Senate races

Senate races

Florida Democrat Meek raises another $1 million

Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek (D) remains a consistent fundraiser — pulling in more than $1 million for the second quarter in a row. The Meek campaign announced Thursday it raised "over $1 million from more than 7,000 supporters" between March 31 and June 30. A spokesman for Meek said the campaign now has more than $4 million cash on hand.

In the first quarter of 2010, Meek raised more than $1 million and reported having $3.7 million banked.

Meek is the first candidate in the three-way Senate race to release his figures. Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican Marco Rubio have yet to announce their totals. Last quarter, Crist had $7.6 million in the bank while Rubio had $3.9 million.

--Updated at 9:26 a.m.


Portman with close to $9 million in bank

Former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) raised $2.65 million in the second quarter for his Senate campaign. That leaves him with $8.8 million cash on hand, according to the campaign. 

Portman's Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has not yet reported his second quarter numbers, but his fundraising was well behind Portman last quarter. Fisher raised some $550,000 in the first quarter to Portman's $2.35 million.

Fisher's campaign is also facing questions over just how unified Democrats are behind his candidacy, as The Hill campaign reporter Sean Miller reported Wednesday.  

Polls show the race is tight. A Rasmussen poll from the end of June gave Portman a four-point edge, while a PPP survey showed Fisher ahead by two.


Chamber of Commerce PAC to host fundraiser for Rossi

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's political action committee, ChamberPAC, will host a breakfast fundraiser for GOP Senate candidate Dino Rossi July 27 in Washington.

Rossi is seeking the Republican nomination to face Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) this fall. He faces a primary challenge from Clint Didier. 

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that the breakfast fundraiser will cost $1,000 for PAC attendees and $500 for individuals. 

The Chamber has been engaged in lobbying efforts against the financial reform bill currently before Congress, which Murray is backing. Rossi has yet to take a position on the proposed reform.


Vitter: Flap over ex-aide is 'old news'

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday regarding his ex-legislative aide Brian Furer, who police allege held his girlfriend at knifepoint in 2008. 

Vitter downplayed the controversy, calling it old news. According to ABC News, Vitter told reporters the issue has been "misrepresented."

The Vitter aide who was involved in the 2008 altercation resigned last month after an ABC News report on the incident. Until Wednesday, Vitter repeatedly refused to answer questions about his decision to keep the man on his staff for two more years despite his arrest and subsequent guilty pleas to lesser charges.

When asked why he had assigned Furer to handle women's issues, Vitter said that he had done no such thing.

"He was not," Vitter said. "That's just one of several issues that have been completely misreported. Tanya Newman, Nicole Herbert in my office are assigned to women's issues. That's always been the case."   

Democrats are pushing back hard against that denial. Furer was listed on a number of websites and legislative directories as working on women's issues in Vitter's office. 

The National Organization for Women asked the Senate to censure Vitter this past weekend for keeping Furer on staff after the senator was made aware of the incident. 

Vitter spoke to reporters after officially filing papers for his re-election at the Louisiana secretary of state's office. 

Despite the controversy, Sen. Vitter still leads Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) in the polls. The latest Rasmussen numbers had Vitter ahead 53-35. 


Alvin Greene suggests makings dolls of himself to boost economy

South Carolina's unlikely Democratic Senate candidate, Alvin Greene, suggested manufacturing dolls of himself to bolster the U.S. economy and create jobs.

Greene proposed the idea Tuesday in an interview with The Guardian.

"Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays," he said. "Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform and me in my suit. They can make toys of me and my vehicle, especially for the holidays and Christmas for the kids. That's something that would create jobs. So, you see, I think out of the box like that. It's not something a typical person would bring up. That's something that could happen, that makes sense. It's not a joke."

Greene is an Army and Air Force veteran and is unemployed. His surprise win has spurred suspicions among politicians that he might be a plant.

Last month Greene was asked to step down as the Democratic candidate by the South Carolina Democratic Party following reports he faces pending felony charges for obscenity, but he continues to stay in the race where he will be challenging incumbent Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in the election.


Rep. Capito wants November special election for Byrd seat

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) weighed in Wednesday on the succession process for the late-Sen. Robert Byrd's seat for the first time.

Capito called for a special election this November to fill the seat. She echoed concerns raised by lawmakers and interests across the state that 28 months was too long for an appointed senator to serve. 

Capito's declaration comes ahead of a Wednesday morning announcement from Gov. Joe Manchin (D) about the process for Byrd's seat. Manchin is expected to address reporters at 11 a.m.

Capito is widely considered the top Republican contender for Byrd's seat or for the governor's office in 2012 should she decide to run for either. 


J.D. Hayworth uses wife in first TV ad

J.D. Hayworth (R) went up with his first TV ad of the Arizona Senate primary campaign Wednesday. 

“John McCain is hiding his record behind false attacks on my husband,” Mary Hayworth, the former congressman’s wife, says in the ad. “John McCain has sold out the people of Arizona on immigration, bailouts and tax increases. Now, John McCain has embraced character assassination to keep his job. John McCain should be ashamed.”

She notes that her husband is “not perfect” but he is a “principled conservative.”

This is Hayworth’s first response to a recent TV ad blitz by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). It’s not yet clear where the ad is airing. 


Kansas Senate candidates focus on taxes, immigration

In their first debate Tuesday, Kansas Reps. Jerry Moran (R) and Todd Tiahrt (R) both assailed each other's congressional voting records.

The two are locked in a Republican primary for the nomination to fill the seat of Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback (R), who is running for governor. The primary is Aug. 3.

So far, it's been a race to prove which candidate is more conservative, which was Tuesday's theme.

Tiahrt accused Moran of not supporting former President George W. Bush's tax cuts, while Moran hit his opponent on his vote in favor of the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

One of the debate's most contentious exchanges came on the issue of immigration. From the AP:

[Moran] criticized Tiahrt during the debate for past support of proposals to allow some illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses and to make it easier for some to pay lower college tuition. Tiahrt said his views shifted as he consulted with Kansans and studied the issue.

... Tiahrt said he not only wants to complete the border fence but wants to stop printing bilingual election ballots, a practice he said encourages people to come to the U.S. illegally. Moran endorsed the new Arizona law - directing local police to check people's immigration status - and derided the Obama administration's challenge as "a silly waste of taxpayer dollars."

But amid that tough talk, Tiahrt acknowledged he once supported proposals on tuition and driver's licenses; Moran's staff noted Tiahrt co-sponsored legislation in 2001 and 2003. Supporters of such policies say they mostly help children who are brought to the U.S. by their parents and stay into young adulthood.

"A long time ago, I thought it was compassionate to not punish the children for the parents' sins, but I've listened to the people of Kansas. I've studied this issue," Tiahrt said. "I've come to the conclusion that we must build the fence, that we must say no to amnesty."

Tiahrt also reminded voters he has the backing of the Tea Party Express and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who endorsed him last month. Moran has the endorsement of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) who will campaign Friday for Moran in Kansas. 

A Survey USA poll from late June gave Moran a 20-point lead.