Senate races

Senate races

Christie fundraiser nets $600,000 for Menendez challenger

A fundraiser headlined by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Monday pulled in $600,000 for a state lawmaker seeking to unseat Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

The guest list topped 500 people for a $250-per-plate dinner for state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R), the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

Kyrillos is a longtime personal friend of Christie and one of his most stalwart allies in the Legislature.

Kyrillos acknowledged at the event that he would be outspent by Menendez, a former chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but said New Jersey voters know his record and will reject “more of the same” from Menendez.

The Hill rates this race as likely Democratic.


Angus King: I'm the two parties' worst nightmare

Former Maine Gov. Angus King (I) has made no deal with Democrats and will seek to avoid caucusing with either party if elected to the Senate, he said in an interview where he called himself "the two parties' worst nightmare."

King, an independent, dramatically altered the race to replace retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) when he announced last week he would run. Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) got out of the race soon after, leading Republicans to assume that King had struck a deal with Senate Democrats to caucus with them, essentially handing Democrats a seat they wouldn't have to spend to pick up.

But King told NBC affiliate WLBZ that the notion of striking a deal was antithetical to the reason he was running.

"The whole notion of what I'm trying to do here is get down there and shake things up," King said. "If I said I'm going to caucus with the Democrats or caucus with the Republicans, I'd be giving the game away."

King said he had made no decisions and hadn't discussed the matter with either Pingree or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He said if at all possible, he won't caucus with either party.

"If the numbers work out in such a way that it would be beneficial to Maine, that's the bass upon which I'm going to make the decision," he said.


Democrat's first Senate ad ties Rep. Flake to Limbaugh

The television ad from a Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona uses Rush Limbaugh's recent controversy to paint Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) as anti-women.

The first ad of the campaign for Don Bivens, a former chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, starts with clips of Limbaugh calling a Georgetown University student a "slut" and the subsequent media fallout.

"In the GOP war on women, whose side if Jeff Flake on?" asks narrator in the ad, pointing to Flake's opposition to abortion rights and to mandating that religious institutions cover birth control for their employees. "Jeff Flake took a side. Now it's your turn."

A campaign source said the ad would run statewide for two weeks and that the size of the buy would increase over the two weeks. But a source tracking the ad market in Arizona said as of Monday, only six days of airtime had been purchased for a total of $7,000, divided between the Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. media markets.

The Republican front-runner for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) seat, Flake has never embraced Limbaugh's comments. But the controversy over those comments has become fodder for the fundraising appeals and stump speeches of numerous Democratic candidates.


Conservative seniors group: Dem senators will ration Medicare

The 60 Plus Association, a conservative seniors group, is spending $3.5 million on television adveritsements accusing five Democratic senators of voting to ration Medicare services.

The group's targets are potentially vulnerable Democrats in states with large populations of senior citizens: Sens. Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio).


Kerrey: Reid vowed to 'respect' my previous service

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed to take former Sen. Bob Kerrey's (D-Neb.) previous two terms into consideration if he is elected to the Senate but didn't promise full seniority, Kerrey told the Omaha World-Herald.

Kerrey's decision at the end of February to reverse himself and make a last-minute bid for retiring Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb.) seat was a boon for Democrats, and questions have been swirling ever since about what was offered in exchange for him to run. Kerrey served two previous terms in the Senate, and many speculated Reid had offered to let him start where he had left off in the seniority chain, putting him in line for desirable committee assignments.

"The most important one was that when it came time to organize the Senate, he would respect my previous 12 years of previous service in the Senate, with no specific promise about seniority," Kerrey said.


New Wisconsin Senate candidate adds chaos to GOP field

Wealthy businessman Eric Hovde has entered Wisconsin's already-crowded GOP Senate primary field, creating more chaos in an already-unstable field.

The field already includes former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.), and Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R).

Hovde's entrance adds further uncertainty to the race: It's unclear whether he'll help the former governor by further dividing the anti-Thompson vote or find a middle path to the nomination by spending heavily to win over conservatives unhappy with the field.

A Madison native who has lived for years in the Washington area, Hovde said when he was first mulling a bid that he might spend as much as $10 million on the campaign. He's also a polished speaker who has regularly appeared on cable news shows to discuss the economy. 

"Washington is full of career politicians who are beholden to the special interests that finance their campaigns," Hovde said in a statement announcing his candidacy. "We need citizen legislators who have spent time in the private sector and who have the skills to put our economy back on track."

{mosads}A Hovde campaign source said he'd run as the only non-politician in the race, although running as a Washington outsider might be tricky for a man who's lived in the D.C. suburbs for years.

Thompson has come under fire from various conservative groups for working with former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) on a bipartisan framework for health care reform, although he denounced the bill Democrats pushed through Congress and President Obama signed. He's also been criticized by conservatives for working closely with state employee unions while governor, a hot-button issue given now-Gov. Scott Walker's (R) battle with those unions.

Neumann has the backing of many D.C.-based conservative groups including Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth and Freedomworks. But some Wisconsin conservatives are still angry at him for his testy 2010 gubernatorial primary run against Walker. Recent polls have shown him and Fitzgerald, a close Walker ally, splitting the conservative vote and giving Thompson the edge in the race.

The four Republicans are vying to replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.). Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is all but certain to be the Democratic nominee.