GOP prepares to pummel red-state Dems on immigration reform votes

Republicans plan to use votes for the Senate immigration reform bill to campaign against vulnerable incumbent Democratic Sens. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorTom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas Medicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation MORE (Ark.), Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuA decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth Congress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ MORE (La.) and Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganGOP braces for Democratic spending onslaught in battle for Senate Democrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems shift strategy on impeachment vote MORE (N.C.).

Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Trumpification of the federal courts Trump to rally evangelicals after critical Christianity Today editorial Left presses 2020 Democrats to retake the courts from Trump MORE (Nev.) and Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it MORE (N.Y.), the lead Democratic sponsor of the bill, will achieve a big legislative victory this week by keeping the Democratic caucus unified in support of the bill. 

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But they could pay a political price next year.

State Republican Party leaders say Democrats who support the bill will see television attack ads on the issue in 2014.

“It’s just another sign that even vulnerable Democrats like Landrieu, Begich, Hagan and Pryor are more loyal to Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it MORE and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Climate 'religion' is fueling Australia's wildfires Biden's new campaign ad features Obama speech praising him MORE than they are to middle-class men and women struggling in their home states,” said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Dayspring clarified his comment Thursday after a pro-immigration GOP strategist anonymously criticized him in an interview with ABC. Dayspring said his quote was used “a bit out of context” and explained that while the NRSC doesn't plan a major focus on the issue or to engage in a national effort around the legislation, it believes immigration reform could hurt several Democratic Senators at home.

Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world MORE (Alaska) is another Democrat running for reelection in a conservative-leaning state. He’s in a better position than some of his colleagues because Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Alaska) will also vote for the legislation.

Pryor, Landrieu and Hagan will get no such support from their Republican home-state colleagues. Sens. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanAppropriators fume over reports of Trump plan to reprogram .2 billion for wall The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid MORE (R-Ark.), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterThe biggest political upsets of the decade Red-state governor races put both parties on edge Louisiana Republicans score big legislative wins MORE (R-La.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon Valley: Apple, Barr clash over Pensacola shooter's phone | Senate bill would boost Huawei alternatives | DHS orders agencies to fix Microsoft vulnerability | Chrome to phase out tracking cookies Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech Voting machine vendors to testify on election security MORE (R-N.C.) will vote against final passage of the legislation.

Republican strategists say their party needs to improve its performance among Hispanic voters, the fastest growing major electoral bloc, to remain competitive in future elections. 

But they view Hispanic voters as more important in the 2016 presidential election than the 2014 midterm elections, which will have lower turnout.

In 2012, Hispanic voters made up 2 percent of Arkansas’s electorate, 3 percent of Louisiana’s electorate, and 4 percent of North Carolina’s voters, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

GOP strategists expect immigration reform to be a liability for Democratic senators in those states because of growing attention on the debate in Congress.

Jason Doré, the executive director of the Republican Party of Louisiana, said he expects Landrieu’s race to include ads on immigration next year.

He said immigration reform could even eclipse her votes for the 2010 Affordable Care Act and expanded background checks for gun sales.

“Immigration reform is one of these issues that is percolating and growing in voters’ consciousness. It could end up being more powerful than these other things,” Doré said.

Landrieu attracted attention earlier this month by calling the southern border fence “dumb.” 

Democrats argue that Republicans have overestimated the potency of the issue.

Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans Klobuchar on missing campaigning for impeachment: 'I can do two things at once' MORE (Colo.), a member of the Gang of Eight and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the bill will help Democrats in agricultural states.

“In the rural parts of Colorado — I can speak for that — there’s widespread support for this bill,” he said, adding “it’s the same” for Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

“You have people whose businesses rely on our fixing this problem, and they’re going to be people who voted to help fix it and that’s good,” he said.

Justin Barasky, spokesman for the DSCC, accused Republicans of insincerity in the immigration reform debate.

“Republicans said they were committed to learning from their mistakes and fostering bipartisan compromise on comprehensive immigration reform. Guess they were lying,” he said.  

Republicans say they do want to fix what they view as a broken immigration system but argue the Senate bill will not guarantee border security before putting millions of illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.

“Sen. Boozman is standing up for the approach that we have to deal with the problem of border security. Once we get a handle on that issue, we’re going to address the issue of legalization or the path to citizenship,” said David Ray, communications director of the Republican Party of Arkansas.

He said Republicans will criticize Pryor over his vote for the pending immigration reform bill, as well as past votes on the issue.

Ray noted that in 2006 Pryor voted against an amendment that to bar immigrants from claiming Social Security credits for work done while they were in the country illegally. The Senate voted this week to include that prohibition in the current bill.

Republicans say they will use Pryor’s vote to argue that he is a “rubber stamp” for the Democratic leadership.

“This is not the first time that we’ve seen Sen. Pryor’s tendency to side with the wish

es of Senate leadership and the administration over the wishes of voters in Arkansas,” he said.

To back up his argument, he pointed to a Christian Science Monitor article from May 2006 that reported Pryor voted against the Social Security amendment after an unnamed Democratic aide urged: “Hurry! We need your vote!”

North Carolina Republicans intend to wield similar arguments against Hagan because of her support for the Senate bill.

“Kay Hagan’s latest vote helps push an irresponsible agenda that threatens families and workers across the Tar Heel State,” said Mike Rusher, chief of staff of the North Carolina Republican Party. 

Conservatives have already targeted Begich for a special provision he won in the bill to ensure seasonal labor for Alaska’s seafood processing industry. Critics call it the “Crabhusker kickback.”

“I am determined to make sure Alaska seafood industry employers have the reliable pool of seasonal help they need to maintain adequate processing capacity,” Begich said Monday. 

Updated on Thursday, June 27 at 3:20 p.m.