The world is watching with collective anxiety as the United States holds what sure seems like the most consequential presidential election in modern history. But as Donald Trump and Joe Biden wage a war of words against each other amid a pandemic and record unemployment, there are a number of other candidates campaigning for public offices across the country that also carry heavy implications that can’t be ignored.
From people running for Congress to those seeking U.S. Senate seats — as well as incumbents fighting to remain in office — a change in the balance of power on Capitol Hill is looming large in certain pockets of America depending on how the elections turn out. And while the presidential election may not be decided anytime soon, that may not also be true for some of the down-ballot races, many of which polling shows are close contests.
Aside from the House and the Senate, there also gubernatorial races being held in 11 states. Without diminishing the importance of that public office, there is arguably much more urgency being placed on the House and Senate races that will decide which political party will have control after four years of partisan politics that have left the country more divided than ever in recent memory.
It’s those types of politics that allowed the majority-Republican Senate to force the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court in record time instead of prioritizing a stimulus bill that would have provided much needed financial relief to the American people as well as small businesses teetering on the verge of existential disaster.
If elected, Biden has pledged to work with the Congress and not against it, as Trump has done while enjoying a Republican majority in both the House and Senate until the 2018 midterm elections, after which the House voted to impeach him. However, after the proceedings advanced to the senate, where republicans ruled, the president was quickly acquitted.
It was a prime example of the types of consequences that elections not involving the president can have even when the president is factored into the equation.
With that in mind, scroll down to keep reading about some of the down-ballot races that NewsOne has identified as being among the most crucial and carrying major implications not just for the states involved and local communities but also for the entire country.
1. Florida U.S. House Of Representatives: Pam Keith vs. Brian Mast
The U.S. House of Representatives is going into the election with a majority of Democrats, who are hoping to keep it that way as they also look for Biden to win the presidential election. The race for Florida’s 18th Congressional District includes Democrats Pam Keith trying to unseat one-term incumbent Rep. Brian Mast for the right to represent Martin and St. Lucie counties and part of Palm Beach County, home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. If she wins, Keith would be the latest Black woman to win a seat in Congress following 2018’s elections that Pew Research Center found to be “the most racially and ethnically diverse ever.”
2. Georgia U.S. Senate: Rev. Raphael Warnock vs. Kelly Loeffler
Rev. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, entered the race for Georgia Senate against Kelly Loeffler back in January and is on the verge of ousting the first-term senator who didn’t have to win an election to gain office. Instead, suspected voter suppressor and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed her after a vacancy was left from Sen. Johnny Isakson’s resignation last year. Loeffler, as you might remember, is the obedient Trump minion and co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream who called for the women’s professional basketball league to distance itself from the Black Lives Matter movement following the high-profile police killing of George Floyd.
The race is historically important as a Warnock win would give Democrats the seat that has long been held by Republicans in a state that pollsters predicted would go to Biden.
3. Kentucky U.S. Senate: Amy McGrath vs. Mitch McConnell
There is simply one goal here for Democrats: to vote Mitch McConnell out of a Senate seat from which he has yielded the partisan power over everything from federal court nominees to the president’s impeachment to delaying a coronavirus relief package as Americans are reeling from the Covid pandemic.
McGrath is the candidate to do it, Kentucky voters decided when she beat Charles Booker, a Black man, for the Democratic nomination to run against McConnell.
Prediction models favor McConnell, but as the year 2020 has more than proven, anything is possible.
4. Maryland U.S. House Of Representatives: Kweisi Mfume vs. Kimberly Klacik
The battle to fill the late Elijah Cummings‘ seat in the U.S. House of Representatives was won by Kweisi Mfume just a few months ago in a special election following the legendary congressman’s death. However, the same two candidates in that election are squaring off again in the general election as Republican Kimberly Klacik, a Black conservative who has been campaigning with Trump, mounts another effort.
5. Mississippi U.S. Senate: Mike Espy vs. Cindy Hyde-Smith
Democrat Mike Espy has mounted a strong campaign against Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith — his second in as many years — after losing a contentious race for the same office in 2018. Hyde-Smith won that election despite (or because of) being embroiled in a series of racist exposes, including when she spoke happily about a metaphorical “public hanging” that evoked ugly memories of the Mississippi’s history of lynching Black people. In a telling sign of where the U.S. is today socially, data analysis website Five Thirty Eight has predicted Hyde-Smith will win re-election.
6. Missouri U.S. House of Representatives: Cori Bush vs. Anthony Rogers
This race is not contested, but it is still important because it is all but guaranteed to result in the election of Cori Bush, an activist who rose to social justice prominence on the front lines of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where teenager Michael Brown was killed by the police in 2014. Bush, who is a par with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Sen. Ilhan Omar, is expected to bring that same no-nonsense attitude to Congress.
7. South Carolina U.S. Senate: Jaime Harrison vs. Lindsey Graham
Next to the race against McConnell, Democrats have been eagerly eyeing the Senate contest in South Carolina between Jaime Harrison and incumbent Lindsey Graham, whose flip-flopping support for Trump has been a focal part of the campaign. Harrison has out-fundraised Graham, who has held that Senate seat since 2003. Graham is also the chairman of the same Senate Judiciary Committee that voted to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court just four years after he said he was against confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year.
The race is coming down to the wire, with the most recent poll showing Graham clinging to a lead of less than 2 percentage points in a survey with a margin of error that is just 3 percentage points.