Yr Wonkette tracked all 34 Senate races this year, and while we were really looking forward to doing a piece celebrating the Dems’ new Senate majority, we’ll just have to settle for introducing you to six — count ’em! — of the seven new members of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. At least we can be a little chuffed: five of ’em are D’s, and four are women, meaning the next Senate will have more women, nasty and otherwise, than any other. (The 115th Congress as a whole will be the most diverse ever, with more women of color than any previous Congress, too.) The real winner this year? EMILY’s List, which supported all four women on this page.farkakte senate election, as predicted, will be decided by a December 10 runoff between Republican John Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell.
So let’s meet the newbs, who will have the least seniority and will probably have to take the worst offices with lousy views, but are ready to get out there and do Representative Democracy to us. We’ll go roughly west to east here:
Calfornia: Kamala Harris (D)inestimable Barbara Boxer, Californians chose Attorney General Kamala Harris, who was the front-runner from the get-go. She’ll be the first African American and Indian American to represent California in the Senate, and at 52, has the potential to serve a long, distinguished Senate career. Harris has already made it quite clear she’s going to do everything she can to protect immigrants, both legal and undocumented, against whatever crazy ideas Donald Trump comes up with. She’s called Trump’s Big Beautiful Border Wall and plan for mass deportations “absolutely unrealistic.”
“This issue of how we are treating our immigrants, and in particular our undocumented immigrants, is one of the most critical issues facing our country,” Harris said. “We are not going to be achieving who we say we are as a country if we attack our community members, our neighbors, our friends and our colleagues.”
She’s also hopeful that, despite Trump’s win and the Republican hold on Congress, some kind of comprehensive immigration reform can be achieved, saying she thinks “Republicans have come to understand that this is something they’re going to have to deal with.” She’s also pledging that she and other Senate Democrats will carefully vet Trump’s nominee to the vacant Supreme Court seat, but won’t engage in the kind of nobody-gets-a-hearing obstruction the R’s used against Barack Obama: “There’s too much work to be done. I don’t expect the Democrats are going play those kinds of games.”
Nevada: Catherine Cortez Masto (D)piece on Harry Reid yesterday, we like the cut of Catherine Cortez Masto’s jib. The Senate’s first Latina, she’s promised to remind Donald Trump that the presidency isn’t an imperial position, saying in her acceptance speech, “Our government is built on a system of checks and balances. And I will promise you this: I will be one hell of a check and balance on him.” A former state attorney general, Cortez Masto was Reid’s preferred successor, and mobilized Hillary Clinton supporters, especially Latinos, to beat congressman Joe Heck, who she portrayed as too close to Donald Trump (needless to say, Heck also had a ton of Koch Brothers money. Imagine!). Heck undorsed Trump after the Pussy Tape, which may have lost him some rabid R votes. It probably didn’t help Heck that his campaign tried to suggest she was overplaying her ethnicity — one opposition op-ed by a Hispanic Heck supporter even put “Latina” in scare quotes when describing her, as if her grandfather’s having been from Mexico wasn’t enough to count. Beyond that,
The former political director for Heck’s campaign, Tom McAllister, tweeted in September that “Catherine is about as Mexican as I am.” McAllister and a former aide for Heck described Cortez Masto’s Senate campaign as “Hispandering at its finest.”
Looks like Nevadans think she’s as Latina as she needs to be, and may have been a bit put off my a bunch of gringos saying she was faking it. Perhaps they should have tried calling her Pocahontas or something.
Illinois: Tammy Duckworth (D)RPG attack on her helicopter in Iraq, stayed in the National Guard after rehab, worked in the VA, huge advocate for veterans as a member of the House of Representatives for two terms, and used her robot feet to kick out Mark Kirk, one of the most forgettable beneficiaries of the Teabag Tsunami of 2010, after his single undistinguished term. Tammy Duckworth is progressive Badassery personified, and we expect her to be fierce in the Senate, too. She has been lucky, in some ways, to have run against a series of idiots who had a talent for saying incredibly embarrassing things, but it wasn’t her opponents’ gaffes that got her elected. It was her own toughness. She will go far in the Senate, and beyond if she wants.
Indiana: Todd Young (R)incredibly poor name recognition statewide going into this year’s Senate race against former Indiana Governor and Senator Evan Bayh. The exit polls showed Bayh was perceived as too much of a “Washington insider’ for this year’s throw-the-bums-out mood, even though Bayh wasn’t actually in. No matter, he was a former senator and a lobbyist, and 2016 was a year when “experience” and “competence” were considered highly suspect. In an interview with local TV, Young said he’s looking forward to being part of a conservative wave in Congress, and of course to saying “Hoosier” at every opportunity (three times in the brief interview transcript). He’s not sure Donald Trump will really build a “wall” on the border, and if he doesn’t, Young is fine with that, since everyone knew it was a metaphor, right?
Maryland: Chris Van Hollen (D)post-election news conference this week, she passed him the “torch,” although since apparently they hadn’t done an extensive props search, it was actually a toy lightsaber. We’re perfectly cool with that. Now use your Jedi weapon and strike down some stupid Republican bills, Chris. Van Hollen said that while Trump won the election, his popular vote loss means it’s Trump’s job to reach out and win over the opposition.
New Hampshire: Maggie Hassan (D)
So there’s your guide to 2016’s new faces; we’re bummed it doesn’t include at least two more Democrats. But come 2018, two years of President Trump may change that, even though more D’s will be up for reelection than R’s. Call it a hunch.