INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana Sen. Todd Young has launched a bid to become chairman of Senate Republicans’ campaign committee during the 2020 campaign, a cycle where the GOP will face a tougher electoral map that could undermine their recent gains in the chamber.
A formal election for the position won’t be held until next Wednesday, but Young says his bid to lead the National Republican Senate Committee is supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. So far, he has not drawn an opponent.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to be of service to my colleagues,” Young said in an interview. “The committee did a lot to help my campaign back in 2016, and I think I can do a lot to make sure we defend and strengthen the Republican majority.”
A representative for McConnell didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Republicans expanded their slim 51-49 majority in the chamber during Tuesday’s election, thanks largely to about a dozen Democrats running in red states that President Donald Trump won, the near opposite will be true in the coming cycle, which offers fewer pickup opportunities and more seats where Democrats are poised to be strong contenders.
That includes swing states like North Carolina, Maine and Colorado, as well as red states that are showing signs of trending toward Democrats, such as Georgia and Arizona.
Despite the greater odds, Young says the map won’t be as bad for them as it was for Democrats this year.
Still to be seen, however, is what impact Trump will have as he seeks re-election. Trump hypercharged this year’s midterm campaign, which was already viewed as a referendum on his presidency, by railing against migrants and the “Democrat mob” in what was widely seen as coded appeals to white voters.
Races where Republicans won by greater margins on Tuesday were largely in pro-Trump states that skew rural.
They faced tighter outcomes, however, in places like Florida and Georgia with larger urban populations. Democrats, meanwhile, retook the House, a shift largely fueled by anti-Trump sentiment in suburban districts that previously voted for the GOP.
“I certainly acknowledge that the map has changed considerably when we look to the next cycle,” Young said. “We are likely defending 22 incumbents.”
Two states, in particular, are destined to be at the top of Democrats’ list. Colorado, where outgoing NRSC head Gardner will be on the ballot, has increasingly trended away from Republicans in recent years. And in Maine, moderate Sen. Susan Collins is sure to face stiff opposition after infuriating the left with her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice.
Young said Gardner has bipartisan credibility and has acted as an independent voice. Collins, he said, will have adequate support.
“Susan Collins is a tough campaigner. She has an exceptional record of achievement,” Young said. “She will receive national support, and she is an incredibly strong fit for the state of Maine.”
While Young has not drawn an opponent for the NRSC job, Mitt Romney, who won a Utah Senate seat Tuesday, has been floated as a possibility.
As the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Romney is a prolific fundraiser. But with McConnell facing a difficult re-election of his own in Kentucky, Romney will likely play a different role in Republicans’ fundraising that year, though it’s unclear what exactly it will be, according to two Republicans with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Young is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who rose to the rank of captain in the Marines, where he served as an intelligence officer.
He was a three-term congressman when he won his Senate seat in 2016 by defeating Evan Bayh, a Democratic legend in Indiana politics who served two terms as both governor and senator, who Democratic leaders recruited to run for his old seat.
“I’ve faced four members of Congress, been consistently underestimated, broken fundraising records, defeated some tough opponents and faced some pretty substantial odds,” Young said of his own campaign history. “When Evan Bayh entered the race, most people thought we were finished. But we went to work and got the job done.”