To the occasional annoyance of the left, Coons has spent a decade developing relationships with Senate Republicans across the spectrum. Those partnerships will be more important than ever as Biden faces the real possibility of at least two years of a GOP Senate majority and a Republican Party still led by an antagonistic former President Donald Trump.

Despite Biden’s love for the Senate and for cutting deals, the reality is that more than half the Republicans he last served with are gone — and their replacements often are not exactly looking for compromise. It hasn’t always been straightforward for Coons to maintain GOP relationships during the Trump era either. Coons’ wife, Annie, often has this reaction when he recounts a recent discussion with, say, Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): “Oh, my God.”

“She says, ‘How can you possibly? After this, after that, after this?’ And I say, ‘Honey, it’s my job, it’s my job. And she said: ‘You seem to actually like them,’” Coons said in a nearly hourlong interview. He refers to his Senate colleagues as “my family.”