While much of the focus in politics has been on the 2020 presidential election, there are several key races in the House and Senate that could decide which party has control of each chamber of Congress in the coming term.

No matter what happens at the White House, the President needs Congress to pass legislation and move his or her agenda forward. Republicans currently control the Senate, and it looks like they will continue to do so in 2020. 

The reason? States with smaller populations in the middle of the country tend to lean conservative, and each of those states has the same number of senators as more populated, left-leaning states like New York and California. 

In the end, though, the balance of power in the Senate will depend on individual races across the country.  Here are three worth keeping an eye on as next November draws closer. 

Alabama

As you may remember, Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in a special election in 2017 to fill the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions became Attorney General. Jones won the election 50%-48% in what was widely considered to be an upset — and something of a fluke. 

In the weeks leading up to the campaign, Moore faced allegations of sexual misconduct with minors, which made him a flawed candidate in a deeply conservative state. Moore has announced that he’s running again, though two other Republicans are also in the race. 

In addition to his Republican challengers, Jones faces a primary challenge in state Rep. John Rogers, a longtime representative of suburban Birmingham. Rogers’ campaign, however, appears to be off to a rocky start following controversial remarks about upholding abortion regulations in Alabama. 

“You bring them into the world unwanted, unloved, then you send them to the electric chair. So you kill them now or you kill them later,” he said.

This is a crucial race for both Republicans and Democrats. The GOP sees it as essential to maintaining a conservative majority, while Democrats fear losing the “blue wave” momentum Jones created when he won.

Colorado

Another Senate seat that could fall victim to a blue wave is the one held by Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado. Democrats appear to be on a roll in this once-reliably-red state. 

Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016 and Democrats retained the governorship in 2018. The state has also led the way in passing progressive-leaning ballot measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use. 

Cities like Denver and Boulder are becoming hotspots for the tech industry, which brings younger, more progressive voters to the state. If they turn out in 2020, the state could move from purple to solidly blue and flip Gardner’s Senate seat in the process.

Several Democrats have stepped forward to challenge Gardner, including former ambassador Dan Baer, former Colorado House Majority Leader Alice Madden, and Mike Johnston, who ran for governor in 2018.

Maine

Republican Senator Susan Collins is up for re-election next year, and her race is in some ways a reflection of the challenges Republicans across the country face in the Trump era.

Collins is a moderate and has traditionally been popular with pragmatic Mainers. To keep her seat, she needs to appeal to those moderates and President Trump’s supporters — a line that is very difficult to walk. She’s one of only a few Republicans who has voted against and publicly spoken out against President Trump.

Since 2016, Collins has found herself on both sides of Trump. She joined John McCain and Lisa Murkowski in voting against the GOP’s plan to repeal Obamacare in 2017 but voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year. She’s hoping her independent streak will help show voters that she acts in the best interest of her constituents, not the interests of her party or President Trump.

Collins faces several democratic challenges, including former gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet and state House Speaker Sara Gideon. Maine picked up a Democratic governor and two Democratic House seats in 2018. 

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