- Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
- Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
- Thom Tillis of North Carolina
- Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
- Susan Collins of Maine
- Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
- John Cornyn of Texas
- Tom Cotton of Arkansas
- Steve Daines of Montana
- Joni Ernst of Iowa
- Cory Gardner of Colorado
- Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi
- James Inhofe of Oklahoma
- Martha McSally of Arizona
- David Perdue of Georgia
- James Risch of Idaho
- Mike Rounds of South Dakota
- Ben Sasse of Nebraska
- Dan Sullivan of Alaska
Many of these senators are in tough reelection fights and most have approval ratings under 50 percent. Even Mitch McConnell, with his 25 percent favorability rating in Kentucky, according to the Fox News Poll of July 24, and the only senator more unpopular than Collins, has to be worried. Seven are in particular peril: Tillis, Collins, Cornyn, Ernst, Gardner, McSally and Perdue. Of that group, Collins, Gardner and McSally are the most vulnerable.
Collins is facing Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon. Voters, especially women and Independents, have turned on Collins for her support of President Donald Trump and, specifically, for supporting Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.
Gardner is likely to face former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who will become the front runner when he drops his presidential campaign to run for Senate.
McSally faces Mark Kelly, the former astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in 2011. Kelly is a formidable candidate who out-raised McSally in the latest quarter.
Tillis, Cornyn and Perdue are watching their states turn increasingly more Democratic. Cornyn represents El Paso, the site of the devastating massacre where the suspect has confessed to targeting Mexicans, according to police. Cornyn cannot ignore the need to address gun control legislation.
The current political dynamic is exactly the reason these Republicans are in the position to act on gun control and safeguarding our elections. They have a choice: take action now or pay a price in November 2020.
Republican senators don’t want to act now because they’re trying to avoid primary fights. But ignoring these two issues will cost them dearly. Ninetly percent of voters want universal background checks, a majority want assault weapons banned, and virtually every American wants secure elections.
If Republican senators don’t act before the 2020 election, their Democratic opponents will benefit. The ads write themselves: “You will defend the domestic terrorists who commit mass shootings but not me?” “Is the only way you can win? By cheating with the help of the Russians?”
Senate Majority Leader McConnell won’t bring gun control or the Secure Election Act up for a vote. In fact, the last time McConnell brought anything to the Senate floor it was himself to complain about his new moniker #MoscowMitch — given to him because of his refusal to secure elections. Mass shootings and Russians who hack elections have not seemed to motivate McConnell to action. But call him a name and he will stand up and fight like hell.
McConnell knows that if he brings background checks, an assault-weapons ban, and secure elections to a vote they will pass. Not only will that make him look weak as majority leader, but it could also open the door to more measures that Republicans would support with Democrats. That would threaten his leadership position and the GOP Senate majority.
The voters will prevail. If there isn’t a vote on gun control and secure elections, voters will throw Republicans out for not standing up to McConnell and for them. Doing the right thing is the only chance many of these Republicans have to hold on to their seats. And should they vote the right way and still lose, then at least they will be on the right side of history. That is a noble and worthy legacy.
True power rests with the American people. If you want gun control and secure elections legislation passed, you must demand it of these Republican senators. Call, write, email, and protest until votes are held. That is how democracy works. There’s nothing more important than using your rights to make sure the will of the majority is honored. Don’t let one person stop what 90 percent of the country wants now.