The right to vote is a rarity in human history. Americans will get another opportunity to exercise that right on Nov. 8, and much is at stake. The U.S. Senate is split 50-50 down party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking ties. House Democrats currently have the majority, with Republicans needing five seats if they are to gain control after the upcoming midterms.
With these slim majorities, a small number of changes could have huge policy implications. Here are some of the key races to watch, and issues for Christians to pray about, as they head to the ballot box this fall.
After being appointed to the Senate by her father 20 years ago, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has drawn a credible challenger, Kelly Tshibaka (also a Republican). Murkowski recently voted to fund Planned Parenthood, voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, supported allowing men to compete in women’s sports, and stated her support for same-sex marriage.
Tshibaka has pledged to stand for the unborn and for natural marriage, to defund abortion providers, ban gender transitions for minors, and more. Complicating this race is the recent implementation of ranked-choice voting in the state. This enables voters to rank candidates in order of first, second and so on. If no candidate earns a clear majority at first count, then the candidate with the least support drops off and subsequent rounds are tallied until someone has a majority.
Arizona will host one of the most important Senate matchups as incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly faces GOP nominee Blake Masters. Kelly rose to prominence by speaking in favor of gun control following the attempted assassination of his wife, then-Rep. Gabby Giffords. Kelly has voted against amendments that block funding for abortions. He has also opposed religious liberty protections and requiring lifesaving care for infants who survive abortion. His challenger, Masters, has not held public office but has committed to defend life and religious liberty, stop gender ideology and empower parents in public schools.
In Georgia, Democrat incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock faces a challenge from former NFL star Herschel Walker. Warnock won a special election in 2021. Since then, polling has shown this race to be very close. Both candidates talk about God, but that influences their positions in dramatically different ways. Warnock has voted in favor of abortion until the moment of birth and co-sponsored the expansive LGBTQ Equality Act, which many believe would threaten Americans’ religious liberties. Walker has pledged to protect the unborn, strengthen families, protect women’s sports and defend the Constitution.
Nevada’s Senate race is between Democrat incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and former state attorney general and Republican nominee Adam Laxalt. Cortez Masto narrowly won this seat in 2016. The challenger, Laxalt, has signaled his support for pro-life legislation.
In New Hampshire, polling shows Democrat incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan in a competitive race. Hassan has been a consistent vote for abortion and against religious liberty. Her GOP challenger is retired U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. Don Bolduc, who has been an advocate for the unborn.
In North Carolina, Republican Congressman Ted Budd faces a Democrat in former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, Cheri Beasley. Beasley supports legislation that would allow abortions up until the moment of birth, supports taxpayer-funded abortions, and supports the Equality Act. Budd is a pro-life candidate and has been a consistent vote in favor of protecting religious liberty. Many of North Carolina’s recent statewide races for federal office have been decided by very thin margins.
Ohio will elect a new senator to replace retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. The author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” J.D. Vance, won the GOP primary. Congressman Tim Ryan prevailed in the Democrat primary. Both Vance and Ryan are Ohio natives who package themselves as representative of the state’s large bloc of working-class voters, but the similarities end there. Vance has strongly advocated for life, defended state laws to protect unborn children and opposed the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act” that would codify same-sex marriage into federal law.
Ryan, on the other hand, has been recognized for his votes related to abortion, religious liberty, gay marriage and other liberal-progressive issues.
With Republican Sen. Pat Toomey retiring, Pennsylvania will also elect a new senator. Current Lt. Gov. John Fetterman won the Democratic primary. In the Republican primary, retired surgeon and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz won. Fetterman has supported scrapping the Senate filibuster, codifying abortion into federal law through all nine months of pregnancy, passing the Equality Act, and including a pro-abortion litmus test for federal judges. Oz believes that life begins at conception and that the transgender movement’s emphasis on children is based on “false science.” On the sanctity of life, Fetterman and Oz are clearly differentiated. On marriage, however, both candidates have been clear they support same-sex marriage.
Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) will face a tough reelection bid against Democrat Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. Johnson has demonstrated strong support for the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty. Barnes is an advocate for abortion up to the moment of birth and for the LGBTQ Equality Act. Several recent races in Wisconsin have been decided by razor-thin margins.
Democrats hold a slim five-seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Most experts believe a Republican House majority is possible after this election cycle. A variety of factors contribute to that view, including historical trends, the president’s job approval rating, voters’ perception of the country’s direction, and the struggling economy. However, anything can happen between now and election day.
With the added dimension of newly drawn districts, some incumbents now find themselves running in what are essentially new districts. Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Congresswoman Yvette Herrell (R-New Mexico) both find themselves in such a position. Both Chabot and Herrell have strong records on issues like the sanctity of life and religious liberty, and are running for reelection in “toss up” districts. Cook Political Report rates 59 House races as Tossup, Lean D or Lean R.
Here are a couple more of those competitive races:
Congresswoman Mayra Flores won a special election earlier this year in Texas’ 34th congressional district. This district is the second-most Hispanic district in the country. Obama won it by 23 points, Clinton by 22 points, and Biden by four points. Flores won by seven points and became the first-ever congresswoman born in Mexico and first Republican to represent the district in more than 150 years. Flores supports pro-life and pro-religious liberty policies and will face Democrat Vicente Gonzalez Jr., in hopes of reelection this fall.
In Michigan’s third congressional district, freshman Republican Congressman Peter Meijer lost his bid for reelection in the state’s primary to John Gibbs, a Christian missionary. The district is regarded as one that leans toward the Democrats. Gibbs is pro-life and has made clear that he supports religious liberty. Meijer, on the other hand, was a co-sponsor of the “Fairness for All Act” and voted for same-sex marriage. Despite an almost 5-to-1 financial edge and the advantage of incumbency, Meijer lost. Gibbs will now face Democrat Hillary Scholten in a very competitive November contest.
In 1 Kings 18, the Prophet Elijah confronts King Ahab, his wife, Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal, saying, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (ESV). The prophets of Baal and Elijah then offered competing sacrifices, and God sent fire from Heaven to accept Elijah’s sacrifice. We know politicians are not our saviors, and our purpose here is certainly not to oppose or advocate for any particular candidate(s) or party. God’s Word is clear: there are ways that lead to life and ways that lead to sin and death. Let’s seek God’s will and direction as we pray and vote this election season.
Brent Keilen is vice president of FRC Action. Matt Carpenter is director of FRC Action.
The Scripture quotation is taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version.
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