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
“I am focused on working to make New Mexico a more competitive place to do business and continue to drive the state’s unemployment numbers down,” Barela said. “Though I have been encouraged by many New Mexicans to run, I have no plans at this point in doing so.” Full story
Former Rep. Heather Wilson (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson has seen her last political race.
The Republican, who lost to now-Sen. Martin Heinrich in 2012, told CQ Roll Call on Monday that her second failed Senate bid in four years would be her last run for public office.
“I’ve done my time, and it’s not my intention to run for office again,” Wilson said. “So I’m moving on to other things, most likely higher education. I’ll probably also likely serve on some corporate boards.” Full story
Roll Call’s initial Senate ratings outlook projects a potentially bullish cycle for Republicans, with an opportunity to recapture the majority for the first time in eight years.
But that’s exactly how things looked two years before the 2012 elections, when Democrats surprised many with victories in Missouri and North Dakota on their way to picking up two seats. So the challenge for the GOP and incoming National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas is to capitalize on their opportunities.
That and how voters feel about President Barack Obama in 2014 could determine how the parties fare at the ballot box less than two years from now. Democrats won their current majority in 2006, in the second midterm election under President George W. Bush.
Republicans are hoping Obama’s second midterm is similarly kind to them, if not equal to the president’s 2010 midterm shellacking, when the GOP won seven seats (and control of the House) despite beginning the cycle as the underdog.
Two Congressmen from different parties are moving up to the Senate.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R) is set to represent Arizona in the Senate, while Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) is set to be New Mexico’s newest Senator, according to an Associated Press projection.
In Arizona, Flake was up over his Democratic rival, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D), by more than 6 percent with 63 percent of precincts reporting. In New Mexico, Heinrich was up more than 6 points over former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) with 66 percent of precincts reporting.
The flow of new ads has declined in the waning days of this campaign, but we saw some candidates release defensive, counter-ads after enduring brutal attacks. We also saw a strong closing biographical ad.
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.
A new poll conducted for Rep. Martin Heinrich showed the Democrat’s lead over former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) has widened to at least 12 points in their battle for New Mexico’s open Senate seat.
The latest figures show Heinrich leading Wilson 55 percent to 42 percent in a two-way contest. The poll also accounted for Independent American Party candidate Jon Barrie. In a three-way contest, it showed Heinrich leading Wilson 51 percent to 39 percent, with Barrie receiving 8 percent of the vote.
The poll was conducted Oct. 4-7 by GBA Strategies. It included 600 likely voters, reached on landlines and cellphones, whose party affiliations reflected the likely electorate in New Mexico. There was a 4-point margin of error.
Roll Call now rates New Mexico’s open-seat Senate race as Likely Democratic.
Updated 4:45 p.m. | A new poll conducted for former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) shows the New Mexico Senate race could be more competitive than currently believed — if a third-party candidate does well on the November ballot.
In the survey, Wilson was in a virtual tie with Rep. Martin Heinrich (D), who took 43 percent to Wilson’s 42 percent. But Independent American Party candidate Jon Barrie took 9 percent, and 6 percent of respondents were undecided. The poll, conducted by GOP pollster Glen Bolger, was in the field Tuesday through Thursday and sampled 500 likely voters. The margin of error was 4.38 points.
Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) held a 7-point lead in the state’s open-seat Senate race and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) led by 12 points in the race to replace Heinrich in the House, according to a new independent poll conducted for the Albuquerque Journal.
Heinrich led former Rep. Heather Wilson (R), 49 percent to 42 percent, and Lujan Grisham led Janice Arnold-Jones (R) in the Albuquerque-based 1st district, 46 percent to 34 percent.
The polls were conducted Sept. 3-6 by Research & Polling. The Senate poll included a sample of 667 likely voters with a 3.8-point margin of error. The 1st district poll surveyed 409 likely voters with a 4.8-point margin of error.
In the state’s two less competitive Congressional districts, Reps. Steve Pearce (R) and Ben Ray Luján (D) each led by 26 points over their respective challengers.
The New Mexico Senate race appears to be moving in Democrats’ direction.
That’s the sense after a string of new polling showed Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) expanding his lead beyond the margin of error against former Rep. Heather Wilson (R). Plus, national Republicans have shifted money for television time out of the state to a more competitive race.
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New Mexico Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) led by more than 7 points in an internal poll released today by his campaign for the state’s open Senate seat.
In the poll, conducted by GBA Strategies, Heinrich led former Rep. Heather Wilson (R), 51 percent to 44 percent. The poll of 700 likely voters was taken Aug. 14-19. It had a 4-point margin of error. Full story
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The juggernaut GOP-affiliated group Crossroads GPS began airing a new ad here in Florida today knocking two-term Sen. Bill Nelson (D) for his vote in favor of Obama’s signature health care law.
“Florida seniors are facing a health care crisis: only 14 physicians to every 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries,” a female narrator says. “But in Washington, Bill Nelson’s been voting for the new health care law, which cuts Medicare spending by $700 billion; puts unelected bureaucrats between Florida’s 3 million Medicare recipients and the care they need, hurting Florida seniors.”
“Tell Senator Nelson, it’s time to repeal,” she says.
The ad is backed by a $2.4 million buy on broadcast and cable TV in Florida. It’s part of the group’s wider push of spots, launched today against Democratic Senate candidates, that also includes ads in Montana, New Mexico and Ohio.
See the Montana ad, hitting Sen. Jon Tester (D) here:
See the New Mexico ad, dinging Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic nominee for Senate, here:
A poll conducted for a coalition of environmental and conservation organizations found that Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) has expanded his lead over former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) in the race for New Mexico’s open Senate seat. Full story