Senate races

Senate races

Indiana Senate candidate to apologize for 'assault' on conservative blogger

Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (R) will issue an apology for his campaign manager roughing up a conservative blogger during an interview over the weekend, according to his spokesman.

Mourdock, the state treasurer who is challenging Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.) in the GOP primary, is shown in a video speaking with a blogger from the conservative website When the blogger, who is not shown but is heard identifying himself as Jeremy, asked Mourdock for one more question about the so-called fair tax, the Republican's campaign manager, Jim Holden, grabs the camera's lens.

"Why are you touching my camera, dude?" the blogger says after the lens is covered by Holden's hand.

Holden replies, " 'cause you're just a tracker man, get out of here."

Trackers are typically employed in campaigns to film a rival's public remarks. In the edited video, which posted online, the blogger says he was "assaulted" by Mourdock's campaign manager.

Prior to the exchange about the fair tax, the blogger is heard asking Mourdock why he doesn't want to identify himself as a "Tea Party candidate." The video was shot at a Tea Party rally on June 11 in Kokomo, Ind., according to

A spokesman for Mourdock said he "will shortly be apologizing for his staffer's action on-air" and is trying to reach the blogger to apologize to him personally.

"This was an unfortunate incident, and Mourdock has made it clear this is unacceptable behavior," Mourdock spokesman Chris Conner said in an email to The Ballot Box. "Richard looks forward to getting the focus of this campaign back on the issues and replacing Dick Lugar in the U.S. Senate."

Mourdock has been courting grass-roots GOP support as he looks to defeat Lugar, a six-term incumbent, in the primary. 


Major Biden donor pleads guilty to campaign finance charges

A wealthy donor to high-profile Democrats, including Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to charges he made illegal campaign contributions.

Delaware liquor executive Christopher Tigani faced two counts of willfully making campaign contributions in the names of others — a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act — and two counts of making false statements on his tax returns, according to court documents unsealed in U.S. District Court in Delaware on Thursday.

He pleaded guilty to the four counts and was granted conditional release. He must return to the U.S. District Court in Wilmington on Sept. 20 for sentencing. 

Tigani faces up to 5 years in prison for each of the two violation of election law counts, according to the Wilmington News Journal. He faces up to 3 years in prison on the two tax violations.

Tigani is part of a family dynasty of Delaware liquor barons. His business, N.K.S. Distributors, has the exclusive right to distribute Budweiser, Sam Adams and Corona in the state. Tigani was accused of using his company to reimburse associates and N.K.S. employees for campaign contributions to state and federal candidates. In addition to the contributions, Tigani also provided “free alcohol for political fundraising events” as in-kind contributions to campaign committees, court documents show. 

The U.S. Attorney alleged Tigani’s goal was to foster opposition for additional liquor taxes, support for Sunday liquor sales and to obtain a lease on two parcels of state land in Milford, Del.


Rep. Akin brushes off 'criminal voting' accusation

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R) said his claiming residency at two St. Louis County-area homes is a "non-issue," despite accusations of voter fraud from Democrats.

Akin, who's running for Senate, claims a home in Wildwood, Mo., as his residence on his tax filings. But he's been voting in nearby Town and Country — doing so 10 times since his family bought the Wildwood property in 2007, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Both communities are inside Akin's 2nd district, which he's held for six terms. At issue is whether Akin committed a class-one election offense when he signed absentee ballots citing his address in Town and Country. Missouri law requires voters to cast their ballots in the specific jurisdiction where they live.
Missouri Democrats said Akin must "come clean" about his "potentially criminal voting oversight."

"Why did Akin go out of his way to change his primary residence on his taxes but continue to vote in his old address? And how, in leading the charge for strict Voter ID legislation, did Akin not know that his actions could be classified as a felony offense? Akin’s actions are hypocrisy at best — criminal at worst," Caitlin Legacki, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Democratic Party, said in a statement.

Akin said his family is currently transitioning to the Wildwood residence and is in the process of bulldozing its old Town and Country home, which he's lived in for 51 years.

"We bought another place, which is our new residence, so we're in the process of transitioning across," he told The Ballot Box.

Akin said he was still "caretaking" the old home.

"We had our driver's licenses, voter registration, automobiles were all registered at the old location," he said. "So we thought that that's appropriate and that we're living there and the other place."

Akin insisted he had nothing to worry about.

"We've talked to some attorneys; they said it's absolutely no story," he said. "If you'd voted twice or something, it would be a story."

He accused the Democrats of "grasping at straws."

"They see me as the front-runner," Akin said.


Sen. Lugar calls for 'fair tax' in web video

Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar (R) said outlined his support for the so-called fair tax in a web video released to supporters on Thursday.

Lugar said he'd support tax reforms that abolish the IRS and replace the federal income tax with a national retail sales tax. There is currently legislation based on the fair tax plan pending in Congress, but observers say it has little chance of becoming law.

Lugar said now is the time to push the reform plan.

"With the election of a Republican House, and hopes in 2012 to gain Republican control of the Senate and the election of a Republican president, I believe we have another chance to fundamentally change the tax code," Lugar says in the video.

"This is extremely important because our current low growth era is accompanied by high deficits. We need to think creatively about achieving dynamic growth while simultaneously exercising fiscal restraint. A pro-growth tax code is the first and best step forward to doing so."

Lugar has supported the fair tax proposal before, but his taking up the issue again could be an entreaty to Republican primary voters. He faces a challenge from the right by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R).


Poll shows Ohio Sen. Brown leading potential GOP challengers

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) has a double-digit lead over some of his potential GOP challengers in a poll released Wednesday.

Brown was thought to be in for a tough reelection race, in part, because his party was decimated in the state last cycle. Democrats lost five House seats, the governor's mansion and failed to pick up the open Senate seat in Ohio last November.

But a new survey by Public Policy Polling showed Brown with a comfortable lead over his potential challengers. Former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell trails Brown by 51-33, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R) loses to the Democrat, 50-31 and former State Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R) trails by a similar deficit.

State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R) trailed by 17 and 18-point margins, although Brown dropped below 50 percent in those potential match ups.

The Democratic-leaning firm surveyed 565 Ohio voters from May 19-22. The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus 4.1 percent.

Brown's performance in office, however, seems to perplex his constituents. His approval rating is 39 percent, with 28 percent registering disapproval. But 32 percent of respondents said they were "not sure" how to rate his first term.

Brown was elected in 2006 by a comfortable margin, defeating then-Sen. Mike DeWine (R) by 12 points.


Poll: Sen. Nelson leads GOP field but is under 50-percent mark

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) leads his three potential Republican challengers, but doesn't garner more than 50 percent of the vote against any one, according to a Quinnipiac survey released Thursday.

Former Sen. George LeMieux leads the GOP primary field with 14 percent, and Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos follows with 13 percent. Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who, like LeMieux, is based in South Florida, trails with 4 percent.

Most voters, 64 percent, said they don't know who they'd vote for.

Peter Brown of Quinnipiac University described the GOP race as "wide open."

“At this point there is no real separation among the Republican candidates in terms of running against Nelson or in a primary matchup. They are all pretty far back,” he said.

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox said he expected the race to be "one of the most competitive in the country next year."


Nevada Dems: Sen. Heller 'doubled down' on Medicare

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) has the distinction of taking a second vote in support of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plan.

Heller was one of 40 Republicans who voted for the Ryan budget plan in the Senate on Wednesday. He also voted for it last month when he was still a member of the House. Heller was sworn in to replace former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) in early May. The House had voted on Ryan's plan in April.

The Nevada Democrats quickly sent out a release that foreshadows the attacks likely to come in next year's Senate race: "Unelected senator doubles down on plan to end Medicare."

Fifty-two Democrats voted against the budget. They were joined by four centrist Republicans: Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who wanted deeper budget cuts than Ryan's budget proposed, was the fifth "no" vote, making the final count 40-57.

-- This post was updated at 10:13 a.m.


Huckabee endorses in Nebraska Senate race

Despite passing on a presidential run, Mike Huckabee remains politically active on the national scene. He endorsed another GOP Senate candidate in a competitive primary on Wednesday.

Huckabee, who backed state Sen. Mike Haridopolos (R) in the Florida Senate race earlier this month, has also endorsed Nebraska Republican Jon Brunning for the upper chamber.

"I'm proud to endorse my good friend Attorney General Jon Bruning," the former Arkansas governor said in a statement. "I know he has the conservative record and proven leadership that Nebraskans need in the United States Senate. I'm confident that he’ll be a strong voice in the fight to balance the federal budget, eliminate the deficit, and repeal the federal takeover of health care."

Brunning faces investment adviser Pat Flynn and state Treasurer Don Stenberg for the GOP nod to take on Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). State Sen. Deb Fischer is also mulling a bid.