds of winning all seven of those are really low but we have to try,” a Democratic senator, granted anonymity to speak candidly on the state of the 2024 election, told The Hill.

If any one of the Democratic-held seats in Montana, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania can be flipped, or the GOP wins the White House, Republicans would gain control of the Senate, Politico reported. Michigan’s outgoing Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s seat also opens up another opportunity for Republicans to snag a seat.

“The math with respect to the Senate becomes pretty daunting for the Democrats,” Mike McKenna, GOP consultant and president of MWR Strategies, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “However, the Republicans under the leadership of [Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel] have shown the ability to miss even the easiest layups.”

The Cook Political Report characterizes races in Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in the “Lean D” category, with Arizona and Ohio classified as “Toss Up[s].” West Virginia was previously in the “Toss Up” category, but has since been moved to “Solid R” following Manchin’s decision not to seek reelection.

“We like our odds in West Virginia,” Montana Sen. Steve Daines, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement after Manchin’s announcement on Thursday. (RELATED: Joe Manchin Announces He Will Not Seek Reelection In 2024)

However, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, is confident in its ability to retain the vulnerable seats.

“Democrats have multiple pathways to protect and strengthen our Senate majority and are in a strong position to achieve this goal,” David Bergstein, DSCC communications director, told the DCNF in a statement. “In addition to defending our battle-tested incumbents, we’ve already expanded the battleground map to Texas and Florida, where formidable Democratic candidates are out-raising unpopular Republican incumbents and the DSCC is making investments to lay the groundwork for our campaigns’ victories.”

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV - JULY 03: U.S. President Donald Trump is introduced by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) during a salute to service dinner at the Greenbrier Resort on June 3, 2018 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The president was particpating in a military tribute on the eve of Independence Day. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV – JULY 03: U.S. President Donald Trump is introduced by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) during a salute to service dinner at the Greenbrier Resort. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Justice, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is leading Republican Rep. Alex Mooney for the GOP nomination by over 32 points, according to a late August Research America/MetroNews poll. An Emerson College survey released Oct. 13 found Justice trouncing Manchin 41% to 28%, while Mooney would’ve lost by 6 points.

“Senator Joe Manchin and I have not always agreed on policy and politics, but we’re both lifelong West Virginians who love this state beyond belief, and I respect and thank him for his many years of public service,” Justice said in a statement Thursday.

A spokesperson for Manchin pointed the DCNF toward a Thursday op-ed the senator wrote for The Wall Street Journal upon request for comment.

“A genuine commitment to legislating would put America on firmer footing for the next 20 years. But the Democratic and Republican machines have no interest in solutions,” Manchin wrote. “Instead, they stoke outrage because doing so brings them fame and funding. Today, the business of politics is about monetizing anger and getting paid for it. And business has never been better. Not for me.”

Manchin’s announcement comes after months of speculation that the Democrat would either switch his party affiliation to independent if he sought reelection in the red state, or that he might run as a third-party candidate for president. The senator has been floated as a potential option for centrist group No Labels’ 2024 “unity ticket,” which it’s considering running if there’s another rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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