BREAKING NEWS Fayetteville City Schools: Employee at Ralph Askins School tests positive for coronavirus Full Story
BREAKING NEWS Huntsville High School forfeits football game with multiple team members in quarantine Full Story

With Franken's resignation, the Senate landscape shifts again

As the calendar nears 2018, the battle for control of the Senate is shifting in all sorts of unexpected ways -- chang...

Posted: Dec 7, 2017 4:37 PM
Updated: Dec 7, 2017 4:37 PM

As the calendar nears 2018, the battle for control of the Senate is shifting in all sorts of unexpected ways -- changes driven primarily by bad behavior but also a national political environment heavily colored by President Donald Trump's widespread unpopularity.

Consider this series of recent developments:

  • In next week's Alabama special election, Democrat Doug Jones has a fighting chance to score a major upset over Roy Moore due in large part to allegations made against the Republican by a number of women that he pursued relationship with them when they were teenagers and he was in his mid-30s.
  • The resignation of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat, on Thursday creates a special election to fill his seat in 2018 -- a race where Republicans will have at least a fighting chance of a pickup, depending on how candidate recruitment shakes out.
  • Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, has decided he is going to run for the seat being left behind by the retirement of Republican Sen. Bob Corker next fall. Bredesen, who spent eight years as mayor of Nashville before serving two terms as governor, is widely seen as the best possible Democratic candidate and makes the state potentially competitive for his party.

These three moments don't all work in one party's favor. A Jones win coupled with Bredesen's candidacy would clearly give Democrats momentum. The Franken resignation takes a seat that wouldn't even be on the map in 2018 -- his term isn't up until 2020 -- and makes it a problem that Democrats have to deal with in a year when they are already defending more seats than Republicans.

This series of events lands in what has already been a very unpredictable Senate election cycle. On its face, 2018 should be a banner year for Senate Republicans, with just nine seats to defend and 25 Democratic seats (not counting the now-open Minnesota seat) to target. Of those 23 Democratic seats, almost half -- 10 -- were carried by President Trump in 2016 including five (Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia) where Trump won by double digits.

It hasn't turned out that way -- yet! -- for Republicans as Trump's unpopularity has created a national political environment where Democratic candidates are coming out of the woodwork to run while top-tier Republicans are more hesitant to do so.

In Montana and North Dakota, two strongly Republican states represented by Democrats, Republicans have yet to land an "A"-type candidate. In Indiana and West Virginia, there are crowded primaries on the Republican side that will likely be nasty and expensive even before a dime is spent on the Democratic incumbents.

And Steve Bannon-backed primary challengers are making life difficult for Republican incumbents, chasing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake into retirement and leading Nevada Sen. Dean Heller to brag that he "helped write" a tax bill that's widely unpopular.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott -- who Republicans hope will run against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson next year -- put the heartburn Trump is causing even his staunchest allies in perspective when asked at a Republican Governors Association meeting last month whether Trump will help or hurt GOP candidates in the midterms. "We'll see what happens in 2018," Scott said.

Would he want Trump to campaign for him in Florida? "I don't know if I'm going to be a candidate. We'll worry about that next year," Scott said. Can Trump help Republicans on the ballot next year? "You'd have to ask them."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

The 2018 cycle started with Democrats expecting to play defense across the board. There were just too many seats to defend, and only two pickup opportunities (Arizona and Nevada) when they need to add three seats -- and hold onto all of their own -- to take control of the Senate.

If you asked Republicans at the start of the 2017 whether it was more likely that they would lose their majority or wind up with 60 seats at the end of 2018, they would have chosen the latter option every single time.

Now, the Senate majority looks in play -- even if Republicans still retain an edge due to the sheer number of Democratic seats in play and where those seats are.

If Jones wins next Tuesday in Alabama or Bredesen can turn Tennessee competitive -- and Trump stays unpopular -- the stakes get a lot higher. Add in Minnesota and the playing field is even bigger and less predictable.

It's not immediately clear whom that heightened unpredictability benefits. But Democrats surely never expected to be even sniffing at talk of regaining the Senate majority come 2019. And, for now, that's a possibility you wouldn't get laughed out of the room for bringing up.

Huntsville
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 65°
Florence
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 68°
Fayetteville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 66°
Decatur
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
Scottsboro
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 137564

Reported Deaths: 2399
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19938351
Mobile13507293
Montgomery8866185
Tuscaloosa8837118
Madison798179
Shelby607449
Lee597161
Baldwin560650
Marshall397543
Calhoun355644
Etowah354845
Morgan333428
Houston293921
Elmore271948
DeKalb244321
St. Clair235936
Walker235485
Talladega217830
Limestone214420
Cullman191920
Dallas179826
Franklin179130
Autauga178727
Russell17683
Lauderdale175133
Colbert167726
Blount162115
Escambia161624
Jackson159712
Chilton159530
Covington140727
Dale140344
Coffee13716
Pike121611
Chambers117542
Tallapoosa117185
Clarke110316
Marion97529
Butler91740
Barbour8867
Winston75013
Marengo72620
Pickens67014
Randolph66613
Lowndes65927
Bibb65810
Hale64928
Geneva6444
Lawrence63425
Cherokee61713
Bullock60714
Clay5918
Monroe5908
Washington56012
Crenshaw54332
Perry5426
Conecuh53911
Wilcox53211
Henry5105
Macon48318
Fayette4689
Sumter43719
Cleburne3945
Lamar3822
Choctaw35112
Greene30515
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 194611

Reported Deaths: 2420
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31097466
Davidson26797311
Hamilton963495
Knox960579
Rutherford945290
Williamson536636
Sumner489598
Wilson356247
Putnam336541
Montgomery313344
Unassigned30444
Madison299265
Out of TN297727
Bradley297217
Sevier266415
Blount256324
Maury242725
Washington235538
Robertson223939
Sullivan223133
Hamblen194828
Tipton184519
Gibson172624
Trousdale16697
Hardeman158426
Wayne15015
Dyer142017
Bedford137317
Dickson128015
Coffee127713
Fayette122719
Cumberland121919
Weakley121620
Anderson121013
Obion120211
Loudon11996
Henderson119125
Carter118028
Greene116946
McMinn116325
Jefferson114414
Lawrence108913
Warren10777
Macon106721
Monroe106618
Hardin105516
Lauderdale100316
Haywood99821
Franklin99410
Lake9252
McNairy92518
Carroll91320
Roane9126
Bledsoe8624
White85510
Rhea85413
Hawkins82720
Cheatham8199
Marshall7815
Overton7706
Cocke75310
Smith74011
Johnson7323
Chester65011
Giles64417
Lincoln6331
Henry6309
Hickman6008
DeKalb57414
Marion5518
Fentress5463
Crockett54419
Decatur5347
Campbell4614
Claiborne4455
Polk40710
Grainger3943
Union3762
Benton3418
Jackson3325
Morgan3213
Grundy3176
Cannon2950
Unicoi2911
Humphreys2673
Sequatchie2441
Clay2355
Houston2343
Meigs2323
Stewart2212
Scott2192
Lewis2081
Moore1831
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1262
Hancock1073

Community Events