GOP leaders begging senators not to retire as 2022 map looks bleak: report
Sen. Chuck Grassley (Screen capture)

On Monday, Politico reported that senior Senate Republicans are desperately urging members in potentially vulnerable seats not to retire in 2022 — which is potentially the hardest set of Senate elections for the GOP since they won control of the chamber in 2014.

Already, two GOP retirements have expanded the map for Democrats, with scandal-plagued Sen. Richard Burr leaving a vacancy in North Carolina, and Sen. Pat Toomey forcing Republicans into a competitive race in Pennsylvania.

But more retirements could be coming. In particular, reported Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and NRSC chairman Rick Scott (R-FL) are concerned about Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who is 87 and last week tested positive for COVID-19.

"Grassley, who has been asymptomatic after testing positive for coronavirus, hasn’t decided," said the report. "But his lock on Iowa’s Senate seat — and the prospect that he could retire — hits directly at the challenge facing Scott and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who must defend at least 20 seats to Democrats’ 13."

Also concerning to GOP leaders is Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who has said he's undecided about running again, and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who is currently facing a tough special election runoff and will have to decide if she wants to seek a full term if she manages to win in January. However, other senators, like Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) are giving indications they do plan to run again.

"The tough map for Senate Republicans is likely to have a huge impact on what, if any, deals McConnell makes with President-elect Joe Biden and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)," said the report. "And as in this last cycle, McConnell will be looking to protect vulnerable incumbents — both by moving legislation they support and saving them from having to cast tough votes."