Dems seek upper hand on minimum wage in 2016 Senate races
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Democrats plan to make raising the minimum wage a primary issue against vulnerable Republican senators up for reelection in 2016.

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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) will release opposition research and statements later on Thursday hitting Sens. Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonOvernight Healthcare: Senate votes to begin ObamaCare repeal debate | McCain returns to vote | GOP floats scaled-down healthcare bill MSNBC ‘Cartoon of the Day’ shows McCain lying in hospital bed McCain returns to applause, casts deciding vote to advance healthcare bill MORE (R-Wis.), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteOPINION: Democracy will send ISIS to the same grave as communism Kelly Ayotte joins defense contractor's board of directors Week ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington MORE (R-N.H.), Roy BluntRoy BluntOvernight Healthcare: Trump plays hardball on ObamaCare | Senators revive negotiations | CBO says repeal without replace would cost 32M insurance White House working with moderates on new Medicaid proposal Senate GOP revives negotiation over ObamaCare repeal and replace MORE (R-Mo.), Richard BurrRichard BurrKushner says he did not collude with Russia, had no improper contacts Dems slam Trump for 'stonewalling' oversight efforts Burr: Nunes 'created' unmasking allegations against Rice MORE (R-N.C.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTrump turns up heat on AG Sessions over recusal Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate Judiciary reportedly drops Manafort subpoena | Kushner meets with House Intel | House passes Russia sanctions deal | What to watch at 'hacker summer camp' Manafort agrees to speak with investigators after subpoena MORE (R-Iowa), Mark KirkMark KirkMcConnell: Senate to try to repeal ObamaCare next week GOP senator: Not 'appropriate' to repeal ObamaCare without replacement GOP's repeal-only plan quickly collapses in Senate MORE (R-Ill.), Rand PaulRand PaulSenate rejects ObamaCare repeal, replacement amendment Overnight Healthcare: Senate votes to begin ObamaCare repeal debate | McCain returns to vote | GOP floats scaled-down healthcare bill Overnight Regulation: House votes to repeal forced arbitration rule | Dems look to ban controversial pesticide | House panel wants to hear from tech CEOs on net neutrality MORE (R-Ky.), Rob PortmanRob PortmanMcCain votes to advance ObamaCare repeal, replace after vowing to oppose Senate rejects ObamaCare repeal, replacement amendment Trump turns up heat on AG Sessions over recusal MORE (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) for past opposition to raising the minimum wage.

“Ron Johnson has consistently voted against a minimum wage increase that would help working families make ends meet,” DSCC national press secretary Sadie Weiner says in the statement targeting Wisconsin. “Men and women who are willing to work hard for a living deserve a livable wage that doesn’t leave them and their families struggling, and Ron Johnson is going to have a hard time defending his callous votes and comments against a minimum wage increase.”

The Johnson release highlights past statements the Republican made, in which he called raising the minimum wage “Russian roulette for the working poor” and said the efforts were “disturbing” because the Congressional Budget Office has found that raising the minimum wage could lead to some low-wage workers losing their jobs.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee shot back, calling Democratic initiatives “tired old policies” that will keep people from moving out of low-wage jobs.

“All hardworking Americans deserve higher wages and that happens by creating more high paying jobs,” NRSC spokesman Matt Connelly said in a statement. “Senate Democrats' tired old policies are keeping American workers stuck in minimum wage jobs. If they were serious about helping hard working families they would join with Republicans to create good paying jobs that will jumpstart our economy.”

The nine Republican senators targeted by the DSCC are up for reelection in 2016, and Democrats believe Johnson, Ayotte, Blunt, Burr, Kirk, Portman and Toomey are vulnerable. Whether those Republicans are able to successfully defend their seats will be critical in determining who controls the Senate in 2016.

The DSCC attacks come as Democrats in the House in Senate plan to unveil legislation Thursday to raise the minimum wage.

Sens. Harry ReidHarry ReidConservative Senate candidate calls on GOP to end filibuster Ex-Reid aide: McConnell's 'original sin' was casting ObamaCare as 'partisan, socialist takeover' GOP faces growing demographic nightmare in West MORE (D-Nev.) and Patty MurrayPatty MurrayLive coverage: Senate begins debate on ObamaCare repeal Report: minimum wage bill would benefit 20.7 million workers in 21 states Lawmakers send McCain well wishes after cancer diagnosis MORE (D-Wash.), Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Bobby ScottBobby ScottReport: minimum wage bill would benefit 20.7 million workers in 21 states Republicans aim to kill off Obama franchise standard Bipartisan group defends national security against climate risk MORE (D-Va.), and Labor Secretary Tom Perez will hold a press conference on Capitol Hill to preview a bill that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $12 by the year 2020.