If you are a loyal Democrat and the U.S. Senate is the epicenter of your political universe, then let’s face it: the 2018 cycle was a buffet of awfulness for you. The final outcome was not an unmitigated disaster, by any means—if you factor in Doug Jones’ 2017 win, the Democrats only suffered a net loss of one seat in a cycle where they were defending a near-record high proportion of seats.
But that accomplishment, such as it was, also underscored the reason why the cycle was huge amounts of “meh” for Democrats interested in the U.S. Senate. There was precious little offense, and a ton of defense (hey—that reminds me of a certain recent sporting event).
The 2020 cycle, however, is different. Last year, the Democrats were defending 24 Senate seats, fully 10 of which were won in 2016 by President Trump. Meanwhile, the GOP was defending only nine. This time around, the class of 2014 will be up for re-election. 2014, as Democrats recall with a wince of pain, was a fantastic Republican year, particularly in the U.S. Senate.
But in that pain from half a decade ago lies an opportunity for Democrats, because the field is nearly a reversal of 2018. In 2020, the Republicans will be defending a total of 22 Senate seats, versus just 12 Senate seats for the Democrats. And in those nearly two dozen red Senate seats up for grabs next November, there are a number of opportunities present for Democrats, certainly enough to reverse the current 53-47 Republican majority and propel the Democrats into the Senate majority.
As with any election, however, prospects vary. Some races are bound to be tossups, and some are the longest of longshots. This piece, therefore, is an exercise in speculation, since top-tier candidates are far less likely to embrace what looks, on paper, to be a career-killing political suicide mission.
To which we say: So what? With just under 21 months to go, there is no harm in speculating to our heart’s content. What if Democrats could get their most enticing candidate in every Senate race, even the ones which seem out of reach in today’s political climate?
And, let’s bear in mind, this is a wish list. It is most definitely not a list of real, declared, or even prospective candidates. So, please, for the love all creatures big and small, spare the world the breathless tweets of “Steve Singiser of Daily Kos Elections reports that Sharice Davids is running for the U.S. Senate in Kansas!”
Additionally: We certainly concede that the choices listed here are eminently debatable—in fact, that’s half the fun! We will offer the “top of the list” candidate, and then you can head to the comments to tell us why we’re completely off our collective rockers in our choices.