Election years are always exciting times, but something in the air makes it feel extra special this year. Could it be because for many of us, especially those reading this article, this is the first chance we have to vote in a presidential election? Clearly, the presidential election has completely bombarded the media, and it is hard to get in a word edgewise between the eight remaining candidates.  However, 2016, is not just about electing a president. 2016 is a HUGE election year, and there are a lot of critical races across the country that we need to watch.

1) Kentucky Senate Race

Incumbent Senator Rand Paul, and former presidential candidate, has to defend himself against an array of opponents, most notably Lexington Mayor Jim Gray if he wants to keep the seat he has held since 2010. The past two years were busy in the Kentucky legislature while Paul tried to get passed a bill that would allow him to run simultaneously for president and re-election, which results in the Kentucky Republican Party deciding to hold a caucus. Rand Paul has suspended his presidential campaign and is now only seeking re-election.

2) New Hampshire Senate Race

Kelly Ayotte, Republican incumbent senator in New Hampshire, will have to face Governor Maggie Hassan, the current governor of New Hampshire. Ayotte’s name has been tossed around as a potential VP pick, so it is worthy to note that New Hampshire law would allow her to appear concurrently on the ballot for both senator and vice president.

3) Baltimore Mayoral Race

After a disastrous few years for the city of Baltimore, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has decided not to see re-election. There are a plethora of candidates running for the seat, including Sheila Dixon, former Mayor of Bailtmore, DeRay Mckesson, civil rights activist and protestor, Catherine Pugh, State Senator, and Nik Mosby, Baltimore City Councilmember.

4) Pennsylvania Senate Race

Republican Pat Toomey is seeking a second term in the Senate, but to keep his seat he will have to beat several Democratic opponents, including the Mayor of Braddock, PA John Fetterman and Former US Representative Joe Sestak.

5) Texas 29th District Congressional Race

Incumbent Democrat Senator Gene Green has been holding onto his seat since 1992, before many of us were even born, but will face opposition from Julia Garza and Robert Schafranek, who seek to upset him and start turning more of the state red. He also faces opposition within his own party in the form of Adriana Garcia, who says it is time for a Latino to represent the district.

6) Nevada Senate Race

The seat held by former Senator Harry Reid is up for grabs this year, and candidates for the position include former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, Democrat, and Joe Heck, Republican US Representative.

7) Louisiana 3rd District Congressional Race

The Congressional Seat to represent Lousiana’s 3rd District is open this election, since the current holder of the seat, Republican Charles Boustany, has chosen to run for senate. Right now, only a few Republicans have declared for the race and no Democrats, making it look like a pretty evident victory for the Right, either at the hands of Erick Knezek, Greg Ellison, or Gus Rantz.

8) Indiana Senate Race

In yet another state where the incumbent Senator is not seeking re-election, it is time for Indiana to find a new Senator. Senator Dan Coats, Republican, will be replaced in 2016, most likely by a current or former US Representative, either Marlin Stutzman or Todd Young on the Republican side or Baron Hill on the left.

9) Ohio Senate Race

There are so many Republican Senators running for their second term this year, and Ohio is no exception. Senator Rob Portman is seeking a second term after briefly flirting with the idea of running for president. Instead, he will focus on serving the state of Ohio, though he will have to defend his seat from opponents such as Ted Strickland, the former Governor of Ohio and a former U.S. Representative.

10) Wisconsin Senate Race

Wisconsin is set for a senatorial rematch not seen in many years, as incumbent Republican Ron Johnson will face former Senator Russ Feingold again this year, six years after Johnson first unseated Feingold in 2010. This will be an extremely interesting race to watch, and to compare to how it ran its course in 2010.

11) Florida Senate Race

This year, Florida seeks to fill the seat that will be vacated by Marco Rubio, the presidential candidate who has decided not to pursue another term in the senate. A few Republican representatives have stepped up to the plate, including Ron DeSantis and David Jolly, who will have to battle against Democrat Representatives

12) Arizona Senate Race

Five-term Senator John McCain (79), the 2008 GOP Presidential Nominee, is facing opposition within his own party, most notably Kelli Ward, a former State Senator who you can read more about here.  On the other side of the aisle, Ann Kirkpatrick, Democrat US Representative is interested in swiping the seat.

13) Utah Senate Race

Beloved Conservative Mike Lee is seeking a second term in office this November, after once quipping that he was “the only senator NOT running for president.” Though we do not foresee a strong Democratic opponent rising, it will be interesting to see whether Tea Party-leaning Lee faces any Establishment opposition within his own party.

14) Alabama Senate Race

Like in Arizona, Richard Shelby, 82, is running for a sixth term in the senate, but will have to win the Republican nomination over several opponents, including former State Senator Shadrack McGill and businessman and former Marine Jonathan McConnell. Democratic candidates include a patient’s rights activist and a process engineer. Interestingly enough, Shelby originally entered the Senate as a Democrat, but switched in 1994. This will be his first time in many years facing significant opposition.

15) Connecticut Senate Election

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat, was elected to the Senate in 2010, and is seeking re-election in 2016. He faces no clear opposition within his own party, but Republican former Olympic athlete August Wolf will challenge him. Other potential opponents include Republican former gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley and Chris Shays, former US Representative.

Which races are you excited for in 2016?


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