Senate races

Senate races

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.


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."