Senate races

Senate races

Dueling attack ads in Nevada Senate race

Republican Sharron Angle released a new TV ad Thursday hitting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Social Security. 

In the 30-second spot, Angle pledges "to stop Harry Reid from raiding the Social Security trust fund," alleging Reid wants to redirect money for seniors to "his own pet projects."

The ad is another in a series of spots that features Angle speaking directly to a small crowd of voters.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pushed back against the ad Thursday.

“Phasing out Social Security is in Sharron Angle’s DNA," DSCC press secretary Deirdre Murphy said in a statement. "Less than three months ago, Angle said Social Security was ‘hard to justify’ and should be ‘phased out.’ Far from being a friend to Nevada’s 375,000 Social Security recipients, Angle is actually their worst nightmare.”

The Angle ad comes a day after Reid released his campaign's latest attack ad, which features a GOP critic hitting Angle over her comments on the 2nd Amendment. 

The spot is narrated by Bill Ames, president of a group called the peace officers research association and a member of "Republicans for Harry Reid," according to the campaign's website.

The ad seizes on Angle's comments in a January interview with a conservative talk show host where she said people might look "towards those 2nd Amendment remedies" over dissatisfaction with Congress. 

Ames calls carrying a gun "a constitutional right" that he believes in, but says Angle's comments on the 2nd Amendment are "way over the line."

"It's crazy," Ames says in the ad. "But what she's actually talking about is armed resistance." 

Angle later clarified those remarks, saying she was speaking broadly about the 2nd Amendment and was not raising the possibility of an armed rebellion against the government. 


AFL-CIO comes around to support Sestak

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is now behind Senate candidate Joe Sestak (D) after backing his rival in the primary.

The union had supported Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-Pa.) bid for the Democratic nod, calling him a "proven leader" and the "strongest advocate and supporter for good jobs, fair trade policies, workers' rights and quality affordable healthcare for all." Sestak ended up defeating Specter in the May primary.

The congressman said he was "grateful" to have the union's backing.

"I will do whatever it takes to find practical solutions that create jobs, and will focus on the real engine of our economy by fighting with organizations like the AFL-CIO for Pennsylvania's working families," he said in a statement. 

The AFL-CIO boasts 900,000 members in the state.


Meek gets NOW backing, launches new TV ad

Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek (D) and his allies are moving aggressively to beat back rival Jeff Greene (D) ahead of the Aug. 24 primary. On Thursday, he announced the endorsement of the National Organization of Women and released a TV ad targeting Greene. Meek's also getting some help from a new Democratic independent expenditure (IE) group.

Terry O'Neill, NOW's president, called Meek "a real friend to women's rights."

"He's been an ally for us on extremely important issues," she said, citing his support for women's access to abortion and support for gay and lesbian rights. "He's been a real advocate for measures to end violence against women," she added.

O'Neil wouldn't say that Greene, by associating with former madam Heidi Fleiss or boxer Mike Tyson, was out-of-step with NOW's interests. "I don't think that anybody should be guilty by association,” she said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.

"We really need to get away from the good ol' boy mentality," she said. "Kendrick Meek is not of the good ol' boy mentality."

Meek, meanwhile, brushed aside suggestions that Democratic pollster Mark Penn hosting a fundraiser for his would-be general-election opponent, Gov. Charlie Crist, was a sign the party was hedging its bets.

"It seems to make the news when the governor can get the wife of a Democratic pollster to do an event in D.C.," he said. "My relationships with Democrats — especially high-profile Democrats — far supercede dirt-grabbing efforts the governor is trying to put out to the public. … It's not even comparable."

The Miami-area congressman has the support of the White House and former President Clinton, who travels to Florida next week for three campaign events with Meek.

"For [Crist] to have a fundraiser or two, or a supporter or two, is not something that keeps me up at night. I have Republicans who have written checks to my campaign," Meek said.

He's also getting help from another Clinton Democrat, Ben Pollara, who was the Florida finance director for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid. He recently filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to establish a group called Florida Is Not for Sale. It intends to run an IE supporting Meek, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The TV ad Meek released Thursday hits Greene on his real estate investment strategy and uses a damning quote from a recent St. Petersburg Times story. "All I care about is that I get my money," Greene told the paper for a story it did about his property holdings in California.

The Greene camp was quick to respond.

"Kendrick Meek continues to launch false and vicious attacks against Jeff Greene because he doesn't have a record to run on — he's a failure," a Greene spokesman said in a statement.


Sen. Schumer calls Colorado Republican 'out of touch'

Former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) on Thursday said this week's primary results were "great" for his party, especially Sen. Michael Bennet (D) of Colorado.

"I felt really good for Michael Bennet, and I think it's going to bolster him," said Schumer, who spoke to reporters in the Senate, where he presided over a brief recess session to pass a border security bill.

"It's going to help him win in the general. We've got an opponent who's probably out of touch with Coloradoans. So it was a very good primary for us."

Bennet won his primary race against former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and will face GOP candidate Ken Buck in the general election in November.

The Tea Party-backed Buck, who has advocated for eliminating the federal education and energy departments, was not the candidate favored by national Republican leaders — a fact not lost on Schumer.

"What's happened is that the hard-right of the Republicans is pulling them much further away from the mainstream than anybody anticipated," he said.


Senate candidate Buck claims 'a lot' of Tea Party support, despite 'dumbasses' remark

Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck (R) believes not all Tea Party members are "dumbasses" and that raising the retirement age past 62 is a way to sustain Social Security.

"We certainly need to raise the retirement age," Buck told CNN's John King in an interview that airs Wednesday night. "I've told my 19-year-old and my 22-year-old that they're not going to be getting retirement benefits at age 62."

He was quick to add, "That doesn't mean that someone that's age 60 won't get them at that point. But we've got to make sure that our younger workers understand that as life expectancy increases, the — the retirement date for — for benefits increases, also."

King asked Buck about his statement about the "dumbasses" in the Tea Party.

Shortly before the primary vote, the Colorado Republican was recorded saying, "can you tell those dumbasses of the Tea Party's to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I am on the campaign."

Buck explained that he frequently encountered a disruptive "birther" — the euphemism for someone who doesn't believe President Obama was born in the United States — at campaign events. "It was frustrating to — to try to — to deal with those folks," he explained. "I was talking specifically about seven or eight people on the campaign trail."

The Weld County district attorney said he has "a lot of Tea Party and 9/12 and grassroots support in Colorado."

"So I certainly wasn't making a disparaging remark about Tea Partiers generally, but, rather, about a few birthers who were trying to disrupt meetings," he said.


Poll: Greene helps Crist in Florida Senate race

New numbers on the Florida Senate race show Gov. Charlie Crist (I) in a slightly better position in the general election if self-funder Jeff Greene emerges the winner of the Democratic primary. 

In a three-way race with Greene as the Democratic nominee, Crist leads with 37 percent of the vote. Republican Marco Rubio polls at 36 percent and Greene is third with 20 percent of the vote. 

If Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) is the Democratic nominee, Rubio holds a slim lead with 38 percent of the vote to Crist's 33 percent. Meek polls third with 21 percent. 

With Greene as the nominee, Crist wins the support of 42 percent of Democrats. But with Meek as the Democrat in the general, just 36 percent of Democrats go with Crist. 

The new numbers largely mirror the last Rasmussen poll on the race from July in which Rubio held a narrow lead in a three-way race with Crist and Meek.

Meek is still fighting for his life in the Democratic primary set for August 24 and will get a much needed assist from former President Bill Clinton on the trail next week. Clinton is headlining three separate campaign rallies for Meek on August 16, which is likely to help drive turnout among African-American voters in the state.

While the latest public polling on the primary shows Greene leading, Mark Blumenthal warns over on the Huffington Post that the polls might be underestimating Meek's support in the primary. 

He says the African-American turnout is likely to be higher than most public polls are estimating and that could be shortchanging Meek's support by as much as 8 to 10 points.  


Buck campaign ready to accept NRSC help

The National Republican Senatorial Committee didn't back Ken Buck in Colorado's Republican Senate primary but they are backing him now.

One of Buck's major criticisms of his primary opponent, former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, was that she was the party's establishment pick.

Now that the primary is finished, Buck campaign spokesman Owen Loftus said the campaign is happy to accept the NRSC's help in the general election contest against Sen. Michael Bennet (D). 

"The problem that we had is that they were stepping into the primary and we thought that was a choice for Colorado voters to make," Loftus said. "If they want to help us, we'd certainly accept it."

NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) has already spoken with Buck about the general election and the committee is expected to be fully engaged.

The NRSC expects that Bennet will be dragged down by his ties to President Obama. NRSC press secretary Amber Marchand said with Buck as the party's nominee "we're confident this is a great potential pick-up opportunity for Republicans in the fall."

The DSCC, meanwhile, is already painting Buck as a right-wing extremist who "wants to impose a radical agenda on Coloradans."

Norton was the favorite of Washington Republicans and she got financial help from the NRSC, something that energized many of Buck's supporters who saw Washington as trying to dictate the Republican nominee. 

Her defeat Tuesday continued the trend of party-backed candidates losing primary contests that has played out in several Senate primaries this cycle, most notably in Utah, Kentucky and Nevada.

— This post was updated at 12:20 p.m.


Obama helps incumbent overcome Clinton-backed challenger

President Obama and former President Clinton found themselves backing rival candidates in the Colorado Senate Democratic primary — and the results proved a rare blemish on Clinton's record of backing successful candidates this cycle.

Obama made it clear early on he supported Sen. Michael Bennet's (D-Colo.) election to a full term, but that didn't stop Clinton from endorsing Bennet's primary rival, Andrew Romanoff.
The Romanoff campaign used the endorsement in a fundraising pitch at the end of June.

"I first met Andrew Romanoff in 1992, when he was a student at the Kennedy School of Government and I was a candidate for president," Clinton said in the Romanoff campaign e-mail. "Four years later, I was running for a second term, and he had just been elected to his first — as one of Colorado's representatives on the Democratic National Committee."

Romanoff also backed then-Sen. Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential race.
With less than 24 hours before the vote, Clinton recorded a robo-call asking supporters to vote for Romanoff "because he's got really good ideas on the economy."