Republicans are growing more nervous about next year’s race for the Senate as President Trump ratchets up a trade war with China that increasingly threatens to cause pain to U.S. farmers.
To be sure, the 2020 elections remain more than a year off, the president is popular in farm country and voters in rural states largely have stuck with Trump through thick and thin as the economy has grown and the jobless rate has fallen.
But GOP senators say few expected the trade war to last as long as it has.
With markets plunging on Monday and China announcing retaliation against U.S. farm exports, fears are growing that the fight could take a bite out of pocketbooks and even pose a threat to GOP senators at the ballot box next year.
“We all want to resolve this as soon as possible,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Todd Young (Ind.) said Monday in response to a question about the impact of China’s actions. “We all want to keep this economy growing faster than we’ve seen in decades.”
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), whose home-state colleague Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) could face a tough race next year, said farmers are likely to take the brunt of punishment from China.
“We’re an ag state in Georgia — 21 percent of our GDP [gross domestic product] is agriculture. Ag is where you most selectively can target tariffs to hurt the quickest, so you’re vulnerable from that standpoint,” he said.
Asked if that could have an impact on the Senate race, Isakson said “anything can have an impact on anything.”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who is up for reelection next year in a state that former President Obama won twice but that Trump carried by nearly 10 points in 2016, said she wants to have a conversation with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue about assistance for farmers. Read more at The Hill