Republicans look to expand majority in Senate

By Aaron Rice
October 24, 2019

All 52 seats in the state Senate are on the ballot in November, though there will be very few seats that are actually competitive. Republicans currently hold a 32-20 majority in the chamber. 

The fact that so little attention has been given to the Senate, or the House, is probably a good indication that Democrats will be hard-pressed to make any gains and may actually lose a couple seats if things break in the GOP’s favor on election day. 

Here is what we know

Democrats have 13 seats where they are running without a Republican opponent. Republicans have 23 seats where there is not a Democratic candidate. So that’s our base. 

Here are the remaining races with both an R and a D:

2David Parker (i)Lee JacksonSafe Republican seat
3Kathy ChismTim TuckerRepublican held open seat
5Daniel SparksSteve EatonDemocrat held open seat
Ben SuberKegan ColemanDemocrat held open seat
9Nicole BoydKevin FryeRepublican held open seat
10Neil Whaley (i)Andre DeBerry 
13B.C. HammondSarita SimmonsSafe Democrat seat
17Chuck Younger (i)DeWanna BeltonSafe Republican seat
19Kevin BlackwellDianne BlackSafe Republican seat
22Hayes DentJoseph ThomasRepublican held open seat
25Walter Michel (i)Earl ScalesSafe Republican seat
31Tyler McCaughnMike MarlowRepublican held open seat
34Steven WadeJuan Barnett (i)Safe Democrat seat
37Melanie SojournerWilliam GodfreyDemocrat held open seat
40Angela Hill (i)Thomas LehrSafe Republican seat
48Mike ThompsonGary FredericksDemocrat held open seat

What seats are competitive?

Republicans are defending open seats in Districts 3, 9, 22, and 31. Districts 3 and 31 are overwhelmingly Republican and would constitute a major upset if Democrats were to pick up either. District 9 is a Republican leaning district, though anything around Oxford might make you nervous if you are a Republican. 

But the other open seat Republicans are defending is the newly redrawn District 22, courtesy of a federal lawsuit. Lawmakers adopted a new district, which increased the black voting-age population from 51 to 58 percent, giving Democrats a much greater chance of picking up this seat. (And their best chance overall.) The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the implementation of the district. 

In District 10, Sen. Neil Whaley will have his first general election battle with an R next to his name. He won a non-partisan special election in 2017 in a district that is slight lean for Republicans, at best. It was previously held by a Democrat. 

Democrats are defending open seats in Districts 5, 8, 37, and 48. District 48 is open because Gary Fredericks defeated longtime incumbent Deborah Dawkins by almost 20 points in the primary. Dawkins had never won more than 53 percent of the vote and the opening gives Republicans a clear path in a seat they have long targeted, only to come up short. And while it doesn’t always translate, the district had about 4,500 votes in the GOP primary compared to 3,600 voting in the Democratic primary. It’s the most Democratic Senate seat on the Coast, but still leans Republican. 

District 5 is an overwhelmingly Republican seat that is historically Democrat, a once-common trend that is now almost extinct. The difference is that this year many of the local officials switched to the Republican Party. While not quite as Republican, Districts 8 and 37 also lean GOP. 

Best case scenario?

For Republicans, District 22 may be lost, but all other open seats and all incumbents hold. You then pick up the four Democrat-held open seats, giving Republicans a gain of three seats for the night and a 35-17 advantage, which is a two-thirds majority. 

Republicans are teetering on the edge of capacity in the Senate. That would likely do it.

For Democrats, you split the four Democrat-held open seats and pick up Districts 9, 10 and 22 from Republicans. That would give the Democrats a gain of one seat on the night, though they’d still be deep in the minority. 


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