The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is knocking Republicans for what they're calling the party's "recruiting nightmare" for Senate races, noting in a memo obtained by The Hill that Republicans faced a number of recruiting losses this week.
Even as Democrats struggle to find their own top-notch Senate talent in key states, the DSCC memo highlights serious Republican recruiting challenges in four states: Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa and Alaska.
In Colorado, Rep. Cory GardnerCory GardnerProtecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program MORE (R) opted against challenging Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallKennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' MORE (D), a choice that leaves the GOP without its strongest potential candidate and without any clear contenders for the seat.
Udall has long been considered one of the safer incumbent Democratic senators, however, and Gardner looks more likely to challenge Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — PennEast drops pipeline plans despite Supreme Court victory Build Back Better Act must include funding to restore forests, make communities resilient and create jobs Interior reverses Trump, moves BLM headquarters back to DC MORE (D) when he's up in 2016.
North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry (R) decided not to run for Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganInfighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms Democrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Biden's gun control push poses danger for midterms MORE's (D) seat in 2014, eliminating what had been the GOP's top contender against the incumbent, according to a recent poll.
The Republican Party continues to search for its candidate in Iowa, after a number of potential contenders turned down the opportunity to challenge likely Democratic nominee Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyThe Memo: Trump attacks on Harris risk backfiring 2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster OPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP MORE (D) for retiring Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinFCC needs to help services for the deaf catch up to videoconferencing tech Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa MORE's (D) seat.
On Wednesday, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz also announced his decision not to run, leaving a handful of relatively unknown potential and declared candidates.
And in Alaska, former Senate candidate Joe Miller reportedly filed papers to run again in 2014. Miller defeated Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? This week: Democrats hit make-or-break moment for Biden GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (R) in a 2010 primary but ultimately losing the general after she launched a successful write-in campaign.
He is seen unfavorably by 49 percent of Alaskans, according to a recent Republican poll, and some Republicans worry he could undermine their chances at a winnable seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch Alaska group backing independent candidate appears linked to Democrats Sullivan wins Alaska Senate GOP primary MORE.
“The NRSC and Karl Rove are failing in their promise to handpick candidates as they continue losing top recruits across the map. The past week alone is a perfect example of how the GOP’s inability to recruit electable candidates, expand the map, and avoid contentious primaries will plague their chances to take back the majority," Barasky adds.
Republican officials fired back at the Democratic claims the GOP is suffering from a chronic recruitment problem.
"99.99% of Republicans in America aren't running for Senate next year, yet each time one confirms that reality, the clapping monkeys at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee smash their cymbals," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Brook Hougesen.
"As far as Republican recruitment, in the post Citizens United world, it is far more important to do our due diligence and take the time to find right candidate than it is to rush through the process and fail as the Democrats have done."
Republicans largely agree that contentious primaries that resulted in weak candidates cost the GOP a number of winnable Senate seats last cycle, and the party pledged to make an extra effort to elect the most electable conservative candidates in 2014.
Democrats are facing a difficult 2014 map that will require them to defend more seats than Republicans — including a number in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012. But they are hoping that Republicans' early recruiting difficulties indicate the GOP is in for a replay of the 2012 cycle.
Democrats, meantime, have had recruiting difficulties of their own that could jeopardize their chances at defending seats in South Dakota and West Virginia, and of picking up a seat in Georgia.
Their top recruits passed on running in South Dakota and Georgia, and they have yet to front a candidate against Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet GOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization MORE (R-W.Va.), considered the strongest GOP contender to run for retiring Sen. Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerHumorless politics a sad sign of our times Bottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease MORE's (D-W.Va.) seat.
In Kentucky, too, Democrats have yet to find a candidate to run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push On The Money — GOP blocks spending bill to kick off chaotic week in congress Overnight Health Care — Presented by Alrtia — Booster shots get bipartisan rollout MORE (R-Ky.).
According to numerous polls, McConnell is vulnerable heading into reelection. A handful of potential Democrats have turned down a run, however, and their top remaining recruit has yet to make a decision on the race, despite pressure from prominent local Democrats.
Hougesen noted the decisions of former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) in South Dakota and Rep. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Republican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of MORE (D) in Georgia not to run as the "two biggest recruiting failures of the cycle," and said the GOP is simply taking its time in finding the best candidates.
—This post was updated at 2:06 p.m. and 4:28 p.m.