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This means that out of the seriously competitive Senate races, Republicans only won one Democratic-held seat. It also means that Democrats will have a majority of 55 Senators, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and assuming that Sen.-elect Angus King (I) of Maine will caucus with the party.
Republicans, who a year ago were expected to pick up seats and possibly the majority, actually lost 2 seats and will hold 45 seats in the 113th Congress.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) led by 4 points in his bid for re-election with two-thirds of precincts fully reporting early Wednesday morning, but enough votes remained outstanding that the race was too close to call.
Tester led with 49 percent, while his Republican challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg, had 45 percent. Libertarian candidate Dan Cox appeared to be giving Tester a significant boost by taking more than 6 percent of the vote. Full story
Heitkamp led Berg by about 3,500 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.
Not so fast. Berg’s team announced early Wednesday morning that he wants to wait until the vote canvass finishes next week.
“This is a very close election, which is why North Dakota has a process in place to properly count each ballot and officially certify the result,” Berg spokesman Chris Van Guilder wrote in a press release. “This canvassing process will certify the election and provide an official result. The Berg for Senate campaign will await the results of the canvassing process before making any other announcements regarding the status of the election.”
A Heitkamp spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
Nonetheless, the count might not end after the canvass. According to North Dakota election law, there’s an automatic recount if the apparent victor wins by less than 0.5 percent of his or her vote total.
It gets even more complicated. North Dakota is the only state without voter registration, so it’s ripe for legal complaints in a tight race such as this one.
The Republican-affiliated sister groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS will begin a massive $10.5 million Senate ad blitz today and Wednesday, blanketing competitive Senate races, including those in Maine, Montana and New Mexico, with hard-hitting attack ads.
With control of the Senate in the balance, the deep-pocketed groups are making a concerted final push to help put GOP candidates over the line.
The ads that begin today are in the following Senate races:
A new internal poll conducted for former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp found the Democrat with a 4-point lead in the state’s open-seat Senate contest.
Heitkamp led Rep. Rick Berg (R) 48 percent to 44 percent with 7 percent undecided. The edge, according to a polling memo from the Mellman Group, stems from Heitkamp’s 23-point lead among independents. Full story
Campaigns, committees and outside groups are flooding the airwaves with negative television ads. A common hit to those who have held public office is a vote to increase one’s own salary.
American Action Network, a Republican super PAC, announced this morning that it was targeting four House races — California’s 10th, Minnesota’s 8th, New Hampshire’s 1st and New York’s 27th. The new ads released will have $5 million behind them, and more money and ads are expected to come in the closing weeks.
But it was a rare positive ad that best cut through the clutter today:
North Dakota Senate
This new statewide broadcast ad, which features former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) swinging away at a batting cage, created angst among female members of the Washington press corps who participate in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game.
The game annually pits female reporters against female Members. The Member roster is postured to lose its best hitter in Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), who was recently named Roll Call’s most endangered incumbent. If Heitkamp is able to pull out her Tossup race against Rep. Rick Berg (R), it is a safe bet to assume that two of her first congratulatory calls will be coming from Member team captains Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) looking to recruit her for their team.
Wasserman Schultz, who does double duty as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, jokingly tweeted on the ad, “I cannot confirm nor deny that batting average is a question on our candidate recruitment forms!”
Among the latest ads, one we were expecting has hit the air — just not where we thought it would. And two candidates’ ads feature relatives making the case for their campaigns — much to the candidates’ faux chagrin.
We expected a version of the following ad to surface in the Missouri Senate race — a rape victim criticizing a Republican candidate’s policies. But in this case, it is state Assembly Speaker John Oceguera’s (D) new ad against Rep. Joe Heck (R). As the GOP is beginning to show more overt support for Akin, it is a reminder of how much his “legitimate rape” comment has put these sorts of issues in the forefront of races other than his own.
Senate Democratic leaders today expressed optimism about their prospects of holding on to control of the chamber in November.
The grandest pronouncement came from Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.).
“For this entire Congress, Republicans thought if they blocked anything helping the economy and deprived the president of any accomplishments, it would deliver them a huge political victory in November. Then they could deal with all of the nation’s challenges entirely on their own terms,” Schumer said. “The strategy is backfiring on them.”
A day after the Democratic Conference met with Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina, Schumer argued that recently revealed comments by GOP nominee Mitt Romney about 47 percent of Americans not paying federal income taxes are having downballot effects that bolster Democratic chances of at least holding the Senate by a thread.
“Their presidential nominee just offended half the country,” Schumer said of Romney. “His flailing campaign is now having a drag effect for Republican Senate candidates across the country, and this has them a little cranky.”
Schumer then pointed to the coordinated speeches this morning by about 30 Republicans on the Senate floor, criticizing Obama and Senate Democrats on a slew of issues including the economy and gasoline prices.
“We have recruited amazing people to run in these Senate races,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Murray name-checked as strong Senate candidates Rep. Shelley Berkley (Nev.), Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. While North Dakota is a Republican majority state, Heitkamp is running to succeed a Democratic Senator, Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad.
“I have been so impressed with the people who have stood up to say yes, I do want to serve my country at a difficult time and run in what is an easy thing to do for the United States Senate,” Murray said.
Candidate recruitment has helped the Democrats in some states, along with perceived weakness on the Republican side in some races, but the inverse is sometimes true as well.
For instance, Democrats have a real race on their hands in Connecticut between Rep. Christopher Murphy (D) and Republican Linda McMahon to fill the seat being vacated by Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Nonetheless, “This is not where Republicans thought they’d be with 50 days left before election,” Schumer said.
Updated 11:30 p.m. | This week proves what a difference a strong candidate can make, even in partisan states.
In the wake of the implosion of Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.), Republicans quietly bemoaned their policy of remaining neutral in Senate primaries. But in North Dakota, where Republicans had an uncompetitive primary, it’s become clear that the GOP nominee is not as strong a recruit as he initially appeared to be.
At the start of the cycle, Republicans believed this seat would be an easy pickup. But former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) proved a strong candidate, and she’s run a nearly flawless campaign against the GOP nominee, Rep. Rick Berg.
Accordingly, Roll Call is belatedly changing its North Dakota race rating to Tossup. For months, we rated this race as Leans Republican, citing the GOP’s past political performance in the state. But over the summer, Democrats ran a stronger campaign here — and polling shows it’s working for Heitkamp. Full story
American Crossroads and its nonprofit affiliate, Crossroads GPS, today launched new television ads targeting competitive Senate races in New Mexico and North Dakota.
American Crossroads, a GOP-aligned super PAC, went up with its second ad in New Mexico on behalf of former Rep. Heather Wilson (R), who is facing Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) in the race for the open Senate seat. The group spent $184,000 on the ad — its second to air this month — which airs statewide on broadcast and cable from today through July 7. Full story
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reserved $1.2 million in fall airtime in North Dakota today.
The buy caps the committee’s first wave of ad investments in five key states with top Senate races, including $4.5 million in Missouri, $3.2 million in Montana, $7.5 million in Virginia and $5.1 million in Ohio.
According to a source familiar with the buy, the North Dakota reservation is for Oct. 2 through Nov. 5. But committees can change the reservation at any time without financial penalty — and they often do just that in the final months before Election Day depending on the competitiveness of a race. Full story
National Democrats upped the ante in the North Dakota Senate race with a second ad buy to boost their nominee, former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp.
This week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee placed another $86,000 statewide ad buy through their independent expenditure arm. The 30-second spot, which runs from today to July 2, blasts Heitkamp’s opponent, freshman Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME1mLCUuhc4 Full story
Just days before the Supreme Court is expected to make a highly anticipated ruling on the health care law, former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) took on the controversial issue in a new television advertisement.
Heitkamp, who faces freshman Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) this November, invokes her personal experience beating breast cancer 12 years ago in the 30-second spot.
“When you live through that, political attack ads seem silly,” she says in her straight-to-camera appeal. “I would never vote to take away a senior’s health care or limit anyone’s care. There’s good and bad in the health care law, and it needs to be fixed. But Rick Berg voted to go back to letting insurance companies deny coverage to kids or for pre-existing conditions.”
The advertisement is notable because Democratic candidates running in Republican states typically avoid discussing the health care law altogether — let alone pay for airtime promoting it. Additionally, Republicans have criticized Heitkamp for championing the legislation a couple of years ago.
But the spot also gives hints at how Democrats will discuss the controversial law during 2012 campaign in wake of the high court’s upcoming decision. A top Senate Democratic aide confirmed they expect more candidates to discuss the individual negative effects of repealing parts of the health care law — no matter how the Supreme Court rules.
American Crossroads is targeting six Senate races in a new round of television ads set to hit the airwaves today.
The Republican super PAC and its nonprofit arm, Crossroads GPS, has invested a combined $4.6 million in this buy, set to run statewide on broadcast and cable television in Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia. Except for Nevada, all of the seats are held by Democrats and considered top Republican pickup targets.
The spots include three attack ads from American Crossroads that are worth $2.6 million and critical of the Democratic nominees in Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia. The three issue ads from Crossroads GPS are running in Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio and focus on spending, debt and President Barack Obama’s health care law.