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Three members on Roll Call’s ranking of the 10 most vulnerable senators will definitely not be returning to Congress next year, along with a slew of other incumbents.
The fate of two more senators is still unknown, but they also appear to be in trouble. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., faces a difficult December runoff. Votes are also still being counted in Alaska, where Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, is trailing his Republican opponent by several points.
Find out who else fulfilled or defied their vulnerable ranking: Full story
Updated Nov. 5, 7:23 a.m. | Republicans swept the Senate races Tuesday night, and come January, they will control the chamber for the first time in eight years.
Democratic incumbents fell right and left, even in seats that they had originally been favored to win. President Barack Obama’s poor approval rating — 42 percent in the last nationwide Gallup poll — dragged down candidates across the country in the face of a Republican wave.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who cruised to victory in his own re-election, is set to become the next majority leader, with a gain of at least seven seats — one more than the GOP needed.
As results were still pouring in, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran credited the GOP’s recruiting, encouraging and training its candidates.
“They are why we have the ability to deliver a majority, this evening, of Republicans to the United States Senate,” the Kansas Republican said. Full story
Roll Call’s final ranking of the most vulnerable senators doesn’t vary much from previous versions — the result of an unfavorable national climate for Democrats that has failed to improve.
On the eve of the midterm elections, Senate Democrats are staring down a hole dug by President Barack Obama’s disapproval ratings and an unforgiving map packed with red states. Retirements by a quartet of senators in Republican-leaning or swing states didn’t help, but the seats of at least four incumbents seeking re-election aren’t on much stronger ground.
It’s the reality of what could end up being a dreadful cycle for Democrats. Still, party strategists remain cautiously optimistic they can hold on to a few endangered seats, possibly even pick up a GOP open seat in Georgia and save the majority. Republicans need a net gain of six seats. Full story
Every week after President Barack Obama delivers his weekly address, the Republicans get a chance to respond. Because they don’t, of course, have a singular figure who would naturally address the nation each week, the speakers vary. So far in 2014, 11 Republican candidates — four House hopefuls and seven vying for Senate seats — have had the honor to take to YouTube and spread their party’s message.
In the fall of an election year, the GOP weekly address is an opportunity for Republicans to showcase some of their hopefuls on the ballot to a broader audience than the candidates can normally reach themselves — because not everyone pays attention to every Senate race, or to New York congressional campaigns.
“The weekly address is a great opportunity to showcase our diverse and talented group of candidates to the country,” said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, which coordinates the speeches. He said the party’s “tremendous slate” allows the GOP to contrast its record with the president’s.
There are some common themes mentioned time and time again: dissatisfaction with the president’s job approval, the desire to expand domestic energy production, repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting government regulation.
Saturday’s address, posted at 6 a.m., will feature Will Hurd, the GOP nominee for Texas’ 23rd House district.
Here is a summary of the others.
The Republican critique of the president’s health care overhaul law may have hit a wall in Minnesota, complicating the GOP’s already long chances of picking up a Senate seat in the state.
Though the state’s health care exchange, MNsure, has hit a few snags in recent weeks, local Democrats still claim the program is an overall success — at least relative to other states. A University of Minnesota study credited the Affordable Care Act for dropping the state’s uninsured numbers to roughly 5 percent, making it the one of the lowest in the country. Minnesota also touts the lowest premium rates and generally low health care costs.
Those statistics have made it more difficult for businessman Mike McFadden, the GOP’s nominee, to challenge Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., for supporting the president’s signature health care law. Franken is the front-runner in the race, and independent polls show him with a small double-digit lead.
“The Republicans hope that the toxicity of the moniker Obamacare would lead to this kind of mob running against the Democrats has not happened. Voters are hearing different things,” said Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at University of Minnesota. “It’s turning out that Democrats have found strategies to fight to a draw, which in 2014 is probably the best they could hope for, at least on this issue.” Full story
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken led by 7 points in an internal poll conducted on behalf of the state Republican Party.
The Democrat, who is favored to be re-elected to a second term, led Republican finance executive Mike McFadden 46 percent to 39 percent.
It was a more favorable result for McFadden than the state party’s previous internal poll in August, which showed Franken up 49 percent to 38 percent.
“Bottom line — the race is still advantage Franken, but the Senator’s margin has closed over the past few weeks,” Public Opinion Strategies pollster Robert Blizzard wrote in a memo obtained by CQ Roll Call. Full story
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
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.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will hold a retreat in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, this weekend with donors to boost two Democratic Senate campaigns: Rep. Gary Peters’ bid in Michigan and Sen. Al Franken’s re-election in Minnesota.
According to an invitation obtained by CQ Roll Call, the Lake Tahoe Retreat runs from Aug. 15 through 17 at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino in Incline Village. The required contribution to attend is $10,000 with checks made payable to Searchlight Lake Tahoe Victory Fund, Reid’s joint fundraising committee. Full story
Al Franken knows the story — just not from this side.
In 2008, a first-time candidate dogged by his career history faced a formidable incumbent dragged down by an unpopular second-term president. The result: now-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., defeated then-Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, in a shockingly close race that only ended after a months-long contentious recount and legal battle.
Now Coleman’s hand-picked candidate wants to return the favor in 2014. Franken will face a wealthy investment banker and first-time candidate, Mike McFadden, in November — and this time, he’s the senator battling an unpopular president’s drag on the ballot.
A candidate recently aimed to make a positive impression on voters by starring his female offspring in a TV ad.
It happens nearly every cycle — and it did again last week, with a new Senate campaign spot from Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont.
His two daughters, Annie and Caroline, told voters all about the positive points of his biography, highlighting the fact that he is a “fifth-generation Montanan.”
The candidate: Republican state Sen. Julianne Ortman
The member: First-term Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.
The state: Franken won by the smallest margin of any Senate race in 2008. He defeated then-Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, following a recount.
The candidate’s team: Campaign manager Andy Parrish and media consultant Ed Brookover.
http://youtu.be/SWRYzxYr7c0 Full story
Fundraising may not exactly be en vogue during the government shutdown, but releasing and filing last quarter’s numbers is.
Here is the latest in House and Senate third-quarter fundraising:
A Republican challenger to Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., announced Thursday that he raised $700,000 in the third quarter.
Mike McFadden, a finance executive, is one of a handful of Republicans vying to take on the first-term Democrat. After two quarters of fundraising, McFadden has now brought in nearly $1.5 million and had $1.2 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30.
Those solid numbers likely keep him ahead of the GOP pack but still behind the incumbent. Franken, who has not yet released his third-quarter fundraising total, has so far this year been on a fundraising tear. He raised nearly $2 million last quarter and had $3 million in cash on hand by the end of June. Full story
Senate Democrats’ inability so far to lure top-tier talent to run for their three most vulnerable open seats shifts the spotlight to recruits in its two most promising pickup opportunities — a relative term in this lopsided landscape.
Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s decision this weekend to eschew a Senate race came as an unexpected boon for the GOP’s hopes of netting the six seats necessary to win the Senate majority next year. Pulling off that feat would be an accomplishment for Republicans, even if they are waging war in friendly GOP territory.
But there is a realistic scenario that could force Democrats to rely on two first-time federal candidates in states where the party has enjoyed little success in recent years. If Montana moves off the competitive playing field and Republicans are also favored to pick up the open seats in West Virginia and South Dakota, the GOP would need to pick up just three more seats from their most promising targets in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina.