Senate races

Senate races

Poll: Manchin leads challenger in special Senate election

The first poll out in the special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) shows Gov. Joe Manchin (D) with a solid lead. 

A Rasmussen poll released Friday has Manchin up 51 percent to 35 percent over Republican businessman John Raese. Five percent of likely voters said they prefer a different candidate and 9 percent remain undecided.  

Raese is one of five Republicans who filed to run, but he is widely considered the leading candidate to face Manchin. Raese ran and lost to Sen. Byrd in 2006. A primary will take place August 28.

The survey polled 500 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.

Manchin's approval rating is still sky high. The poll found 71 percent of likely voters approve of the job Manchin is doing, while just 28 percent disapprove. 


Illinois heading toward costly special Senate election

Illinois voters may be electing two senators in November.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected a request by state officials for a rehearing on an earlier lower court ruling that required Sen. Roland Burris’s (D-Ill.) term to expire with the Nov. 2 general election.  

The 17th Amendment of the Constitution requires that there be a special election to fill the remainder of an unexpired Senate term. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) appointed Burris to President Obama’s former seat in December 2008. After Blagojevich was impeached, Gov. Pat Quinn (D) took office but didn’t call a special.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s (D) office had asked the appeals court to reconsider the earlier ruling because an election would cost millions only for the winner to hold office for a matter of weeks, according to Chicago Public Radio. The appeals court denied that request Thursday and ordered the lower court to iron out the details of holding a special election on the same day as the general election.

According to the Chicago Tribune, officials are trying to determine how the state’s political parties will nominate candidates for the short-term Senate spot without holding a costly special primary election.


Angle in new ad: ‘Please stop’

Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R) is using Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) campaign slogan against him in a new campaign ad.  

The 30-second spot features Angle talking to a small crowd of voters and pinning the blame on Reid for the state’s high unemployment and foreclosure rates. 

“Harry Reid says he does more for Nevada,” Angle says in the ad. “He’s done more for unemployment. We were at 4 percent. Now we’re at 14 percent.”

“Harry Reid has done more, and it’s time for us to say, ‘Stop doing it, we can’t stand anymore,’“ Angle concludes.

Reid has launched a series of ads that focus attention on how his stature in Washington helps Nevada, using the slogan “No one can do more.”

Recent polls have shown Reid surging into a lead in the race after months of trailing Republican opponents. Angle led Reid by double digits shortly after capturing the Republican nomination.


Hayworth takes his best shot at McCain in new TV ad (updated)

Arizona Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth (R) launched his most aggressive attack of the primary campaign against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) Friday. 

The former congressman released his second TV ad of the race, which accuses McCain of supporting an “amnesty bill” for undocumented U.S. residents. 

The ad features footage of McCain and President Obama talking about the effort to get immigration reform through the Senate.

“I helped author with Senator Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform and fought for it twice,” McCain says in the footage. It then transitions to Obama saying, “I stood with Ted Kennedy and John McCain and took on this tough issue.”

With immigration overshadowing the primary race, this ad is probably Hayworth’s best shot at closing the gap with the incumbent senator. Early voting, however, starts on July 29, which doesn’t give it much time to sink in.

The ad went up statewide Friday; it’s airing on broadcast and cable. It was produced by the Strategy Group for Media. 

McCain's camp was quick to fire back.

"It's laughable for Congressman Hayworth to try and sell himself as a leader in the fight to secure our border just days after he viciously attacked Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who is on the front lines of Arizona's battle against drug and human smuggling," Brian Rogers, a spokesman for McCain, said in a statement. "How can Arizonans accept Hayworth as a border security hawk after he tried to smear Sheriff Babeu — a man who will be charged with enforcing SB 1070 — as a racist? That dog won’t hunt."

Hayworth recently likened Babeu to "infamous KKK leader David Duke" in a statement after the sheriff appeared on on the white nationalist radio program Political Cesspool. Babeu, who's appeared in two TV ads for McCain, said he regretted granting the interview. 

--Updated at 6:48 p.m.


Rubio admits differences with Chamber over Cuba

Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio acknowledged Friday he and the Chamber of Commerce are in disagreement over Cuba policy, but said the business group is “buying into our agenda.”

“My ideas today are no different ... than they were when I go into the race,” Rubio said on a conference call Friday. “Folks are buying into our agenda, we’re not buying into their agenda.”

The Chamber will formally announce it’s backing Rubio at an event in Orlando on Saturday. But despite the bonhomie, there’s a major policy disagreement between the former state House speaker and the powerful business group. The Chamber has pushed for an end to the trade embargo on Cuba, something Rubio opposes.

“I think we do have a difference of opinion,” Rubio said.

Bill Miller, a vice president of the business group, echoed that assessment. “I think that this is a respectful disagreement,” Miller said. Both men emphasized their agreement on other policies.

Rubio said the endorsement is a sign that the GOP establishment is coming around to support his candidacy.

“Unfortunately, a year ago, many in my party weren’t ready to embrace that,” he said. “We now realize we don’t need two Democratic parties in America.”

Rubio said the newfound support hasn’t changed him.

“The difference is that there are more people helping us, and we welcome their support,” he said.


Biden holds last-minute fundraiser for Elaine Marshall

After Vice President Joe Biden headlined a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Thursday night in Chapel Hill, N.C., he held an impromptu fundraiser for Senate candidate Elaine Marshall (D). 

Marshall is taking on Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in the fall.

Marshall said the event was quickly put together and was limited to 15 people.

“There is a clear choice in this North Carolina election between a woman who knows what drive [forward] means and somebody who clearly is continuing to be backwards,” Biden said at the event.

With polls showing Marshall competitive with Burr in the fall election, tensions appear to be easing between Marshall and the national Democratic Party. Marshall won the Democratic nomination in a runoff last month against Cal Cunningham, who was the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s favored candidate in the race. 

A Survey USA poll from last month had Burr in the lead by 10 points. New numbers out Friday from the Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners give Marshall a 2-point lead over Burr, 37 percent to 35 percent, but the survey polled registered voters, not likely voters. 

The poll found 23 percent still undecided. The sample was 600 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.


Rubio gets Chamber backing

Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) is an upstart candidate no more.

The Chamber of Commerce is set to endorse the former state House Speaker at an event Saturday in Orlando.

“He is an invaluable leader who has a common-sense approach to job creation and getting America back on the road to recovery,” Bill Miller, a vice president of the business group, said in a statement.

Rubio built his early success on running as a grassroots conservative outsider, but as his campaign has picked up steam he’s taken on all the usual trappings.

Rubio is set to hold a conference call with bloggers shortly, wherein he’ll discuss the Chamber’s endorsement.


Kirk backs Kagan nomination

Senate candidate and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Friday came out in support of Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kirk's backing of Kagan comes after weeks of not taking a stand on her nominaion even as reporters pressed and his Democratic opponent Alexi Giannoulias took aim at Kirk for not lending his support to the nominee.

In the contest for President Obama's former Senate seat, Kirk needs to find a way to appeal to independents and centrist Democrats in the blue state.

Of Kagan, Kirk offered tepid praise in a statement.

"Ms. Kagan appears to be modest and thoughtful not because she expected this nomination but because she is modest and thoughtful," Kirk said. "Under the Constitution, only the president can make this nomination and Solicitor General Kagan is one of the more careful nominees he could have picked."

In his statement, Kirk quoted Alexander Hamilton, who in the Federalist Papers wrote of the Senate's role, "the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though in general a silent operation."

Kirk noted that recent justices have won confirmation with bipartisan majorities, though he left out the vote count on Justices Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor, which were considerably closer than those of Justices Ginsburg, Kennedy, Scalia and Breyer.


Poll: Indecision reigns in Florida Senate primary

New numbers out Thursday from Public Policy Polling give Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) a 3-point lead over self-funding billionaire Jeff Greene in Florida's Democratic Senate primary.

Meek leads 28 percent to 25 percent, but a plurality of Democratic voters remain undecided.

The poll found a full 37 percent of respondents still aren't behind either Greene or Meek. The survey polled 339 Democratic primary voters and has a margin of error of +/- 5.3 percentage points.

From PPP's Tom Jensen: "Meek's small advantage is built on strong support from African-Americans and liberals. The race is even with whites, but Meek is up 44-19 with black voters. Meek has a 3 point lead with moderates that's balanced out by Greene's 19 point edge with conservatives, but the tie is broken by a 39-26 margin for Meek with liberal voters."

Meanwhile, a new Rasmussen poll out Thursday shows a general election match-up between Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and Marco Rubio (R) is still a toss-up.

In a three-way race Crist leads with 35 percent to Rubio's 33 percent. Meek comes in third at 20 percent.

Rasmussen notes that Meek's 20 percent number is actually a 5-point improvement from a poll at the beginning of the month. In a three-way race with Jeff Greene, not much changes. 

Crist still leads with 36 percent to Rubio's 34 percent. Greene is a distant third with 19 percent of the vote. The Rasmussen survey polled 750 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.