Sunday, September 20, 2020

Race of the Day- Wyoming U.S. Senate

Wyoming U.S. Senate

44 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open

2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Safe Republican

The final race of the cycle brings us to Wyoming, which in 2016 was the state that gave the highest percentage of the vote to Donald Trump. When four term Republican Senator Mike Enzi announced he would not seek another term, there was no doubt the seat would go to a Republican. The only matter of suspense would be whom would run.

In 2014, some thought Enzi would retire and Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former Vice President, whom herself had worked in the State Department, geared up to run for the seat. However, Enzi decided he was still running and the Republican Party was faced with the prospect of a major primary battle. Enzi said he had been told by Cheney that she would run run against him. She countered by saying that he must have confused her with Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis, a fellow blonde.

In any event, the primary did not turn out to be what Cheney expected. Most of the political establishment in her state said they would stick by the incumbent, even despite their long friendships with her parents. Cheney and her sister got into a public tiff about same sex marriage. There was a perception that Cheney was acting like an overly entitled candidate and eventually she dropped out of the race, citing health issues with her young children.

Two years later, Cheney would run statewide and replace Congresswoman Lummis. The former two term state Treasurer was first elected to Congress in 2008 and regularly cruised to reelection. In 2014 however, her husband passed away and after a final term in the House, she announced her retirement. It seemed to make sense that Cheney would make another attempt for the lower Congressional office, once held by her father, and after facing serious primary opposition, won the seat and was off to Capitol Hill.

When Enzi did announce his retirement in this cycle, people immediately started to think of Cheney. She had however risen in the House to the position of Conference Chair, even as the number of Republican women in the body had shrunk to a sad number. Congresswoman Cheney was stuck with a choice to run for the Senate, where she could put more focus on foreign policy issues, or stay in the House leadership and perhaps be in line to one day become Speaker. Other Republicans were looking at the Senate race as well though, including former Congresswoman Lummis, who seemed prepared to run whether Cheney did or not. The current Congresswoman decided to not run for the Senate in favor of staying in the House, the same decision her father had made a few times. Most recently, she has had some run-ins with fellow House Republicans and the near future could see anything from her booted from the leadership to taking on those above her.

Lummis would become the frontrunner for the Senate seat now as she sought to become the first female U.S. Senator from the Equality State. Although she had considerable conservative backing, over 40 percent of Wyoming Republicans did vote for someone else in the June primary. The second place finisher, with just 13 percent was Converse County Commissioner Robert Short, who openly embraced the label of "centrist Republican" as Lummis ran as a staunch Trump ally. For her part, Cheney has at times been critical and at times supportive of Trump,whom definitely espouses views on some matters that would have been anathema to the Cheney Family.

Democrats also had a multi-candidate field for the right to finish second in November. The winner would be college professor and zoologist Merav Ben-David, whom I am pretty sure would be the first ever Israeli-American elected to the Senate. She took 41 percent in the primary, about 21 points ahead of community organizer Yana Ludwig, who ran as a democratic socialist. Businessman Nathan Wendt took 18 percent. 

Wyoming is solidly Republican and former Congresswoman Lummis can look forward to a promotion to the Senate after a four year hiatus.

U.S. Senate races predicted:

16 D (7 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup) 
19 R (8 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

51 Democrats (35 holdovers, 7 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup)
49 Republicans (30 holdovers, 8 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Democrat net gain of 4


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