2018 Senate Elections Underway and Trump Faces Final Vote

January 4, 2017

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.


President-Elect Donald Trump's last political hurdle occurs this week when the electoral votes are officially tabulated in a joint session of the US House and Senate on January 6th. In terms of state voting, Mr. Trump scored 306 electoral votes compared to Hillary Clinton's 232. The actual electors reportedly voted 304-228 in Trump's favor according to individual unofficial state tabulations.

It is possible for members to object to certain electoral vote ballots. Such a protest requires at least one member of the House and Senate to jointly come forward. If a protest is lodged, the two houses would retire to their individual chambers and consider the challenge(s) for no longer than two hours before rendering a vote. No such challenge has ever been sustained.

There is no reason to think a challenge could be approved, but this election cycle has been contentious to the degree that raising a series of protests, particularly revolving around the purported Russian election hacking issue, is certainly within the realm of possibility. No reports of such a movement are circulating, but there is still time to erect some final obstacles to a Trump Presidency.


Several quiet announcements were made during the holiday break period. Two Senators, both who previously indicated they might forego a run for re-election in lieu of running for Governor of their respective states, have decided not to pursue the chief executive position.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D), who would have been a prohibitive favorite in an open seat run for Governor of Minnesota, told local Minneapolis reporters that she will run for a third federal term in 2018.  She is unlikely to receive a major challenge.

In Nevada, first-term Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who scored only a 46-45% win in the 2012 campaign, was apparently actively testing the waters for an open gubernatorial run. Reports suggest that Mr. Heller feared a backlash from Republican primary voters because he was less than conciliatory toward Donald Trump during the general election. Instead, Sen. Heller is now firmly committed to seeking re-election.  The Nevada race could well become the Democrats' top conversion target of the 2018 election cycle. 

At-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck), the Republican Party leaders' first choice to oppose North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), says he will decide in the next few months about running for the Senate.  He acknowledges to be considering the challenge opportunity. Now appearing more unlikely that Sen. Heitkamp will join the Trump cabinet, Rep. Cramer will be forced to decide if he wants risk a safe House seat in order to oppose the first-term incumbent. Had there been a special election, Rep. Cramer would have been the leading candidate.

Reports are circulating in Milwaukee that Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) is becoming more serious about challenging Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) next year.  


Despite a political rumor beginning to circulate in the Tampa Bay area, former Florida Governor and newly elected US Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) says he will not enter the open Governor's race in 2018. In fact, he says, steps are already being taken to prepare for his first re-election to the House.

A spokesman for Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flushing/Flint) released a statement saying that the Congressman "appreciates the encouragement he is getting from across the state to run for Governor." The spokesman further said that Mr. Kildee "will make a decision (in the coming months) about where he can do the most good for Michigan families." Rep. Kildee is widely expected to enter the open Governor's race.


In a wholly unsurprising move, Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos' Vice President and General Manager John Elway announced that he will not seek the Republican nomination for Governor. Incumbent John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term, and this race factors to be one of the more competitive open statewide campaigns in the nation next year. Both parties have many credible options.

The Rhode Island situation continues to heat up. In addition to attorney and former gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell (D), grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell (D) who we mentioned before the holiday break, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R), who finished just four+ points behind Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), is openly considering another run. Former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who finished second in open 2014 Democratic primary, says he will not run in 2018.