The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is knocking Republicans for what they're calling the party's "recruiting nightmare" for Senate races, noting in a memo obtained by The Hill that Republicans faced a number of recruiting losses this week.
Even as Democrats struggle to find their own top-notch Senate talent in key states, the DSCC memo highlights serious Republican recruiting challenges in four states: Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa and Alaska.
In Colorado, Rep. Cory GardnerCory GardnerGardner's chief of staff tapped for Senate GOP campaign director McConnell reelected Senate majority leader Pro-pot advocates score huge victories MORE (R) opted against challenging Sen. Mark UdallMark UdallGardner's chief of staff tapped for Senate GOP campaign director The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate Colorado GOP Senate race to unseat Dem incumbent is wide open MORE (D), a choice that leaves the GOP without its strongest potential candidate and without any clear contenders for the seat.
Udall has long been considered one of the safer incumbent Democratic senators, however, and Gardner looks more likely to challenge Sen. Michael BennetMichael BennetSenate passes college anti-Semitism bill Speculation and starting points: accreditation, a new administration and a new Congress The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE (D) when he's up in 2016.
North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry (R) decided not to run for Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganGOP senator floats retiring over gridlock 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE's (D) seat in 2014, eliminating what had been the GOP's top contender against the incumbent, according to a recent poll.
The Republican Party continues to search for its candidate in Iowa, after a number of potential contenders turned down the opportunity to challenge likely Democratic nominee Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce BraleyTrump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer Criminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship Trump's VP list shrinks MORE (D) for retiring Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE's (D) seat.
On Wednesday, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz also announced his decision not to run, leaving a handful of relatively unknown potential and declared candidates.
And in Alaska, former Senate candidate Joe Miller reportedly filed papers to run again in 2014. Miller defeated Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiPassing US-Canada preclearance would improve security and economy Overnight Energy: Dakota pipeline standoff heats up Trump's wrong to pick Bannon or Sessions for anything MORE (R) in a 2010 primary but ultimately losing the general after she launched a successful write-in campaign.
He is seen unfavorably by 49 percent of Alaskans, according to a recent Republican poll, and some Republicans worry he could undermine their chances at a winnable seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichThe future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map Trump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide MORE.
“The NRSC and Karl Rove are failing in their promise to handpick candidates as they continue losing top recruits across the map. The past week alone is a perfect example of how the GOP’s inability to recruit electable candidates, expand the map, and avoid contentious primaries will plague their chances to take back the majority," Barasky adds.
Republican officials fired back at the Democratic claims the GOP is suffering from a chronic recruitment problem.
"99.99% of Republicans in America aren't running for Senate next year, yet each time one confirms that reality, the clapping monkeys at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee smash their cymbals," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Brook Hougesen.
"As far as Republican recruitment, in the post Citizens United world, it is far more important to do our due diligence and take the time to find right candidate than it is to rush through the process and fail as the Democrats have done."
Republicans largely agree that contentious primaries that resulted in weak candidates cost the GOP a number of winnable Senate seats last cycle, and the party pledged to make an extra effort to elect the most electable conservative candidates in 2014.
Democrats are facing a difficult 2014 map that will require them to defend more seats than Republicans — including a number in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012. But they are hoping that Republicans' early recruiting difficulties indicate the GOP is in for a replay of the 2012 cycle.
Democrats, meantime, have had recruiting difficulties of their own that could jeopardize their chances at defending seats in South Dakota and West Virginia, and of picking up a seat in Georgia.
Their top recruits passed on running in South Dakota and Georgia, and they have yet to front a candidate against Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoRepublicans face divisions over ObamaCare repeal High out-of-pocket prescription drug cost: the patient perspective GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-W.Va.), considered the strongest GOP contender to run for retiring Sen. Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE's (D-W.Va.) seat.
In Kentucky, too, Democrats have yet to find a candidate to run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump flirts with Dems for Cabinet Lawmakers eye early exit from Washington Confirm Scott Palk for the Western District of Oklahoma MORE (R-Ky.).
According to numerous polls, McConnell is vulnerable heading into reelection. A handful of potential Democrats have turned down a run, however, and their top remaining recruit has yet to make a decision on the race, despite pressure from prominent local Democrats.
Hougesen noted the decisions of former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) in South Dakota and Rep. John BarrowJohn BarrowDem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech The best and the worst of the midterms MORE (D) in Georgia not to run as the "two biggest recruiting failures of the cycle," and said the GOP is simply taking its time in finding the best candidates.
—This post was updated at 2:06 p.m. and 4:28 p.m.