Could Biden take steps to deliver Dems control of the Senate?

What if Biden offered executive-branch opportunities to Republican senators from states with Democratic governors?
Image: Democrats Hold Press Conferences Pushing Back On Amy Coney Barrett's Confirmation Process
Democratic members of Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, exit the Capitol for a news conference on Oct. 22, 2020.Alex Wong / Getty Images

The path to a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate is extremely narrow, but it's not altogether closed. Chances are, it'll require two Democratic wins in Georgia's Senate runoff elections in January -- a difficult proposition -- which would in turn create a 50-50 split in the chamber.

But if my email inbox is any indication, there's quite a bit of interest in what could happen next. Couldn't Joe Biden, after his inauguration, take some steps to give his party a hand, perhaps by offering some current Senate Republicans -- from states with Democratic governors, who could at least temporarily appoint a successor -- cabinet posts or ambassadorial opportunities?

It's possible, but the options will be very limited. Here's the list of GOP senators who, as of January, will represent states with Democratic governors (in alphabetical order):

  • North Carolina's Richard Burr
  • Louisiana's Bill Cassidy
  • Maine's Susan Collins
  • Wisconsin's Ron Johnson
  • Louisiana's John Kennedy
  • Kansas' Roger Marshall
  • Kentucky's Mitch McConnell
  • Kansas' Jerry Moran
  • Kentucky's Rand Paul
  • North Carolina's Thom Tillis
  • Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey

We're left with two questions: which of these GOP lawmakers would Biden want on his team -- either in a diplomatic or a cabinet role -- and which of them might accept such an offer.

Maybe Collins? It's a possibility, but she just won re-election, and there's been no chatter about her interest in leaving Capitol Hill.

The other alternative would be Biden helping convince a Republican senator or two to switch parties -- a task he's successfully completed before -- but the options are limited here, too. The aforementioned Mainer appears to have fully committed to the GOP, and the only other remote possibility would be Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, but her state remains a stubborn Republican stronghold, and there's little to suggest her re-election prospects would be any better if she ran in 2022 as a Democrat.

All things considered, Democrats have a chance in Georgia's two competitive races, but those in the party looking for additional opportunities in 2021 appear short on options.