Battle for the U.S. Senate is heating up

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WASHINGTON — With less than two months to go before Election Day, the battle for control of the U.S. Senate is heating up Wednesday.

As two independents caucus with the Democrats, Republicans are clinging to a 3-seat majority and Democrats have a shot at winning the chamber. So if the Democrats win at least four seats or three seats plus the White House, they’ll retake the Senate.

The latest electoral map shows Senate Republicans defending 23 states, Democrats 12.

The best pick-up chance for the GOP is in Alabama. Democrat Doug Jones is trying to survive in the deep-red state. He’s facing former Auburn University football coach Tom Tuberville.

In Colorado, Democrats are on offense for the seat held by Republican Cory Gardner. Polls show challenger and former governor John Hickenlooper with a slight edge. 

Here in Illinois, Senator Dick Durbin is favored to keep his seat as he faces Republican Mark Curran, Independent Willie Wilson as well as Green and Libertarian candidates.

In Arizona, polls show the Democrat Mark Kelly leading incumbent Senator Martha McSally. Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, is a former astronaut and gun-control activist.  

In North Carolina, Republican Thom Tillis is taking aim at his challenger. In the last several elections, the state has gone from solidly red to light blue. Challenger Cal Cunningham is polling even with Tillis.

Veteran Senator Susan Collins is facing what may be her toughest reelection battle in Maine. Democrat Sara Gideon is trying to hang around Collins’ next votes to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and to acquit President Trump during impeachment. 

In South Carolina, Lindsey Graham is facing challenger Jaime Harrison, a younger candidate raising a boatload of money. The race is considered a toss-up.

Elsewhere, the Democrats seem to be in striking distance in Iowa, Georgia and Montana.

With Joe Biden maintaining a lead over President Trump in national polls, both parties say the fate of some Republican senators could be tied to the top of the ticket.

If there is a blue wave this fall, a state like Montana could be in play. The contest there is between GOP Senator Steve Daines and former Governor and presidential hopeful Steve Bullock.  

And then there’s one lean-Republican contest to watch. In Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing Amy McGrath who is making a pitch to the state’s independent voters. But a McGrath victory would be an upset of historic proportions.

This week, McConnell laid out the stakes of the election.

“The American people have a choice to make, who do they want to run this thing? Do they want to enable the Democrats to run roughshod over the country by changing the basic structure here?” McConnell said.

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