Slideshow Nine Senate Races for Bankers to Watch This Year

  • March 14 2016, 3:15pm EDT

Republicans currently hold a 54 — 46 advantage over Democrats in the Senate, making the GOP grip on the Senate precarious at best. With the election a little less than eight months away, Republicans also have more vulnerable seats up for reelection, leaving many analysts speculating the Democrats will retake the chamber. Following are the races bankers need to watch.


Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., a member of the Senate Banking Committee, is viewed as one of the most vulnerable candidates in the 2016 election cycle. Kirk is a freshman in the Senate after having served in the House for ten years prior to 2010. But Kirk won his Senate seat during a non-presidential election year in a state that usually tilts toward Democrats. His top challenger is Democrat Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraqi war veteran and pilot who received a Purple Heart after losing both her legs when her helicopter was shot down.

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Sen. Pat Toomey, a Banking Committee member, is running unopposed in his Republican primary, but faces a likely tough challenge from one of three Democratic candidates vying for the spot. Katie McGinty is backed by the Democratic establishment, but John Fetterman, a former offensive lineman, and Joe Sestak, a former congressman, are also in the race.


Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican businessman, won the Wisconsin race against three-term Democratic Senator Russell Feingold in 2010. He subsequently was named chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. In November, Johnson will likely face a rematch with Feingold, who currently has a double digit lead according to a recent poll from Marquette University.


Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet will face a crowded Republican field in the perennial swing state. Although a frontrunner to face Bennett has yet to materialize, fellow Democrat Sen. Mark Udall lost his seat to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner just two years ago. Bennet sits on the Senate Finance Committee and was part of the "Gang of Eight" Senators that pushed for comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.

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Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential bid leaves an open seat in Florida in what may very well end up being a toss-up race. On the Democratic side, Rep. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson are locked in a tough primary. Murphy is on the House Financial Services Committee and has received endorsements from the Democratic establishment, including President Obama and Vice President Biden while Grayson has been criticized over ethical questions about hedge funds that he runs. On the Republican side, it is a 5-man race with Rep. David Jolly perhaps being a slight frontrunner followed by Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.


Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid did not seek reelection this year, drawing to a close a run that began in 1987. His open Senate seat will likely be a two way race between former Attorney General of Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto on the Democratic side and Rep. Joe Heck on the Republican side. Voter turnout could play a prominent role if Trump is the Republican nominee. Trump won big in the GOP caucus with voter turnout more than doubling from 2012 while Democrats showed less enthusiasm as voter turnout tumbled roughly 30% from a 2008 high.

New Hampshire

Incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte is seeking reelection, but the race will likely be tight with New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan tossing her hat in the race on the Democratic side. Early polling shows Ayotte has a slight lead over Hassan. President Obama won the state over Mitt Romney by a narrow margin in 2012, so it is hard predict how a down-ballot voting might play out. Ayotte is on the Senate Commerce Committee as well as the Budget Committee.

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Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, is challenging sitting Republican Sen. Rob Portman (pictured) for the Senate seat. Strickland served six terms in the House and was governor from 2007 through 2011. Portman is a freshman senator, but is a long-time Washington veteran having served in the House between 1993 and 2005 and as director of the Office of Management and Budget for former President George W. Bush.


War hero Sen. John McCain is facing opposition from the left and the right as he looks to hold onto his Senate seat. On the right is businessman Alexander Meluskey and Kelli Ward, a former Arizona state Senator. On the left is Arizona Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick. While McCain faces opposition, he remains ahead of competitors and looks poised to hold onto his Senate seat.