Senate races

Senate races

GOP Senate candidate in Michigan raises $750K

Republican Clark Durant has raised a hefty $750,000 in the six weeks since he entered the Senate race in Michigan, his campaign announced Tuesday.

"I am truly humbled and encouraged by the outpouring of support," Durant said in a statement. "There is momentum building to shake up Washington. Our supporters are sending a strong message that they want the American way, not the Washington way."

Durant is running in a primary against former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who is considered the favorite to take on Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). Because of his experience raising money for the Cornerstone Schools, Christian charter schools he helped found in Detroit, Durant was expected to have the connections to be a strong fundraiser. He is also personally wealthy and could have contributed to his campaign.

Hoekstra is known as a strong campaigner but a weak fundraiser. Two weeks ago his campaign predicted he would bring in between $400,000 and $500,000 in the three-month fundraising quarter that started in July. He has yet to announce his fundraising figures, but campaign manager John Yob tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he had outraised Durant.

Durant lacks the name recognition Hoekstra built during his unsuccessful 2010 run for governor, and the former lawmaker led Durant by 41 percent to 3 percent among Republican voters in a late September poll. But if Durant continues his strong fundraising pace he could make things interesting in the Republican primary.

If Durant makes the race competitive he could hurt Hoekstra's chances in the general election by forcing him to spend money in the primary rather than save his resources for Stabenow, who had more than $4 million in the bank at the end of last quarter.

—This post was updated at 1:12 p.m.


Wisconsin GOP Senate field getting crowded

Wisconsin's already-crowded GOP Senate primary field may add two candidates soon: State Sen. Frank Lasee (R-Wis.) filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week, while muti-millionaire Eric Hovde is mulling a run.

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

Thompson and Neumann are considered the front-runners for the race: Thompson is well-known in the state after more than a decade as governor, while Neumann has emerged as his strongest opponent from the right.

It is unlikely that Lasee will be able to make much of an impact on the campaign. But Hovde said that should he decide to run he would spend $10 million of his own money on the race, making him an instant player.

Hovde, who recently moved back to Wisconsin from Washington, D.C., has criticized what he views as a dangerously cozy relationship between Wall Street and Washington. He could throw a wrench into the race by appealing to populists and centrist Republicans. This could hurt Thompson, who is counting on support from centrists to beat Neumann.


Obama the focus of GOP in Missouri Senate race

President Obama’s struggles in Missouri became the focus for Republicans on multiple fronts in the Senate race there, with candidates targeting both Obama and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill for appearing to distance herself from the president.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee put out a video blasting McCaskill for declining to appear with Obama on Tuesday at a campaign event in St. Louis, alleging that the first-term senator is avoiding facing the reality of how the economy has fared under the man whose campaign for president she supported early and vigorously. (A McCaskill aide told The Hill on Monday that scheduling conflicts precluded her from joining Obama in Missouri).

“Senator, would you like to continue your flight with the president?” the narrator asks in the ad, before a cutout of McCaskill appears to parachute out of Air Force One.


Poll: McMahon, Murphy ahead in Senate primaries in Conn.

Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon is leading the Republican primary race for Senate in Connecticut, while Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is in the lead on the Democratic side, according to a poll released Monday by Pubic Policy Polling.

McMahon, who announced her second bid for Senate in September, took 60 percent of GOP voters in the poll — 33 points ahead of former Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.). Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy took 3 percent.

Murphy is in the lead in the Democratic primary with 39 percent, followed by Susan Bysiewicz at 33 percent and William Tong at 8 percent. In March, Murphy's lead over Bysiewicz was only 2 points.

The Republican and Democratic nominees will vie to fill the seat left vacant by the retirement of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

The poll by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling was conducted Sept. 22-25 and included 800 primary voters evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

- This post was updated at 8:56 p.m.


Lemieux grills Hasner's conservative record in Florida Senate race

Former Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) called into question former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner's (R-Fla.) record as a conservative Monday, mounting a new Senate campaign website that claims Hasner is a moderate in disguise.

The website,, shows a cartoon of Hasner wearing a jester's hat and calls for scrutiny of his record on issues ranging from abortion and human cloning to taxes and labor issues.

"Tallahassee career politician Adam Hasner’s masquerade ball continues," LeMieux's campaign writes on the website. "In this episode, the conservative mask Hasner wears when it comes to important issues like the sanctity of life, education reform, and reigning in big labor is uncovered."

The website may signal an attempt by LeMieux's campaign to deflect attention from a series of recent boosts to Hasner's candidacy. On Friday, the campaign announced the endorsement of the Family Research Council's Action PAC, the group led by Tony Perkins that supports politicians who espouse extremely socially conservative platforms. And a week earlier, Hasner won a straw poll in Florida with 34 percent; LeMieux came in third with 24 percent.

“Looks like losing to Adam by 10 points in the CPAC Florida straw poll has really gotten under George LeMieux’s skin," said Douglass Mayer, Hasner's communications director. "He spearheaded the false attacks against Marco Rubio for Charlie Crist and he is now using the same false attacks against Adam."

Hasner and LeMieux are competing with retired Army Col. Mike McCalister and businessman Craig Miller in the GOP primary to take on Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). Polling shows that Florida Republicans have yet to get behind a candidate. LeMieux came out on top in a Quinnipiac University poll released Sept. 22, but almost 3 in 5 voters hadn't made up their minds.


Missouri businessman John Brunner joins contest to take on McCaskill

St. Louis businessman John Brunner entered Missouri’s Senate race on Monday, putting his status as a business leader and political outsider front and center in his argument for why he is the best Republican candidate to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

Brunner, 59, announced his campaign at a distribution plant for Vi-Jon Inc., the family cosmetics and healthcare company that Brunner chairs. He likened the excess debt the company took on during the 1990s to the debt crisis facing the United States, emphasizing the lessons he learned in the private sector much the way former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has done in both of his presidential campaigns.

Although Brunner has never held elected office, he held up his experience with Vi-Jon, which produces the hand sanitizer Germ-X and other products, as superior to the experience career politicians have in writing and passing laws.

“I always look to see where that kind of experience has gotten us right now,” Brunner said Monday in an interview with The Hill. “There will be plenty of legislators and lawmakers up there.”


Rep. Tsongas to endorse Warren for Senate in Mass.

Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) will endorse former Obama administration official Elizabeth Warren in her bid for the Senate in Massachusetts, a source in Warren's campaign confirmed Monday.

The nod from Tsongas gives Warren the support of both the only woman currently representing Massachusetts in Congress and the widow of former Sen. Paul Tsongas, who died in 1997.

Tsongas is expected to make the endorsement official at a campaign event later Monday.

In September, Warren entered an already busy field of candidates vying to take on Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) for the seat he won following the death of former Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Warren quickly rose to the top of the Democratic field, buoyed by backing from numerous national Democratic groups and the name recognition she built up as a consumer protection official under President Obama.

A match-up between Brown and Warren would currently be a statistical tie, with Brown leading her by just three points — within the margin of error, according to a poll released Monday by the Boston Herald/UMass-Lowell. The newspaper and university will host a debate Tuesday for the Democratic candidates.


Sharron Angle endorses Stabenow opponent in Michigan

Former Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R) on Friday endorsed former Rep. Pete Hoekstras (R-Mich.) campaign against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), an endorsement Democrats were as eager to tout as Hoekstras supporters were.

Angle is best known for costing the GOP a shot at taking out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in the 2010 election because of a weak campaign and a series of gaffes and unforced errors. But she remains popular with some Tea Partiers, and with the fundraising quarter ending Friday, the endorsement could help gin up some additional donations.

The Hoekstra campaign sent out a news release announcing the endorsement to supporters, but not to its press list, breaking its pattern of touting to the press endorsements from other politicians such as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R).

But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made sure people knew of the endorsement, sending out a release slamming Hoekstra for the support.

Pete Hoekstra should be ashamed to have such an extremist lining up behind his campaign. As if his record wasn’t bad enough, his attempt to keep his Sharron Angle endorsement under the radar takes the cake, DSCC spokesman Shripal Shah said. We know that Pete Hoekstra wants to dismantle Social Security and end Medicare, but does he also agree with Angle that these programs violate Gods will? Does he really agree with Angle that girls raped by their fathers should just turn a lemon situation into lemonade and be forced to carry the child?

When asked about the DSCC’s attack, Hoekstra spokesman Brian Jones stood by the endorsement.

The Hoekstra campaign is proud to receive the support of grassroots conservatives in Michigan and across the country and pleased to have the endorsement of someone who has been an advocate for eliminating government waste and reducing the tax burden on working families, he told The Hill.

Hoekstra has focused on lining up conservative backing to undercut any support for Detroit charter schools founder Clark Durant, who is running against him in the primary, and the steady parade of endorsements has helped in that process.