Senate races

Senate races

Mandel highlights military training in first Senate ad

Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) launched the first television ad of his campaign to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on Wednesday, drawing heavily on his military background as he works to introduce himself to Ohio voters.

Mandel’s campaign said the ad would air statewide on broadcast and cable for “an extended period of time," but did not disclose the size of the buy. A source said Mandel's campaign had reserved about $540,000 in airtime in Ohio markets starting Wednesday and Thursday.

“Grandson of a soldier and a blue-collar laborer, Josh Mandel served two tours in Iraq and came home to protect our tax dollars,” says the narrator in the ad. “Now Washington is broken and needs new leaders, and this Marine is ready to answer the call.”

The 30-second spot shows Mandel lacing up his boots, as if preparing for battle.

Mandel, a fresh-faced former state lawmaker and first-term treasurer, has attracted the attention of major Republican figures, including Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) and Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Jim DeMint (S.C.), whose Senate Conservatives Fund is also backing Mandel. McCain and Christie traveled to Ohio on Monday to campaign for Mandel.

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Flake, Cardon trade barbs over super-PAC pledge

Rep. Jeff Flake's (R-Ariz.) opponent in the primary for Arizona's open Senate seat says Flake is refusing to take a stand against super-PAC spending. But Flake says he's ready to go — as soon as his opponent stop trying to buy his way into the Senate.

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Chamber of Commerce endorses Lugar

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) Tuesday, a major victory for the embattled senator.

Lugar is facing off in a May primary against Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R), who has run hard to his right and has the backing of some heavy-hitting outside groups, including the National Rifle Association and the fiscally conservative Club for Growth. A recent poll showed Lugar with a narrow lead in the race.

"We're endorsing Senator Lugar because of his proven record and ability to get things done in support of Indiana job creation and economic growth," said Chamber Vice President Rob Engstrom in a statement.

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In blow to Mack, Florida CFO weighs last-minute Senate bid

Republican Jeff Atwater, Florida’s chief financial officer, is considering making a late entrance to the state’s Senate race, highlighting the discomfort many Florida Republicans feel about their slate of candidates.

Atwater told the Palm Beach Post that multiple people in the state’s conservative community have asked him to add his name to a field of candidates that most expected was already set.

"I'm going to consider it. I'm going to take a look at it,” Atwater said.

The fact that Republicans are still urging new potential candidates to take a look is a major blow to Mack, whose own entrance to the race in October was supposed to be the saving grace for Republicans hoping to oust Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

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Poll: Wisconsin Senate race a toss-up

Wisconsin's Senate race is a pure toss-up if longtime Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) or former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.) wins the GOP primary, according to a new poll from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling.

Thompson leads Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) by 47 percent to 45, while Baldwin leads Neumann by 46 percent to 45, according to the poll.

The poll applies a "likely voter" model that is unusual this early in the election because it also polled the upcoming Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race. This might slightly distort the numbers, since only those likely to vote in the gubernatorial race are polled here, but it is mostly in line with other polls of the race.

Thompson has led his GOP opponents in previous primary polls, and because of his sky-high name recognition in the state and relatively centrist record he appears to be the strongest candidate. But Neumann's close numbers in this poll suggest that, at least at this point, if the hardline conservative is nominated he'll have a good chance in the general election.

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Vulnerable senators stick with their party on Buffett Rule vote

Vulnerable senators seeking reelection stuck with their parties on Monday as the Senate rejected a Democratic plan to require millionaires to pay a minimum tax rate.

Republican Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) voted with GOP leadership to block the proposal, earning an instant rebuke from Democrats, who suggested that voters would react by ousting both incumbents in November.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat in conservative-leaning Missouri, voted with Democratic leadership to move forward with the plan. Republicans argued it was yet another example of McCaskill voting to raise taxes.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who faces serious primary challenges at a state Republican convention scheduled for Saturday, did not vote.

Only Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) broke with their party on the vote. Neither are up for reelection in 2012.

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Christie, McCain to campaign for Josh Mandel in Ohio

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will both campaign in Ohio on Monday for state Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican nominee for the Senate.

McCain will campaign with Mandel in Columbus on Tuesday morning, according to NewsNet 5. In the afternoon, Mandel and Christie will appear together in the Cleveland area.

The events signal major Republican establishment support for Mandel, a first-term treasurer who will face Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in November.

The Hill rates this race as leaning Democratic.

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National Review endorses Lugar's primary opponent

The National Review, a conservative standard-bearer, has endorsed Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) over Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), making it the latest leading conservative to align behind the Tea Party favorite.

"Lugar evinces a political philosophy so subtle that in unfavorable light it scarcely seems to exist at all," the paper's editorial board writes, pointing to his votes in favor of the auto bailout, President Obama's Supreme Court nominees and the DREAM Act, which would allow some undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at a young age a path to citizenship.

The paper also takes a dig at Lugar's ongoing residency issues — he hasn't lived in Indiana for more than three decades and had to fend off a legal challenge as to whether he'd be able to vote in the state at all. "Lugar has become a carpetbagger in his own state," they write.

Polls show a tight race between Lugar and Mourdock, who also has the support of the fiscally conservative Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, the National Rifle Association and socially conservative groups including the Eagle Forum and Indiana Right to Life.

Read the full endorsement here.

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