Senate 2022
March 29, 2021

Several people who worked on former President Donald Trump's unsuccessful re-election bid are joining the effort to possibly unseat one of Trump's most vocal Republican critics, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

On Monday, Alaska Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka announced that she is stepping down in order to run for Murkowski's seat in 2022. In a video, Tshibaka criticized Murkowski for voting to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, saying it was "so out of touch" to try and "remove Donald Trump from office, even after he was already gone."

Murkowski, a moderate Republican whose father was also a senator and governor of Alaska, filed a statement of candidacy in early March, but has not said that she will definitely run again next year. Murkowski got under Trump's skin with her impeachment vote, and earlier this month he told Politico he would visit Alaska next year to campaign against the "disloyal" and "very bad" Murkowski.

Tshibaka has hired multiple people from Trump's orbit to help with her campaign, including former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, former deputy campaign manager Justin Clark, former battleground states director Nick Trainer, and former communications director Tim Murtaugh. Alaskan political consultant Mary Ann Pruitt, a senior member of Murkowski's 2016 re-election effort, has also joined Tshibaka's campaign.

Under Alaska's new ranked-choice voting system, the top four finishers in next year's all-party primary will move on to the general election. Murkowski lost the 2010 Republican primary but won the election as a write-in candidate. Catherine Garcia

March 15, 2021

Charles Booker made a run at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) seat in 2020, but ultimately lost a tight Democratic primary race to Amy McGrath, whom McConnell defeated handily in the general election. Now, the 36-year-old seems ready to launch another campaign.

It'll be Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) turn to defend his seat in the upper chamber in 2022, and Booker, who announced Monday that he's "strongly considering" a run, seems likely to be his most high-profile challenger and the Democratic primary favorite.

Paul's seat appears to be fairly safe — he won by double digits in his previous two campaigns — but Booker's comments raised some eyebrows, especially since, if he does indeed run, he should have more weight behind him next year than he did in 2020, when he was an upstart candidate and McGrath had the backing of the national Democratic Party. Tim O'Donnell

March 8, 2021

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) announced Monday that he won't be seeking re-election in 2022, meaning yet another Senate seat will be without an incumbent defender during next year's mid-terms.

The early sense among political analysts is that a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump will have the inside track to replace Blunt, given Trump's popularity in Missouri, a state he won by a commanding 15 percent in the 2020 presidential election. That was the highest share of the vote a Republican candidate had won in Missouri since former President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Old guard Republican senators are also stepping down in North Carolina, Ohio, Alabama, and Pennsylvania, which means the GOP could run as many as five Senate candidates from the so-called "Trump wing" of the party next year.

Democrats aren't hopeless in some of those states, but it seems likely Blunt's seat will stay within the GOP. In previous years, an open Missouri Senate seat might have suggested a more competitive inter-party contest was on the horizon, but that's probably not the case in a post-Trump world, The Appeal's Daniel Nichanian tweeted Monday. Indeed, it may be telling that Jason Kander, who gave Blunt a surprising run for his money in 2016, quickly announced he isn't looking to launch another campaign.

So, all things considered, it appears Blunt's retirement is another sign the GOP will continue to push itself closer to Trump. Tim O'Donnell

February 25, 2021

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) doesn't know yet if she will run against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in 2022, but if she decides to throw her hat in the ring, Murphy will enter the race with experience defeating an incumbent Republican.

In 2016, Murphy, who represents Florida's 7th Congressional District, beat the 12-term incumbent, Republican John Mica. Both of Florida's senators are Republicans and the state twice went to former President Donald Trump, but Murphy told CNN on Wednesday she "firmly" believes that "Florida is not a red state, it's a hard state. You have to have the right money, message, and machine to compete and after a few disappointing election cycles, it's clear that we've fallen short."

She has launched a new initiative called Cast Forward, which aims to get Democrats energized and ready to vote in 2022. As part of the effort, Murphy hired Lauren Calmet, former political director of the Florida Democratic Party, to run the initiative, and has also spoken with Georgia voting rights activist Stacey Abrams. Murphy will embark on a listening tour, where she will discuss with Floridians everything from climate change to social justice, and on Wednesday, she released a video talking about her life, including how her family was rescued by the U.S. Navy while fleeing Communist Vietnam.

Murphy, co-chair of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats, is still just considering running against Rubio, but was quick to call him out on Wednesday, telling CNN he has "made it apparent to everybody that the only person he cares about is himself. He'll do anything or say anything to stay in power and I think that's unfortunate." Catherine Garcia

February 8, 2021

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) is vying for a job that may actually require him to stop wearing shorts in winter.

After weeks of exploring a 2022 Senate run and soliciting donations, the state's No. 2 officially joined the field Monday. The announcement came in form of a gritty video tour of Pennsylvania that lays out Fetterman's politically unconventional past and mixes progressive promises with an appeal to people who "feel like their best days were a generation ago or more."

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) announced late last year that he would not seek re-election in 2022, opening up the field in a swing state that went narrowly blue in 2020.

Fetterman gained notoriety in the days after the 2020 election as he fought false claims of election fraud in the state, inspiring one campaign T-shirt he's selling. He's a strong proponent of legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage, protecting union rights, and ensuring health care is not a "privilege" but a right. Kathryn Krawczyk

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