“Pick a Senate race. Seriously. Please. Thank you.” —Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
I feel weird talking about voting come November. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way suggesting we not. It’s just that I’ve become increasingly convinced that America is not getting to the other side of Trump without our own Euromaidan, which makes it somewhat disingenuous to yell VOTE! like that’s gonna fix anything. But we can’t not vote, so…
Let’s all adopt a Senate race.
It’s pretty obvious that Trump is going to steal this election for himself. What I don’t know is how that may affect down ballot races. As of right now, my conviction is that Democrats and Independents should proceed as if we have a snowball’s chance in hell to retake the Senate. So, we must all pick a Senate race.
You don’t have to live in a state to contribute to their Senate race. If you can set aside some money to donate, do that. If you can set aside some time to phone bank, do so. If you can dedicate a portion of your social media to amplifying a race, do that. I have linked to the donation page of each Democratic Senate contender’s name. Here’s a running list of options, starting with the lowest hanging fruit and then working our way up the tree.
Colorado: Unpopular Republican Cory Gardner is running for reelection in an increasingly blue state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. He can’t possibly be feeling too hot right now. John Hickenlooper, former governor, dubious environmental record-holder, launcher of an utterly inexplicable and mercifully short presidential bid, won the primary to challenge Gardner. He’s probably a shoo-in, but complacency is never a good idea. Somebody hold your nose and adopt our man Frackenlooper!
Maine: Susan Collins is concerned, you guys! This is another probably easy path for the Democrats, but you know what I’m going to say: let’s not get complacent. Sara Gideon, a well-known Maine state legislator, won the primary to challenge Collins. Definitely worth adopting, and not just because Collins is an affront to all women.
Arizona: Mark Kelly, astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman and gunshot victim Gabby Giffords, is running against Martha “Let’s get this fucking thing done” McSally. Mark Kelly is an interesting guy; not only is he an astronaut, he’s also an identical twin. And because of that, he and his twin brother have had their poop tested extensively to determine the effects of weightlessness on the gut microbiome. Bet you didn’t know that! Being married to a gastro researcher is wild, y’all. Someone should adopt his race, if for no other reason so he can say he’s had his shit tested by science more than any other Senator!
Alabama: Democratic incumbent Doug Jones, who won a special election by a few hairs in 2017 to replace then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions (let’s pause for a moment of schadenfreude), is up for reelection in a very red state. But, he’s pretty popular among the state’s Democratic voters, polls show him basically tied, and I think he’s a good investment. And maybe it’s neither here nor there, but his dogs Dakota and Scout are very cute.
North Carolina: Do y’all know the name Art Pope? He’s a lesser-known, slightly less rich, ignored, ugly stepbrother of the Koch and Mercer networks. About ten years ago, he up and decided that North Carolina would be his experimental playground for establishing a fascist theocracy. He spent shitloads of money turning a blue state red, elevating evangelicals, defunding public education, grifting out the state’s coffers, and deregulating their environmental protections. He considered it a dry run for the Koch brothers’ nationwide plans. The NC citizenry is waking up to this reality, and they. are. pissed. As such, incumbent Thom Tillis is quite vulnerable. As is their wont, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee backed the whitest and plainest and most milquetoast dude they could find, but challenger Cal Cunningham has a snowball’s chance in hell here. Someone needs to adopt him.
Texas: Deeply unpopular Mitch toadie John Cornyn is up for reelection, and even he is acknowledging that he’s in trouble. Veteran and feminist MJ Hegar won the primary to challenge him. You may remember her from the midterms, where she challenged a sitting Republican for his House seat in a very red, gerrymandered district and almost won. She makes viral ads. The DCCC didn’t pay her much attention in 2018, which is why her ads were so good, but the DSCC is fully backing her for the Senate race. I really hope they don’t fuck up her ads. Anyways, one very much worth adopting.
Montana: It’s the battle of the Steves! Democratic Governor Steve Bullock, who you do not remember from the presidential primary debate stage, is challenging Republican incumbent Steven Daines. Montana’s race will be hard to predict. It’s still something of a red state, but their other Senator is Democrat Jon Tester, who won reelection in 2018, so Bullock definitely has a chance, especially with some help.
South Carolina: Due to colliding factors of an unpopular Republican incumbent – Lindsey Graham – and a talented, dynamic challenger in Jaime Harrison, South Carolina at least seems to be in play. I can’t decipher signal from noise on this one, but it’s self-explanatory why Democrats have painted a rather large target on Lindsey Graham’s back. The way I see it, we shouldn’t concede without even trying first, so Jaime Harrison is worth an adoption. Especially since he is (so far) running a smart, locally-focused campaign away from DSCC influence.
Iowa: Until recently, no Democrat thought seriously of taking an Iowa Senate seat, but incumbent Joni Ernst appears to be in trouble. This will be a highly interesting and closely monitored race, and it could spell trouble for Republicans in general. Iowa is a red state, Senator Ernst is considered a rising star in the Republican Party, and she has no scandals to speak of. And yet, people just don’t like her. Opponent Theresa Greenfield is rapidly gaining support. What’s interesting is that Ernst is something of a canary in the coal mine here. If she’s in trouble, other Republicans are too.
Mississippi: Cindy Hyde-Smith, or the Amy Cooper of the South, is up for reelection after barely winning a special election in the 2018 midterms. Mike Espy ran against her then and came damn close for a red state. He’s running again, and this seems far-fetched, true, but look at Alabama. It’s worth a shot, someone should adopt him.
Kansas: Weirdly enough, Kansas could be in play. Senator Pat Roberts is retiring, and an open election could be the leg up Democrats need there. Kansas is still reeling from their former Senator and Governor Sam Brownback basically cleaning out their state’s coffers and all but officially establishing the state as an evangelical Christian theocracy. People are angry, and candidate Barbara Bollier might just have a shot.
West Virginia: Republican Shelley Moore Capito is up for reelection and faces off against a dynamic progressive, Paula Jean Swearengin. Swearengin has some name recognition within the state as she almost succeeded in primarying Senator Joe Manchin in 2018. I think people should be talking about this race more! Sure West Virginia is Trumpland, but they’ve proved themselves willing to send Dems to the Senate. Yes, I know, Joe Manchin, but still. I think she’s worth adopting.
Georgia: I saved this one for last because this is where shit gets weird. Georgia actually has two Senate races in 2020. First, the normal one. Incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue is up for reelection, and millennial media guy Jon Ossoff won the primary to challenge him. This is worth an investment, I think. Georgia is starting to turn blue, and Democratic voters are still raw about their governor’s election being stolen in 2018. It could happen!
So here’s the weird Senate race in Georgia. In 2019, Senator Johnny Isakson retired due to health problems, so Kelly Loeffler, Georgia’s corrupt, odious, dollar store Ann Coulter, was appointed to finish his term. She has to run again this year to keep the seat. Here’s what’s weird though. There was no primary for this race. November 3rd, Election Day, IS the primary AND the general. If no one gets over 50% of the vote, a runoff is held in January. I don’t get it, but there you have it. A Republican House Rep, Doug Collins, is challenging Loeffler, so that could get hairy. There seem to be two Democrats to watch here. The DSCC is backing Reverend Raphael Warnock, but the spoiler candidate is Matt Lieberman. Who is the son of Joe Lieberman. Yes, THAT Joe Lieberman. He has no official backing, but obviously he comes with money and nepotism. We’ll see how that plays out.
By now you’ve no doubt noticed I didn’t include Kentucky on this list. That was not an oversight. I loathe Mitch McConnell as much as you do, but we are stuck with him for a bit longer. I’m truly sorry. It’s such a shame, but Amy McGrath has no chance here. She has no grassroots support within the state, being almost entirely funded by deep pockets from Washington. She actually, with a straight face, calls herself “a Trump Democrat.” What the fuck even is that? I’ve worked in and/or followed politics closely for over twenty years, and I’ve honestly never seen such a terrible politician in my life. Her bad instincts are just breathtaking.
I live in New Jersey, where popular incumbent Senator Cory Booker is up for reelection. He’ll be fine. So we are adopting Maine! Susan Collins deserves zero forgiveness for her Brett Kavanaugh vote, and I’d be honored to contribute a little to her national pantsing. I hope this breakdown has been helpful and inspiring, and please let me know which race you choose!
Blistered Cucumbers with Spicy Seeds
- 4 Persian or mini seedless cucumbers
- Kosher salt
- 1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and place in a shallow bowl or high-sided plate. Sprinkle them with kosher salt and let them hang out while you prepare the seeds.
- Add the sesame seeds and red pepper flakes to a small bowl. Set aside.
- Place a medium skillet - one that is large enough to accommodate the length of the cukes - over medium heat. Add the black peppercorns, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds. Toast, shaking the pan, for just a few minutes, until they are fragrant. Don’t walk away, they will burn so quickly on you. Transfer the toasted seeds to a mortar and pestle and pound away to break them up until you have a very coarse mixture. Add them to the bowl with the sesame seeds and mix to combine.
- Wipe out the skillet, then place it over high heat. Blot the cucumbers dry - the salt makes them “weep” a little bit. Add the olive oil to the skillet, then add the cucumbers cut side down (you may need to do this in two batches). Cook for about 4 minutes on one side only, until the cut side is nicely browned. Remove to a cutting board and slice each cucumber half in half lengthwise again. Each cucumber will be quartered. Transfer the cucumbers to a serving plate and sprinkle them liberally with the spicy seeds mixture. Serve immediately.