Contributed by Amara Willey.
Rising out of frustration over the impeachment process, Indivisible began a campaign, Project Payback, in February to oust the Republicans who are the staunchest supporters of Donald Trump. Indivisible has identified these senators as the biggest threats to our democracy. Payback means rallying supporters in every state to elect Democratic candidates.
In order to gain a majority in the Senate, Democrats need to pick up four seats in the Senate (three if a Democrat is elected president and the vice president takes his or her place in the Senate). Since two Democrats (in Michigan and Alabama) are also defending their seats in states Trump won, Democrats need to target a larger area in case those two aren’t re-elected.
The eleven targeted GOP Senators are Martha McSally, Arizona; Cory Gardner, Colorado; David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia; Joni Ernst, Iowa; Mitch McConnell, Kentucky (also Senate Majority Leader); Susan Collins, Maine; Steve Daines, Montana; Thom Tillis, North Carolina; Lindsey Graham, South Carolina; and John Cornyn, Texas.
Arizona – Sen. McSally actually lost her bid for senator in this state, but then was appointed by the governor to fill Sen. John McCain’s seat after he passed. Arizona’s support of Trump was narrow, and Dems are feeling pretty good about some of the contenders for this seat.
Colorado – Things aren’t looking too good for Sen. Gardner at the moment, and his support of Trump will only hurt him in a state where Trump is not too popular. Hillary Clinton won Colorado by 5 percent of the vote in 2016, and Dems have 50,000 more registered voters than Republicans do.
Georgia – Stacy Abrams in her unsuccessful gubernatorial race gave some hope to flipping this state. She had wide support from younger and non-white voters, as well as women. A number of Democrats are running for this seat currently, but none are raising the kind of money that the incumbent Republican is. Abrams declined to run in this race.
Iowa – Dems have cause to be optimistic here. Trump’s tariff threats in Mexico and Canada have affected farmers in this state. Dems flipped two house seats in 2018 and gained two statewide offices, demonstrating that this state seems to be swinging back after the 2016 election.
Kentucky – For anyone to beat incumbent Sen. McConnell would take a miracle, but a number of Democratic candidates are giving it a go. Perhaps the mishandling of the coronavirus situation could help here, but it’s still unlikely that a Democrat will overturn this seat.
Maine – Despite Sen. Susan Collins’ high popularity in this state, Dems are optimistic about their chances to defeat her. Whoever wins the primary will have access to $4 million of crowd-funded money raised to unseat Collins after she voted to confirm Kavanaugh.
Montana – Democratic Sen. John Tester won reelection in 2018, but it will be more difficult for a Dem to win a Senate spot with Trump on the ballot. On March 9, Montana’s Democratic governor Steve Bullock entered the race, giving some hope to flipping this seat. Bullock, who ran for president and dropped out in December, easily won his second term as governor in 2016, even when the state overwhelmingly voted for Trump.
North Carolina – Sen. Thom Tillis narrowly won with less than 50 percent of the vote in 2014, and in 2016 a Democrat became governor of the state. Tillis has been trying to appeal to both Dems and Republicans, but he has waffled on several issues and appears to be weak. This race may come down to who rides the coattails of the next president.
South Carolina – This is another state where flipping the seat seems like a long shot. Although Sen. Graham has revised his original views of Trump from calling him a “race baiting, xenophobic and religious bigot” to full support, there is some hope that African Americans will help to turn this overwhelmingly red state as part of a Democratic renaissance happening in the South.
Texas – Beto O’Rourke’s bid against Ted Cruz in the 2018 election demonstrated that Texas wasn’t as red as everyone first believed. Dems are trying to rebuild the coalition against Sen. John Cornyn. Former Congressional candidate MJ Heger is currently in that race, but there has been speculation that now that O’Rourke is out of the presidential race, he may also try for that seat. After Biden indicated that he would put O’Rourke in charge of gun control issues if he becomes president, that, however, may be a bigger carrot for O’Rourke.
Action: This campaign is ambitious and will require a lot of grassroots activism. If you are interested in getting involved with this project, go to https://www.paybackproject.org to sign up or join the Indivisible Payback Project texting team. Donations are also being accepted.