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 JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Continued efforts to pass 'right to try' legislation should fail GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary MORE (R-Wis.), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteThe Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Audit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years MORE (R-N.H.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Mo.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenate confirms Haspel to head CIA The Hill's Morning Report: Mueller probe hits one-year mark Divisions deepen as Mueller probe hits one year MORE (R-N.C.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP chairman in talks with 'big pharma' on moving drug pricing bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure MORE (R-Iowa), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill MORE (R-Ill.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ Kentucky Dems look to vault themselves in deep-red district Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade MORE (R-Ky.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanEx-McConnell policy aide joining lobby firm WATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  Lobbying world 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 Mason ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules MORE (D-Nev.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Dems warn against changes to federal family planning program Overnight Health Care: Drug company under scrutiny for Michael Cohen payments | New Ebola outbreak | FDA addresses EpiPen shortage MORE (D-Wash.), Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottSupreme Court upholds agreements that prevent employee class-action suits House Dems call for a vote on ObamaCare stabilization bill Top House, Senate Dems warn administration on short-term insurance 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.