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Democrats will expand their Senate majority in 2022

Democrats will expand their Senate majority in 2022
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With the announcement last week that Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanIRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion Businessman Mike Gibbons jumps into GOP Senate race in Ohio Hillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage MORE (R-Ohio) will forgo seeking a third term representing the Buckeye State, Democrats are increasingly bullish about expanding their slim majority in the midterm elections. Portman won big in 2016, and as Punchbowl DC reports, “this was a shock to the Senate ... and Portman had said publicly as recently as December that he was running, so this is a real surprise.”

Sen. Portman joins a growing list of incumbent GOP members eyeing the exit in 2022, including Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrLara Trump leads GOP field in North Carolina Senate race, poll shows Former North Carolina governor set to launch Senate bid North Carolina mayor Rett Newton launches Senate bid MORE (R-N.C.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.). As the Punchbowl writers note, “Ohio has gone red in the last two presidential elections by substantial margins, but Democratic Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBusinessman Mike Gibbons jumps into GOP Senate race in Ohio A bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure MORE won reelection here handily in 2018. So a Democrat with the right message can win, as long as the national political environment isn’t too bad in 2022.”

Back in 2006, then-Rep. Sherrod Brown defeated the GOP incumbent, Sen. Mike DeWineMike DeWineThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Congress returns; infrastructure takes center stage Biden resists calls to give hard-hit states more vaccines than others Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses will take major drop next week MORE, by more than 12 points and won a third term in 2018, easily dispatching GOP challenger Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciOhio businessman Mike Gibbons steps down from super PAC as he weighs Senate bid Democrats face tough odds in race for Ohio Senate seat Democrats will expand their Senate majority in 2022 MORE by nearly 7 points. At the time, Vox declared Brown’s victory as “old-time labor liberalism triumphing over Ohio’s rightward drift.” Despite that “rightward drift” and President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report MORE carrying Ohio by 8 points, Democrats in the mold of Brown have a real shot at taking back Portman’s seat in two years.

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Buckeye Democrats are also bullish about their chances given the budding ideological civil war happening on the ground between Trump loyalists like Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanBoehner finally calls it as he sees it Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Cruz on Boehner: 'I wear with pride his drunken, bloviated scorn' MORE, Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversFormer Ohio health director won't run for Senate Ohio Democrat Danny O'Connor won't seek Portman's Senate seat Meeting between Trump, Ohio Senate candidates turns tense: report MORE and Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerOvernight Defense: Biden makes his Afghanistan decision Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike Cleveland businessman jumps into Ohio Senate race: Trump 'victories' need to be protected MORE and more establishment choices like Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Secretary of State Frank LaRose. As CNN notes, “The most significant divide in Republicans seeking the job will be between the state's congressional delegation and the statewide elected officials.” Depending on who eventually wins the GOP primary, it will be an uphill battle to unite all elements of the Ohio GOP.

In 2010, both Sens. Portman and Toomey were elected during President Obama’s first midterm election as part of GOP wave that flipped six seats in the upper chamber. Over the past 12 years, Toomey has struck a fairly moderate profile and currently serves as the only non-judiciary member of the GOP to hold statewide office. With Toomey’s announcement that he will forgo seeking a third term, Republicans in the Keystone State are likely to struggle in terms of competing against more well-known Democrats serving on the state level, including Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes delivered the presidency to Joe Biden this past November and — considering the deep blue bench as well as voting trends in the commonwealth — give Democrats great hope of flipping the Toomey seat.

North Carolina was certainly a disappointment for Team Biden on election night, but 2020 saw one of the slimmest margins for the state’s presidential victor, with Trump capturing the state by just 1.4 points. On the same ballot, however, Democrats were able to flip two congressional seats after the district lines had been redrawn following a court order. Back in 2016, even before his reelection that year, incumbent Sen. Richard Burr announced that his third term would be his last. This week saw the announcement from North Carolina Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson that he would seek Burr’s seat, joining former state Sen. Erica Smith in the race. As The Hill notes, Jackson is serving his fourth term in the state Senate and serves as a captain in the Army National Guard, and he will be a formidable candidate against any of the Republicans currently considering a run, including Lara Trump.

While midterm elections are usually more difficult for the president’s party, as FiveThirtyEight notes, “the 2022 Senate map doesn’t force Democrats to compete on red turf nearly as much as the 2020 map or killer 2018 map did. In fact, no Democratic senators are running for reelection in states won by former President Donald Trump in 2020, while Republicans are defending two seats in states won by President BidenJoe BidenIRS to roll out payments for ,000 child tax credit in July Capitol Police told not to use most aggressive tactics in riot response, report finds Biden to accompany first lady to appointment for 'common medical procedure' MORE: the open seat in Pennsylvania and Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonBiden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings MORE’s seat in Wisconsin.”

Interestingly enough, Johnson has dodged recent questions about whether he would seek a third term representing the Badger State. Johnson is not the only leading Republican undecided about running again, as CNN notes, with Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump McConnell brushes off Trump's 'son of a b----' comment Democrats work to pick up GOP support on anti-Asian hate crimes bill MORE (R-S.D.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyHolder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ Number of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports Grassley, Cornyn push for Senate border hearing MORE (R-Iowa) and Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP opens door to earmarks Five takeaways from Biden's first budget proposal Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists MORE (R-Ala.) also sidestepping questions about their future plans.

Republicans are on the hook to defend 20 of their seats in 2022, while Team Blue has just 14 seats to hold, all in states won by Joe Biden in 2020. With this map and all of these GOP senate retirements, Democrats are in a strong position to expand their majority and buck recent midterm trends with the president’s party in control.

Kevin Walling (@kevinpwalling) is a Truman National Security Project Partner, Democratic strategist, Vice President at HGCreative, co-founder of Celtic Strategies, and a regular guest on Fox News, Fox Business and Bloomberg TV and Radio.