Senate races

Senate races

National Rifle Association will endorse Lugar challenger Wednesday

The National Rifle Association will endorse Sen. Dick Lugar's (R-Ind.) Tea Party-backed primary opponent Wednesday morning, sources with knowledge of the endorsement told The Hill.

Their endorsement of Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) over Lugar could be a body blow to the longtime senator. The NRA is a powerful group popular in Indiana, a state where many Democrats also support the group's policy goals. By making Lugar a target, they could contribute to his downfall.

{mosads}Lugar has already had a rough few weeks, after struggling to handle questions on whether he lives in Indiana or Virginia. Lugar has not owned a home in Indiana for decades, and while he survived a legal challenge to his residency, the optics of the fight have done damage to his campaign. He failed in a TV interview to remember what address is on his driver's license, and both Mourdock and Democrats have hammered him on the issue.

Mourdock already has the backing of many fiscally conservative outside groups, including the deep-pocketed Club for Growth, but the NRA's endorsement will give him added support from a new group of conservatives.

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Sen. Landrieu will 'definitely' run for reelection in Louisiana

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) will "definitely" run for reelection in 2014, she told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"I am definitely running for re-election," Landrieu said Baton Rouge on Monday. "My numbers are moving in the right direction."

{mosads}This is good news for Democrats: Landrieu is by far their best chance to hold onto the seat. But she is expected to face a tough challenge in the rapidly Republican-trending state.

While then-President Clinton won Louisiana twice in the 1990s it has moved quickly to the GOP: President Obama lost the state by a 19-point margin in 2008 and Republicans have won almost every statewide race in the last few electoral cycles. Landrieu is the last prominent Democrat to hold statewide office. In 2008, a very good year for Democrats nationally, Landrieu won reelection with 52 percent of the vote.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is rumored to be interested in the race.

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Warren, Brown pick up big-name endorsements

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) picked up the support of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Monday, while Democrat Elizabeth Warren locked up the endorsement of the National Organization for Women PAC.

Christie traveled to Boston on Monday to attend a fundraiser Monday for Brown's campaign. 

"He is battling to bring the same kind of fiscal discipline to Washington that I am fighting for in New Jersey," Christie said in a statement. "Scott cuts through the baloney and calls the issues like he sees them, and I am proud to endorse his campaign." 

It's not surprising that Christie would support an incumbent Republican senator, but notable that he is taking the time to raise funds for the first-term senator. Christie's endorsement is highly coveted by Republican figures, particularly those in politically centrist Northeastern states, but he has spent most of his out-of-state trips campaigning with Mitt Romney, whom he has also endorsed.

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Republicans tout recruits for Snowe seat

Less than a week after discovering that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) would retire rather than seek another term, Republicans are touting a slate of potential candidates they say can help them hold onto the seat in a centrist state.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a memo to supporters Monday listing the reasons it says the GOP is well-positioned, and pushing back on Democratic claims to have opened a new front in the battle for control of the Senate.

{mosads}"Strong Republican candidates, including Maine Attorney General Bill Schneider, Maine Secretary of State Charles Summers, State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and ex-Maine Senate President Rick Bennett, have stepped forward and expressed an interest in running for this seat," wrote NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer.

Democrats have been portraying the state as winnable territory, but Jesmer noted that the GOP took control of the governor's mansion and both houses of the state legislature in 2010. And while President Obama's place on the ballot could help Democrats, the NRSC pointed out that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) survived in 1996, the same year former President Clinton won Maine by 21 points.

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Third poll shows Brown ahead of Warren in Massachusetts

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) has an eight-point lead over Democrat Elizabeth Warren in the race for his Senate seat in Massachusetts, according to a new poll — the third survey in recent weeks to show Brown in the lead.

Brown takes 49 percent to Warren's 41 percent in the Western New England University poll released Sunday. One out of three voters said they could still change their minds. But Warren's supporters are more committed — 72 percent said they're sure they will vote for her, compared to 66 percent for Brown.

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Maine’s GOP state treasurer to run for Snowe seat

Maine state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin (R) will join the quickly expanding field of candidates vying for retiring Sen. Olympia Snowes (R-Maine) seat, a GOP source close to Poliquin told The Hill.

With the filing deadline less than two weeks away, potential candidates from both parties have been rushing to the Maine secretary of states office to start the paperwork, but few have fully committed to a run.

He’s building the team and already collecting signatures, the source said of Poliquin. No doubt that he’s the heavy candidate here, as he’s the only one of those who have picked up petitions that can self-fund and give his campaign an immediate boost.

Poliquin also has connections to Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) and strong support from the Tea Party.

But Poliquin, a former gubernatorial candidate, is also under scrutiny about whether his private business activity interferes with his work as treasurer. The state House of Representatives voted unanimously on Thursday to send the issue to the state’s top court to determine whether Poliquin’s business activities violate a section of the state Constitution that bars the treasurer from engaging in trade or commerce.

Four Democrats, on Republican and an independent had already been in the race before Snowe, a heavy favorite to win reelection, announced Tuesday that she will not seek reelection. A long list of others have publicly expressed interest in the seat in the days since.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Michael Michaud (Maine) said Thursday he had decided against a bid, but Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine) is still considering, has taken out papers and has liberal groups attempting to draft her into the race.

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