Senate races

Senate races

Lengthy list of GOP contenders for Kyl seat

The list of potential Republican candidates who could jump into the race for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) seat starts at close to 10 candidates, with GOP insiders pegging Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) the early front-runner. 

Flake is likely to jump into the race quickly, according to a GOP source — an early entry that could help thin the Republican field.  

Other possible contenders include Rep. Trent Franks (Ariz.) and former Reps. J.D. Hayworth (Ariz.) and John Shadegg (Ariz.). Hayworth told The Hill on Thursday that he's weighing a run; Shadegg wouldn't say whether he's likewise mulling a bid, but did urge Kyl to reconsider his decision to retire. 

Other potential candidates, according to Republicans: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former state Treasurer Dean Martin and state Senate President Russell Pearce. 

Former Gov. Fife Symington also expressed interest Thursday. Symington even floated former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner as a potential candidate for the seat to Politico

One high-profile Republican who has already taken herself out of the running for the Senate seat is Gov. Jan Brewer, a star among conservative activists thanks to her championing of the state's tough anti-illegal immigration law. 

On the Democratic side, the field of potentials is led by former Arizona Gov. and current Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. 

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was seriously considering a run for Kyl's seat before last month's shooting in Arizona. Giffords had told staff that she intended to make a bid for the seat should Kyl opt for retirement. 

Giffords is recuperating from a gunshot wound to the head, and it won't be known for some time if she will fully recover from the injury. She is, however, widely considered the Democrats' ideal candidate for the seat. 

Other Democratic possibilities include Rep. Ed Pastor (Ariz.), U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.).

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Former Rep. Hayworth mulling bid for Sen. Kyl seat

Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) is considering a run for Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) seat after getting calls from Tea Party activists encouraging him to enter the race.

Hayworth challenged Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2010 GOP primary, but came up well short of unseating the long-serving incumbent.

Kyl announced Thursday he would not seek a fourth Senate term.

"I'm very flattered people are asking me to run," Hayworth told The Ballot Box. "A lot of people have contacted me about it, a lot of grass-roots conservatives, many of whom are part of the Tea Party.

"I'm honored they have reacted so quickly," he added. "It's something we'll take a look at in the days ahead."

Hayworth sought to harness the energy of the Tea Party movement in his challenge to McCain. While he earned the support of some groups, that didn't translate into the kind of financial backing necessary to compete against the incumbent.

Hayworth said he will be talking with activists over the next few days to gauge their level of interest.

"A lot goes into these decisions," he said. "First and foremost, we're going to sit down as a family."

Hayworth said he's been doing consulting work, making radio appearances and giving speeches since losing to McCain in the Senate primary last August. He finished that race with almost $150,000 in his campaign account, according to his final Federal Election Commission report.

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Santorum criticizes Obama's foreign policy in CPAC speech

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) laced into President Obama's foreign policy approach and his view of the nation Thursday, saying it's clear Obama is afraid to "identify the enemy."

"President Obama has refused to look at the situation in Iran and Egypt and around the world and call evil, evil," said Santorum, criticizing Obama's approach to the crisis in Egypt, arguing his approach has been inconsistent.

Santorum, in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, said Obama made the wrong decision in how he handled pro-democracy demonstrations in Iran a couple years ago and has now sided against a U.S. ally in Egypt.

"This time, what does the president do?" he asked. "He sides with the protestors. I am not suggesting that we shouldn't side with the protestors, but what message are we sending to countries around the world that are friends of ours? When things get tough, we walk away."

"We've turned our backs on almost every one of our allies," Santorum added.

The likely 2012 presidential candidate said, "Let's just be very clear. [Obama] doesn't believe America is exceptional."

Santorum also emphasized his social conservative credentials in his speech, again knocking the call for a "truce" from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

"The moral issues, the cultural issues, the social issues -- they are the fabric that the stool is made from," Santorum said. "America is a great moral enterprise."

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Sen. McConnell: 'Let's take that repeal vote again'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed to continue the fight to repeal healthcare reform Thursday in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

McConnell told the crowd that his goal is to ensure "Obamacare goes the way of Hillarycare," and called for another vote in the Senate to repeal the law.

"They know this bill is a disaster," McConnell said of Congressional Democrats. "That's why they're handing out waivers to their union friends. Let's take that repeal vote again and see if we can get a waiver for everybody in the United States."

Earlier this month, healthcare repeal failed in the Senate on a party-line vote, with all Senate Republicans voting in favor and all Senate Democrats in attendance voting against.

"We're not about to retreat," McConnell said. "I assure you, we're just getting started."

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Rep. Emerson won't rule out Sen. McCaskill challenge

Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R) is still considering a run for Senate next year.

The GOP field vying to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) already consists of former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and attorney Ed Martin. And Emerson won't rule out getting in, too.

"I have made no decision,'' she told the St. Louis Beacon.

Emerson, who is the senior member of the state's congressional delegation, said she's recently been unable to pay much attention to electoral politics. "I've been so knee-deep in hearings'' and budget-related activities in the House, she said. "My first priority is to do my job."

Still, Emerson said she's had some encouragement to seek a promotion to the Senate.

"My family is supportive of whatever I do,'' she said.

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Sen. Nelson challenger rakes in $1 million at single event

Florida Republican Mike Haridopolos is proving to be a formidable fundraiser.

The state Senate president was the first challenger to announce a run against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). That early initiative appears to have reaped a financial benefit.

Haridopolos's fundraiser in Orlando last week netted him some $1 million for his bid, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

"When you have the relationships that I built up over the last 11 years, I don't have to spend hours on the phone convincing people who I am. ... I've got a lot of friends,'' he told the paper. "Look, we're really pleased where the campaign stands, but I think everyone notices we're absolutely focused on my job."

He also gathering support from other state-level politicians. Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon announced he's backing Haridopolos during the Orlando event.

Haridopolos has not yet had to report his fundraising numbers with the Federal Election Commission.

Nelson spent more than $16 million on his 2006 reelection campaign.

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