Senate races

Senate races

Poll: Heller holds narrow lead over Berkley in Nevada

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) is narrowly leading Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) in their Senate race, according to a new poll conducted by GOP pollster Glen Bolger for the Retail Association of Nevada.

According to the poll, Heller leads Berkley by 47 percent to 44 percent.

The race has been close from the start, according to polls. Heller's lead has narrowed slightly from a 48 percent to 42 percent edge he had over Berkley in the last poll done by the group, back in October.

Democrats are hopeful they can pick up the seat and have made it one of their two top targets, along with Massachusetts, of sitting GOP senators.

The poll numbers were first obtained by the Las Vegas Sun's Jon Ralston. The poll of 500 Nevada voters was conducted last week and had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

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Dems' Senate recruit in North Dakota gets primary to herself

Former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp will have the Democratic primary for Senate to herself now that long-shot candidate Tom Potter has stepped aside.

"Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for our party, Heidi's campaign grew quickly to a scale which I could not hope to match," Potter, a former professor, wrote in an email to supporters on Monday. "I have no doubt that the financial resources and professional campaign that Heidi has assembled will surely keep North Dakota’s U.S. Senate seat blue."

Even with her party's nomination essentially assured, the race will be an uphill battle for Heitkamp in a conservative state that is deeply wary of President Obama. Heitkamp is expected to face Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) in the general election to replace retiring Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

Heitkamp thanked Potter for his "gracious withdrawal" from the race and for offering himself as a candidate for public service.

"I know Tom cares for our state and its people every bit as much as I do," Heitkamp said in a statement. "I promise I won't let him down in this race.”

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McCaskill's new TV ad to run during Mizzou-Kansas basketball game

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is out with her second TV ad in as many days, and the second of the cycle.

The ad is a positive spot that says McCaskill cares deeply about armed forces veterans and fights for "better access to veterans in rural areas and a jobs bill that gets our veterans back to work."

The ad, part of a $200,000 ad buy, will reportedly first be aired during a high-profile basketball game between the University of Missouri and University of Kansas, bitter rivals who both have strong teams this year.

McCaskill faces a tough reelection fight in the Republican-trending state, and has already been hit hard by hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising from outside groups.

Watch her ad here:

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Tester, Rehberg neck and neck in Montana Senate race

A new poll of likely Montana voters shows incumbent Sen. John Tester (D) and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) essentially tied in what will likely rank among the hardest fought Senate races this Novemeber.

Rehberg held a slight edge over Tester, leading 47 percent to 44 percent, according to Rasmussen. Four percent preferred another candidate, potentially Rehberg's primary challenger, Dennis Teske. The poll had a 4.5-point margin of error.

The seat will be difficult for Democrats to hold, with Montana voters leaning Republican. But Tester was confident when he filed the official paperwork for his challenge earlier this week.

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Lugar wins Pyrrhic victory in Indiana residency fight

Indiana's attorney general has issued a statement confirming a decades-old advisory that Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) has remained an Indiana resident even though he doesn't have a home in the state. 

It was a Pyrrhic victory for the six-term senator, because his residency is much more of a political than legal problem.

Lugar has lived primarily in the suburbs of Washington, not in Indiana, for 30 years, and his voting address in the Hoosier State is from a home he sold decades ago.  

Lugar's primary opponent, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) has seized on the issue, as have Mourdock's Tea Party allies and Democrats hoping Lugar will lose the primary so they could have a better shot at the seat.

"The analysis and conclusions in the 1982 advisory letter remain valid," Matthew Light, chief counsel to Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, said in the letter. "Members of Congress do not lose their residency for voting purposes when they leave the state so that they may fulfill their duties ... You have served continuously in the U.S. Senate as an Indiana Senator since 1977. To the extent you have been absent from the state since that time, the absence has been directly related to the business of the state of Indiana and the United States. Therefore the residence you established in Indiana is not lost by reason of that absence."

While Lugar is likely on safe ground legally, the question will come up again Friday when Indiana's election commission will review whether he can continue to vote from his old address.

Lugar is facing a tough challenge from Mourdock, who has the support of numerous conservative D.C.-based groups including the deep-pocketed Club for Growth.

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Dems try to tie Heller to Sharron Angle — in Spanish

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is out with a new Spanish-language radio ad tying Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to Sharron Angle, the Tea Party-backed Republican who won the nomination for Senate in Nevada in 2010, then lost in the general election.

"A Republican that wants to get to the Senate by way of an anti-Latino campaign," the narrator says in Spanish. "Sound familiar? In Republican Dean Heller we have another Sharron Angle."

Angle had a difficult relationship with Nevada's large Hispanic population when she ran for Senate two years ago, famously telling a group of Hispanic students that they looked more Asian to her.

One source tracking the ad market said Democrats were spending just over $5,000 on airtime to run the ads, but another source put the figure closer to $15,000.

The DSCC said the spot would run in the Las Vegas and Reno, Nev. markets, but did not disclose the size of the buy.

But the ad is part of a broader effort by Democrats to reach out to Hispanic voters in Nevada as they work to shore up Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), the Democratic recruit for the seat. In early November, the DSCC released another Spanish-language ad claiming that Heller had insulted Hispanics by not meeting with the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

Republicans have also been on the air in Spanish in Nevada, releasing a radio ad earlier in February tying Berkley to President Obama and his position on contraception coverage and the Catholic Church.

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Mandel picks up backhanded endorsement from Ohio newspaper

It's never a good sign when the first sentence of a major endorsement is a bruising rebuke accusing the candidate of putting himself before voters.

But that's how the Cleveland Plain Dealer led off a reluctant endorsement of Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R), whom the paper described as the only Republican in the race with a chance to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

"This page has had serious issues with the way Josh Mandel seemingly puts election to higher office above every other consideration," the newspaper's editorial board wrote. "Even so, none of the four opponents arrayed against him in the statewide Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Sherrod Brown has managed to mount a serious run at the nomination."

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