Then Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican, stood before delegates to the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition in mid-October 2015 and delivered a message that caught no one by surprise.
“As someone who’s been there and seen the good work you’ve done [in Washington] in an environment that for at least the last several years has been very, very hostile to your industry, I want to thank you,” said Shuster. “The (Obama) administration and its agencies that put the rules out are not friendly to your industry” in a reference to hours of service, greenhouse gas emissions and Mexico-domiciled trucks being operated in the United States beyond the commercial trade zone.
Among other issues of concern to the industry, Shuster’s statement came amid efforts by trucking industry stakeholders to challenge what the industry deemed inflexible hours of service rules imposed by the Obama administration.
Almost seven years later, trucking applauded new rules issued by the Trump administration, which has been visibly pro-trucking.
The political makeup of the House and Senate are a vital part of any administration and the policies it seeks to put forth.
To gain control of both chambers (no one is predicting a flip of the current House line up), Democrats are focusing on four states in particular: Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina.
Currently in the Senate, there are 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents, Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both of whom caucus with the Democrats.
Based on the polls, it looks as though the Democrats have a chance to pull it off.
Polls were taken in late April and during May and early June.
Incumbent Martha McSally (R) vs. Democrat Mark Kelly (D)
Kelly, a former astronaut, leads in 13 of 15 polls reported by RealClearPolitics (RCP) by as much as 13 points in four and 12 in two others. McSally, a former fighter pilot, leads in one poll by two points, another by one point.
Despite the polls, RCP calls the race a tossup.
In the money race, Kelly is the top fundraiser of all Senate candidates in the country. McSally is in the top 10.
Her strategy is clear: run side-by-side with Trump and attack Kelly’s liberal leanings.
But Kelly has no history in elected politics, no past votes to attack, and has been a sought-after Democratic candidate for years.
Arizona being a state where seniors like to retire, one of Kelly’s campaign promises is aimed directly at them.
“Arizonans want to know that the Social Security and Medicare that they’ve paid into and earned are going to be there when they retire — and I’m running for Senate to make sure they will be,” he said.
Incumbent Cory Gardner (R) vs. John Hickenlooper (D)
In the most recent poll, Hickenlooper led Gardner 54% to 36% among likely voters surveyed, with 9% undecided. The former Colorado governor’s lead increased to 58% versus 28% among unaffiliated voters, with 12% undecided. Hickenlooper actually still had to face Andrew Romanoff in a late June primary, but pollsters seemed confident of Hickenlooper’s victory.
Gardner became the first challenger to unseat an incumbent in Colorado in roughly a generation when he defeated former Sen. Mark Udall in 2014.
Gardner labels himself as a common-sense conservative.
One of the highlights of Gardner’s campaign website claims his support for the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act brought real benefits to Colorado families, saying over 70% of Coloradans received a tax cut and dozens of Colorado companies provided their employees with new benefits due to the tax cuts.
Hickenlooper’s campaign website states that he is fed up with the inaction and partisan paralysis in Washington and wants to go to the Senate to actually get results.
“With climate change threatening our future, skyrocketing health care costs, and workers who need more opportunities for training, now is the time for a different approach,” he said.
Incumbent Susan Collins (R) vs. Sara Gideon (D)
Collins has been a member of the Senate since 1997, but the polls indicate she is in a tough fight with Gideon, who is the current Maine Speaker of the House.
The latest polls give Gideon a lead of anywhere from 1% to 4.5%.
Collins’ website boasts that she is seen as one of the few bipartisan figures in Congress willing or able to work across the aisle.
Published reports say Collins is facing the race of her life despite her universal name recognition and bipartisan reputation. Those reports say President Donald Trump is targeting Maine as a battleground while his politics has cleaved the state in two, and Collins must share the ticket with him.
She is currently a senior member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, where she chairs the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.
Reforming Washington is one of her top priorities, Gideon said.
“Washington is clearly broken,” said Gideon. “Politicians are too responsive to wealthy donors and corporate special interests, promoting their agendas over the people they were elected to represent. Elected officials are failing to make progress on many of the issues that matter most to Maine residents, like lowering the cost of prescription drugs, reducing their tax burden or making health care more affordable, all because special interests hold the power.”
Incumbent Thom Tillis (R) vs. Cal Cunningham (D)
Based on polls, this race is also a toss-up.
Of the five latest polls, RCP reports that Cunningham leads in two with his largest lead being two points. Tillis leads in two polls by two and one points.
Tillis says he is a common-sense fiscal conservative.
“I’m an outspoken critic of tax increases and wasteful government spending,” he said.
One of Cunningham’s top priorities in healthcare.
“One of the most frequent issues I hear about as I travel across the state is the urgent need to improve access and bring down the cost of health care for families,” he said. “North Carolinians continue to struggle with the rising cost of premiums, co-pays, and prescription drugs, and there are still more than 1 million people in our state without any coverage at all.”
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.