New GOP retirement gives Democrats even better shot at controlling Senate


Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey joins North Carolina's Richard Burr in abandoning swing-state seats in 2022.

Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on Monday became the second swing-state Republican senator to announce he will not seek reelection in 2022. His retirement could help Democrats make more gains in the next election.

"I will not be running for reelection in 2022 and I will not be running for governor. I will serve out the remainder of my term," the second-term senator announced. "And after that my plan is to go back to the private sector."

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, also a Republican, announced during his 2016 reelection campaign that he would retire after the current six-year term.

Both Toomey and Burr represent swing states won by both Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Current polling averages put Joe Biden narrowly ahead in North Carolina and up more than six points in Pennsylvania.

Incumbents typically enjoy financial and other advantages. Without an incumbent running, open seats tend to be harder for parties to defend.

Democrats are expected to make gains in this November's Senate races, possibly picking up the net three or four seats (depending on who holds the position of vice president) required to regain a majority in the chamber for the first time since 2014.

In addition to the two open seats, Republicans will be defending a few vulnerable seats in 2022.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, currently 87 years old, has not announced whether he will run again for his Iowa U.S. Senate seat. Iowa is a swing state where Joe Biden is narrowly ahead, and polls show Democratic businesswoman Theresa Greenfield 5 points ahead of Republican first-term incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin barely won a second term in 2016 with 50.2%, in a state where polls show Biden ahead 5.5 points on average.

Sen. Marco Rubio won with just 52% in 2016 in Florida, where Biden currently holds a lead by two points in RealClear Politics' polling average.

Grassley, Johnson, and Rubio represent swing states won by both Trump and Biden.

Democrats will have fewer seats to defend in 2022 than Republicans. While the winner of this year's special elections in Arizona and Georgia will both face the voters again in two years, all of the Democratic incumbents currently serving in the Senate and up for reelection in 2022 represent states won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.