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The 2022 Senate map comes into focus

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack, at the U.S. Capitol, on June 8, 2021.Graeme Jennings / Pool via Reuters

WASHINGTON — If it’s Monday ... President Biden gears up for his voting-rights speech tomorrow. ... Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., decides to run for re-election. ... Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., raises an eye-popping $9 million for the quarter. ... Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a new border-themed TV ad. ... And Clay Aiken is ready for a congressional encore.

But first: With Sen. Ron Johnson’s, R-Wis., announcement Sunday that he will run for re-election after all, the Senate midterm map is now all but set.

We will be coming out with our own ratings in the coming weeks, but here is where the Cook Political Report has it right now.

In a 50-50 Senate — where Democrats hold the narrowest of majorities because Vice President Harris is the tiebreaker — Democrats are defending a total of 14 Senate seats, with three in the Toss Up column: Arizona (Mark Kelly), Georgia (Raphael Warnock) and Nevada (Catherine Cortez Masto).

Democrats caught a break last November when Gov. Chris Sununu decided not to run against Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and that New Hampshire seat is currently in Cook’s Lean D category.

Republicans, meanwhile, are defending a total of 20 Senate seats, with three in the Toss Up column — North Carolina (open due to Sen. Richard Burr’s, R-N.C., retirement), Pennsylvania (open due to Sen. Pat Toomey’s, R-Pa., retirement) and Wisconsin (Johnson).

An additional two GOP-held Senate seats are in the Lean R category: Florida (where Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is running for re-election) and Ohio (which is open due to Sen. Rob Portman’s retirement).

So you have a total of six Toss Up races (with each party defending three seats), another three Lean D/R races (with one in Lean D and two in Lean R) and two other races that are worth watching (in Colorado and Iowa).

That’s about as even of a Senate map as you’re going to find. Biden won five out of the six Toss Up states in 2020, but by just 2 points or less.

Then again, the political environment — right now at least — favors Republicans, with Biden’s job rating in the low 40s.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 4

That’s the number of consecutive days that Chicago Public Schools have been closed amid a standoff between the schools and the teachers’ union.

The nation’s third-largest school district, like many across the country, is struggling to find a path forward amid a historic spike in Covid cases, with students caught in the middle.

The Chicago Teachers Union wants to temporarily shift to remote work and increase testing. But on Sunday’s Meet the Press, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused teachers of having “abandoned their posts” and said that schools are safe.

Other numbers you need to know today:

19: The number of people who are dead, including nine children, in a horrific apartment fire in the Bronx

50: The number of days until the State of the Union.

5 percent: The percent increase in estimated U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 compared to 2019, an increase that one data firm says means the country is lagging behind its targets for 2025 and 2030.

Midterm roundup

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., announced over the weekend that he is running for re-election, per NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell.

American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is making another run for Congress, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports, becoming the latest Democrat to jump into the race to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. David Price. (Aiken ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2014.)

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom set the special election to replace GOP Rep. Devin Nunes for June 7, with an April 5 primary. All candidates compete on one primary ballot, with the Top 2 vote-getters advancing to the June 7 election (unless one candidate wins the majority of the votes outright).

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., raised an eye-popping $9 million in the final quarter of 2021, ending the year with $18.5 million on hand.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb announced a $1.3 million haul in the fourth quarter and $3 million on hand.

Republican Chuck Morse, president of the New Hampshire state Senate, has decided to run against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, per WMUR.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is up with a new TV spot featuring the head of the border patrol union heaping praise on the Republican, who is facing a primary challenge from multiple candidates on his right flank

And in Pennsylvania, GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano — who pushed to overturn the 2020 presidential election results — is running for governor, the Philly Inquirer reports.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The political world mourned former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over the weekend.

The West is trying to portray a united front amid concerns that Russia will continue to ramp up pressure on Ukraine.

After raising concerns about the New York City law aimed at allowing some non-citizens to vote in municipal elections, Mayor Eric Adams let the measure become law Sunday.