Senate GOP's 2022 map so bad, colleagues urge 89-year-old senator to run for eighth term
How do you know Senate Republicans are already dreading their 2022 map? When they’re wishing their 89-year-old colleague a “strong” recovery from COVID-19 so he can run for an eighth term next cycle.
“I hope [Iowa Sen.] Chuck Grassley comes back. He’s very healthy and I hope he comes back really strong. That will be really important,” Sen. Rick Scott, the incoming National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, told Politico. “I don’t think Chuck Grassley is beatable.”
Grassley, who announced testing positive last week, hasn’t made his intentions known. But the desperation is real. Republicans will be defending 20 seats to Democrats’ 13 and running a time-tested veteran—who would be pushing 100 if he served out an eighth term—is still preferable to trying to defend an open seat.
“Ahead of another brutal fight for Senate control and a 2022 map tilted against the GOP, Republicans are racing to persuade their incumbents to run again,” writes Politico.
Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have already announced their intentions to retire, leaving two open seats that Democrats could make a play for.
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is on the fence, another seat Democrats could conceivably flip. And Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler—if she survives her January runoff—would have to run again in the upcoming midterms.
Whatever happens with the two Georgia runoffs, the Senate margin will be razor thing regardless of who holds the chamber. It could be anywhere from a 50-50 split (with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris securing the Democratic majority) to a slim one- to two-seat GOP advantage. So far, no Democratic incumbents have hinted at retirement. And perhaps more importantly, Democrats won’t be defending any seats in states Trump won this cycle, leaving Republicans without any obvious targets next cycle. They are reportedly eyeing Sen. Maggie Hassan’s seat in New Hampshire after she won the seat by a slim margin in 2016.
Scott is also reportedly trying to woo current or former governors to run for Senate in several states, including New Hampshire, Arizona, and even Maryland, although Gov. Larry Hogan seems more interested in a presidential bid than a run for the Senate.
But if Republicans manage to hold their majority in January, expect the Senate incumbents facing difficult reelection bids to be the main agenda setters over the next two years. If GOP Leader Mitch McConnell is still setting the agenda, he will be inclined to give his vulnerable incumbents the votes they want to take while steering clear of tough votes. But serving as the party of all-out obstruction could make for a difficult sell for the GOP in 2022, particularly in swing states where Biden prevailed or even fell just short.