Which Democrat senator will face-off against a Republican in 2020?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Kamala Harris was riding high after her appearance on Sesame Street earlier this month

Democrats are obsessed with handling the ethnic, gender and racial balance of the 2020 presidential field, but they ought to take a closer look at what’s happening in the US Senate races too.

After the Iowa caucuses, at which the Democratic presidential primary vote is cast, only a handful of candidates remain from all the contenders that declared for 2016.

Such an open field has always meant greater chances for candidate mix-ups and confrontations.

But when it comes to the Senate races too, the pack has been rather thin.

Five candidates remain from the 2016 candidates, which now includes two primary rivals in the closely-fought Montana race – the incumbent Democrat Jon Tester and a surprise outsider in Steve Daines, a former congressman from Montana.

North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, another Democratic incumbent, is being challenged by Republican Kevin Cramer, while Minnesota’s Tina Smith is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile in Rhode Island, Jeff Merkley is the Democratic candidate as Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has already said he will not seek a seventh term.

And there’s also Utah’s Mike Lee, a unique case. Mike Lee, who is the junior Republican senator from Utah, is running for re-election. Mike Lee’s father, Larry, was a two-term Republican senator and governor of Utah.

A look at the Senate seat in Pennsylvania shows just how little interest the electoral gods have in properly testing the political mettle of both Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris.

The Democrat is taking on Republican Rick Saccone, a shoe salesman and former party chair, while the first-term Senator Harris will go up against Republican incumbent Pat Toomey.

This, of course, is an extraordinarily pivotal election for both of these senators.

© Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

© Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

The last time Pennsylvania’s Democratic voters had an automatic voter registration, former President Obama managed a surprising victory. The last time a Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania – Blanche Lincoln – managed to survive a hard-fought contest with Representative Toomey, former vice-president Al Gore lost to George W Bush by six points in the White House race.

We’re already a long way off knowing exactly what role Kamala Harris will play in the 2020 Democratic presidential field, but it seems safe to say she’s not being used to the fullest extent and her time in the Senate is not yet well-sought.

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