Posted by on January 11, 2022 6:06 am
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Thune and Johnson reelection bids signal 2022 confidence in GOP takeover

John Thune and Ron Johnson (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster File) and (Greg Nash/The Hill via AP, Pool, File)

Thune and Johnson reelection bids signal 2022 confidence in GOP takeover

Susan Ferrechio January 11, 06:00 AMJanuary 11, 06:01 AM

Two key Senate Republicans announced they’ll run for reelection, signaling increased optimism the GOP can regain the majority.

Democrats could hang on to their bare majority in the Senate, where they govern an evenly split chamber with the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

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“But that doesn’t mean the party should feel too confident about their chances,” wrote Inside Politics editor Nathan Gonzales in his latest assessment of the midterm elections. “Democrats have no room for error.”

SENATE’S NO. 2 REPUBLICAN, A TRUMP TARGET, WILL SEEK A FOURTH TERM

For the GOP, confidence in a 2022 Republican takeover is growing.

President Joe Biden’s disapproval rating has soared to an all-time high, while the party’s agenda in the Democratic-led House and Senate has floundered thanks to intraparty disputes.

Analysts have predicted Republicans will have an easier time than Democrats winning a handful of toss-up races, which would give them the lead and return them to the majority.

With confidence growing, two key GOP holdouts announced they plan to try to stick around rather than retire.

Minority Whip John Thune announced Saturday he’d seek a fourth term representing South Dakota, ending weeks of speculation he might retire and throw the GOP hierarchy into question.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who many predicted would follow through with his pledge to retire after two terms, announced Sunday he’ll seek reelection after all.

Johnson wrote in the Wall Street Journal he chose to run at the urging of “countless” constituents and that he must remain in office to combat “disastrous policies” implemented by Democrats, who have controlled the federal government since 2020.

In a statement, Thune announced he is running again because he is “uniquely positioned” to deliver results for South Dakota, where constituents value his seniority in the Senate.

Neither lawmaker has publicly expressed confidence Republicans will take control of the chamber when explaining their decisions to run again, but both are on deck for leadership spots in a GOP-controlled Senate.

Thune, a target of former President Donald Trump for refusing to endorse claims of a rigged election, would return to his role as majority whip and is a top contender to replace Republican leader Mitch McConnell when he retires at some point.

Johnson is poised to chair two subcommittees, one on Homeland Security and the other on the Foreign Relations panel.

“For Johnson and Thune, I think they believe there’s still work to be done in the Senate,” Gonzales told the Washington Examiner. “And I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that they are on the cusp of the majority again.”

Senate Democrats and Republicans are both defending three seats deemed too close to call. One of them is Johnson’s.

The most recent polling data, an internal survey paid for by Democrats in late September, show Johnson and Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes tied with 43% of support from likely voters.

Johnson, a staunch Trump ally, is the only Republican elected to statewide office in Wisconsin.

Senate Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott of Florida said he’s confident Johnson will prevail in November.

“He has won this battle twice before, and he will win it again,” Scott said in a statement.

Thune’s reelection is more certain in deep-red South Dakota.

Still, Republicans will have to defend Johnson’s toss-up seat and two open seats in North Carolina and Pennsylvania just to hold their 50 seats.

To retake the majority, Republicans must also win a Democratic-held seat. Republicans are eyeing takeovers in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada, where Democrats are struggling amid economic woes, low Biden approval ratings, and the Senate’s stalled agenda.

Democrats have paused the massive social welfare and green energy spending bill thanks to party centrists who fear it will drive up inflation, hike energy prices, and remove incentives to get people back to work.

Republicans s become increasingly confident, eyeing dozens of Democratic retirements in the House and predictions by analysts that Republicans will recapture the gavel by flipping at least five seats needed to become the majority.

On Monday, Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter became the 26th Democratic House incumbent to announce his retirement after new district lines were drawn, making the seat far less secure for the party.

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“Republicans are positioning themselves for strong runs across the country, and Democrats are retiring in record numbers — because they know Joe Biden’s agenda is poisonous,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Emma Vaughn told the Washington Examiner. “A year into a failed presidency and rife with crises, Democrats realize they have no record to run on, and Biden is a drag on the ticket.”

Democrats are just as confident they can hang onto the Senate, citing weak GOP candidates. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a new advertisement Monday accusing Johnson of supporting a special tax break in the 2017 tax overhaul that benefited his donors.Johnson denied the accusations and said the changes were made to help small businesses and to keep them competitive with large corporations.

“There are definitely vulnerabilities a lot of these candidate have,” DSCC spokeswoman Jazmin Vargas told the Washington Examiner. “There is no candidate that lacks political and personal baggage.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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