Senate races

Senate races

Illinois Dem struggles for money after bank failure

Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias (D) struggled to raise money in the aftermath of his family bank’s collapse in April.

Giannoulias has raised only some $900,000 since March 31 — the bulk of it in June. His Republican opponent, Mark Kirk, collected close to $1 million that same month. And Kirk was dealing with his own scandal — the fallout from inaccuracies in reporting his Navy service record at the time.

Giannoulias raised less than half of Kirk’s total, and the Republican now has almost a four-to-one cash on hand advantage.

“We are confident we are going to have the resources we need to compete,” a Giannoulias spokeswoman told Bloomberg.

Democrats were obviously concerned about Giannoulias’s numbers. Vice President Joe Biden and several others administration officials traveled to Chicago in the second quarter to help Giannoulias raise money. Other than Biden, Giannoulias got help from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and President Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe. White House advisor David Axelrod is slated for a Giannoulias fundraiser on July 25.


Angle says running against Reid is 'a calling'

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle said her campaign against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is "a calling."

"When God calls you he also equips you and He doesn’t just say well today you’re going to run against Harry Reid," Angle said.

In a lengthy interview with CBN's David Brody, Angle also addressed the redesign of her website and responded to criticism that she has ducked mainstream media interviews. 

Angle said the point of an interview is "to earn something with it and I’m not going to earn anything from people who are there to badger me and use my words to batter me with."

She continued: "I do sometimes seven interviews a day so it’s not like we’re running from the media. It’s just that we’re earning with that media.”

After the primary, Angle's campaign re-launched her website with a trimmed down list of issue positions, which excluded some of her original statements on issues like illegal immigration and campaign finance reform, including her call to eliminate the Department of Education.   

Angle said the re-launch came on the advice of her online consultants, who told her she was "pretty wordy" and suggested condensing her positions into "very precise statements."

"We’re not completely there yet," she said in the interview. Angle actually encouraged people to check out the website launched by Reid's campaign, "The Real Sharron Angle" which posts Angle's original website. Initially, Angle's campaign sent a cease and desist letter over the site's re-posting.

"I’ll promote that website actually because that is the old website," Angle said. "It won the primary and I would like people to go there and look at my positions and it’s good that [Reid's] paying for that so I’m glad.”


Rep. Moran holds fundraising edge in Kansas Senate race

The Senate campaign of Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) raised $540,000 in the second quarter, it announced Wednesday. That tops primary rival Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who raised $450,987 during the quarter. 

In the run-up to the Aug. 3 primary, the key number is Moran’s cash-on-hand advantage. Moran ended the quarter with some $2.3 million cash on hand to Tiahrt’s $1.2 million. 

Moran’s campaign is also touting new internal numbers that show him leading Tiahrt by 32 points. The internals have been a point of contention between the two camps throughout the race.

Last month, Tiahrt touted his own internal poll that showed the race within a few points. 

The two are vying for the Republican nomination for Sen. Sam Brownback’s (R) seat. Brownback is running for governor. 


‘Gun man’ takes aim at Vitter and Melancon

State Rep. Ernest Wooton is the “gun man” in the Louisiana Senate race.

“Yes, I’m a gun man,” he told The Ballot Box. “I think the Second Amendment’s always an issue. We’re making criminals out of people for living by the Second Amendment of the Constitution.”

Wooton was a last-minute entrant into the Senate race, filing to run as an independent before the deadline on Friday. His campaign was initially interpreted to be another thorn in the side of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). But the state lawmaker may in fact end up taking votes away from Democratic Senate candidate Charlie Melancon, whom he’s called a friend for 35 years.

“I was a Democrat most of my life,” Wooton told The Ballot Box on Tuesday.

Wooton served as sheriff of Plaquemines Parish, which is in Melancon’s House district. He switched to become a Republican in 2005 and then switched to be an independent to run for Senate. 

Wooton is known in political circles but does not have high name recognition outside his legislative district. He plans to campaign with a broad message.

“I’m going after voters,” he said. “I’m going after Democrats, I’m going after Republicans, I’m going after independents, libertarians, communists, I don’t care what they are.”

Curbing gun control has been a major focus for Wooton. He sponsored a bill in the Legislature last year to allow “properly credentialed, concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns on college campuses.” It didn’t pass the House.

Allowing employees to carry guns to work, he added, “is not a bad idea either.”

“I grew up hunting,” Wooton explained. “My father bought me my first gun when I was nine years old, but he taught me how to use it.”

Being the “gun man” in the race may help his campaign. “You got a lot of people with guns in the state of Louisiana,” he said.

Guns aren’t his only priority. “We’ve got to get God back in our country,” he said.


Poll: McCain 'trouncing' Hayworth

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will handily defeat primary challenger J.D. Hayworth unless there’s a dramatic shift in fortune between now and August, according to a new poll.

McCain gets 64 percent of the test vote compared to only 19 percent for Hayworth in a new Rocky Mountain Poll by the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center. Navy veteran Jim Deakin (R), meanwhile, gets 5 percent, with 12 percent of respondents undecided.

Hayworth’s appeal to Republican primary voters has dropped steadily since April, with his support shrinking from 28 percent to only 19 percent. McCain’s TV ads may have played a part in that drop. The senator has run three TV spots since June 23 slamming the former congressman for being a “huckster.”

With early voting set to start July 29, Hayworth won’t have much time to turn things around. His best opportunity will be this weekend, when the three Republicans debate on Friday in Phoenix and on Saturday in Tucson.

But even a strong debate performance may not be enough to salvage Hayworth’s challenge.

Independents who plan to vote in the GOP Aug. 24 primary overwhelmingly back McCain over Hayworth.

McCain’s only concern is his soft job-approval rating, which could spell trouble in the general election. In the survey 43 percent of Republicans rate McCain’s job performance as “only fair” or as “poor.”

In the overall electorate, 36 percent have a favorable view of McCain, while 22 percent have a poor view.


Buck donor shouts expletive at Norton during Colorado Senate debate

A debate Wednesday morning between Republican Senate hopefuls Ken Buck and Jane Norton got heated after a Buck donor shouted down Norton from his spot in the audience. 

It happened after Norton brought up a reprimand Buck received during his time in the U.S. Attorney’s office a decade ago. Norton has used it to question Buck’s ethics.

The details from the Denver Post’s Allison Sherry:

The rebuke came after Buck trash talked a case against an Aurora gundealer to defense attorneys before his then-boss U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland filed felony charges for illegally selling cheap guns. Norton has run negative radio ads questioning Buck’s judgement after a Denver Post story outlined what happened.

A woman in the audience asked Norton how could she support Buck, should she lose the primary, if “he’s as bad as your radio ads say he is?”

“Ethics and integrity matter,” Norton said. “Because of Ken’s reckless disregard … that is what the reprimand said … he said it compromised the case. We need to have a discussion about the issue.”

The gundealer, Greg Golyansky, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and can no longer sell guns. He is a Buck campaign contributor.

Golyansky, sitting at a front table, jumped out of his seat. “Bull—-! That was a case against me and you’re lying!”

Buck told Golyansky to sit down.

“Sir, you are no longer allowed to sell guns in America,” Norton said.

Golyansky sat down, but continued yelling, “Because of liars like you!”

Buck and Norton are locked in an increasingly nasty primary battle for the Republican nomination for Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D) seat. The primary is Aug. 10.


Rep. Capito calls process on special election ‘contrived’

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said Tuesday she is still weighing her options when it comes to a potential bid for Senate in a November special election. But in an interview with The Hill, Capito sounded less like a potential candidate for Senate. 

While she was critical of Gov. Joe Manchin (D) and the decision-making process over the state’s open Senate seat, which she called “contrived,” Capito noted her commitment to serve out her term in the House.  

“That’s a commitment I made to the people of West Virginia,” Rep. Capito said. 

The biggest question for Capito is whether she would be able to run for reelection to the House and be a candidate for Senate in a special election at the same time. Some Republicans in the state have suggested she is reluctant to resign her seat to wage a special election bid against Manchin.

“I think I have a unique position in the [congressional] delegation,” Capito said. “I’m representing a different party and a different gender. And I’m the only one in the delegation reflecting the urgency of job creation.” 

Late Tuesday, Gov. Manchin released a draft of the legislation to amend the state’s election code to allow for a special election this November.

Capito came out in favor of a November special election last week, but has been critical of the way the state’s Democratic leadership has handled the interpretation of the state’s election code. 

If passed, the legislation would allow Manchin to call a special election for this November to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) seat. A primary would be held in either August or September.

Manchin is expected to announce his own intentions for the seat after the special session is complete and after he names an interim Senator Friday.


Republicans cite Canadian fundraiser in new pitch

Meta-politics may have reached a new level — Republicans are using a recent Democratic fundraiser held in Canada to bolster their own fundraising.

“This past weekend, while families and small businesses struggle with lagging job creation across America, numerous Democrat Senate incumbents and hopefuls were in Canada as part of a swanky campaign fundraiser with liberal trial lawyers,” Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote in an e-mail to supporters.

Jesmer asked for contributions. “We need the resources to fight back.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and at least eight other Democratic Senate candidates were at a reception for the Committee for a Better Future on Sunday in Vancouver, British Columbia. The committee is connected to the American Association for Justice and the National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives, which were holding a convention in the city.

Republicans have been taking full advantage of the optics of the situation.

“This should demonstrate just exactly what we are up against this November,” Jesmer wrote. “Despite more and more American voters rejecting the Democrats’ failed policies their candidates will go anywhere to find funding — including trial lawyers.”


Bennet leads second-quarter totals in Colorado

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) announced Wednesday that he raised $1.24 million in the second quarter, besting the totals released by two potential Republican rivals.

Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck reported raising $417,000 in the second quarter, while former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton's (R) camp said she pulled in some $900,000.

Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), who got some last-minute fundraising help from Bill Clinton, has yet to release his numbers.

In its announcement, Bennet's campaign emphasized the more than 20,000 donors who contributed. He did not release a cash-on-hand total. Bennet reported close to $3.5 million banked at the end of March. He's raised $7.44 million to date. Norton and Buck both have close to $600,000 cash on hand.

— Updated at 9:53 a.m.