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. Full story
Schweitzer will not run for Senate. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Updated 1:15p.m. | Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, will not run for the Senate, according to an Associated Press report.
The stunning decision immediately puts the open seat in jeopardy for Democrats and makes the party’s hold of the majority in 2014 a heavier lift.
“I love Montana. I want to be here. There are all kinds of people that think I should be in the U.S. Senate,” Schweitzer told the AP. “But I never wanted to be in the U.S. Senate. I kicked the tires. I walked to the edge and looked over.”
Just a few days ago, he was expected to run. Earlier in the cycle, operatives believed he would have been the frontrunner if he sought the seat given his popularity as governor.
Schweitzer is considering a bid for Senate. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer is widely expected to run for Montana’s open Senate seat — the only question is when.
State legislators and operatives had heard he was preparing to announce his bid on Tuesday, but that day came and went without a peep from the populist Democrat.
Another likely option? The state party is holding a convention in Lewiston on Friday and Saturday, offering Schweitzer a room already packed with party faithful. At least one local Democratic official speculated he could make an announcement then.
“I think that there’s probably a 99.9 percent likelihood that he will [run],” said state Senate Minority Whip Robyn Driscoll, a Democrat supportive of Schweitzer. “Rumors have been floating around for a few weeks about when the announcement would be made. … We are having our Democratic convention this weekend, and so I’ll be looking for an announcement maybe then.”
Attempts to reach Schweitzer and his team about the delay were unsuccessful, and Schweitzer — who is known for personally calling reporters — did not return a call to his cellphone.
In Washington, D.C., the “traffic is bad,” “most of the people you talk to are frauds” and Georgetown “sucks,” at least according to former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
Schweitzer, a possible Democratic candidate for Senate, called CQ Roll Call on Monday to chat after we reached out to a source close to him for comment on this story.
Schweitzer would be favored to win if he decided to run for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Max Baucus. Of course, he didn’t say much in the five-minute interview and boasted as much at its conclusion.
The Big Sky Democrat is no stranger to national politics: He had a prime speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention, plus he once served as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. But in the interview, Schweitzer highlighted his outsider status, downplaying connections to party leadership in Washington or any interest in the city itself.
Baucus will retire next year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., cut a $100,000 check on Tuesday to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to a source familiar with his campaign.
Baucus had nearly $4.9 million in his campaign account as of March 30, three weeks before announcing he would not seek a seventh term. He donated $470,000 to the DSCC last cycle, according to Center for Responsive Politics, not counting the money he raised on the committee’s behalf. Full story
Schriock is the president of EMILY's List. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)
EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock has confirmed she is considering a bid for Montana’s newly open Senate seat in 2014.
Since Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced his retirement plans last week, Schriock has mostly kept quiet about the race — until she spoke with reporters at a Thursday event for EMILY’s List. Full story
#FLgov: Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla, is mulling a gubernatorial run in 2014.
#PA13:This blog premiered a new series, “The Candidate,” that questions the scores of congressional hopefuls who visit the CQ Roll Call offices each cycle. The first victim? State Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat running in a crowded primary for Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz’s seat.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel touted his recruits in a memo to his caucus. Notably missing? Former Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., who is trying to come back to Congress via the 31st District.
#GAsen: Former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, endorsed Rep. Paul Broun in the GOP primary to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
#HIsen: Tensions from the 2008 Democratic presidential primary continue through the 2014 Senate primary. Several years ago, appointed Sen. Brian Schatz backed now-President Barack Obama and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa supported Hillary Rodham Clinton. Could Bubba or Obama campaign in the Aloha State first?
Baucus' decision not to seek re-election means Democrats must recruit a new candidate for the race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Max Baucus’ surprising retirement announcement puts the onus on Democrats to recruit the state’s popular former governor, who could be the only candidate capable of holding the seat.
Thanks to a head’s up from the Senate Finance Committee chairman, party operatives have already begun with former Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
The bolo tie-wearing national party figure could tap into a fundraising network far beyond any other Democrat in the state — except, of course, for Baucus. There is little doubt that the two-term former governor would give Democrats a good chance at holding the seat.
The question is whether the unpredictable and ambitious Schweitzer will actually run. Full story
Updated 12:42 a.m. | Montana Sen. Max Baucus has decided to retire instead of seek re-election next year, a sudden move that caught many colleagues and state Democrats off guard.
Democratic sources confirmed the news to CQ Roll Call on Tuesday morning — after which Baucus told reporters he was working to spread word to his staff.
“I’ve got people I’ve got to talk to first before I talk to the press, and that includes my staff,” he said. “I’m going to talk to my staff right now. And phone calls I’ve got to make. We’ll be talking later today.”
The Senate Finance chairman was considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up in 2014 and Republicans had made clear they would heavily target the race. Baucus has served in the Senate since 1979 and has not faced difficult races in recent years.
Now that Baucus is exiting after this congress, Roll Call contributing editor Stuart Rothenberg rates this race as a Tossup in the Rothenberg Report.
Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer will be at the top of Democrats’ wish list as the candidate in the open-seat race. A Democratic source indicated the ex-governor is leaning toward running.
Hagan is the latest Senate Democrat to come out in favor of gay marriage rights. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The Supreme Court’s focus this week on gay marriage has put Democratic senators seeking re-election in 2014 under a microscope, with no shortage of media outlets asking their offices about evolving views on the issue.
With the court taking up the constitutionality of a portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted the federal definition of marriage to opposite sex couples, several Democratic senators have determined in recent days that now is the time to make public revised or clarified stands on the marriage issue. Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who is up for re-election in 2014, became the latest Democrat to announce her support for gay marriage Wednesday morning in an interview with the Raleigh News & Observer.
Baucus will acquire his second Republican challenger this week. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
A second Republican challenger to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., will officially announce his candidacy Thursday.
State Rep. Champ Edmunds will formally enter the race to challenge the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee at a press conference at Bitterroot Motors in Missoula at 2:30 p.m. ET, according to a release.
The National Rifle Association will target several senators up for re-election in 2014, including Pryor. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The National Rifle Association will launch a print advertising campaign targeting mostly Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014, according to sources close to the group.
On Thursday, full-page ads are scheduled to run in local newspapers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina and West Virginia. They will be supplemented by digital advertising in these states and 10 others, including Alaska, Colorado, Montana, New Hampshire and South Dakota.
Additionally, the group has scheduled full-page ads to run Feb. 25 in regional editions of USA Today, reaching parts of 15 states.
The campaign is estimated to cost north of $375,000, sources said. Full story
Stapleton, a financial adviser, finished second last year in the seven-candidate Republican primary for governor. In 2012, Republicans lost both the governor’s race and the party’s challenge to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, disappointments for the GOP in a state the party carried handily at the presidential level.
Baucus, 71, is one of six Democrats in the Senate seeking re-election in a state the president lost. Still, Tester held off a strong challenge from then-Rep. Denny Rehberg last year, and Baucus was sitting on a $3.6 million war chest as he began the 2014 cycle.
Stapleton is a Naval Academy graduate and served two terms in the state Senate, including stints as minority leader and chairman of the Legislative Campaign Committee.