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In what is already a strange cycle, operatives on both sides are bracing for surprises on election night.
Rumors flew last week about a surprise poll or errant television reservation that could spell doom for an incumbent considered a safe bet for re-election a week ago.
Some of these suggestions were just that — rumor. But many operatives are convinced Tuesday night will feature at least one upset.
Here are the under-the-radar races keeping strategists excited and worried Tuesday night:
The National Republican Congressional Committee promoted 11 more candidates to ‘Young Gun’ status Tuesday morning, elevating their campaigns to the highest level of the program that provides organizational and fundraising support in top House contests.
The 11 additions brings the NRCC’s total number of Young Gun candidates this cycle to 32.
“Candidates that reach ‘Young Gun’ status have met a series of rigorous goals that will put them in position to win on Election Day,” NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon said in a news release.
The new Young Gun candidates are:
Democrats are gearing up to unleash the Clinton Dynasty.
They hope deploying the popular former White House occupants could help drum up money and hype in what could be a tough election year for the party. Democrats see the power couple as an asset, especially because Republicans have no singular unifying figure who can hit the trail.
But good thing there’s two of them.
Democratic operatives say each half of the Clinton duo appeals to different segments of the electorate — so assignments to races must be deliberate and strategic.
North of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of the Mississippi River is former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton territory — replete with voters who have already warmed to electing women to Congress. Former President Bill Clinton, party officials say, plays better in the South and Midwest, where he performed well with traditional Yellow Dog Democrats who relate to the party’s economic message but tend to be more conservative on social issues.
Together, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate say there are few areas where the Clinton duo wouldn’t have a positive impact.
“Both Clintons can go into any competitive district in the country and be enormously helpful to Democratic candidates,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said. “The second Secretary Clinton is ready, we’d love to have her campaigning for House Democrats.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Friday its latest round of candidates in “Red to Blue,” a program that targets open-seat races and districts held by Republicans.
House Democrats must pick up 17 seats to win control of that chamber — a daunting task in a midterm election. Offensive opportunities, like those in the Red to Blue program, are vital to the party’s mission. The DCCC released its first round of 35 Red to Blue candidates earlier this year.
“All of these candidates have met and surpassed demanding campaign goals, and shown they have a path to victory and have what it takes to win,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement. “I look forward to working with them through November to build campaigns that give voice to all the middle class voters left behind by this Republican Congress.”
The following Democratic candidates have been added to the Red to Blue program:
Two Republican primaries in Arkansas on Tuesday finalized the makeup of potentially competitive House races this fall.
National Democrats, who have lost several seats in Arkansas over the last couple of cycles, are targeting Arkansas’ 2nd and 4th districts. With their own nominees already in hand, Democrats now know which Republicans will be vying to keep the open seats in GOP hands.
Both races will run under the umbrella of competitive statewide races for governor and Senate. The latter will feature Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, who both avoided primary challenges.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled its final wave of Jumpstart candidates for the 2014 cycle on Thursday, giving the seal of approval to one final set of recruits before the election year begins.
New this cycle, the Jumpstart program provides “early financial communications, operational and strategic support” to candidates, according to the committee. It also gives members and potential donors a sense of the DCCC’s top candidates in competitive primaries.
“These four standout candidates are being added to the Jumpstart program because they’re committed to the right priorities, like working together to create good jobs, protect our seniors and give the middle class financial peace of mind,” said DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York in a statement.
The latest round of candidates are: Full story
The National Republican Congressional Committee announced on Thursday 36 candidates who have achieved the committee’s “On the Radar” status.
This ranking is the first of three levels of the committee’s fundraising and infrastructure program. Earning this status means the NRCC “will help to provide candidates and their campaigns the tools they need to run successful, winning campaigns against their Democratic opponents,” according to an NRCC release.
The final level is “Young Gun” status.
“These 36 candidates all provide a stark contrast to their liberal opponents, whose support of ObamaCare and this Administration’s big-government, job-destroying agenda has taken a toll on the American people,” NRCC Chairman Greg Walden said in a statement.
Four of those rated are former members who lost re-election bids in 2012: former Reps. Robert Dold and Bobby Schilling of Illinois, Frank Guinta of New Hampshire and Nan Hayworth of New York.
Some of the other challengers are running in the same districts.
Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt, a Democrat, announced on Tuesday he is running in the open-seat contest in Arkansas’ 4th District.
“I’ve spent my adult life bringing people together at the toughest times of their lives and dealing with disasters,” Witt said in a conference call announcing his bid, according to the Associated Press. “Nowhere needs disaster relief more than Washington. No place needs to be brought together more than Congress.”
The field to succeed Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., grew Tuesday when Arkansas House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman announced his bid for the 4th District race.
“I’ve served in the state Legislature, I’m currently serving as majority leader, and I realized the struggle that we’re up against as a state dealing with top down government in Washington,” Westerman said in a Tuesday phone interview about why he decided to run. “It’s time to go and try and change some of that.”
Westerman marks the second Republican to enter the contest — one day after Lt. Gov Mark Darr announced he would seek the seat. The field may grow further in the race to replace Cotton, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in 2014.
Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton’s bid to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor opens up a potentially competitive House contest in 2014.
Cotton, a freshman, is the second Republican since Reconstruction to represent the district, following longtime Democratic Rep. Mike Ross’ retirement last cycle. Democrats argue that with a strong candidate, they might have a chance to take back this district, which GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney won with 62 percent in 2012.
“Without [President Barack Obama] at the top of the ticket, candidates will be able to talk about local issues, without being hampered by the president’s baggage,” one Democratic operative said.
Speaker John A. Boehner will attend a Wednesday fundraiser for freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in Washington, D.C., CQ Roll Call has learned.
With his compelling biography, conservative credentials and fundraising prowess, Cotton is one of the highest-profile members of the freshman class.
“Cotton brings energy and enthusiasm to the House Republican Conference, and he’s definitely someone with leadership potential,” emailed a GOP aide, who confirmed the Boehner event was taking place.
The fundraiser with the Speaker will take place at the Capitol Hill Club on Wednesday evening.
Republicans on the other side of the Capitol complex have been giving Cotton attention too. Despite only having taken the oath of office last month, Republicans are recruiting him to run against Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in 2014. Full story
Arkansas state Sen. Bruce Maloch, a Democrat, is eyeing Arkansas’ 4th District — but only under one condition.
“If the seat is open, I’d definitely be interested in looking at it,” Maloch said in a telephone interview with CQ Roll Call on Thursday night. But if it’s not, he added, he’s “probably not interested in pursuing it.”
Freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., represents the 4th District. Maloch, like many Razorback State politicos, has heard increasing speculation that Cotton might run against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in 2014.
Cotton’s chief of staff, Doug Coutts, did not immediately return a phone call late Thursday. Coutts had no comment on the Senate bid speculation last month.
Local prosecuting attorney Scott Ellington and state Sen. Gene Jeffress won the Democratic primary runoffs in the Razorback State’s 1st and 4th districts, respectively.
Ellington beat state Rep. Clark Hall, who was backed by the Washington, D.C., and Little Rock Democratic establishments. He’ll face Rep. Rick Crawford (R), who is favored to hold his seat, in November.
Jeffress beat attorney Q. Byrum Hurst. Jeffress faces incredibly steep odds in his campaign against conservative darling Tom Cotton, the Republican nominee who is seen as an extremely strong candidate.
Veteran, attorney and rising GOP star Tom Cotton won a solid victory in Arkansas’ 4th Congressional district GOP primary, avoiding a runoff with 2010 nominee Beth Anne Rankin.
With 62 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Cotton. He had 56 percent of ballots cast, Rankin had 38 percent and a third candidate, John Cowart, had 6 percent.
Cotton, a Harvard Law School graduate who volunteered for the Army infantry after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the favorite to become the Congressman in this open Republican-leaning seat. Rep. Mike Ross (D) announced his retirement last July. Full story
A new poll shows attorney Tom Cotton has pulled ahead of 2010 GOP nominee Beth Anne Rankin in the 4th Congressional district’s GOP primary.
A May 10 Talk Business-Hendrix College survey of likely voters found Cotton garnered 51 percent to Rankin’s 33 percent. Ten percent didn’t know for whom they would vote.
An earlier poll by the same group, conducted on April 17, found the race tied at 38.5 percent each.
Cotton has been up on local TV with some strong biographical ads, which may explain his movement in the poll. Full story