First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Published: 2021-01-26 09:12 am
With a new open seat in Ohio, 2022 Senate map begins to take shape
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
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Rob Portman arrives as the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in Washington, on Jan. 31, 2020.J. Scott Applewhite / AP file

WASHINGTON — After Sen. Rob Portman’s, R-Ohio, announcement Monday that he won’t seek re-election, the 2022 Senate map is coming into focus — even with more than 600 days until Election Day.

Republicans will be defending 20 Senate seats, including the open ones in North Carolina (Richard Burr’s), Pennsylvania (Pat Toomey’s) and now Ohio (Portman’s).

The GOP also will have to defend Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat in Florida and Sen. Ron Johnson’s seat in Wisconsin.

President Joe Biden won two of those five states — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — last November.

Democrats, meanwhile, will be defending 14 seats, with the top GOP targets being those held by Arizona’s Mark Kelly and Georgia's Raphael Warnock (both men will be running for full six-year terms in 2022), as well as Sen. Maggie Hassan’s in New Hampshire and Catherine Cortez Masto’s in Nevada.

Biden won all four states last year.

Bottom line: With a 50-50 tie in the Senate, this is a map where Democrats definitely need to have success if they want to keep their majority.

In particular, the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin seats are ones that Dems should have won in 2016.

Then again, midterm cycles are usually rough for the party controlling the White House.

Here’s something else to consider for those open GOP-held Senate seats in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania: The Republican state parties have become as Trump-y — or even more so — than Donald Trump himself.

Last weekend, the Arizona GOP censured Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake and current Gov. Doug Ducey.

Also over the weekend, a Hawaii GOP official resigned after using the party’s Twitter account to support QAnon conspiracy theorists.

In Oregon, the state Republican Party falsely called the Capitol riot a “false flag” operation meant to discredit Trump.

And in Texas, the state GOP once again used the Q-linked phrase “We Are The Storm,” though the party denies it’s associated with QAnon.

As the Republican Party tries to figure out a future after Trump, its state parties sure look more like him than not.

25,371,729: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 134,914 more than Monday morning.)

422,289: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,773 more than Monday morning.)

109,936: That’s the number of people currently hospitalized from Covid-19 in the United States.

296.8 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

At least 19.3 million: The number of Americans who have received one or both vaccine shots so far.

1: The number of candidates that former President Donald Trump has endorsed since he left office — Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his former press secretary who is running for governor in Arkansas.

2: The number of Democratic senators who publicly defended the filibuster, prompting Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to agree to a power-sharing agreement with Democrats, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema.

1.5 million: The number of daily coronavirus vaccines President Joe Biden believes America can begin administering in the coming weeks.

— Eli Stokols (@EliStokols) January 26, 2021

President Biden clarified on Monday what he means when he calls for unity — which was a strong theme of his entire campaign and inaugural address.

“Unity requires you to eliminate the vitriol, make anything that you disagree with about the other person's personality or their lack of integrity, or they're not decent legislators and the like. So, we have to get rid of that,” Biden said.

But the president made clear that “unity” can’t get in the way of legislation — wink, wink, his Covid-19 recovery package.

“If you pass a piece of legislation that breaks down on party lines, but it gets passed, it doesn't mean there wasn't unity. It just means it wasn't bipartisan. I would prefer these things to be bipartisan, because I'm trying to generate some consensus and take sort of the — how can I say it — the vitriol out of all of this.”

One vote that was bipartisan on Monday was Janet Yellen’s confirmation to serve as the first woman to head the Treasury Department. She won confirmation by an 84-15 vote.

Biden Cabinet Watch

State: Tony Blinken

Treasury: Janet Yellen (confirmed)

Defense: Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin (confirmed)

Attorney General: Merrick Garland

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas

HHS: Xavier Becerra

Agriculture: Tom Vilsack

Transportation: Pete Buttigieg

Energy: Jennifer Granholm

Interior: Deb Haaland

Education: Miguel Cardona

Commerce: Gina Raimondo

Labor: Marty Walsh

HUD: Marcia Fudge

Veterans Affairs: Denis McDonough

UN Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines (confirmed)

EPA: Michael Regan

SBA: Isabel Guzman

OMB Director: Neera Tanden

U.S. Trade Representative: Katherine Tai

At 2:00 p.m. ET, President Biden speaks on his racial equity agenda and signs executive orders. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds her briefing at 12:30 p.m. ET.

President Biden upped his vaccine goal saying the country can administer 1.5 million shots a day in the coming weeks.

China says it will conduct military exercises in the disputed waters of the South China Sea this week.

Twitter permanently suspended the account of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for repeated violations on spreading misinformation.

The Biden administration suspended some of the terrorism sanctions placed on Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Minnesota reported the first U.S. case of the Brazil-based coronavirus variant.

President Biden will move forward with plan to place Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

While there’s no specific research on how well masks work against Covid variants, it may make sense to wear two masks.

And Jimmy Fallon tried to clean Steve Kornacki’s office.

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