Senate races

Senate races

Heitkamp hits Berg on minimum wage in North Dakota Senate race

Democrat Heidi Heitkamp’s Senate campaign has purchased Web ads in North Dakota accusing Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) of hypocrisy on the minimum wage.

The 30-second video will play as a pre-roll when viewers in the state watch an online video.

The ad uses a video clip of Berg appearing unable to answer a question about the minimum wage in North Dakota, which is $7.25 — the same as the federal minimum wage. The ad then knocks Berg for voting against increases in the minimum wage, but voting to raise his own salary as a former state lawmaker.

Republicans pointed out that the Heitkamp campaign had edited the video to make it look as though Berg had given no answer to the question. The full video clip, which was posted in May by the Huffington Post, showed Berg offered a guess of between $7 and $8, and adding that waitresses aren't subject to that minimum wage.


Baldwin to hit opponents on federal college loan rates

With federal student loan interest rates set to double at the end of the month, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) will spend this week pushing her opponents to take a stand on whether they would extend the current rates for another year.

According to Baldwin's campaign, more than 167,000 Wisconsin college students and graduates would be affected, and the average increase in student debt would be $968 without congressional action. Baldwin will begin her tour with an event with students in Madison on Tuesday, tour the state and wrap up in Milwaukee on Friday.

"Wisconsin's Republican candidates for U.S. Senate have remained silent on this issue — it is time for them to let us know where they stand," Baldwin plans to say, according to her campaign. "Are they going to stand with congressional Republicans in Washington who continue to block action on solving this problem, or with Wisconsin's students who are in desperate need of student loan debt relief?"

With Wisconsin's high-profile gubernatorial recall race out of the way, Baldwin and her opponents are ramping up their campaign schedules in a big way. Former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.) stumped on Monday with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has endorsed him, while both former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) and businessman Eric Hovde (R) went up with television ads in recent days.

Democrats and Republicans in Washington both want to extend the low interest rates, but disagree over how the legislation should be paid for. Senate Democrats would eliminate a tax break to pay for the roughly $6 billion cost, while Republicans in the House have approved a bill that would offset the cost by raiding a preventative care fund set up by the healthcare law. More recently, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have exchanged counter-offers that appeared to bring the sides closer to a deal.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee pointed out that Baldwin had voted against the Republican proposal.

"Rather than embarking on some phony political tour and misleading Wisconsin voters, Tammy Baldwin should be working in a bipartisan manner to help find a solution for college students," said NRSC Spokesman Lance Trover. "The people of Wisconsin are fed up with Tammy Baldwin’s far-left brand of politics that places a government takeover of healthcare above the needs of hardworking students."

Baldwin is not the first Democrat to use the battle on the campaign trail: President Obama went to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas last week to hammer Republicans on the issue.

Baldwin has sought to frame herself as a consumer advocate, as her four possible Republican opponents have hewed closely to GOP orthodoxy during their primary. She will likely need high student turnout to win her race, which The Hill rates as a toss-up.

This post was updated at 11:40 a.m.


Lingle launches cable channel to promote her campaign

Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R) has launched a local cable television channel to promote her Senate campaign, an unprecedented move for a candidate.

Lingle's channel, "LL 2012," launched Monday on Oceanic Cable, according to KHON. According to her campaign, it's the first time a campaign has ever purchased a cable channel.

It's unclear how much the move will help Lingle, a top Republican recruit in a heavily Democratic state who will likely face off against front-running Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). The Hill rates the race "Lean Democratic."


Dewhurst booed at Texas Republican Convention

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) was booed at his state party's convention on Saturday, a warning sign for the Senate candidate as he heads into his runoff against former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz (R) as well as a sign of the increasing discord within the state party.

{mosads}Dewhurst received a tepid response to his speech and was booed when he sought to subtly attack Cruz and the outside groups backing him, according to the Texas Tribune.

"This runoff is a clear election between a lifelong conservative businessman, a conservative leader, a Washington outsider and a lawyer who is funded principally by Washington special interests," Dewhurst said, drawing boos and catcalls from the state party delegates in attendance.

Dewhurst drew more jeers when he attacked the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, which spent heavily for Cruz in the first round of voting, calling its members "Washington special insiders" who would run ads "attacking Texas."

Cruz was received much more warmly. Dewhurst, the establishment pick who has the backing of Gov. Rick Perry (R), took 45 percent of the vote in the first round of voting in late May, to Cruz's 34 percent. The two will face off in a late-July runoff, where Cruz is hopeful a low turnout and impassioned base will help him close the gap.


Jeff Flake to launch first ad in Senate race

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) will launch the first ad of his Senate campaign next week, a source tracking Arizona's ad market told The Hill.

Flake's campaign has booked airtime for a 10-day period starting Wednesday. His GOP primary opponent, real estate mogul Wil Cardon, has already been on the air with millions of dollars of ads  — many of them attacking Flake.

Flake's campaign didn't respond to questions about the size of the buy or the content of the ad. But a Web video the campaign released Friday could shed some light on the campaign's strategy.


Heitkamp gives cautious answer on backing Reid as leader

Democrat Heidi Heitkamp was cautious when asked whether she would back Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) if elected to the Senate in North Dakota.

“When I get to the Senate, I’ll make those decisions,” Heitkamp told The Hill in an interview Thursday. “Today my goal is to visit with North Dakotans, find out what their concerns are, tell them what I believe and what I think is important.”

Heitkamp’s spokesman reached out later to say that she would vote for Reid. And Heitkamp personally followed up to clarify that what she meant was that it wasn’t a topic she had thought about.

"My response was more that the question is premature. We don't know if Harry Reid is running,” Heitkamp said. “I assume that if Harry Reid is running again, he's going to be the only person running. I intend to be part of the Democratic caucus."