Who are the Republicans in the Senate

republicanThe Republicans' fear of the ineligible candidates

While the senators haggled over the final details of the $ 1.9 trillion aid package, the first major project by the Democrats and new President Joe Biden, his predecessor set the course for next year's congressional election. Donald Trump called on his supporters to donate to his "Save America" ​​campaign organization instead of to the Republican National Committee, the Republican party leadership, or any of their campaign organizations.

Trump had previously threatened the party through his lawyers that they would no longer be allowed to use his name, for example for appeals for donations or promotional items. In doing so, the ex-president is forcing the party to split into loyalists and opponents and is trying to increase his influence. The moderates already fear that they will not be able to win back the majority in the important Senate in the mid-term elections. Republicans could stand in their own way on their way back to power.

The succession of power often works like this in the two-party system in the USA: If there is a change in mood, one party wins a majority in Congress at the same time as the presidential elections. This allows them to dictate the political issues for almost two years. Then there are mid-term elections: a third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives are re-elected. Usually the majority of the ruling party then shrinks or becomes a minority. But things could look different in 2022. A historic generation change could play the Democrats in the cards.

In the coming year there will be a total of 14 Democratic and 20 Republican seats in the Senate. How the wing fight of the Trump supporters against the old guard in the opposition party, the so-called institutionalists, affects the election is completely open. One could also ask: How eligible are the new Republican Senate candidates?

The majority ratio in the Senate has been a stalemate since January: 50 to 50 seats. Neither party can afford to lose a senatorial post. For the ruling Democrats in particular, it is a permanent tightrope walk; they cannot afford to go wrong in the election. Currently, Vice President Kamala Harris can still help them in her role as Senate President and use her vote to vote for the Democrats.

Retaining a majority is all the more important because it is considered certain that the Republicans will recapture the House of Representatives. Senators have much more legislative weight than MPs, since the Senate almost always becomes the bottleneck for prestigious legislative projects of the ruling party: A “legislative cemetery” was called by the Democrat Nancy Pelosi, parliamentary group leader in the House of Representatives. Law projects went to the other Chamber of Congress to die there.

Seven senators could stop

At least five Republican senators are unlikely to run again: Richard Shelby from Alabama, Richard Burr from North Carolina, Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, Rob Portman from Ohio and now Roy Blunt from Missouri. You sit on important committees and have negotiated compromises with the Democrats in the past. Two other senators are considered possible candidates for withdrawal.

"In the past ten years the country has fallen deeply because too many politicians have said, 'If you vote for me, I will not compromise,'" said Senator Blunt, concerned about the new generation of politicians. Its announcement that it will not run again is further bad news for the remaining informal “dealmaker” faction of Republicans.

They see two possible scenarios ahead. First, radical newcomers and Trump supporters could compete, who inspire their own base and win the primary elections, but then lose seats to the Democrats that they believed to be safe. This would jeopardize the more or less firmly planned retaking of the Senate majority. The second possibility: These newcomers win their election, but as senators they contribute to a further hardening of the fronts. This would make compromises even less likely. But that is necessary because a 60 percent majority in the Congress Chamber is necessary for regular legislative projects.

Steven Law, one of the closest extra-parliamentary allies of the Republican parliamentary group leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, sees Republicans on the path to mistakes similar to those under ex-President Barack Obama. "We have the opportunity to win back the majority," Law told the AP news agency: "But in 2010 this opportunity was wasted in the Senate because ineligible candidates were nominated."

The Democrats lost six seats at the time, but retained a slim majority. This enabled them to keep the Republican-dominated House of Representatives at a distance. In the state of Delaware, the candidate for the ultra-conservative tea party wing lost after reports of money problems, possible embezzlement of campaign funds and allegations that she had “tried her hand at witchcraft”. Two years later, Richard Mourdock's election campaign also collapsed. He had said in a debate that pregnancies resulting from rape were "God intended". In Missouri, Todd Akin lost after saying that in real rape, female bodies had ways to prevent pregnancy.

Trump supports his own candidates

Meanwhile, after the election campaigns with Trump, the QAnon congress storm and MPs like Marjorie Taylor Greene, at least incidents like the one in Delaware no longer sound like a political death sentence. Trump has already announced that he will be actively involved in the elections and support his own candidates in a revenge election campaign.

In Missouri, for example, Eric Greitens could throw his hat into the senatorial ring. The ex-governor resigned in 2018 because of, among other things, a sex scandal: It was almost certain that he had coerced a woman into sexual acts. The Republican base supports him anyway. Greitens has already publicly sided with Trump. Two other Republicans, who are in line with the ex-president, are already openly considering their Senate candidacy. His daughter-in-law Lara Trump is also considering running.

The results of next year's primary elections will show how stable Trump's base is. But the current government is also an important factor. If Biden manages to stay popular, "and people can believe he's taking the country forward, then the more likely the Democrats can take a couple of those open Senate seats," says Democratic public relations adviser Michael Gordon.

Majorities in the US Congress don't just follow regular cycles, they also depend on how popular a president is. The Democrats have already abandoned one way of increasing Biden's popularity: they waived in the huge rescue package to raise the mandatory minimum wage to $ 15. It was a commitment from Biden's election campaign. It would have been of lasting help to millions of Americans. For the Democratic Party as well - in the mid-term election in 2022.

This article first appeared on ntv.de.