Wicker beat out Nevada Sen. Dean Heller for the chairmanship in a closed-door Nov. 13 GOP conference meeting. Six days later, seated behind his desk on the fifth floor of Dirksen, Wicker was confident in the party’s ability to hold a potential 54-seat majority, despite a map that puts the Senate in play for Democrats.
With limited offensive opportunities, Republicans are defending 24 seats in 2016, including seven in states President Barack Obama won twice. But Wicker, who said he’s not expecting a single GOP retirement, was adamant that with a strong GOP presidential nominee, the party would be well-positioned to hold seats in swing states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, New Hampshire and beyond.
“I’m not conceding the electoral votes from any of those states to a Democratic presidential nominee, much less a senator like the ones we have who have done a good job, have stayed in touch, worked across the aisle and have been stalwarts and stood up for their states,” he said. “I would feel good about those candidates in a presidential year or a midterm.”