Already facing a challenging map as they attempt to hold onto their razor-thin majority in the Senate in next year’s elections, Democrats now have another open seat to defend in 2024.
Longtime Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin’s announcement this week that he will not seek re-election next year appears to be the least of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s concerns. Maryland is a reliably blue state, and the most popular Republican in the state, former two-term Gov. Larry Hogan, continues to express little interest in running for the Senate.
Democrats flipped a GOP held Senate seat in Pennsylvania in last November’s midterm elections, and they currently hold a 51-49 majority in the chamber, which includes three independent senators who caucus with the Democratic conference.
That means Republicans need a net gain of just one or two seats in 2024 to win back the majority, depending on which party controls the White House after next year’s presidential election.
GAME ON IN WEST VIRGINIA AS GOP GOV. JUSTICE LAUNCHES 2024 SENATE BID
The math and the map favor the GOP in 2024. Democrats are defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs, including three in red states and a handful in key general election battlegrounds.
However, Republicans, stung by an expected red wave that ended up being a trickle in last year’s midterms, are trying to avoid a replay of their 2022 recruitments battles, when a handful of Senate nominees handpicked by former President Trump and supportive of the former president’s repeated relitigating of his 2020 election loss, stumbled in the general election and arguably cost the GOP the chamber’s majority.
FIRST ON FOX: SENATE REPUBLICANS BUILD WAR CHEST FOR EVENTUAL GOP NOMINEES IN CRUCIAL 2024 STATES
Here’s a look at the four Senate seats most likely to flip to Republicans on election day November 2024.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who is often at loggerheads with his party’s progressive wing as well as with Senate leadership and the White House, has yet to announce whether he will see another six-year term in the Senate in 2024.
Manchin in recent weeks has stepped up his criticism of President Biden’s leadership and agenda, and has declined to strike down chatter he may run for the White House next year as a third-party candidate on a potential No Labels ticket.
Once a reliably Democratic state, West Virginia has shifted overwhelmingly red in recent cycles, and Trump carried the state by a whopping 39 points in the 2020 election.
The NRSC views the Democratic held Senate seat in West Virginia as their top target next year, as they aim to regain the chamber’s majority, and they have already started taking aim at Manchin.
Democrats realize that if Manchin, a former West Virginia governor, decides against seeking another term, the seat is all but lost.
Manchin raised a paltry $371,000 during the January-March first quarter of 2023 fundraising, but he has nearly $10 million in his campaign coffers and enjoys the backing of pro-Democratic outside groups.
Longtime Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell landed the recruit he was eyeing, as two-term West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice launched a Senate campaign last week. However, before making it to the general election, the wealthy businessman-turned-politician will have to win what is likely to turn into a combative GOP nomination race with Rep. Alex Mooney, who is backed by the deep-pocketed, anti-tax, conservative outside group the Club for Growth. Verbal shots between Justice and Mooney have already been fired.
Democrats breathed a sigh of relief when Sen. Jon Tester of Montana announced earlier this year that he would seek re-election in 2024 in a state that Trump carried by 16 points three years ago. The Democratic incumbent hauled in $5 million in fundraising during the first quarter of the year.
Some national Republicans have their eyes on Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and Purple Heart recipient who notched more than 200 missions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the globe. Sheehy — the CEO of Bridger Aerospace, a Montana-based aerial firefighting and wildfire surveillance services company — is being urged by some in the nation’s capital to run for the Senate.
Additionally, GOP sources confirmed to Fox News that one of those encouraging Sheehy to run is Montana’s other senator, Republican Steve Daines — who is the NRSC chair this election cycle.
If Sheehy runs, he could potentially face off in what would be a competitive primary against Rep. Matt Rosendale, a hard-right congressman who is seriously mulling a bid. Rosendale would likely secure the backing of the Club for Growth.
Longtime Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is the only member of his party to win a non-judicial, statewide election in Ohio in the past decade. As Brown runs in 2024 for a fourth six-year term representing Ohio, he will be heavily targeted by Republicans in a state that was once a premiere general election battleground but has shifted red over the past six years.
GOP SENATE PRIMARY SHOWDOWN IN OHIO HEATS UP
Trump carried Ohio by eight points in his 2016 presidential election victory and his 2020 re-election defeat. Last year, Trump’s handpicked Senate candidate in Ohio — now Sen. J.D. Vance –topped longtime Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan by six points — despite Ryan running a nearly flawless campaign.
Brown — who has served as a congressman, state lawmaker and Ohio secretary of state during his nearly half century career in elective politics — is extremely well known across the Buckeye State. The senator, who is known as a champion for populist causes, raked in $3.6 million in fundraising during the first three months of this year.
Two Republicans who ran unsuccessfully for the 2022 GOP Senate nomination in Ohio are already in the race to try and oust Brown.
State Sen. Matt Dolan, a former top county prosecutor and Ohio assistant attorney general, launched his campaign in January. Dolan — whose family owns Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Guardians — shelled out millions of dollars of his own money to run ads for his 2022 Senate bid. He surged near the end of the primary race, finishing third in a crowded field of Republican contenders, winning nearly a quarter of the vote.
Last month, Bernie Moreno, a successful Cleveland-based businessman and luxury auto dealership giant, declared his candidacy. Moreno, an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. legally from Colombia with his family as a 5-year-old boy, also shelled out millions of his own money to run TV commercials to try and boost his first Senate bid, but he suspended his campaign in February of last year after requesting and holding a private meeting with Trump.
Rep. Warren Davidson and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose are among the other Republicans considering Senate bids.
With Democrat turned independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema appearing to gear up for a re-election campaign, the Senate race in battleground Arizona could be the most complicated of the 2024 cycle.
Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is already running on the left, and outraised Sinema by $1.7 million during the first quarter — although the incumbent enjoys a nearly $7 million cash on hand advantage.
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb recently became the first major GOP contender to launch a campaign. Former state attorney general nominee Abe Hamadeh and former Arizona Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson — who narrowly lost last year’s GOP gubernatorial nomination to former TV anchor Kari Lake — have met with the NRSC as they mull Senate bids. Republican businessman Jim Lamon, who unsuccessfully ran last year for the GOP Senate nomination in Arizona, is also considering a second straight run.
There is plenty of speculation and concern among Republicans that Lake — who narrowly lost last year’s gubernatorial election and continues to maintain she won — may launch a Senate campaign.
Six other states — four with Democratic held seats and two controlled by the GOP — may see competitive Senate races next year.
Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is running for re-election in swing state Nevada. Rosen won the seat by five points during the blue wave election of 2018. However, President Biden narrowly carried the state in 2020 over Trump, and last November Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto won re-election by less than a point over former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt.
No major Republican has yet to announce in Nevada.
In the midwestern battleground of Michigan, Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin is a leading contender to win her party’s nomination in the race to succeed retiring longtime Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a fellow Democrat. Slotkin hauled in roughly $3 million during the first quarter of the year.
In the race for the GOP nomination in Michigan, state board of education member Nikki Snyder launched her bid in February. Former Rep. Peter Meijer — who lost his 2022 re-election bid after voting to impeach Trump — is mulling a Senate run. Two unsuccessful candidates from last year’s Republican gubernatorial primary in Michigan — businessman Kevin Rinke and former Detroit police chief James Craig — are also considering campaigns.
Two-term Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin announced last month that she’s running for re-election in Wisconsin, another Midwestern swing state. No major Republicans to date have entered the race or expressed interest in running.
Longtime Democratic Sen. Bob Casey announced last month that he would seek a fourth term in the Senate representing battleground Pennsylvania. The moderate lawmaker, a former state auditor general and treasurer and the son of a former two-term governor, is extremely well known in the Keystone state.
National Republicans are hoping that Dave McCormick — a former hedge fund executive, West Point graduate, Gulf War combat veteran and Treasury Department official in former President George W. Bush’s administration — makes a second straight run for the Senate. McCormick conceded last June to Mehmet Oz after trailing the cardiac surgeon and celebrity doctor by less than a thousand votes in the Republican Senate primary. Oz narrowly captured the GOP nomination in part thanks to an endorsement from Trump, but he lost the general election contest to Democratic Sen. John Fetterman.
Former state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a far-right Trump loyalist who lost last year’s gubernatorial election by double digits, is also mulling a bid.
In Texas, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is seeking a third term representing the Lone Star State. The conservative firebrand and 2016 GOP presidential nomination runner-up survived a tough re-election in 2018 against then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Democratic Rep. Colin Allred, a former professional football player, could enter the race against Cruz in the coming days.
However, ousting Cruz in a reliably red state that Trump carried by six points in 2020 and where longtime GOP Gov. Greg Abbott crushed O’Rourke by 11 points last year will be a tall order.
It is a similar story in Florida, where former two-term Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who narrowly won election to the Senate in 2018, is seeking a second term. While Florida was once a premiere purple state, it has turned increasingly red the past couple of years. Last November, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won re-election by 19 points and Sen. Marco Rubio cruised to-election by nearly 17 points.
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