Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

Posts in "Ky. Senate"

September 1, 2014

The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Roll Call ranks Landrieu as the most vulnerable senator. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There is a new chart-topper in Roll Call’s latest monthly ranking of the 10 most vulnerable senators.

Montana’s appointed Sen. John Walsh was by far the most endangered incumbent in the chamber at the time of the previous installment in early August, but his decision last month to not seek a full term opened the top slot to a couple other worthy contenders.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is still in a perilous political position, but Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has leapfrogged him on the list to become the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbent. Full story

August 29, 2014

Mitch McConnell’s Campaign Manager Resigns

Mitch McConnells Campaign Manager Resigns

McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jesse Benton, who had worked as the campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election bid, said Friday he would resign.

The veteran operative with close ties to the Paul family released a lengthy statement making the announcement. The Lexington Herald-Leader first reported Benton’s resignation, which is effective Saturday.

The move comes just two days after a former Iowa state senator admitted to accepting $73,000 in concealed payments from former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. In exchange for the money, that individual, Kent Sorenson, switched endorsements from Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to Paul, a Texas Republican.

Full story

August 4, 2014

Top 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Top 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

In 2014 Senate races, Pryor is one of the most vulnerable Democrats. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three months before Election Day, it’s clear some senators may not return to Congress after the midterms — and that’s mostly good news for Republicans.

The GOP’s path to the Senate majority includes a mix of open seats and targeted Democratic incumbents. The two most vulnerable seats are in South Dakota and West Virginia, where Democratic senators are retiring. Republicans also have opportunities in open seats in Iowa and, to a lesser degree, Michigan.

But even if they are victorious in those states, the GOP must defeat at least two incumbents to reach the net six seats needed for control.

Luckily for Republicans, Democrats make up the vast majority of endangered senators seeking re-election. The GOP has a lengthy catalog of states where it has an opportunity to win, though there is a wide gap betweenthe  No. 1 and No. 10 most vulnerable senators — who are ordered by most likely to lose.

Roll Call’s “10 Most Vulnerable Senators” list will be updated monthly ahead of the Nov. 4 elections. For now, here is where the incumbents stand: Full story

July 31, 2014

McConnell Declines NRSC Intervention for Re-Election

McConnell Declines NRSC Intervention for Re Election

Moran is a Kansas Republican and NRSC Chairman. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Republicans eyeing the Senate majority and his own job title poised to change, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has told the National Republican Senatorial Committee not to worry about his race.

In a briefing with reporters Thursday at the committee headquarters, NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran said McConnell is raising money for the committee as it seeks to add at least six Republican senators and retake control of the chamber — but the NRSC is “not actively engaged in Kentucky.” Full story

July 1, 2014

Ted Cruz Doesn’t Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz Doesnt Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz is a Republican from Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A conservative outside group whose efforts Sen. Ted Cruz backed has called for defunding the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Cruz, an NRSC vice chairman and Texas Republican, has not rebuked the effort.

This weekend, Senate Conservatives Fund launched a campaign calling on conservatives to pledge not to give any money to the NRSC in the aftermath of last week’s runoff in the Mississippi Senate race. As is typical, the NRSC backed Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, while the SCF and other outside groups backed his failed challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“The Senate Republican establishment betrayed the grassroots and recruited Democrats in Mississippi to defeat Chris McDaniel,” the SCF petition said. ”Fight back by pledging not to donate to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

Full story

June 23, 2014

Pick Your Clinton: Democrats Want Duo on Trail

Pick Your Clinton: Democrats Want Duo on Trail

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton are exciting Democrats who hope for their help in the midterm elections. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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.”

Full story

June 9, 2014

FreedomWorks Might Help Candidates They Opposed in 2014 Primaries

FreedomWorks Might Help Candidates They Opposed in 2014 Primaries

Freedomworks did not endorse Tillis, left, in the primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

FreedomWorks, a tea party-affiliated group that backed primary challengers to two GOP incumbents this cycle, is weighing whether to spend money to help the nominees they previously opposed.

The group, known for targeting Republican incumbents and establishment favorites with ground-game assistance for conservative candidates, is more closely tied with the tea party than the Republican Party.

But as FreedomWorks looks to the general election fights ahead, and with Republicans needing a six-seat net gain to win the Senate majority, the group is open to aiding candidates like North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — both of whom it actively worked against earlier this year.

“We’ve decided that Harry Reid’s not our friend,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in an interview Thursday. “Shockingly.” Full story

May 21, 2014

Paul: McConnell Win ‘Consistent With the Tea Party’

Sen. Rand Paul is dismissing the idea that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Republican primary victory in Kentucky Tuesday night was a defeat for the tea party movement.

Paul, who upset the establishment-backed candidate in his own 2010 primary, had endorsed McConnell early in the race, which was a sour point for some on the right who viewed the incumbent as too entrenched and insufficiently conservative.

“I’m probably considered to be from the tea party, but I supported Sen. McConnell because I like, you know, that he’s a conservative,” Paul told reporters Wednesday in the Capitol. “I don’t know that that’s a defeat of the tea party necessarily when he wins. I think he stands for conservative principles, and him winning is consistent with the tea party.” Full story

May 20, 2014

McConnell Wins Primary, Will Face Grimes (Updated)

McConnell Wins Primary, Will Face Grimes (Updated)

McConnell won his primary handily on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:21 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell defeated his tea party-backed primary rival Tuesday, putting the Republican lawmaker one step closer to winning a sixth term in Kentucky.

McConnell led with 62 percent to 33 percent for Louisville businessman Matt Bevin when The Associated Press called the race with just 7 percent of precincts reporting.

The primary served as the formal kickoff to what’s expected to be a highly competitive general-election race with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of State, who also won her primary by a wide margin. In one of Democrats’ two pickup opportunities in 2014, recent polls have found the race neck-and-neck. Full story

GOP Super PAC Ad Ties Grimes to Hollywood, Obama

A super PAC supporting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky is launching a TV ad on Wednesday against likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes.

With the state’s primaries Tuesday set to cement the general-election matchup between McConnell and Grimes, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership is immediately releasing a TV ad tying Grimes to liberals, Hollywood and President Barack Obama.

The new ad is the latest attempt by the group to define Grimes at the outset of the race. It’s already spent well more than $1 million on TV and radio ads before this latest ad, which the group announced is backed by a $575,000 expenditure and airing statewide on broadcast and cable through June 2. Full story

McConnell, Grimes Race Has Already Begun as Primary Concludes

McConnell, Grimes Race Has Already Begun as Primary Concludes

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell might be the headliner of the “Super Tuesday” primaries, but the Kentucky Republican’s general election has already started.

Tuesday features intriguing Republican and Democratic primaries at the House and Senate levels across six states, including a still-unpredictable Georgia GOP Senate race and an open-seat Democratic House contest in Philadelphia. In Kentucky, McConnell was once considered vulnerable to a conservative challenger, but he’s likely to easily defeat Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, a tea-party-backed, partially self-financing contender.

For McConnell, Tuesday night will serve as a test-run for the general against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and the formal kickoff to the more challenging leg of his already lengthy re-election campaign.

“Our goal was to come out of the primary stronger than we went in, and by any objective measure the McConnell campaign has exceeded that goal,” McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. Full story

May 8, 2014

Alison Lundergan Grimes Launches First TV Ad

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, launched her first TV ad of the cycle on Thursday.

The 30-second spot, backed by a six-figure buy and running statewide, highlights the Kentucky secretary of State’s efforts to improve voting procedures for the state’s overseas military servicemembers. Full story

May 6, 2014

McConnell Touts Jobs Record in Latest TV Ad

McConnell Touts Jobs Record in Latest TV Ad

McConnell is favored to win the May 20 GOP primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a second television ad in as many weeks ahead of his GOP primary in Kentucky.

The latest statewide TV ad works to stem any damage caused by McConnell’s recent comment to the Beattyville Enterprise that bringing jobs to Kentucky his not his job. Titled “Hero,” the ad lays out specific instances where McConnell “helped save” Kentucky jobs.

Full story

April 21, 2014

Mitch McConnell Launches Ad for Final Month of Primary

Mitch McConnell Launches Ad for Final Month of Primary

McConnell has one month left in his primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s latest TV ad kicks off his closing argument for the final month of the Kentucky Republican primary and sets up his message for the start of the general election.

The positive spot, launched Monday and running for an undetermined amount of time, paints McConnell, a five-term incumbent, as “a genuine Kentucky workhorse.” It highlights his work in the Senate against the president’s health care law and “war on coal,” as well as his efforts against tax increases and on a local fishing issue.

“Mitch McConnell fights for our values, our future and our jobs,” the ad’s narrator says.

Full story

March 7, 2014

Tea Party Senate Candidates Descend on CPAC

Tea Party Senate Candidates Descend on CPAC

Maness is running for Senate in Louisiana. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Much of the attention surrounding the Conservative Political Action Conference is understandably focused on the plethora of Republicans here who may be running for president at this time next year.

But, mostly offstage and behind the scenes, a handful of tea-party-backed Senate candidates — each running uphill against better-funded Republicans — are here among the thousands of conservative activists. They’re shaking hands, meeting potential supporters and raising some money.

They include Matt Bevin of Kentucky and Milton Wolf of Kansas, each waging primary challenges to Republican senators. Also in attendance are lesser-known hopefuls Rob Maness of Louisiana, Greg Brannon of North Carolina and David Clements of New Mexico, plus Joe Miller of Alaska, who are fighting for their party’s nomination to take on Democratic senators.

Kentucky, Louisiana, Alaska and North Carolina are on the front lines of the battle for Senate control. Republicans need to pick up a net six seats to win the majority.

“It’s a good opportunity in one centralized location to meet as many people as possible, and get your name and face in front of them,” said Maness, a retired Air Force colonel who is battling GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy and Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu in Louisiana’s jungle primary. Full story

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