‘We’re Screwed’: Nervous Republicans Hit The Panic Button As Senate ‘Firewall’ Is Crumbling
Nervous Senate Republicans are scrambling to contain the damage as their majority firewall starts to crumble under President Donald Trump and ‘Moscow’ Mitch McConnell.
Republicans are worried that President Trump might falter and lose the White House next year and take the Senate majority down with him.
Though Republicans see winning back the House majority as a tough climb in 2020, they see holding the Senate, where they have a 53-47 edge, as crucial given the shape of races for the White House and lower chamber.
“If we lose the presidency — and if I had to guess right now, the odds are 10 percent we get the House back — the Senate is the only check and balance,” said one former Republican Senate chief of staff. “If we don’t keep the Senate, we’re basically screwed. I hate to just cut to the chase, but that is exactly what the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] is running with.”
Senate Republicans have relished their power to sideline major Democratic bills passed by the House, including sweeping election reform and gun legislation.
They argue that maintaining a GOP majority in the Senate is a crucial failsafe against “socialist” policies — the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All” — that could be pursued by a Democrat in the Oval Office coupled with a Democratic-controlled House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the self-declared “Grim Reaper” for progressive legislation, has urged GOP incumbents to position themselves as a “firewall” against ideas being pitched by the field of Democratic presidential candidates.
“If I’m still the majority leader in the Senate think of me as the Grim Reaper … I guarantee you that if I’m the last man standing and I’m still the majority leader, it ain’t happening. I can promise you,” McConnell said during a stop in Kentucky earlier this year.
Republicans are defending 22 seats compared to the 12 in play for Democrats. Most GOP incumbents are running in deeply red states, limiting the Senate battlefield to a handful of states: Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina, where GOP Sens. Martha McSally, Gardner, Susan Collins and Thom Tillis, respectively, are on the ballot.
Democrats need to pick up either three or four seats in 2020, depending on which party wins the White House, to gain control of the chamber.