Senate races

Senate races

DeMint back on the air for Stenberg in Nebraska

A PAC controlled by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is back on the air in Nebraska with an ad supporting state Treasurer Don Stenberg (R).

DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund will spend an initial $234,000 to air the ad for most of March on statewide cable and broadcast television. The bio spot follows another ad DeMint aired for Stenberg in January.

All told, DeMint's PAC has spent almost one-half million dollars supporting Stenberg, with plans to sink much more into the race.


NRA endorses Lugar opponent, blasts senator's 'contempt' for gun owners

The National Rifle Association officially endorsed Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) over Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) Wednesday morning, blasting Lugar for his "seeming contempt for gun owners in Indiana."

The endorsement, first reported by The Hill, is a body blow to the longtime senator's hopes of surviving a tough primary against Mourdock, who has Tea Party support.

"We haven't engaged in many primary elections but I have to tell you, this decision was easy," NRA political victory fund chief Chris Cox said on a conference call. "Richard Mourdock is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and Richard Lugar is not. The choice could not be more clear."

Cox said Lugar had a lifetime "F" rating from the NRA, which Cox said he got "the old fashioned way: he earned it."


Poll: Angus King leads in 3-way race for Snowe seat

Former Gov. Angus King (I-Maine) has the early advantage in a three-way race for retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R-Maine) seat, a new poll showed.

King, an independent, jumped into the race on Monday, muddying the waters for Democrats, who saw Snowe's decision last week to retire as a major chance to pickup a GOP-held Senate seat.

King leads with 36 percent in a hypothetical matchup against Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine) and Republican Charles Summers, the Maine secretary of state. King does best among independents (53 percent), but also performs well among Democrats (35 percent) and Republicans (25 percent).

Six in ten Maine voters view King favorably in the poll by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, and just one in four have a negative opinion. That suggests King has maintained high name recognition despite being out of the governor's mansion for almost a decade.


GOP candidates tout support in Nebraska Senate race

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey's (D-Neb.) announcement last week that he will run for his old seat has brought renewed Republican attention to a race the GOP expected was safely in the bag.

Front-running Republican Jon Bruning, Nebraska's attorney general, released an internal poll Tuesday showing him up 33 points on state Treasurer Don Stenberg, who is challenging Bruning from the right. The poll also showed Bruning winning more than half of self-identified "very conservative" Republicans, and 54 percent said Bruning stood the best chance to defeat Kerrey.

The Bruning poll of likely GOP voters, conducted for his campaign by Republican polling firm Tarrance Group, was conducted March 4-5 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. It was released one month after a poll from Stenberg backer Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) that showed Stenberg gaining on Bruning and just 6 points behind.

Adding to Stenberg's support from fiscal conservatives Tuesday was an endorsement from the Club for Growth, a conservative group that frequently targets Republicans it considers not far enough to the right on federal debt and spending.

“Don will fight to repeal ObamaCare and cut spending, and he’ll oppose the bailout culture in Washington that is bankrupting America," Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement. "Nebraska Republicans looking to send a pro-growth voice to the Senate should rally behind Don Stenberg."


National Rifle Association will endorse Lugar challenger Wednesday

The National Rifle Association will endorse Sen. Dick Lugar's (R-Ind.) Tea Party-backed primary opponent Wednesday morning, sources with knowledge of the endorsement told The Hill.

Their endorsement of Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) over Lugar could be a body blow to the longtime senator. The NRA is a powerful group popular in Indiana, a state where many Democrats also support the group's policy goals. By making Lugar a target, they could contribute to his downfall.

{mosads}Lugar has already had a rough few weeks, after struggling to handle questions on whether he lives in Indiana or Virginia. Lugar has not owned a home in Indiana for decades, and while he survived a legal challenge to his residency, the optics of the fight have done damage to his campaign. He failed in a TV interview to remember what address is on his driver's license, and both Mourdock and Democrats have hammered him on the issue.

Mourdock already has the backing of many fiscally conservative outside groups, including the deep-pocketed Club for Growth, but the NRA's endorsement will give him added support from a new group of conservatives.