Why ambitious Democrats are saying ‘no thanks’ to Senate runs

With Stacey Abrams becoming the latest high-profile Democrat to say no to a 2020 Senate bid — and more rejections of party pressure possible on the horizon — running for the Senate no longer looks look like the step up the political ladder it may once have been.

A few Democrats have chosen to run for president this year instead of challenging Republican senators. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke passed on a race against Sen. John Cornyn. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper isn’t taking on incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is expected to join the presidential field soon, passing on a bid against Sen. Steve Daines.

Other Democrats have opted to run for House, where Democrats made historic gains in 2018. Freshman Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne is running for re-election to her 3rd District seat rather than taking on GOP Sen. Joni Ernst. Former Colorado state House Speaker Crisanta Duran is waging a primary challenge to a sitting Democratic congresswoman instead of trying to unseat Gardner. Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro is still deciding about running for Senate, as is Air Force veteran Amy McGrath, whose House bid in Kentucky last year included video spots that went viral and attracted support from around the country.