This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.
Time to think seriously about senators–in your state and not–who you can donate time and money to in 2018.
By now you have experience with assisting special elections. Maybe you helped Jon Ossoff, Archie Parnell, James Thompson, Rob Quist, Foster Campbell, or any number of others in their federal or state contests.
Yes, 2018 is still a ways off, but you should start thinking about which representatives you want to support with time and money.
In particular, you should think about which senators you might want to defend, and you should think about which senatorial races you want to focus on.
On the first point: 23 of the 33 senatorial seats up for re-election in 2018 are held by Democrats. In addition, the two senators who caucus as independents–Angus King of Maine, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont–are due for re-election, too.
For that reason, the Dems will be playing defense in 2018. (They have 48 Senators in all, counting the two independents.)
It’s the job of the House of Representatives to draw up articles of impeachment, but it’s the Senate who votes yay or nay. A total of 67 senators would have to vote in favor for impeachment to proceed.
While Trump could be so thoroughly and catastrophically indefensible by summer 2018 that it might seem certain that the Senate will vote to impeach, the dark money will flow to candidates who will protect Trump, and it will target sitting senators who will favor impeachment.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you have a Democratic senator who’s up for re-election, think hard about whether and how you can support him or her. Yes, even if she’s Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota or he’s Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Both have cast horrible votes that helped Trump, but both are from states that Trump won by at least 20 points. They are vulnerable. They will need you.
At this point in the game, you want to watch for when they cast a vote that you like. When they do that, call and say thanks, and tell them why. Let them know you exist, and you vote.
Republican senators up for re-election include Ted Cruz of Texas, Bob Corker of Tennesssee, and Orrin Hatch of Utah. Be warned, though, that their states are largely regarded as safely Republican. Only two might hit trouble getting re-elected: Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Those states are more pink than red at this point. If you want to stop Republican senators from gaining re-election, the likeliest payoff lies in supporting their Democratic opponents.
If you are confident that your Democratic senators are safe or your Republican senators are pretty much unbeatable, throw your weight behind vulnerable Dems. They include: Joe Donnelly of Indiana; Claire McCaskill of Missouri; Jon Tester of Montana; Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; and the aforementioned Heitkamp and Manchin.
Now let’s talk about what form support can take. Yes, set aside some money to donate. Yes, buy and display a lawn sign or a bumper sticker. Yes, join a postcard GOTV campaign. Yes, set aside time to phone-bank. And go out on the appointed day and vote, and bring eligible friends and family with you!
But in adopting these senators or a senatorial challenger, we at OTYCD are asking you to become fluent in their backstories and their platforms. Become an expert in Senator Lastname or Challenger Lastname. Embrace them. Become an evangelist for them. Be ready to sell your friends and family on that person for Senate.
If you can, start now. Learn what you need to know at your leisure, while we’re still in 2017. Review the material at night before you go to bed. Figure out how to express your support for Senator/Challenger Lastname in your own words, with feeling. THAT is what convinces other people to vote–an authentic, heartfelt endorsement from someone they know and trust.
Work on it. It’ll be worth your time.
See the Wikipedia chart on the 33 senators up for re-election in 2018, with analysis of their states’ leanings:
Read about which Senate seats are regarded as vulnerable:
Read FiveThirtyEight’s piece on what each party is facing in the Senate in 2018:
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