So this Nov 18 article in the Washington Post* [Can Democrats stop Jeff Sessions – or any Trump nominee? It would be almost unprecedented.] might be demoralizing- but it points us toward how to be strategic in our fight. Blocking a Trump nomination would require at least 3 Republican senators to break from their party. The Washington Post also put together a list of 6 Republican senators who have voiced opposition to Trump in the past who could possibly be part of our crucial 3: 1. Rand Paul (KY), 2. Lindsey Graham (SC), 3. John McCain (AZ), 4. Susan Collins (ME), 5. Ben Sasse (NE), 6. Jeff Flake (AZ). [6 Senate Republicans who could make life very difficult for Donald Trump] The New York Times adds Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Lamar Alexander (TN). [Trump’s Next Battle: Keeping These Republican Senators Happy]
For the most part (Sasse I know the least of, plus he tweeted that paid riots thing), I believe their opposition is principled, not coming from a place of political maneuvering, and find them admirable- McCain, Flake, and Graham in particular are notable for working across the aisle on immigration reform as part of the Gang of Eight. I’m inclined to just let them do their thing… although I will circle back to talking about the senators from AZ… What I’m more interested in knowing is who are the vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2018?
In “Looking Ahead – Preliminary Projections for 2018 Senate Elections” Daily Kos put together an early projection back in February- from their view the only possible vulnerable GOP senators are Jeff Flake (AZ – mentioned above) and Dean Heller (NV). BUT..also up for re-election in 2018 are Orrin Hatch (UT) and Ted Cruz (TX). In Utah, Evan McMullin garnered a good amount of notice in his run for president as an independent and has been tweeting up a storm in opposition to Trump. As for Texas, I keep holding on to the point that comes out around the 25 minute mark in Section 3 of the Reveal radio show on Voting rights – and wrongs that Texas would be Blue by a margin of “somewhere between 81,000-500,000 votes” if there were 100% turnout . Granted, Texas is very likely to be totally unconstrained in their voter suppression under a Trump presidency- but still, this analysis was on the basis of people who have already registered, not just are eligible to vote, plus we don’t need to win Texas by 81,000… and I think we could splinter off some number of GOP votes. (On a related note, Marco Rubio was re-elected to Senate this Nov…. who knows whether he’ll oppose Trump there or toe the party line.)
The thing is I don’t know anything about how politics works. I don’t know what indicators incumbents look at to decide whether they need to be nervous enough about their upcoming election to break from their party. I don’t know even know whether being nervous about re-election could be a factor in deciding to break from your party. Maybe being nervous makes you more dependent on party funds for campaigning? And then, what’s the best way for someone who doesn’t live in any of these states to influence these senators? Would funding an exploratory committee for McMullin for Senate affect Orrin Hatch at all?
But to circle back to the senators from AZ, Hillary Clinton wasn’t delusional for making a campaign stop in Arizona on Nov 2, and I’m pretty sure Jeff Flake knows it. But my real hope and prayer is that John McCain, 80 years old and secure until 2022, has decided to go shackles off and will fight Trump tooth and nail.
Last thought, going back to the Daily Kos article, pressure goes both ways, and we also need to worry about Democratic senators vulnerable in 2018. Most concerning is Joe Manchin of West Virginia who is already on the record saying that he will back Trump nominations. [Joe Manchin says he’ll back Trump picks for administration – Charleston Gazette-Mail] Cross-referencing the Feb 2016 Daily Kos analysis with Politico’s post-election analysis, there are 4 other vulnerable Democratic senators (Jon Tester (MT), Claire McCaskill (MO), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Joe Donnelly (IN), but Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Sherrod Brown (OH) could probably be added to the list). [Reeling Democrats confront brutal 2018 Senate map – Politico] But again, what’s the best way for someone who doesn’t live in any of these states to show support for these senators?
*I have a subscription to the Washington Post because I’ve found their Trump coverage pretty satisfying in its depth and breadth, and they don’t seem to be as hamstrung by hand-wringing over their tone as the New York Times. However, I know not everyone has a subscription and might burn through 10 free articles a month pretty quickly. I sent the following tweet to Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post and founder, chairman, CEO of Amazon.com:
To be clear, the Washington Post is held in a separate holding company, so it is not affiliated with Amazon. But, you can’t deny the two companies are linked through Bezos. It’s worth a shot, no?