May 2, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Senate GOP zeros in on 4 top races in 2024

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., conducts a news conference after the senate luncheons in the U.S. Capitol

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) conducts a news conference after the Senate luncheons, surrounded by (from left), Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) John Thune (R-S.D.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Senate Republicans are laser-focused on four states they see as their key to the majority: Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Why it matters: The Senate map favors Republicans, giving them several opportunities to build a majority in the upper chamber. But every race will be a fight, and GOP leaders are keeping expectations low.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Steve Daines (R-Mont.) told reporters Thursday morning that his only goal this election cycle was getting to 51.

  • "All I know is what matters the most is the majority. And 51 is what we're focused on," he said.
  • It comes after a rough 2022 election cycle for Senate Republicans, when Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) was at the helm.

Between the lines: With West Virginia considered in the bag for Republicans after Sen. Joe Manchin's (D) retirement, getting to 51 would mean winning just one of eight competitive senate races this year.

  • That's assuming Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) hold on to their seats.

Zoom in: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Politico, "You take polls around Labor Day and begin to decide where you're going to play. But we know where we're going to play for sure right now: Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland."

  • That would mean ousting Democratic incumbent Sens. Jon Tester in Montana, Sherrod Brown in Ohio or Bob Casey Jr. in Pennsylvania, or winning an open seat in Maryland.
  • Republican's recruitment of former Gov. Larry Hogan is the only reason the deep blue state of Maryland is seriously in play.
  • Daines said he expects having Trump on the ballot to help them in Montana, as the state voted for the former president by 16 percentage points in 2020.

The intrigue: McConnell expressed less optimism about winning a seat in the battleground state of Arizona, where Trump ally and election denier Kari Lake is running against Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.)

  • "You've got a quality candidate we think in Wisconsin, a quality candidate in Nevada who's got a tough primary apparently. And who knows about Arizona," McConnell told Politico.
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