Editor’s Note: With so much heat rather than light in the media world today, Liberty Nation presents the following series on the crucial midterm elections that will be taking place. These elections will likely determine the course of the Trump presidency and as such should be looked at with in-depth analysis. Thus, each week LN author Graham Noble will be giving our readers a state-by-state look at the upcoming elections. This week, he covers Alabama, Alaska and the crucial races in Arizona.
In the 2016 general election, President Donald Trump carried all three states covered this week. In Alabama Trump received 62.1% of the votes, in Alaska 51.3% and in Arizona 48.7% to Hillary Clinton’s 45.1% – the narrowest margin of victory in that traditionally red state for any Republican president or candidate since 2000.
Of the six U.S. Senate seats representing these three states combined, only one will be contested in November. For the purposes of elections, the Senate is divided into three classes. Each class is elected (or re-elected) every two years. In 2018, incumbent Senators in class I face re-election.
Considered a ‘deep red’ state, Alabama is represented in the Senate by one Republican Senator, Richard C. Shelby, whose current term ends in January 2023 and one Democrat, Doug Jones, who won a special election to fill the seat of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The remainder of Jones’ term will expire in January 2021.
There are seven Congressional Districts in the state of Alabama. Six of them are currently held by Republicans and one by Democrat Terri Sewell. As of this writing, all seven Alabama Representatives are running for re-election and all seven seats are considered safe for their respective parties.
Another red state, Alaska has just a single Congressional District, known as an ‘at-large’ district – which is also, of course, the largest Congressional District in the country. Don Young, a Republican, has represented Alaska in the House of Representatives since 1973. He is the longest-serving member of the House. Young faces a challenge from Alyse Galvin, who is running as an independent but will be listed on the Democratic primary ballot in August. Young’s seat is not considered to be in danger by any of the leading sources of election analysis.
Neither of Alaska’s two Senators, Republicans Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, face re-election in November.
Although this southwestern border state is another red state, there is little doubt that Democrats see it as one they can turn blue. Mostly, this is a question of demographics; Arizona has a large and growing Hispanic population. Democrats have a tendency to view certain demographics as monolithic in their political preferences, however. As economic prospects for Hispanics improve, it is not a clear certainty that the overwhelming majority will continue to vote for the party that has, seemingly, forsaken a solid, pro-growth economic platform.
The state’s junior Senator, Republican Jeff Flake – whose term ends in 2019 – has chosen not to run for re-election. His decision ignited great interest in several potential successors and certainly caught the attention of Democrats. Of the several Democrats competing in the primary for Flake’s seat, Kyrsten Sinema is, arguably, the strongest candidate. Sinema, who currently represents Arizona’s 9th Congressional District, was polling ahead of Flake until the latter decided not to seek re-election.
The leading Republican candidates are former state Senator Kelli Ward and U.S. Representative Martha McSally. Controversial former Sheriff Joe Arpaio has also thrown his hat into the ring. Ward, who ran to replace Arizona Senator John McCain in 2016, is considered a strong pro-Trump candidate but is seen by some as a liability. Her campaign against McCain did not go well and the certainty of her winning the upcoming Republican primary has faded slightly. In 2016, McSally, a former Air Force Colonel and the first woman to fly combat missions as a fighter pilot, scored a convincing victory against a strong Democratic challenge for a seat in the House of Representatives.
McCain himself presents another potential variable. The long-serving Senator is not in good health, and his absence from Washington D.C. is increasingly common. His seat is not up for re-election in November, but questions surely linger over his political future.
Arizona is split into nine Congressional Districts, five of which are currently represented by Democrats and four by Republicans. Most analysts agree that all but two are safe seats for their respective parties. The state’s 1st and 2nd Districts are seen as potentially competitive. The incumbents for those two seats, respectively, are Democrat Tom O’Halleran and Republican Martha McSally. O’Halleran’s District voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, but by a margin of just one percentage point. The Democrat’s main challenger is likely to be Republican Steve Smith who is currently an Arizona State Senator. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have this District on their priority list for November.
The 2nd Congressional District is also considered a toss-up by three leading forecasters. Incumbent McSally is likely running for Jeff Flake’s Senate seat, leaving (as of this writing) Lea Marquez Peterson as her potential successor. Peterson describes herself as a conservative Republican. She is a business owner and former President and CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. However, several Democrats will primary to compete for McSally’s House seat. Among them is Matt Hein, who lost to McSally in 2016.
In the larger scope of things, neither Alabama nor Alaska will affect the political landscape on Capitol Hill, this November. Arizona, on the other hand, is a battleground state for both parties. The Republicans hope to defend a valuable Senate seat, and each party faces the real possibility of losing – or gaining – a House seat.
Will Arizona remain a red state in 2018? Should Democrats take Flake’s Senate seat and pick up two Congressional Districts, the state moves much closer to the Democrat column – at least a purple, if not blue, state. What chance is there of that, realistically? Likely not a high chance. No endorsements should be assumed, but Midterm Election Watch predicts The Republicans hold the Senate seat and the Democrats pick up one House seat.
Join us next week as our series focuses on House and Senate Races in Arkansas and California.