When the evening of November 8 rolls around, it’s time to copy a tradition from football. Grab a soft drink (or maybe an adult beverage, depending on how your favorite party is doing), microwave some popcorn, and plop down in your favorite easy chair. It’s general election time.
“Democrats are buoyed by what they see as changing political fortunes on the ground — surprise special election wins in the 19th District of New York and the Alaska at-large seat, high female voter registration numbers, lower gas prices, and an uptick in President Joe Biden’s approval rating,” said Missy Edwards of Missy Edwards Strategies.
She noted that Cook Political Report recently revised its estimate for Republican pickups in the House from 20–35 to 10–20.
FiveThirtyEight’s forecast continues to predict Republicans will take control of the House, while Democrats are “slightly favored” to retain the Senate majority.
“Democrats hope economic improvements will provide some room to run in tough districts,” Cook explained. “Total employment is exceeding pre-pandemic levels, and gas prices are down. President Biden’s approval rating is on its way up — 42.5% in an aggregation of recent polls. Former President (Donald) Trump continues to influence Republican candidates, despite not being on the ballot. His endorsements carried many Republican Senate candidates to primary victories, particularly in states with open seats held by GOP retiring members.”
In the House, Edwards pointed out, Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman notes that 21 of 26 Trump-endorsed House candidates won their primaries, and only two incumbents — Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4) and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC-1) survived pro-Trump challenges.
Polls indicate that control of both the Senate and the House is up for grabs. At press deadline, Real Clear Politics (RCP) favored the GOP with a narrow 47-46 margin, with seven seats classified as toss-ups. In the end, RCP predicts it will be 52-48 for the GOP. RCP shows the GOP leading 218-184, with 33 seats classified as toss ups and 218 seats needed for control of the House. In the end, RCP believes the GOP will also control the House.
Edwards pointed to both races that could determine the makeup of the House and Senate and races that are of interest to the trucking industry.
Here are some races that could make a difference in which party controls the Senate.
The seat is currently held by retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr. An August 13-15 Civitas poll found North Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Cheri Beasley and Republican Rep. Ted Budd tied at 42.3%, with 12.6% of voters undecided. This race is rated Lean Republican.
The seat is currently held by retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Conflicting polls give both candidates a slight edge. An August 15-16 Emerson College poll showed Vance up three points, with 10% undecided, and a September 5-7 USA Today/Suffolk University poll showed Ryan with a one-point edge over Vance, with 6.4% undecided. The race is rated Lean Republican.
The seat is currently held by retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey. Following pressure from Dr. Mehmet Oz (R), Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) agreed to one debate. Fetterman’s campaign is seeking accommodations for auditory-processing complications from a stroke Fetterman suffered in May — while refuting accusations he is unfit for public office because of his ongoing recovery. The Washington Post editorial board called for Fetterman to debate more than once, saying not doing so raises questions about whether he is “fit to serve in the Senate.” Emerson College and Susquehanna Polling and Research polls show the race tightening, with Oz trailing Fetterman by four and five points respectively, after being down by double digits this summer. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending $3 million to support Oz, contrasting his pro-business stance with Fetterman’s “government-knows-best” approach. The race is rated Lean Democrat.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican challenger and business construction owner Joe O’Dea have launched Spanish-language ads. Bennet’s ad, titled “Logros,” highlights his legislative accomplishments, including aid to small businesses, adding jobs in the renewable energy sector, and expanding the Child Tax Credit. O’Dea’s ad, “Una Historia Americana,” introduces him as a voice for working-class people. Public Policy Polling from August 30-31 found Bennet leading O’Dea by 11 points, 46% to 35%. This race is rated Lean Democratic.
In addition to helping shape control of the Senate, these races could also impact the trucking industry.
After weekslong negotiations, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker debated in Savannah October 14. Georgia requires a majority of votes on Election Day to win; otherwise, the top two candidates advance to a runoff scheduled for December 6. Libertarian Chase Oliver is also on the ballot, and may garner enough votes to force a runoff — potentially delaying a call about party control of the Senate. This race is rated a Toss-Up. Sen. Warnock is a current member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over highways and transportation.
Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is outraising Republican candidate Blake Masters at least tenfold — $54 million to $5 million, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) data from July. This race is rated a Toss-Up. Kelly is currently a member of the Senate Environment and Public Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the construction and maintenance of highways.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is expected to launch a statewide seven-figure ad campaign against his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, accusing him of supporting open borders, defunding the police, and favoring taxpayer benefits to undocumented immigrants. This race is rated a Toss-Up. Johnson is a current member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over highways and transportation.
Following an extremely close race in the Republican primary, New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse conceded to retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc, who will challenge Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in November. Bolduc ran as a populist political outsider and faced opposition from the state’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and the GOP establishment. The GOP-aligned Senate Leadership Fund Super PAC is spending $23 million to defeat Hassan. Hassan is a current member of the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over taxation and revenues.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched its first general election ad to support Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto against Republican challenger Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Cortez Masto leads Laxalt by four points in an AARP poll conducted August 16-24. This race is rated a Toss-Up. Cortez Masto is a current member of the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over taxation and revenues.
Looking to the House, several representatives who have known to be friends of the trucking industry either lost a primary race or have chosen to retire from Congress.
Rep. Rodney Davis, who had been representing Illinois’ 13th District, lost a primary to incumbent to Rep. Mary Miller. Davis had represented the 13th District as a result of realignment following the 2020 census. She will face Democrat Paul Lange in the general election. Miller is a heavy favorite.
In addition, Illinois redistricting forced Democrat Rep. Marie Newman into a member-on-member primary, and she opted to run against Democrat Rep. Sean Casten, who was elected in 2018 and beat a six-term Republican. During her first primary as an incumbent, Newman faced challenges from outside Congress and within — outside groups that spent just under half a million dollars against her, and a congressional ethics probe that ultimately hurt her candidacy. Hers is the first loss of an incumbent backed by Justice Democrats. Newman is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and she addressed the 2021 Fall Meeting of TCA. Casten will face Orland Park, Illinois, Mayor Keith Pekau, a Republican, in the general election.
Tom Rice, a five-term South Carolina incumbent who represented the state’s 7th District, was beaten in a primary election by Donald Trump-backed challenger Russell Fry, a state legislator. Rice was one of 10 representatives who voted to impeach Trump. He will face Democrat Daryl Scott and Libertarian Keenan Dunham in the general election.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State, another Republican who voted to impeach Trump, was defeated in the primary by Trump-backed candidate Joe Kent. Kent advanced more than a week after the all-party primary. A Green Beret who ran to Herrera Beutler’s right and touted Trump’s backing, he will face Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, an auto repair shop owner who received the most votes.
Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is retiring. His position on the committee will be filled by Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), or Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO-6) if the House flips.
Oregon Democrat Val Hoyle will face Republican Alek Skarlatos, who did not have primary opposition and is moving on to the general election in November.
There are several other races of interest to trucking that could help determine the final makeup of the House.
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-District 1) faces Republican Karoline Leavitt in the general election. Pappas is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Pappas addressed the Winter 2021 meeting of TCA Leadership.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-District 7) will face Tom Kean Jr. in a widely anticipated rematch of the 2020 race. Kean came within one percentage point of winning the last election. Malinowski addressed the Fall 2022 TCA Call on Washington.
Rep. Michele Steele (R-District 45) is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She will face Democrat Jay Chen in the general election.
Rep. Dina Titus (D-District 1) is a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. She has met annually with TCA and has been a strong supporter of Twin 33s. She is facing Republican Mark Robertson and Libertarian Ken Cavanaugh in the general election.
Rep. Greg Stanton (D-District 9) is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. His district includes the headquarters of Knight Transportation and Swift Transportation. He is running against Republican Paul Gosar in the general election.
Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.