Fetterman or Oz? Walker or Warnock? Bolduc or Hassan? Kelly or Masters?
Hard-fought races for the U.S. Senate are dominating the news before the 2022 midterm elections, with energetic and close contests in Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Hampshire and Arizona, among others. Some have included record amounts of spending; others have featured seemingly endless amounts of spiteful attacks. Some have left voters wondering what policies the candidates want to pursue, or how issues will affect their daily lives.
There are 34 Senate seats up for grabs in regular races this midterm, plus one additional seat contested in a special election to replace the retiring Oklahoma Republican, Jim Inhofe.
U.S. senators serve 6-year terms, and around one-third of them are up for reelection every two years. It is a system that the Founding Fathers purposefully set up to ensure a degree of continuity and stability in Congress, while at the same time allowing for change on a regular basis.
Each state has two senators, and their elections are always staggered to avoid both being up for reelection at the same time.
As voters consider their choices, understanding the role and duties of a senator is important. What does a U.S. senator do once they are elected?
Their primary job is to serve their state’s interests in the national government. This can take a lot of different forms. As a political scientist, I think it is useful to break down the roles and responsibilities of a senator under four main headings.