2020 Senate Election Forecast

Chairman Roberts Seat Not the Only Uncertainty in Senate Ag Races

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
The biggest race in the Senate for rural America concerns who will replace Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. (DTN photo illustration by Nick Scalise)

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- The continued speculation about who will be the Republican candidate to succeed retiring Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has dominated coverage of Senate races in rural states. But the Kansas seat is not the only one among the current members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee that could change hands.

Ballotpedia lists six candidates running for the Republican nomination for the Roberts seat, not including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been uncertain about whether he will run. Four Democrats also seek the nomination. Kansas elected a Democratic governor in 2018, but The Cook Political Report still ranks the open seat race in 2020 as "likely Republican."

The Cook Report provides four ratings for Senate races: "solid," "likely," "lean" and "toss-up."

As it stands now, 12 Democratic senators and 23 Republican senators will be up for reelection in 2020. Four seats are considered "toss-ups" -- one for the Democrats, three for the Republicans.

The Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, and Jennifer Duffy, the Senate editor of The Cook Report, has said she believes the majority will be in play by the time the election is held.

THE ONLY TOSS-UP

Of the 10 members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee who are running for reelection in 2020, only one, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, is rated a "toss-up."

INCUMBENTS IN LIKELY REPUBLICAN SEATS

But the Cook Report ranks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., who sit on both the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee, as well as Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who are members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, as "likely Republican."

INCUMBENT IN LIKELY DEMOCRAT SEAT

On the Democratic side, The Cook Report ranks Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and the open seat on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee being vacated by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., as "likely Democrat."

OTHER NOTABLE RURAL RACES

There are a number of competitive races of senators who don't sit on either the Senate Agriculture Committee or the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, but come from states that have substantial rural populations or agricultural interests.

The Cook Report ranks Sens. Doug Jones, D-Ala.; Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; and Martha McSally, R-Ariz., as "toss-ups;" Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., as "lean Democrat;" and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., as "lean Republican."

The Cook Report ranks the open seats of retiring Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., as "likely Republican" and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., as "solid Republican."

-- Ballotpedia -- U.S. Senate battlegrounds, 2020: https://ballotpedia.org/…

-- The Cook Political Report — 2020 Senate Race Ratings: https://cookpolitical.com/…

Zachary Silver contributed to this report.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@njdc.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

(CC/AG)

Jerry Hagstrom