Dear All, Pushing back against the abuses of this administration is a marathon not a sprint. But when the historic impeachment trial kicked off yesterday in the Senate, I crashed.
Watching Trump quislings carry the noxious culture of lies onto the Senate floor was too much to bear. (I sought comfort in stale candy corn - it helped.)
For three years all of us have struggled to cope with the cataclysmic fallout wrought by the transcendent lesson of 2016 — that elections have consequences, a legacy writ large yesterday in the excruciatingly painful narrative orchestrated by Republicans committed to protecting their party’s impeached president. Meanwhile, frantic Democrats were reduced to jamming the phone lines of their Senators to plead that witnesses and evidence be admitted to the trial. Once again, our slender hope that crumbs of justice will be meted out rests with Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, who have yet to display a scintilla of real political courage.
To restore my equilibrium, I fantasized about how this mockery of a trial would be up-ended if Democrats were calling the shots. And that led me to fast track the “Flip the Senate” slate many of you had requested.
Now my new mantra is “You don’t have to live in Kentucky to vote against Mitch McConnell." No matter where you’re registered, you can help recapture the Senate and, by donating to out-of-state Senate candidates, build a Blue Wall against the upper house’s capitulation to the administration. It’s been assumed for a couple of years that recapturing the Senate is a step too far. But the tide is rising and the latest polls show that a Democratic Senate suddenly has become plausible. And ever more vital. Even if Democrats win the White House, without the Senate they would be back on what Democratic strategist James Carville calls the “same hamster wheel” with McConnell playing his obstructionist game.
Granted, it’s a heavy lift. Political guru Charlie Cook gives it a one-in-three chance. Let’s ignore the odds, focus on the 33 percent and make it happen. Depending on how the presidential election turns out, Democrats could command a majority by winning as few as three seats. They probably need to pick up at least four, possibly even more. But the "Impossible Dream” isn’t impossible anymore. It probably comes down to what I’m calling “The Fantasy Five” -- Democrats who could lift the party into the Senate majority come November. But first a couple of likely Democratic pickups who aren’t on my list because they seem poised to win - John Hickenlooper who appears likely to defeat Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado and former astronaut Mark Kelly who has a solid chance of beating Senator Martha McSally in Arizona.
Despite long odds, I decided to include Amy McGrath who is running hard to beat Midnight Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. After all, the satisfaction of chipping in $10 to retire Grim Reaper Mitch is priceless — especially this week. Similarly, former Republican-turned-Democrat Barbara Bollier has a long road in Kansas. But if the Blue Wave rises, she might score an upset victory like her fellow Kansan Democrat, Laura Kelly, who won the governor’s office in 2018.
So put aside your angst, harness the power of hope and and do something now that can change the status quo.
Thanks to a “one-stop shopping” link, you can choose how to distribute your contribution with just a couple of clicks on a single page. You can, for instance, donate $100 to be divided evenly among the 5 candidates with each one receiving $20: or, you can choose to allocate and apportion your money any way you like.
To make a contribution, just click on this link: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/janewhitney-senate
If resources are an issue, head to the candidate’s website, which I’ve listed below, to volunteer your time and talent.
I’ll be updating this list as conditions on the ground shift, probably by the end of June, then again in September. Until then, donate whatever you can to the “Fantasy Five” who, with your help, could turn the Senate blue.
Barbara Bollier - Kansas - OPEN:
2016: Trump +20
2020 race: Rated “Lean Republican” by Cook Political Report, Inside Elections and Roll Call
Despite the state’s 23-point Republican lean, Democrats are seeking a victorious sequel to “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” by electing Dr. Barbara Bollier, a Republican-turned-Democrat to the Senate seat left open by the retirement of Pat Roberts. Democrats hope Bollier's “common ground” ideology has enough appeal to swing moderate Republican women into her lane, especially since her most likely opponent is former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a brash, polarizing Trump ally who lost the state’s 2018 gubernatorial race.
During the last 3 months of 2019, Bollier raised more than $1.1 million a record amount for a Kansas Democrat. When she left the Republican party last December, she said the breaking point had been the inclusion of anti-transgender language in the party’s platform. "Morally, the party is not going where my compass resides,” she said. "I'm looking forward to being in a party that represents the ideals that I do, including Medicaid expansion and funding our K-12 schools.”
Cal Cunningham - North Carolina (running against Sen. Thom Tillis) 2016: Trump +4
2020 Race rated "Toss-up" by Inside Elections & Roll Call; rated “Leans Republican” by Cook Political Report
Former state senator and Iraq veteran Cal Cunningham is the likely Democratic candidate to take on embattled North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis who, some analysts think, is more vulnerable than Susan Collins in Maine. Cook Political Report calls North Carolina “ground zero” in the presidential race and “the make or break state for which party controls the Senate.”
Cunningham, a centrist Biden Democrat, is endorsed by national Democrats and has received money from more than 20 incumbent Democratic senators through their committees, including Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. He’s also being heavily supported by veterans groups like VoteVets which just unveiled this ad promoting Cunningham’s propensity for answering the call to service throughout his career.
Based on a recent survey by Public Policy Polling, he held a double-digit lead among the five Democrats running and is the odds-on favorite to clear his March 3rd primary.
You can get a sense of his gestalt by watching his introductory video “Listening to North Carolina,” in which Cunningham promises to "go to places where Democrats don’t go.”
Sara Gideon - Maine (running against Sen. Susan Collins) 2016: Clinton +3
2014: Collins +37
2020 race rated a “Toss-up” by Cook Political Report and “Tilts Republican” by Inside Elections and Roll Call
Senator Susan Collins, once Maine’s most popular politician, now has the highest disapproval rating of any senator in the country, with an approval rating of 42 percent, down 25 points since Trump took office, according to a new survey from Morning Consult. The slide, analysts say, is due to her support for tax cuts that primarily benefitted the wealthy and corporations as well as her vote to confirm Brett Kanvanaugh to the Supreme Court. The impeachment trial could depress her standing even further. “If she votes against removing Trump, that’s more fodder for suburban women to oppose her,” says Jessica Taylor, who monitors Senate races at the Cook Political Report.
Gideon, currently serves as the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and is known for her spirit and bipartisan acumen. First elected to the Maine House in 2012, she sponsored legislation to expand abortion access and extend state benefits to poor families. She also supported Maine’s Medicaid expansion and helped lead the referendum to override Governor Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to make the anti-overdose drug Narcan available over the counter.
When Gideon announced last June that she was challenging Susan Collins, she raised more than $1 million in the first week of her campaign.
Yesterday, Planned Parenthood endorsed Gideon saying Collins “turned her back” on women by supporting Kavanaugh and other judicial nominees who oppose abortion.
Watch Gideon’s effective introductory ad “Putting Maine First” here.
Donate: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/janewhitney-senate Amy McGrath - Kentucky (running against Sen. Mitch McConnell) 2016: Trump +29.8
2020 race rated “Likely Republican" by Cook Political Report and “Solid Republican” by Inside Elections and Roll Call
One of the highest profile political outsiders, Amy McGrath, the first woman Marine to fly a combat mission in an F-18, burst onto the national stage several years ago with a series of compelling ads that made her 2018 Congressional run a marquee race. After being given virtually no chance of winning in a GOP stronghold, she lost by 3 per cent but burnished her stock as a tough competitor.
The former Marine Corps veteran has raised nearly $17 million since launching her campaign against Senator Mitch McConnell and is entering this election year with $9.1 million in cash on hand. McGrath's campaign manager, Mark Nickolas, told Newsweek that her fundraising is "unlike anything I've ever seen.” While McConnell's team claimed that McGrath is raising millions from "liberal elites," her campaign said that the average donation is $36 and that over 288,600 people have contributed.
Still, McConnell has represented Kentucky since 1985 and has easily taken down his previous Democratic challengers. Plus, he has the support of Trump, who won the state in 2016 by a whopping 30 percentage points. But McConnell is among the least popular senators in the country, with a net unfavorability rating that has been as low as 50 percent in his home state.
While there has not been a lot of polling on the race, a July AARP survey had McConnell essentially tied in a head-to-head matchup with McConnell enjoying a one point lead.
Hardly a natural born glad-hander, McGrath has loosened up visibly since her 2018 Congressional race. When I saw her speak last fall at a conference in Washington DC, she was significantly more comfortable in her political skin. But, as demonstrated by her appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” she still personifies an earthy sensibility. Plus, the introductory ad for her senate campaign features her opponent McConnell in a moment of delicious irony.
Let’s hope she follows in the footsteps of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, the Democrat who delivered an upset victory last year.
Gary Peters - Michigan (incumbent running for re-election) 2016: Trump +0.2
2014: Peters +13
2020 race rated Lean Dem by Cook Political Report & Inside Elections, Likely Dem by Roll Call
Peters is the second most endangered Democratic senator after Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, according to the Cook Political Report.
As one of only two Democratic senators running in states Trump carried in 2016, Peters is a top GOP target. His likely opponent is 2018 GOP Senate nominee John James, an Army veteran who out-raised Peters by roughly $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 (although Peters still enjoys an advantage in cash on hand.) Peters is less of an institution than Debbie Stabenow, who beat James by 6 points two years ago, but his military background could mitigate some of James’ appeal. National Democrats have promised not to overlook Michigan as they did in the 2016 presidential race, which should help Peters, while James’ full embrace of Trump could backfire. Still, the most recent poll shows James gaining on Peters who only has a slim lead over the Republican contender.
Considered one of the most effective and bipartisan Democratic senators, Peters eschews the national stage and cable news to focus on less polarizing issues like veterans’ affairs, trade, and prescription drug pricing. That’s left him unknown to about a third of Michigan’s likely voters, one of the main reasons Republicans think they can prevail.
As a reward for assembling this list, I tried to watch a few minutes of the trial coverage. But I felt my neck tightening up and shut it off. For now, I’ll stick to some words of wisdom from John Lewis and a hand full of that stale candy corn.