Senate races

Senate races

Al Gore to Florida to campaign for Meek

With polls showing him running third in Florida's three-way Senate contest, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) is bringing in another big-name Democrat for help.

Al Gore will campaign with Meek on Sept. 30 in Tampa, Meek's campaign announced Wednesday. 

The congressman said he was "honored" to receive help from the former vice president.

"Together, we'll show Floridians that there is just one candidate who will stand up for Florida's environment and middle-class families in this state," he said in a statement.

Meek has already gotten help from former President Clinton and President Obama. Democrats want to sure up his base of support to prevent Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) from eating into it.

In a recent Fox News poll, Crist drew 27 percent of likely voters, Republican Marco Rubio got 43 percent support and Meek came in third with 21 percent.


McConnell, Cornyn to headline D.C. fundraiser for W.Va. Republican

Republican businessman John Raese, who appears on the verge of making a real race out of West Virginia's special Senate election, will be in Washington, D.C. next week for a breakfast fundraiser.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Cornyn (Texas) will both attend the event, according to an invitation provided to The Hill. 

Raese faces Gov. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) this fall in the special election to fill the remainder of the late Sen. Robert Byrd's (D) Senate seat. 

The PAC fundraiser is set for Tuesday morning at a Capitol Hill restaurant. Individual tickets to the fundraiser go for $500, while the price is set at $1,000 for a PAC and $2,500 to co-host the event.    

Manchin was supposed to be a shoo-in to fill Byrd's seat after Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) passed on the race, but new numbers out Monday from Public Policy showed the contest in a dead heat.    

Raese has been largely self-funding his bid against Manchin, pouring more than half a million dollars of his own money into TV ads trying to tie the governor to President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Washington. 


O'Donnell: Coons has made 'some very anti-American statements'

Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell (R) took aim at New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D) Tuesday night during an appearance on Fox News. 

O'Donnell referenced an article Coons wrote in college in which he referred to himself as "a bearded Marxist." 

Prompted by host Sean Hannity about Coons' years-old comment from Coons, she said, "if the media is going to attack me for statements I made in my 20s, that's fair game. He made some very anti-American statements, apologizing for America and calling himself a bearded Marxist."

Coons said earlier Tuesday on CNN that the reference was made in jest, calling it "a tongue-in-cheek reference to how Republicans on campus" viewed his transformation from a Young Republican to a Democrat. 

O'Donnell referenced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comments from last week made in an interview with The Hill, where he called Coons, "my pet."

"You have to wonder what kind of strange conversations went on that led to Harry Reid calling him his pet," said O'Donnell, who again painted herself as the victim of unfair attacks from her Democratic opponents and the national media. 

On her own previous statements about having "dabbled into witchcraft" when she was in high school, O'Donnell said it was just a case of "teenage rebellion."

"Who doesn't regret the 80s to some extent?" O'Donnell asked. 

She also pushed back against questions about her personal finances, claiming that she got behind on her mortgage because she took on "a pro-bono client" who was unable to pay her, presumably for public relations work.  

The Tea Party favorite also said she's still holding out hope for an endorsement from her primary rival, longtime Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.). Castle did not phone her after his loss last Tuesday and the Castle campaign quickly noted that there would be no endorsement of O'Donnell.

But the candidate said Castle did call on Friday to congratulate her and said of the possibility of an endorsement, "let's give him some time and hopefully he'll come around, because we need to unite the party."

The conservative commentator also hit the national media, saying she plans on following the advice of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and shutting out the national press for the remainder of the campaign. 

"It's interfering with my ability to campaign," O'Donnell said of the national media presence in Delaware. The candidate said her campaign is asking event organizers in Delaware to limit press access at some events, "because of the frenzy these things have become."


Michelle Obama to close for Sen. Boxer

First lady Michelle Obama will make an appearance for California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in the closing stages of her race against Republican Carly Fiorina.

Obama is set to appear with Boxer in Los Angeles on Oct. 27 — five days before the midterm election. Obama was nicknamed the "closer" during the 2008 presidential election that saw her husband win the White House.

"We're thrilled that in the closing days of the campaign, the First Lady will be coming to California to campaign with us and urge Californians to go to the polls," Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer's campaign manager, said in a statement.

Obama's popularity took a hit this summer when conservative commentators criticized her for vacationing at a lavish resort in Spain. But she remains well-liked by the Democratic base that party leaders will be looking to motivate.

Fiorina's camp said Obama's visit is a sign Democrats are "nervous" about Boxer.

"National Democrats are clearly so nervous about Californians' distaste for Barbara Boxer and her nearly three decade political career of supporting job-killing policies and failing the people of California that they are forced to send in reinforcements to try and salvage the only job Boxer cares about -- her own," Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Fiorina, said in a statement. 

--Updated at 4:08 p.m.


Report: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. offered campaign cash for Senate appointment

A report Tuesday in the Chicago Sun-Times claims a major Democratic fundraiser has implicated Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) in an alleged scheme to gain an appointment to the Senate from disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.). 

The paper reports that businessman and Democratic fundraiser Raghuveer Nayak has told federal authorities that Jackson authorized him to offer Blagojevich campaign cash in exchange for an appointment to President Obama's former Senate seat. 

From the Sun-Times:

The allegation by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak counters public statements made as recently as last week by Jackson that he never authorized any deal to attempt to buy the Senate seat.

Nayak also told authorities he paid for two airline trips for a "social acquaintance" of the Democratic congressman at Jackson's request, raising more potential ethical and political problems for Jackson.

The FBI interviewed that acquaintance — a Washington, D.C., restaurant hostess named Giovana Huidobro — about a year ago as part of its corruption probe of Blagojevich. Authorities were trying to determine whether Jackson had asked Nayak to offer Blagojevich campaign cash in exchange for the then-governor appointing Jackson to the seat once held by President Obama, according to sources with knowledge of the probe.

Huidobro, Jackson and Nayak all dined together on Oct. 8, 2008 — the same day that Nayak has told authorities he had a key conversation with Jackson about the Senate appointment, sources said. The three then ended up at Ozio, the restaurant and club where Huidobro works and where Jackson has held fund-raisers.

Jackson has denied any wrongdoing in connection to the case, telling prosecutors last week to "bring it on" if they had any evidence tying him to Blagojevich scandal. 

Jackson is mulling a bid for Chicago mayor in the wake of Mayor Richard Daley's announcement that he won't run again. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emnanuel is also a potential mayoral contender. 


O'Donnell to sit down with Fox's Hannity

Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell (R) will sit down Tuesday night for her first major TV interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity.

O'Donnell made a round of media appearances last Wednesday morning after she upset Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in the Senate primary. But after news broke that she once "dabbled into witchcraft," O'Donnell pulled out of two Sunday show appearances, including Fox News Sunday.

Hannity's show is a comfortable setting for conservative candidates. Sarah Palin recently said the Delaware Republican, whom she endorsed in the primary, should "speak through Fox News."


Tea Party-backed Miller says he accepted farm subsidies

Alaska's Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller, who has railed against wasteful federal spending and pledged to abandon earmarks, received some $7,200 in farm subsidies on land he owned in Kansas.

The money came over a seven-year period and included money for an agriculture conservation program and disaster assistance, according to government records obtained by the Alaska Dispatch.

The Anchorage Daily News notes that Miller opposed federal spending on agriculture in a survey from Project Vote Smart.  

Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto said Miller, who is from Kansas, purchased the farmland in 1990 when he was in the Army and essentially rented it out to be farmed, finally selling the last of the 140 acres that was being farmed in 1998.

DeSoto said that it was standard practice for farmers to receive the subsidies in Kansas and that the nation was in a much better financial situation at the time that Miller received the funds.

“This was back in the 90’s, the situation the country was in was far different than now,” he said.

Miller now faces a three-way race this November with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is running as a write-in candidate, and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D).


Sen. Burris denied bid to serve out remainder of term

Sen. Roland Burris's bid to get the Supreme Court to stop the Illinois special Senate election failed Monday when it refused to hear the Democrat's appeal of a federal court ruling that kept his name off the ballot.

Burris had tried to halt the special election for President Obama's old Senate seat, set for Nov. 2, the same day as the general election. 

The special election will decide who serves out the final two months of Obama's unexpired Senate term. According to the earlier ruling, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias's name will appear on the special election ballot along with Republican Mark Kirk's as they won their party's Senate nominations.

Burris's only hope now lies in the normal appeals process, according to the Associated Press.

A spokesman for Burris did not respond to a request for comment. 

--Updated at 7:45 p.m.