Senate races

Senate races

McCaskill's GOP challengers trip on minimum-wage query

The three Republicans vying to take on Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in November were all caught off guard Friday when asked in a debate about the minimum wage and whether to increase it.

"No, sir," businessman John Brunner during the KMOX debate when asked if he knew the federal minimum wage.

"My guess is it's somewhere in the six or seven, but I don't know the exact number right now," said Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.).

The federal minimum wage, as set in 2009, is $7.25 per hour — the same as the state minimum in Missouri.


Lugar declared ineligible to vote in Indiana

An Indiana elections board declared Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) ineligible to vote at the address hed been registered at, as he hasnt lived there in decades.

The Democratic-controlled board voted along party lines to bar Lugar from voting there. The decision will have almost no impact on Lugars ability to vote: He will likely be able to register at another address, either the home of a relative or at a farm he owns in the state.

But the decision could further hurt him in his primary race against Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) because it draws more attention to the fact that his primary home is in the Washington suburbs.

Lugar is facing a tough challenge from Mourdock, who has Tea Party support and was recently endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

Lugars voting ineligibility was first reported by The Indianapolis Star.


Democrats hammer Sherrod Brown challenger over Bahamas fundraising

Democrats are hammering Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, the GOP candidate who will face Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in November, over a campaign trip to the Bahamas they say speaks to a failure to fulfill his current duties in Ohio.

Mandel flew to the Bahamas last week, where he held a fundraiser and addressed a gathering of payday lenders, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Mandel spokesman Travis Considine told the paper that Mandel didn’t spend the night there, and that his campaign — not the state — paid for the trip.

But a trifecta of Democratic groups — Brown’s campaign, Ohio Democrats and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — have drilled the issue, claiming Mandel “thumbed his nose” at Ohio and his duties as treasurer.

The incident plays into a narrative about Mandel as an “absentee treasurer” that Democrats have used as their primary line of attack against Mandel, a first-term treasurer who has raised gobs of cash and could be within striking distance of unseating Brown, according to polls.

"That Josh has time to jet off to the Bahamas for a fundraiser after skipping every meeting of the billion-dollar Board of Deposit is further evidence that Mandel would rather do anything in pursuit of his next job than keep his promise to the voters who elected him treasurer,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Andrew Zucker.

Mandel’s campaign told the Plain Dealer that Mandel has sent top surrogates in his place to state board meetings, and that through his leadership, the state has cut down on waste and maintained its high credit rating. The campaign noted that Brown has also taken contributions from payday lenders.


Kaine gets a super-PAC in Va.

A super-PAC run by top Democratic consultants has launched to help former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) win his Senate race against former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.).

The news comes just days after Allen, also a former Virginia governor, got a super-PAC of his own, and immediately following a dust-up between the two candidates in which Kaine asked Allen to agree to a ban on groups that dont disclose their donors, a suggestion Allen immediately rejected.

But Mark Longabaugh, a spokesman for the New Virginia PAC, said the group has been planning for months to get involved in the race.

We hope to be very active, Longabaugh told The Hill. The purpose of the PAC is to give Tim Kaine as much support as we can draw up.

He said the group will disclose all of its donors, as super-PACs are required to do under the law (only outside charitable groups can spend undisclosed donations). The groups aim is to spend $2 million to $3 million on the race — the same amount Independence Virginia, the pro-Allen super-PAC, is hoping to spend.

Longabaugh is a veteran of numerous campaigns. Hell be joined by Steve Bouchard and Harmony Knutson, two former aides for Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). All three live in Virginia, which Longabaugh said made the race a high priority.

The race was already on pace to be one of the most expensive in the country: Kaine has had huge fundraising numbers and has been the target of outside groups including American Crossroads. The two new super-PACs will likely up the ante on the race.


Gillibrand money pitch ties Rep. Turner to Limbaugh

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has turned Rep. Bob Turner's (R-N.Y.) election challenge into a fundraising opportunity — and a chance to tie Turner to Rush Limbaugh.

A fundraising pitch the campaign's Women for Gillibrand coalition sent supporters on Tuesday points out that as a former television producer, Turner helped launch Limbaugh's career. 

"Maybe he was inspired by her unfaltering defense of women's rights in the Senate or his old pal Rush being back in the news again," reads the pitch. "Or maybe he just thinks he deserves a promotion and can push Kirsten aside."

As the conservative radio host continues to take heat from his remarks during the recent contraception debate, in which he called a Georgetown University student a "slut," Democratic candidates have seized the opportunity to turn the resulting outrage into cash.

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), who is running for Senate, launched a drive to get Limbaugh kicked off the air, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has also raised money off the issue. Don Bivens, a Democratic candidate for Senate in Arizona, used Limbaugh's comments against his GOP opponent in his first television ad of the campaign, which he released on Monday.


Lingle won't say who she's backing in Hawaii GOP caucuses

Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R), who is running for Senate, won't say which presidential candidate she's backing in Hawaii's Republican caucuses.

Lingle spokesman Lenny Klompus told The Hill that Lingle would vote in Tuesday's caucuses but that she was keeping her choice private.

"Yes, she will vote," Klompus said. "She's not going to endorse until the convention."

He declined to say who she was backing.