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August 23, 2014

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June 19, 2014

Senate Majority Might Not Be Decided Until December

Senate Majority Might Not Be Decided Until December

The Senate majority could be decided late in Louisiana if Landrieu's race goes to runoff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For all the money spent on the November elections, control of the Senate might not be decided until a Saturday three weeks before Christmas.

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., hopes to win re-election outright on Nov. 4 in a jungle primary against a handful of challengers. But winning a majority of the vote in a multi-candidate field would be a significant feat, and the campaigns of both Landrieu and her leading Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, are undoubtedly preparing for an extended, one-on-one race.

If a Dec. 6 runoff coincides with a 50-49 Republican advantage in the Senate, consultants in and out of the state warn of an unprecedented onslaught of spending from party committees and outside groups in a race that could become more about the national parties than the two candidates on the ballot.

“Mary kind of becomes a pawn in a much, much bigger game,” said Dane Strother, a Democratic media consultant and Baton Rouge native who’s worked on previous Landrieu campaigns. “The entire force of national politics will land on Louisiana. They’ll buy every radio ad, every TV ad, inundate with direct mail. It will be a war.” Full story

June 18, 2014

James Lankford on ‘Big Dirty Secret’ of Senate Campaign (Video Interview)

Oklahoma Republican James Lankford, a second term congressman seeking the state’s open Senate seat, chose his words carefully in a recent interview when discussing his top opponent, former state Speaker T.W. Shannon.

“I keep Reagan’s 11th Commandment that I don’t run down other Republicans,” Lankford told CQ Roll Call.

That’s true in both interviews and in his paid media strategy, as Lankford noted he plans to not run any negative ads in advance of the June 24 primary. Full story

Lankford Builds Momentum in Oklahoma Senate Race

Lankford Builds Momentum in Oklahoma Senate Race

Lankford is running for Senate in Oklahoma. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Don’t call it a comeback. Rep. James Lankford was always there.

But the Oklahoma Republican’s Senate bid has picked up momentum ahead of Tuesday’s primary, which now looks likely proceed to a runoff, giving Lankford his clearest shot at the open seat.

To win the GOP nod, the two-term congressman must eclipse the national star power of his most formidable opponent, former state Speaker T.W. Shannon, in a battle that also includes former state Sen. Randy Brogdon and several lesser-known candidates. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the primary vote Tuesday, the top two vote recipients head to an August runoff.

Lankford’s recent rise in polls and on the airwaves are signals that scenario, and his chances of taking the nomination, are increasingly likely, according to Sooner State Republicans.

“It seems to me now like Lankford has the momentum,” said Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston.

Full story

June 17, 2014

Reinforcements Infiltrate Mississippi Senate Race Runoff

Reinforcements Infiltrate Mississippi Senate Race Runoff

In the Mississippi Senate race, McDaniel received more outside help Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Conservatives Fund launched a new TV ad in Mississippi on Tuesday, becoming the latest outside group to spend significant money on the state’s Republican Senate primary runoff.

With a week to go in the three-week-long race, the SCF’s political action arm expended $210,000 for a spot arguing “it’s time for a conservative change” from six-term Sen. Thad Cochran to state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

 

The outside help comes as both candidates have pushed to raise money of their own for the extended contest. Cochran benefited from a 250-person fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee last week that provided an $820,000 financial surge. Full story

June 16, 2014

Crossroads Upends New York’s 21st District Primary

Crossroads Upends New Yorks 21st District Primary

Crossroads is spending heavily in New York's 21st District primary against Matt Doheny, above. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In New York’s sprawling 21st District, a recent influx of more than $1 million from outside groups has catapulted a 29-year-old first-time candidate ahead of the two-time nominee in the Republican primary for this coveted seat.

American Crossroads alone has already made more than $750,000 in independent expenditures to boost former White House aide Elise Stefanik’s bid — the group’s only spending in a House primary so far in 2014.

The June 24 Republican primary pits Stefanik against Matt Doheny, a deep-pocketed businessman and repeat candidate.

Early on in the race, Doheny’s familiarity with local voters and track record of self-funding his campaigns gave him an advantage. But two outside groups have flooded the district’s airwaves in a way that sources say has thrown the momentum to Stefanik.  Full story

Lankford Led Shannon in Oklahoma Senate Pre-Primary Fundraising

Lankford Led Shannon in Oklahoma Senate Pre Primary Fundraising

Lankford is running in the June 24 Senate primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. James Lankford headed into the final three weeks of the Oklahoma Republican Senate primary with more than double the cash on hand of his top opponent, state Speaker T.W. Shannon.

Shannon and Lankford are locked in a tight battle to succeed Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who is resigning at the end of this Congress. The winner of the June 24 primary — or Aug. 26 runoff — will be heavily favored in the November special election to serve out the remaining two years of Coburn’s term.

According to pre-primary reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission, Lankford had $732,000 in cash on hand as of June 4, while Shannon had $330,000. Full story

June 10, 2014

South Carolina Results: Lindsey Graham Wins GOP Primary (Video)

South Carolina Results: Lindsey Graham Wins GOP Primary (Video)

In the South Carolina primary, Graham faced a challenge. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On the same night that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary bid to an opponent who singularly focused on opposing the immigration overhaul, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — one of the authors of that legislation — won his primary with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Graham had 59 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race, all but ensuring his re-election to a third term. He also avoided a runoff, easily clearing the 50 percent threshold. He defeated state Sen. Lee Bright, businessman Richard Cash, businesswoman Nancy Mace, pastor Det Bowers, and attorney Bill Connor.

Conservatives initially targeted Graham this cycle, citing his support for a comprehensive immigration rewrite in the Senate. But no viable challenger emerged to take on Graham and his considerable war chest.

The senator did not take the race for granted: He has been on the air since February with ads touting his conservative bona fides.

There is no serious Democratic challenger, and Graham is expected to coast to re-election in the fall.

South Carolina’s junior senator, Republican Tim Scott, is also up for election this year. Scott was appointed to the Senate last year by Gov. Nikki R. Haley, after former GOP Sen. Jim DeMint resigned to become president of the Heritage Foundation.

Scott did not have a challenger in Tuesday’s primary.

Both races are rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Cochran Challenger Airs First TV Ad of Runoff

Cochran Challenger Airs First TV Ad of Runoff

McDaniel released a TV ad for the runoff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel launched his first TV ad of the Republican Senate primary runoff on Tuesday.

The challenger to six-term Sen. Thad Cochran finished some 1,400 votes ahead in the June 3 primary, but he did not win the majority of votes necessary to avoid the June 24 runoff.

In his first ad of the extended race, McDaniel is called “a proven conservative leader with an agenda for Mississippi,” which includes repealing the Affordable Care Act, reducing the federal debt, cutting taxes and implementing term limits “for all our politicians.” Full story

June 9, 2014

Ruben Gallego Seeks Arizona’s 7th District (Video Interview)

State Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat, said he’s unsure how much money he’ll need to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., in the 7th District, according to an interview with CQ Roll Call.

“It’s hard to say,” Gallego said. “It’s not going to be a cheap race. This is a five month race.”

The Democrat is running in a crowded Aug. 26 primary in this Hispanic-majority district based in PhoenixThe Democratic nominee is expected to win the general election in this strong Democratic district.

Gallego’s most formidable opponent is former Maricopa County Board Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, a longtime local official backed by Pastor and EMILY’s List. Full story

June 6, 2014

Alaska Republican Sees Advantage as First-Time Candidate (Video)

Alaska Republican Sees Advantage as First Time Candidate (Video)

Sullivan visited Roll Call in Washington, D.C., June 4. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The candidate: Dan Sullivan, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve; formerly commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, state attorney general and George W. Bush appointee.
The member: Sullivan is running in the Republican primary to challenge first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.
The state: Begich, just the seventh senator in Alaska history, in 2008 became the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alaska since 1974. In 2012, President Barack Obama improved his performance from 2008, but still took just 41 percent. The race is rated Tossup/Tilts Democrat by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
The candidate’s team: Hans Kaiser of Moore Information (polling); FP1 Strategies (media); Arena Communications (direct mail); Michael Dubke of the Black Rock Group (general consultant); Ben Sparks (campaign manager).

Full story

June 5, 2014

Lindsey Graham Releases Last Ads Before GOP Primary

Lindsey Graham Releases Last Ads Before GOP Primary

Lindsey Graham will face a primary on June 10. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham released the final ads of his primary campaign for re-election Thursday.

Both ads — a 30-second TV spot and 60-second radio spot — feature Graham ticking off his efforts for conservative priorities, including fighting unions and the Affordable Care Act, supporting the military and the Keystone XL pipeline, and continuing to look into the 2012 deaths in Benghazi, Libya.

The ads are part of a “significant six-figure statewide” buy and come one day after a Clemson poll found Graham taking 49 percent of the vote, just shy of the majority he needs to escape a runoff against a handful of lesser-known challengers. He still had $3.7 million on hand as of May 21, the close of the pre-primary fundraising period. Full story

Thad Cochran Allies Revamp Message for Runoff (Video)

Thad Cochran Allies Revamp Message for Runoff (Video)

Cochran, above, heads to a runoff with McDaniel. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Thad Cochran’s campaign and supporters have held separate strategy sessions in the state capital and on Capitol Hill to decipher a plan B for the longtime GOP senator, who heads to a runoff against his primary rival, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, in three weeks.

Fundraising will be a key component for both Mississippi campaigns, whose war chests were depleted in the contentious fight that concluded with a near tie on Tuesday. Neither candidate reached the 50 percent threshold to avoid a June 24 runoff.

Beyond that, according to a source with knowledge of the campaign’s deliberations, the Cochran campaign intends to improve the retail side of its strategy in about 25 targeted counties, where — with Tuesday’s election results — it now has a starting point for voter contact.

Full story

June 4, 2014

Mississippi Primary Results: Cochran, McDaniel on Track for Runoff (Updated) (Video)

Mississippi Primary Results: Cochran, McDaniel on Track for Runoff (Updated) (Video)

Chris McDaniel may be headed for a runoff in Mississippi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:54 a.m., 2:10 p.m. | One of the most contentious Republican Senate primaries of the 2014 cycle was too close to call late Tuesday night, and the Mississippi race could be extended another three weeks.

With 99.6 percent of precincts reporting, state Sen. Chris McDaniel led 49.5 percent to 48.9 percent for six-term Sen. Thad Cochran, according to The Associated Press.

If no one takes more than 50 percent of the vote, both will advance to a June 24 runoff.

In the purest example this year of the split within the GOP, Mississippi Republicans chose between the soft-spoken, influential incumbent and a 41-year-old upstart who aligned himself with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Full story

June 3, 2014

Primary Results: Iowa Senate, House Races (Updated)

Primary Results: Iowa Senate, House Races (Updated)

Braley won the Democratic nod for Senate and will face Ernst. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated June 4, 1:00 a.m. and 5:12 a.m. | Joni Ernst has won the Republican nominee for Senate in Iowa, boosting the GOP’s hopes of picking up this a competitive, open seat in 2014.

Ernst, a state senator, scored a decisive victory over her three major opponents, leading with 53 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race at 10:52 p.m. She easily surpassed the 35 percent threshold she needed to win the nomination outright and avoid a convention. Full story

Thad Cochran Runs on Incumbency, Appropriations in GOP Primary

Thad Cochran Runs on Incumbency, Appropriations in GOP Primary

Cochran greets a supporter at Windy City Grille in Hernando. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OXFORD, Miss. — Construction on Phase II of the grand Thad Cochran Research Center here on the Ole Miss campus is expected to be completed later this year, around the time the senator hopes to be re-elected to a seventh term.

Cochran’s help securing crucial federal funding for the pharmacy school’s natural products research facility is one of numerous examples of the Senate appropriator’s widely regarded ability to steer money toward his state, which has the lowest median household income in the country.

The incumbent spent the final week of an increasingly hostile race on a statewide bus tour touting his 36 years of experience in the Senate, despite the fact that his appropriations prowess — and accusations he doesn’t fight hard enough for conservative causes — is what led to the 76-year-old’s most competitive primary challenge ever, from tea-party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“I feel comfortable knowing that I can get things done for the state to help better address our economic problems, also our national security interests,” Cochran said in an interview in Hernando, when asked about voters who may be looking for someone new. “As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m situated to help influence the level of funding for a lot of government programs in the national security area that directly benefit Mississippi,” including both military installations and defense contractors. Full story

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