Arizona Senate race
This is arguably the most high-profile race of 2018 involving an LGBT candidate: Three-time Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (pictured, above), is vying to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake for Arizona's junior seat. Sinema, openly bisexual, is extremely popular and has an inspiring personal story (she was raised in a gas station). The moderate Democrat faces few serious challengers in the primary — it's her Republican opponent who remains the big question. Former state senator Kelli Ward is the only announced candidate, but she's a toxic conservative who's spouted anti-trans and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Oh, and Ward is a big fan of Donald Trump's; and the feeling's mutual. Establishment Arizona Republicans don't want Ward as the nominee — especially since she insulted John McCain — and hope mainstream U.S. Rep. Martha McSally will run for the seat. Even if McSally throws her hat in, it's up to the state's Republican voters to choose their nominee. We saw how that went in Alabama, remember?
If Sinema wins — along with other Democrats — she could help wrestle the Senate away from the Republicans.
Texas Senate race
Could Texas toss Ted Cruz (pictured)? We're not saying the much-anticipated (and far from certain) Democratic wave is going to crash on the Lone Star State, but that prospect is not as crazy as it sounded in a pre-Doug Jones world. Alabama women (really, women of color) helped keep Roy Moore out of the Senate, and they could do the same in Texas with Cruz — if joined by the state's sizable Latino community, which make up nearly 40 percent of the state's population. It's not like the state's women, LGBT people, people of color, and immigrant voters don't have good reason to say goodbye to this nasty misogynist/homophobe/xenophobe. Like his onetime enemy Donald Trump, Cruz isn't really that popular with anyone.
Cruz's challenger will be youthful Dem congressman Beto O'Rourke. Texas political watchers are eyeing O'Rourke's challenge with skeptical curiosity — Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to a statewide office in nearly a quarter-century — and polls are all over the place (see here and here). If O'Rourke pulls it off, it would place Democrats in a very strong position to regain the Senate.
Missouri Senate race
Sen. Claire McCaskill (pictured) walks a tight line as a Democrat in a really red state. But McCaskill does it with aplomb (if you want to see true grit in action, watch this video of the senator calling out the lies of Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch). Still, there's no denying Missouri is conservative, and seemingly growing more so. Dems are paying a big game of defense in November and some teeth are chattering over McCaskill's chances. But aside from her competence, McCaskill has this going for her — there are so many Republican challengers that one hasn't stood out from the crowd, well, except for maybe the one taking donations in BitCoin.