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October 22, 2014

Posts in "Ark. Senate"

October 15, 2014

3 Senate Endgame Scenarios

3 Senate Endgame Scenarios

The winner of the race between Roberts, left, and Orman, right, will play a major role in deciding the Senate majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

So much for a predictable midterm cycle. The past month has left multiple possible outcomes for control of the Senate.

Republican groups are barraging Kansas with resources and advertising to save a three-term incumbent being challenged by an independent in a solidly GOP state. Democrats, lacking much hope for months of holding an open seat in South Dakota, are all of a sudden dropping $1 million in advertising there — and being matched by Republicans — in a last-second Hail Mary that could possibly save its majority.

Just three weeks remain until Election Day, yet control of the Senate remains a dogfight and more than a handful of seats could conceivably go either way. The GOP has at least 10 states to find a path to six Senate seats and the majority, but — while public polling in most states appears to be moving in its direction — at this point the party has only locked up two Democrat-held seats in a favorable national climate.

Making matters more convoluted are the unknowns surrounding independent candidates Greg Orman in Kansas and Larry Pressler in South Dakota, who have yet to say which caucus they would join.

With so many variables and competitive races, plus potential and competitive runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, the outcome of the midterm elections is anyone’s guess.

But as the votes start rolling in, there’s a chance the result will be one of the following three scenarios: Full story

October 8, 2014

Democratic Poll Finds Mark Pryor With Small Lead

Democratic Poll Finds Mark Pryor With Small Lead

Pryor is facing a competitive re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll conducted for the Arkansas Democratic Party found Sen. Mark Pryor and his Republican challenger still locked in a tight race.

In the survey, obtained by CQ Roll Call, Pryor led Rep. Tom Cotton, 45 percent to 42 percent, with Libertarian and Green Party candidates taking a combined 5 percent and 9 percent undecided.

Democratic polls have consistently shown Pryor with small leads in recent months, which is counter to most public and GOP polling that has come out. But a USA Today/Suffolk poll taken in mid-September found Pryor up 2 points. Full story

Tom Cotton Pushes for Leadership in New TV Ad

Tom Cotton Pushes for Leadership in New TV Ad

Cotton released a new ad Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton is launching a positive TV ad Wednesday, with just less than four weeks to go in one of Republicans’ top Senate pickup opportunities.

The statewide spot, part of the Cotton campaign’s $2.4 million TV buy for the final month of the race, features a portion of his August 2013 announcement speech in which the congressman argues for the state’s need for leadership in the Senate.

“I will do the right thing even when it’s the hard thing. And I will never forget how I was raised or where I come from,” Cotton says in the ad. Full story

October 1, 2014

Pat Roberts Ranks Among Most Vulnerable Senators

Pat Roberts Ranks Among Most Vulnerable Senators

Hagan is a North Carolina Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While the structure of the competitive Senate map has finally solidified, plenty of uncertainties remain as the two parties enter the final month of the midterm elections.

The most glaring question mark and startling development over the past several weeks is in Kansas, where Republican Sen. Pat Roberts now ranks fourth on Roll Call’s monthly list of the most vulnerable senators (read the September edition here). This is a state that last elected a Democratic senator in 1932, but ballot maneuverings and Roberts’ own missteps have placed him in the company of the cycle’s most endangered incumbents.

The GOP needs six seats to win the majority, and the party can get halfway there by picking up open seats in West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana, where retirements hindered Democrats’ ability to hold their ground. Democrats have better odds in the other open seats, with Iowa still hosting one of the most competitive races in the country and Democrats continuing to hold the edge in Michigan.

Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., remains a top target for Republicans. But Democrats are pummeling Republican nominee Thom Tillis on the air, and Hagan is the only red-state Democrat whose positioning has clearly improved in recent months.

The competitiveness of the Senate race in Kansas took most people by surprise, including, it seems, Roberts. The senator entered the general election with a limited political apparatus and less motivation to campaign following his contested primary. That all changed last month, when the Democratic nominee withdrew from the race and Republican efforts to reverse the move failed.

That left independent Greg Orman, who is still an unknown quantity. As Orman introduces himself to the electorate, Republicans’ opposition research on him is still just starting to trickle out. Roberts has brought in a new campaign team, a steady stream of GOP heavyweights is filing through the state to help him out, and at least one outside group has started spending for him on the airwaves.

In a state as Republican as Kansas, that could be enough to save the day. But for now, Roberts is firmly among the 10 Most Vulnerable Senators, ranked below in order of vulnerability:  Full story

September 17, 2014

Cotton’s Softer Side Displayed in Senate Race (Video)

Cottons Softer Side Displayed in Senate Race (Video)

Cotton is challenging Pryor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton’s campaign kicked off the final sprint to November with advertising designed to soften the image of one of the GOP’s most-touted Senate recruits.

The freshman congressman, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, boasts multiple Harvard degrees, military service and broad support across the GOP spectrum. His political advantages also include a state trending Republican and a midterm cycle featuring a second-term Democratic president with a 31 percent approval rating in Arkansas, according to a recent NBC News/Marist poll.

But Cotton is running against a two-term senator with a respected brand name, which has given Pryor an advantage some of his fellow red-state Democratic colleagues don’t share. Cotton, who was a first-time candidate in 2012 and has represented just a quarter of the state for less than two years, had the added challenge of boosting his relatively low name ID while refining his skills on the stump. Full story

September 15, 2014

Democrats Have a Plan to Overcome Obama in Red States

Democrats Have a Plan to Overcome Obama in Red States

Hagan is a North Carolina Democrat seeking re-election this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As national analysts say the odds are increasingly against them, Democratic senators and senior operatives remain optimistic the party’s most vulnerable incumbents can survive stiff re-election challenges, even in red states where the president’s popularity is sunk.

With his national approval ratings mired in the low 40s seven weeks out from the Nov. 4 elections, Senate Democrats are well aware of the anchor President Barack Obama is proving to be in the midterms. It’s clear party strategists have had to tailor their red-state strategies around that reality on a map already tilted against them, with three principles at the crux of Democrats’ path to defend seats in GOP-leaning and solidly Republican states where the majority will be won or lost.

As Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Guy Cecil outlined in an interview last week with CQ Roll Call, it’s imperative for Democrats in these states to remind voters why they supported the incumbent in the first place, to over-perform generic Democratic numbers and continue to fund persuasion efforts — along with getting out the vote — through Election Day.

“The president’s ratings are a factor in our elections, but they are not the only factor in our elections,” Cecil said, noting the tens of millions of dollars being spent on advertising and the DSCC’s field campaign efforts. Full story

September 3, 2014

GOP Responds to Mark Pryor’s Health Care Ad

GOP Responds to Mark Pryors Health Care Ad

Pryor is targeted on health care in a new GOP ad. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Any questions about whether the Affordable Care Act would still play a central role in Republican messaging against Democratic incumbents this cycle have been answered — at least in Arkansas.

Crossroads GPS, the non-profit arm of GOP-aligned American Crossroads, is kicking off a post-Labor Day, two-month, $2.5 million media campaign in the Razorback State with an ad targeting Sen. Mark Pryor on his support for the president’s health care law.

Pryor is being challenged by Rep. Tom Cotton in a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.

The incumbent released an ad two weeks ago that got plenty of media buzz as he touted a couple benefits of the law. But he didn’t refer to the legislation by name, so this latest GOP ad aims to fill in that gap. Full story

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 28, 2014

National Democrats Hit Tom Cotton on Social Security

National Democrats Hit Tom Cotton on Social Security

The DSCC is helping Pryor with another ad in Arkansas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a new TV ad in Arkansas Thursday that continues a theme of portraying Republican Rep. Tom Cotton as someone voters can’t trust.

The DSCC’s latest spot is part of a total $3.6 million investment to support Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, whose brand has helped make him competitive for re-election in this Republican-leaning state and in a challenging national environment for his party.

The ad targets the freshman congressman on Social Security. It features Brett Smith of Helena, Ark., vocalizing his concern for his retirement.

“I can see my retirement from here, but every time I see Tom Cotton I feel it slipping away,” Smith says in the ad. Full story

August 5, 2014

Senate Democrats Launch First IE Ad of 2014 (Video)

Senate Democrats Launch First IE Ad of 2014 (Video)

Senate 2014: Cotton is the target of the DSCC's first IE ad of the cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched its first independent expenditure ad of the cycle Tuesday, the premiere installment in a $3.6 million buy in Arkansas on behalf of Sen. Mark Pryor.

The ad pushes a theme Democrats have worked for months to sew into the race — that Republican Rep. Tom Cotton can’t be trusted. 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 30, 2014

Mark Pryor Up 2 Points in Democratic Poll

Mark Pryor Up 2 Points in Democratic Poll

Pryor is in a dead-heat re-election race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor led his Republican challenger by 2 points in a recent Democratic poll, which is the third survey on the race released in the last two days.

The polling memo, obtained by CQ Roll Call, stated Pryor led by a 48-46 percent margin, with 6 percent undecided — a lead within the 4-point margin of error. The survey included a sample of 600 likely voters and was conducted July 20-24 by Democratic firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, which counts as a client the Arkansas gubernatorial campaign of former Rep. Mike Ross.

The memo comes one day after the Pryor campaign released an internal poll (taken July 7-10) showing him ahead 45-39 percent and an independent poll from Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College (taken July 22-25) found Cotton up 44-42 percent. Full story

July 11, 2014

Pryor Starts Reserving Fall Airtime in Pivotal Senate Race

Pryor Starts Reserving Fall Airtime in Pivotal Senate Race

Pryor is ramping up his air war. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor has been buying up fall airtime for a race critical to nearly every hypothetical Republican path to the Senate majority.

The two-term Democrat, who faces the fight of his political life against GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, has so far reserved several hundred thousand dollars worth of TV time for the closing six weeks of the race, according to a media-buying source. The Pryor campaign would not comment on its media strategy, but that’s just an opening salvo in a state already seeing a plethora of spending from outside groups and both campaigns.

Amid a vigorous on-air back-and-forth over tornado disaster relief and religion in the past week, the contours of Pryor’s path to re-election remain unchanged. The Arkansas Democrat is banking that voters’ familiarity with him — and their disbelief that Cotton is on their side — will outweigh the antipathy toward Washington and President Barack Obama.

“Mark’s been around a really long time and his family has been around a long time,” said Sheila Bronfman, a Democratic consultant in Arkansas and longtime ally of the Clintons. “People like him and they trust him. They trust where he comes from and how he was raised, and I just think that’s making a big difference here.”

Full story

July 8, 2014

New Ads Invade Arkansas Airwaves

New Ads Invade Arkansas Airwaves

Pryor faces Cotton in Arkansas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Three new campaign ads hit the Arkansas airwaves Tuesday, with less than four months to go in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.

Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican Rep. Tom Cotton are fighting for a seat crucial to the GOP’s hopes of winning the Senate majority. They took aim at each other in their respective ads, while GOP-aligned Crossroads GPS tied Pryor to the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama and Washington.

Arkansas ranks fourth in independent-expenditure spending, behind Kentucky and North Carolina — which feature competitive general-election races — and Mississippi, which just concluded an extended GOP primary. Full story

June 25, 2014

Club for Growth Stumbles With Mississippi Senate Loss (Video)

Club for Growth Stumbles With Mississippi Senate Loss (Video)

The Club for Growth worked against Sen. Thad Cochran, who won Tuesday's runoff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Club for Growth, a perpetual thorn in the side of many Republican operatives, took a hit Tuesday in Mississippi, where Sen. Thad Cochran survived a primary challenge despite a significant investment from the anti-tax group.

The Club for Growth’s super PAC arm spent $2.4 million against Cochran, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a significant chunk of the $3.8 million it’s expended so far this cycle against Republicans.

What’s more, the defeat of state Sen. Chris McDaniel means the club has now failed to topple arguably its top two GOP incumbent targets of the midterm cycle — Cochran and Rep. Mike Simpson. The club spent nearly $500,000 for Bryan Smith, who lost his May 20 challenge to the Idaho Republican.

Full story

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