Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday that he has asked former president Barack Obama to help, and he is optimistic that Democrats can take back control of the Senate after the 2018 midterm elections. In an interview with The Washington Post, Schumer (D-N.Y.) asserted that Democratic candidates are doing very well in their Senate campaigns this year.
Concerning Obama helping the party try to retake the majority, Schumer said, “I’ve asked him to be involved in certain ways, and he’s been very amenable.”
Schumer declined to specify, however, what he has asked the former president do to help him become Senate Majority Leader next term. The Post, however, spoke to another individual who said Schumer has asked Obama’s help with fundraising for Senate candidates. He has already helped Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Diane Feinstein of California.
In his discussion Wednesday Schumer also expressed a great deal of optimism concerning his party’s prospects in the midterm elections. He said that the number of states in which Democrats are playing defense has been reduced significantly.
Democrats are defending 26 incumbent Senate seats in November, but Republicans are defending only 9 seats. This is expected to give GOP candidates an advantage, although this is not necessarily the case.
Schumer said that it is incorrect to think that Senate Republicans are favored in the midterm elections, and he also maintained that many of the campaigns are much closer than people had expected.
Ten Democratic senators are running for reelection in states that voted for Donald Trump in 2016, often by double digits. In contrast Democrats have only a few states where they can go on offense and take Republican seats. (Included in that list are open seats in Arizona and Tennessee and Dean Heller’s seat in Nevada.)
According to Schumer, the 10 problematic states have been reduced down to four remaining battleground states. He didn’t say which four states he had in mind, but did indicate that in those states polls show his candidates running neck-and-neck with their GOP challengers.
“When we started, in the 10 states that went for Trump where we have Democratic incumbents, about six months ago, three of them we said we’re nicely ahead,” Schumer said. “Doesn’t mean they’re foregone conclusions, but they’re no longer neck-and-neck races. And two months ago, we knocked off another three. So now there are only four of those left that are neck-and-neck.”
“We have very strong candidates, and they’re identified with their states,” Schumer added. “They have strong personalities, but their personalities are not just nice and charming and all nice. They are known as, you know, people who represent their states above all.”
Commentators have said that the four states most at risk for Democrats are Florida, Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota. Montana and West Virginia have also been often mentioned as risky states for the Democrats since Trump has maintained his popularity there.
History has shown, however, that incumbent U.S. Senators rarely lose in their reelection bids, so Schumer may be right that his party is very well positioned to hold their ground and possibly take back control this year.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.