State Republicans tell national GOP: Keep out

Republicans in Arkansas and Nevada are telling the national GOP to stay out of their races as a pair of well-known politicians show renewed interest in running for the Senate.

In both states, a field of candidates had already been going at it for months. And not only that, the current candidates have shown leads over wounded Sens. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid slams Comey for Russia election meddling Suicide is not just a veteran problem — it is an American problem The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game MORE (D-Nev.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.).

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The potential new GOP candidates — Arkansas Rep. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanGOP senators read Pence riot act before shutdown votes On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE and Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki — are part of a recruiting surge that blossomed after Republican Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts.

Former Nevada Gov. Bob List (R) told The Hill that he plans to call NRSC Chairman John CornynJohn CornynConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Senate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks GOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 MORE (Texas) to register his dismay.

“I’m going to encourage him to back off,” List said. “Krolicki would certainly not clear the field. All it will do is divide the party at the worst possible time.”

List said the committee hasn’t consulted the people it should have in Nevada.

“It really makes one wonder how they feel they can second-guess the people of Nevada on this,” he said. “People on the ground ought to be at least consulted.”

Sue Lowden’s campaign, which until now appeared to be the closest thing to an establishment favorite in the Nevada primary, also had some strong words for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate GOP eyes probes into 2016 issues 'swept under the rug' Gallego won't seek Ariz. Senate seat, clearing Dem path for Kelly Khizr Khan blasts Trump's McCain attacks: 'How dare this Russian-tainted president disrespects our hero' MORE (R-Ariz.), who has publicly encouraged Krolicki to join the race.

“The NRSC didn’t recruit Sue Lowden, and no senator recruited her,” Lowden campaign manager Robert Uithoven said.

“While there are some United States senators trying to influence who runs, we can say that it is Nevada voters who will decide this primary.”

Such statements have been boilerplate for outsider candidates from Florida to California to New Hampshire, where they have accused national Republicans of running interference. The GOP fields in Arkansas and Nevada appear to be headed down a similar road.

Arkansas state Sen. Gilbert Baker (R) is the early favorite in his primary and has raised the most money. But he was forced to bat back rumors this week that he might run for the House rather than the Senate if Boozman gets in, as appeared likely Wednesday.

A source close to Baker’s campaign said the NRSC needs to evaluate what Boozman’s entry would entail.

“We feel very confident that Gilbert Baker is the strongest candidate in the race, and I would hope that NRSC can see that,” the source said. “If they are continuing to recruit candidates at this late of an hour, I would ask that they would look at how this affects candidates so close to the filing deadline.”

Recruiting candidates has been a sticky situation for the NRSC ever since its support — perceived or actual — for certain candidates led to some ugly showdowns with conservatives. The committee has been tiptoeing gingerly around the process ever since.

It insists it’s not picking sides with Krolicki or Boozman, but that hasn’t been the perception. A source close to Krolicki suggested, whatever the public pronouncements, the NRSC would like Krolicki to get in.

“The NRSC does want him to run, but after Florida, they’re extremely gun-shy on primaries right now, especially one as volatile as this,” the source said. “We think the NRSC would prefer to have him in, and McCain’s endorsement is evidence of it.”

NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said the committee is leaving things up to the voters and not getting behind any one candidate.

“Multiple Republican candidates in both races are capable of defeating them in November, and the NRSC is not endorsing in either of these races,” Walsh said.
— A.B.

DCCC kicks oppo department into high gear

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is seeking to learn from the sins of Massachusetts and avoid the traps Democrats fell into there.

The committee has moved aggressively to define the many Republican opponents it faces in 2010 and has landed hits in several key races in recent weeks.

Such an effort will be important in a cycle where the party faces dozens upon dozens of GOP challengers.

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NFL player and New Jersey congressional candidate Jon Runyan (R) found that out the hard way last week when the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a front-page story on how he appeared to exploit a loophole in New Jersey tax law by buying four donkeys for his property.

The DCCC also got a story planted about Ethan Hastert (R-Ill.) getting unreported assistance from one of his father’s political advisers for his run at dad’s old seat in Congress. Former Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was the longest serving GOP Speaker.

House Democratic operatives have stressed since Scott Brown’s win last week that the DCCC has had a sterling track record in its special elections and that it is ready for anything (in contrast to … the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee?).

The DCCC has long had an aggressive press operation, which the National Republican Congressional Committee only began to replicate this year, and the DCCC also has 20 researchers working behind the scenes.

Many of the GOP candidates are wealthy political newcomers. They should be prepared to face the most accomplished campaign committee in Washington.
— A.B.

It’s a nail-biter in Illinois

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) launched a personal appeal to Democratic primary voters Tuesday. In his closing TV ad, the governor speaks direct-to-camera about his experience as a consumer advocate in Illinois.

“You know me: For years I’ve fought the big shots on behalf of everyday people,” Quinn says in the ad. “On Tuesday, my opponent’s counting on false, negative ads to win. Me, I’m counting on you.”

Six weeks ago, state Comptroller Dan Hynes (D) was trailing Quinn by a 2-to-1 margin in the Democratic primary. Now surveys show Hynes’s with a one-point lead over the governor and, more notably, a seven-point lead among African-Americans.

Many observers credit Hynes’ turnaround with his recent campaign ad that featured the late Harold Washington, who was the first African-American mayor of Chicago.

In archival television footage, Washington states that hiring Quinn in the 1980s was his “greatest mistake in government.”

“Pat Quinn is a totally and completely undisciplined individual,” Washington says. Ouch.

On the GOP side, things are too close to call. State Sen. Kirk Dillard is leading with 19 percent in a recent Public Policy Polling (D) survey. But former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna has 17 percent and state Sen. Bill Brady has 16 percent, creating a virtual three-way tie.

The primary is Feb. 2.
—S.J.M.

-- This article was updated at 10:16 a.m.