Senate races

Senate races

Club for Growth endorses Neumann in Wisconsin

The deep-pocketed, fiscally conservative Club for Growth endorsed former Rep. Mark Neumann's (R-Wis.) Senate campaign Thursday morning.

"The Club for Growth PAC proudly endorses Mark Neumann for the United States Senate," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. "In Congress, he fought members of his own party on spending, received straight As from the National Taxpayers Union, and was a leader in the fight for limited government and economic freedom. Club members and Wisconsin Republicans looking for a fiscal conservative and pro-growth champion to send to Washington have a perfect candidate in Mark Neumann."

The group has been on the warpath against former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), who is likely to announce his own campaign. Thompson was an early supporter of President Obama's push to reform health insurance, although he did not support the final bill. The group has already run ads against Thompson, criticizing him on healthcare and his tax record.

Neumann ran for governor last year, losing to now-Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the primary by a 20-point margin. Some of his former staffers, including his former chief of staff, now work for the Club for Growth. Thompson's campaign has stressed those ties in an attempt to discredit the group and attack their likely opponent.

"It's widely known that Mark Neumann’s former employees work at the Club for Growth," said Thompson spokesman Darrin Schmitz. "Given Neumann's record of distortions regarding Governor Walker, we’re not surprised he's now enlisting his former employees to do his dirty work."

Polling shows that Thompson leads Neumann, but not by an overwhelming margin. Both a poll conducted by the Club for Growth and one conducted by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling give him just single-digit leads against Neumann. Both polls then told respondents that Thompson supported Obama's health insurance reform law, a message Neumann is sure to push, and retested the matchup. In both cases, Neumann then jumped to a strong lead over Thompson.

State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, a conservative Republican who helped Walker push through a law stripping state employees of unionization rights, is also in the race. Fitzgerald could play spoiler — if he gains enough traction he and Neumann could split the conservative, anti-Thompson vote and give the former governor an easier road to victory.

The seat is currently held by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who is retiring. Democrats mention Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Kind and former Rep. Steve Kagen as possible candidates.

—This post was updated at 10:43 a.m.


Rep. Candice Miller the latest to endorse Hoekstra in Michigan Senate primary

Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) has rolled out a slew of endorsements for his Senate campaign this week, with the latest coming from Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.).

Hoekstras timed support comes ahead of an imminent announcement by Detroit Christian charter schools co-founder Clark Durant that he will join Hoekstra in the primary.

Hoekstra was endorsed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who beat him in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, earlier this week. Former Gov. John Engler said Wednesday that he was hopeful Clark decides he will stay with education and let Pete be the candidate, although he stoppped short of a full endorsement, unlike Miller.

I join with Governor Rick Snyder and thousands of grassroots supporters and activists from across the state of Michigan in asking you all to please help me in supporting Pete Hoekstra, who I am proud to endorse, Miller said Wednesday. He will be our next United States senator.

Hoekstra starts as the front-runner in the race, and many Republicans in the state — and in Washington — hope he can avoid an expensive primary against Durant, whose fundraising network from the charter schools could make him a formidable candidate.

The nominee will take on two-term Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).


DeMint praises Neumann in Wis. senate race

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on Wednesday signaled that he's looking to support Mark Neumann as the Republican candidate in the Wisconsin Senate race.

DeMint has not endorsed yet, but he indicated in a post on the website of his powerful political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund, that he is considering supporting former Rep. Mark Neumann, who entered the race on Monday.

The senator called Neumann "a full-spectrum conservative who believes deeply in the principles of freedom."

In the post, which also went out as an email to supporters, DeMint slammed Neumann's likely Republican primary opponent, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.

"This challenger is well-known statewide and has major fundraising connections, but he also backed ObamaCare and will not stand up for our values when it matters," DeMint said, a clear jab at Thompson who has already taken heat from some conservatives over his position on the healthcare reform bill. Thompson has not yet announced his candidacy, but he is expected to enter the race soon.

“Governor Thompson respects Senator DeMint greatly. However, the senator appears to be misinformed about Thompson’s record of cutting income taxes, reforming welfare and implementing the nation’s first and largest school choice program," a spokesman for Thompson responded to DeMint's criticism. “Governor Thompson looks forward to sharing with the senator his impressive record, as well as his public statements calling for the repeal of Obamacare.”

DeMint, whose endorsement could strongly influence the conservative vote in the race, wrote that conservatives "need to unite behind a single candidate" in the race.

"Otherwise, the conservative vote could be divided among two or three candidates, allowing a more liberal candidate to win a plurality," DeMint wrote.

Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R), who helped lead the effort to repeal unionization rights for Wisconsin employees last winter, also entered the race on Tuesday.

— This post was updated at 12:28 p.m. and 12:45 p.m.


Another Republican joins Wisconsin Senate race

Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R) will run for the U.S. Senate, complicating what could be a crowded primary field.

Fitzgerald, who helped lead the effort to repeal unionization rights for state employees last winter, told the Wausau Daily Herald he was in the race.

Former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.) entered the race on Monday, and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) is expected to announce his candidacy soon.

Thompson and Neumann are expected to be the leading candidates, while Fitzgerald may play the spoiler role. Recent polls show that Republicans like Thompson but that he could be susceptible to a challenge from the right based on attacks on his tax record and early support of President Obamas healthcare reform law, which he has since renounced.

With Fitzgerald likely to run as a conservative, if he gains any traction he and Neumann could split the anti-Thompson vote, making his path to the nomination easier.

Democrats who may be considering the race include Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Kind and former Rep. Steve Kagen.


Former Rep. Neumann enters Wisconsin Senate race

Former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.) will run for the Senate, he announced Monday.

"We are going to enter the race for the United States Senate," Neumann said on Milwaukee's WTMJ radio.

He will likely face off against former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R).

Neumann signaled he would run to the right of Thompson, saying he would have voted against the compromise deal that raised the federal debt ceiling, and would focus his campaign on balancing the federal budget.

Thompson has not officially jumped into the race, but he and the fiscally conservative Club for Growth have already sparred, with the group attacking Thompson for his early support of President Obama's health insurance reform law (he later backed off) and Thompson supporters accusing the group of being a mouthpiece for Neumann because some of his former staffers work there.

Neumann called the idea that the Club for Growth was doing his bidding a "conspiracy theory."

"They’re trying to tie us to the Club for Growth ... you just can’t control these independent groups," he said. "The accusation that you have folks on my staff working there … it’s not really surprising that a conservative group like the Club for Growth would hire people who were working with me on balancing the budget."

Two recent polls, one commissioned by the Club for Growth and the other by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, showed Thompson with slim leads over Neumann.

Democrats considering the race include Rep. Tammy Baldwin and former Rep. Steve Kagen. The seat is being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who is retiring at the end of his term.


Jeff Flake's primary challenger might not self-finance

Businessman Wil Cardon (R) might not spend millions of his own money on a Senate primary campaign after all, according to The Arizona Republic.

Cardon, who is running against Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), said when he announced in early July that "money won't be an object in this case, and I won't be outspent" despite Flake's $2 million war chest.

But his campaign seemed to signal that he will focus some on fundraising after all. "There will also come a time when Wil is going to put up his own money, but I think it's about getting to an end result and figuring out how you strike that balance," said Cardon consultant David Leibowitz. "It's not simply one man writing an enormous check."

Flake is well-respected by conservatives on most issues, but his weakness could be past support of comprehensive immigration reform, which in Arizona is a touchy subject. But he is still favored in the race, and if Cardon isn't willing to put up millions of his own money that makes the businessman less of a threat.


Rep. Capuano still thinking about Senate bid

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) could still run for the Senate, according to the Boston Globe.

Capuano lost a primary race for the seat left open by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) about 18 months ago to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who then lost to Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

Some Democrats, who have remained unimpressed with the field of candidates, have been pushing him to run for months. Capuano has said he will make a decision by the end of the summer.

But Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren's (D) likely entrance into the race will shake up the field. She is a darling of consumer advocates and liberals, and Democrats in Washington are very excited about her candidacy. She might be the one in the best position to raise the money needed to challenge Brown, who has nearly $10 million in the bank.

Warren already has an exploratory committee and website, and is expected to announce her campaign soon.

If Capuano had made a decision sooner, he might have been able to claim front-runner status, jump-start his campaign fundraising and build an endorsement list. But with Warren about to enter the race, it becomes harder for him to do so.

A Capuano Senate bid would be a relief for other House Democrats — the state is losing a congressional district and all of the state's districts are held by Democrats, meaning one of them will be eliminated in redistricting. If Capuano decided to run for the Senate that would mean the other Democrats would be able to retain their seats.


Poll: Bill Nelson vulnerable, GOP field wide open

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is vulnerable to a Republican challenger but the current GOP field there has failed to impress voters, according to a new poll from the nonpartisan Mason-Dixon polling firm.

Nelson leads every Republican in the race by double digits but fails to crack the 50 percent threshold that would indicate he is in safe territory, according to the poll. But it is unclear whether the GOP will be able to find a strong candidate to challenge him.

Three-quarters of Republicans polled either did not yet have a preferred candidate or support someone who is not in the race, and the top two in the poll aren't even candidates. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) led the field at 14 percent despite not being an announced candidate, while Rep. Allen West, who said earlier this week he would definitely not run for the Senate, took 11 percent.

None of the announced candidates even cracked double digits. Former State House Majority Leader Adam Hasner took 8 percent, former Sen. George LeMieux took 7 percent, former Ruth's Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig Miller took 5 percent and former Army Col. Mike McCalister sat at 2 percent.

The poll of 625 registered voters was released Thursday and conducted Aug. 18-22. It has a margin of error of 4 percent, and the Republican sub-sample has a margin of error of 5.8 percent.


Neumann set to announce campaign Monday morning

Former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.) will officially declare whether or not he will run for Senate Monday morning, with all signs pointing to a campaign.

"He’s going to make his decision public Monday morning," said top Neumann adviser Chip Englander, who ran Neumann's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. "You'll have to wait and see [on his decision] but Mark is very encouraged by all the calls and support he’s been getting and the two recent polls that came out showing he’s ahead in the general election and very well-positioned in the primary."

Neumann will likely face off in the GOP primary against former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is ramping up for a campaign. Thompson remains popular statewide but could have some problems with the Republican base because of his early support for what became President Obama's health insurance reform law. Thompson has since disavowed his support.

The well-financed, fiscally conservative Club for Growth has taken shots at Thompson for that and his tax record as governor, and will likely endorse Neumann. The group employs some former Neumann staffers.

Englander declined to attack Thompson.

"Mark has tremendous respect for Governor Thompson, he’s known him a long time. There’s no one who disputes Tommy has put in 45 years of public service, and Mark has a lot of respect for him," he said. "This is going to be more about the debt crisis, that’s what’s really motivating him, the $14T debt that’s killing the economy."

Two recent polls, one commissioned by the Club for Growth and the other by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, showed Thompson with slim leads over Neumann.

Democrats considering the race include Rep. Tammy Baldwin and former Rep. Steve Kagen.


Gov. Snyder to endorse Hoekstra in Michigan

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will endorse former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) in his Senate bid Friday morning.

Hoekstra, the front-runner in the GOP primary to challenge Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), faces a possibly serious challenge from former Detroit charter school founder Clark Durant.

Snyder beat Hoekstra in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. He is the prominent Republican in the state, and while his overall approval ratings in Michigan are mediocre, he remains popular among Republicans.

Hoekstra is not known as a great fundraiser, but if he can coalesce much of the GOP establishment behind him and undercut Durant before he gets momentum, he can save his resources for the general election against Stabenow.

The endorsement will take place in suburban Detroit, Durant's stomping grounds. Hoekstra hails from western Michigan, the other side of the state, and needs to expand on that base to lock up the nomination.