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- Ratings Change: Montana Senate
- Quirky Ex-Senator Stomps on Democrats' S.D. Hopes
- Montana Senate: A Real Race or Simply Manufactured Buzz?
March 1, 2013
Actress Ashley Judd spoke to a ballroom of college students about public health on Friday afternoon, never directly addressing what she referred to as “elephant in the room” — a potential Senate bid against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
At a long-planned event at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Judd spoke for more than an hour about global women’s health, gender equality and violence against women.
In recent weeks, Judd has sent increasingly clear signs that she is moving toward a Senate run. She reportedly met with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had dinner in Louisville, Ky., with Democratic insiders and donors and has reached out to top state Democratic officials.
But in her speech to about 100 students, Judd’s only references to her potential Senate run were oblique. One student asking a question said she was nervous.
“I’m a lot more nervous than y’all are, I promise,” Judd replied. “I mean, there are people here who don’t give a rat’s you-know-what about public health.”
Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, a popular GOP figure in the Pelican State, confirmed he’s “pondering” a run against three-term Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.
Long thought to be a likely contender for governor, Dardenne told CQ Roll Call that recent polling had him mulling the Senate race — one of the national GOP’s top targets in 2014.
“You can’t help but ponder it when you see some numbers like that and it gets people talking and wanting to know what you may be interested in doing,” he said in a Friday morning phone interview. “I guess ‘pondering’ is the best word — at least for right now.”
Dardenne trailed Landrieu by only a few points, 43 percent to 46 percent, in a recent hypothetical horse-race matchup from the automated Democratic survey firm Public Policy Polling.
February 28, 2013
Florida Rep. C.W. Bill Young, 82, said Thursday he has not made a decision yet on whether to seek re-election in 2014.
“I never make any announcement or, actually, a decision this — this is way too early!” the Republican told CQ Roll Call during votes on Capitol Hill.
First elected to Congress in 1970, Young would likely win another term if he runs. If the 13th District becomes open, Democrats would have a reasonable shot of picking up his seat. A majority of voters in the coastal district cast their ballot for President Barack Obama in 2012.
Young, sitting in a wheelchair, said there were a number of factors that would play in his decision about re-election.
“There’s a lot of things that I analyze leading up to, you know — what do I do next with my life?” he said. “I’ve been here 42 years. And I’ve had a good run. Most everything that I’ve touched has worked.”
Several congressmen running for Senate in 2014 or considering a bid voted against final passage of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization on Thursday.
A majority of House Republicans voted against the Senate-backed version of the bill, S 47, which passed with Democratic support. But those “no” votes, easily packaged into a 30-second TV spot, could pose a political problem for potential GOP Senate candidates down the road in competitive races.
Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, who is running for the state’s open Senate seat, voted “no.” So did his fellow Peach State Republican Reps. Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, Tom Price and Tom Graves — all potential Senate contenders.
John Hernandez, the California Democrat who lost in a competitive Central Valley district by 18 points, may be preparing for another bid for Congress.
Or maybe he’s just trying to retire some leftover debt.
Three local elected officials are hosting a fundraiser for Hernandez on March 14 in Fresno, Calif. According to an invitation to the event — which features a banner of Democratic presidential headshots — $30 “donations” will go toward a 2014 congressional exploratory committee, while suggested “contributions” of $500, $1,000 and $2,500 will go toward retiring the debt from Hernandez’s campaign last year.
Hernandez had $18,000 in cash on hand headed into the final month of the campaign before losing to now-Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif. As of Dec. 11, Hernandez had $40,500 in debt owed to consultants and campaign aides, according to his post-general report filed to the Federal Election Commission.
Democrats view the 21st District as a missed opportunity in 2012 and are likely to target it again next year. For example, here’s one of Hernandez’s television spots that was criticized for its poor production quality:
The Club for Growth will launch a television advertisement in Arkansas on Friday targeting Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who is up for re-election in 2014.
It’s the first cannon shot in what is expected to be a hard-fought and extended war for Pryor’s seat — and control of the Senate
Club for Growth Action, an affiliate of the well-funded anti-tax group, will tie Pryor to an unpopular President Barack Obama in the Razorback State with the six-figure buy.
“He’s the only Arkansan in Congress today who voted for Obamacare,” an elderly-sounding male narrator says over a graphic of darkened figure that eventually morphs into a picture of Pryor. “The only one who voted for the Obama stimulus. He joined Obama to bail out the Wall Street banks.”
“When you vote for Pryor, you vote for Obama,” the narrator says. “It’s that simple.”
Pryor, considered one of the more vulnerable senators facing re-election this cycle, does not currently have a Republican challenger. Washington, D.C., Republicans are recruiting freshman Rep. Tom Cotton to run, but he hasn’t yet said what he is doing.
The Club for Growth backed Cotton in his 2012 House run.
February 27, 2013
Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut will be the new national finance chairman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2014 cycle, according to two well-placed Democratic sources on Capitol Hill.
Officials announced the new position for Himes, a three-term Democrat from Connecticut, at a morning meeting for members.
The committee previously named Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz of Pennsylvania as its finance chairwoman, but in recent weeks, she has indicated she plans to run for governor in 2014.
Himes has major fundraising bona fides. Not only does he serve on the House Financial Services Committee, he’s also a former employee of Goldman Sachs. His base in the 4th District is Greenwich, Conn., one of the wealthiest communities in the country.
Himes has been an active with the DCCC in recent cycles. In 2012, he served as chairman of the committee’s Frontline program for incumbent retention.
The DCCC did not immediately return a request for comment.
Here is a rundown of the previously named DCCC 2014 leadership team.
Iowa Rep. Tom Latham announced Wednesday that he will not run for the Republican nomination for Senate, clearing a major primary hurdle for Rep. Steve King, who is seriously considering a bid.
“I cannot in good conscience launch a two-year statewide campaign that will detract from the commitment I made to the people who elected me, at a time when our nation desperately needs less campaigning and more leadership,” Latham said in a statement.
Greg Brannon, an obstetrician and tea party supporter in North Carolina, kicked off his Senate campaign Wednesday with a two-day tour of the state.
Brannon is the first Republican to announce a challenge to Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who is running her first re-election campaign since knocking out then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008.
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.
Edmunds, a Missoula banker and former Navy submariner, joins former state Sen. Corey Stapleton in what’s expected to be a crowded GOP primary for the chance to take on Baucus, who is seeking a seventh term. Full story
Congressional Republicans already peering over their shoulder for potential intraparty challengers won’t be sleeping any easier with the Club for Growth’s new website, PrimaryMyCongressman.com.
Club for Growth Action, the super PAC arm of the anti-tax group, announced Wednesday the goal of the new website “is to raise awareness of Republicans In Name Only (RINOs) who are currently serving in safe Republican seats,” according to a release.
The group is seeking GOP primary challengers for these nine members and offers visitors an opportunity to recommend potential candidates: Reps. Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Frank D. Lucas of Oklahoma, Steven M. Palazzo of Mississippi, Martha Roby of Alabama, Aaron Schock of Illinois and Mike Simpson of Idaho. Full story
President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina, announced Wednesday the launch of his new political firm, The Messina Group.
The new firm “will employ innovative strategies and techniques developed and utilized during the 2012 election, including the advances in technology and data-analytics that were integral to the campaign’s success,” according to a news release.
The three principles — Messina, Ty Matsdorf and Tara Corrigan — are veterans of Obama presidential campaigns:
- Prior to the most recent campaign, Messina was White House deputy chief of staff and held a leading role on the 2008 campaign. He is a former Capitol Hill staffer, serving as a top aide for both Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. He also worked for Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.
- Matsdorf most recently was the war room director for American Bridge, an opposition research super PAC, and worked for Obama’s Nevada campaign. Earlier in his career, Matsdorf was a communications director for Baucus.
- Corrigan was part of Obama’s 2007 effort to win Iowa. She worked on both campaigns, as well as in the political affairs department in the White House.
February 26, 2013
Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly won the Democratic nomination in the special election to replace former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. on Tuesday and is now poised to succeed him in Congress.
Kelly had 55 percent, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson had 21 percent and Alderman Anthony Beale had 11 percent, with 63 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.
Kelly’s win also marks a victory for New York City Michael Bloomberg, whose super PAC spent more than $2 million in the race. Bloomberg supports gun control, which became a central issue in the race for the district on Chicago’s south side. The area has endured a spike in gun violence in the past few years.
This was Bloomberg’s first foray into congressional races since the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last year. He spent millions of dollars knocking Halvorson, who received support from the National Rifle Association in her previous races, and boosting Kelly. Full story
The Republican National Committee named Mike Shields, a longtime House GOP operative, as its new chief of staff on Tuesday.
“Mike brings a wealth of political experience with him to the RNC, having worked on the Hill and in the field, for national committees and at the state level,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.
Last cycle, Shields served as political director of the National Republican Congressional Committee — an entity housed in the same building as the RNC. In 2010, Shields ran the NRCC’s independent expenditure arm.
Shields was also one of the final contenders to be National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director.
The RNC’s current chief of staff, Jeff Larson, will continue as a senior adviser to the committee, according to a press release.
Politico first reported the Shields news.
UPDATED 4:30 p.m. | The campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky slammed tweets from a liberal group criticizing his wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
On Feb. 14, Progress Kentucky tweeted: “This woman has the ear of @McConnellPress–she’s his #wife. May explain why your job moved to #China!”
The tweet linked to a fringe website alleging that Chao wanted to undermine American workers.
Another tweet said: “China Premier grateful to McConnell father-in-law/@KYGOP contributor-4 his role in developing China industry.” That linked to a press release from China State Shipbuilding Corporation.
The news was first reported by Louisville NPR affiliate WFPL.
McConnell Campaign Manager Jesse Benton criticized the Progress Kentucky tweets in a Tuesday statement.
“Secretary Chao and her family are shining examples of the American Dream: salt-of-the-earth folks who escaped oppression, came here with nothing, joined our great melting pot, worked exceptionally hard to build a thriving business, and then dedicated so much of their lives to giving back,” he said. “It is unconscionable that anyone would use blatant race-baiting for political gain. Progress Kentucky should be ashamed of themselves.”
Progress Kentucky Executive Director Shawn Reilly denied charges of race-baiting and said Benton’s statement is “an attempt to divert attention from the fact that Mitch McConnell has engaged in the selling of the American middle class overseas for decades.”
McConnell is up for re-election in 2014, and Democrats are recruiting actress Ashley Judd to challenge him.
For her part, Judd tweeted Tuesday: “Whatever the intention, whatever the venue, whomever the person, attacks or comments on anyone’s ethnicity are wrong & patently unacceptable.”
CQ Roll Call rates the Kentucky Senate race as Likely Republican.