US Senate News for 2016- July Edition

ARIZONA- Taking out McCain would be a tough task, but Salmon seems to be mulling a bid in the primary.  He is considerably to the right of McCain and conservatives have been looking for a serious alternative.  If McCain were to be defeated in Arizona, the most serious challenge would be from a GOP primary opponent.  Meanwhile, conservative groups with money are staying on the sidelines and don’t look too keen on Kelli Ward.  Stay tuned for developments in this race.

COLORADO: Republican recruitment efforts are facing roadblocks although Colorado SBA leader Greg Lopez has announced his candidacy.  A key to his chances will be fundraising. Meanwhile, a poll shows [mc_name name=’Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001267′ ] with a 41% approval rating and only 32% say he deserves reelection.  With a legitimate candidate it could be had.

FLORIDA:  Businessman Randy Fine has ruled out a run for the GOP nod which is a good thing since there are already 4 candidates with possibly two more entering the race soon.  Incidentally, one of them is not former state attorney general Bill McCollum, but one poll (should he run), shows he would start out with the lead over  DeSantis.  McCollum said he will make a decision in September.  Wealthy businessman Todd Wilcox did jump in the race making everything a little more interesting as did Dave Jolly.  On the Democratic side, let the fun begin and let the freak fly.  [mc_name name=’Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000556′ ] is in!!!  Meanwhile, [mc_name name=’Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001144′ ] is adding to the suspense on the GOP side by putting off any decision until August although he is acting and raising funds like a Senate candidate.  Incidentally, Jolly leads in early polling, but that is probably a function of name recognition from a special election in his House district.

ILLINOIS: The coronation of [mc_name name=’Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’D000622′ ] to be the Democratic candidate to take on Republican [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’K000360′ ] ran into some headwinds.  Ex-Chicago Urban League executive Andrea Zopp announced she raised $665,000 in a month and a half, which is good for a relative unknown going up against a very well-known.  Still, she will have to up the ante since Illinois is an expensive state to run a statewide campaign and Duckworth raised considerably more.  Speaking of Kirk, the National Resources Defense Council, a Leftist environmental group, is running $1 million worth of ads against him.  Ironically, he had their support a year ago.  And the Democrats are going all in on Duckworth as the DSCC formally endorsed her.  However, the Chamber of Commerce has begun running ads supportive of Kirk.

INDIANA: The Republican establishment continues it search for a foil against Tea Party favorite [mc_name name=’Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S001188′ ].  And the GOP establishment got their man in [mc_name name=’Rep. Todd Young (R-IN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’Y000064′ ].  Meanwhile, Coats’ chief of staff and former state GOP chair Eric Holcomb posted dismal fundraising totals.  Some pundits believe a Young-Holcomb dynamic may split the establishment vote and allow Stutzman to slip in as the GOP candidate. Baron Hill on the Democratic side posted pitiful fundraising numbers.

IOWA- There is really no chance that Grassley is going to lose this race in 2016 which is why no Democrat until now has stepped forward in the form of state senator Rob Hogg.

KENTUCKY:  Among the ten Republicans with presidential PACs, Paul’s performed the weakest in the most recent quarter hauling in only $3.1 million.  His own campaign took in $7 million, but be advised that his PAC can take in unlimited sums.  In fact, his PAC took in less than Carly Fiorina’s.  Throw in campaign funds plus PAC funds and Paul’s $10 million haul looks paltry compared to the likes of Rubio ($44 million), Cruz ($52 million), or Bush ($114 million).  Since Kentucky law prohibits Paul from running for two offices, he will have to do one of two things: (1) considerably up the fundraising game or (2) have really great debate performances, or he may be the first casualty in the GOP presidential field.  Tick tock… the clock is running on declaring candidacy for Senate (January 27th).

LOUISIANA: It would appear that [mc_name name=’Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’V000127′ ] will be the next Governor of Louisiana unless something goes tragically wrong.  That would set up a domino effect as Vitter would then appoint someone to succeed him in the Senate.  Vitter’s seat is up for reelection in 2016, so any appointee would be “temporary.”  However, in 2016 it would be much easier to run as the incumbent.  That is why Representatives Charles Boustany and [mc_name name=’Rep. John Fleming (R-LA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’F000456′ ] are making noise about being that person.  If either is appointed, their districts are both safely Republican.  But, the drama thickens as state treasurer John Kennedy (how’s that for a name) is said to be interested in the appointment also.  But, wait!  There is even thicker drama.  Rob Maness, who challenged Cassidy in 2014 on the GOP side (actually not…its a jungle primary) is making it known that he would not turn down an appointment, but if not then he would likely run in 2016 anyway.  Stay tuned as the plot thickens in the Bayou State.

MARYLAND:  In the battle to succeed Mikulski, it comes down to [mc_name name=’Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’E000290′ ] or [mc_name name=’Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’V000128′ ] on the Democratic side.  However, that may change quickly.  Edwards reported weak fundraising in the last quarter bringing in $590,000.  That simply will not do in the expensive Baltimore and DC television markets.  Van Hollen, on the other hand, has over $3 million on hand.  Last month I noted that Van Hollen was picking up endorsements from Edwards’ home turf.

NEVADA:  The GOP could not snag the big cat- Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, but the back up is no slouch in [mc_name name=’Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H001055′ ].  Heck has positioned himself as a moderate which increases his chances in Nevada- a swing state.  Meanwhile, the Democrats continue to go with Catherine Cortes Masto.  Making things all the more interesting is third party candidate and brothel owner Dennis Hof.  He has name recognition via an HBO special.  Whether Hof hurts Masto’s or Heck’s chances remains to be seen.  At this point, he seems to be most critical of Heck.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:  The Maggie Hassan watch is still on to see whether she will (a) retire, (b) seek another term as Governor, or (c) run against [mc_name name=’Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’A000368′ ].  Paul Hodes, who got beaten by Ayotte 60-39 in 2010, is sounding like he would definitely jump in if Hassan decides against a run for the Senate.  Meanwhile, a budget impasse is holding up a Hassan decision.  The beneficiary thus far is Ayotte where two polls show her in an upswing.  One independent poll by Marist has her up by 8 points over Hassan.

OHIO: Jeff Sittenfeld, a Democrat, had an impressive first quarter fundraising total of over $700,000.  That dropped off to $277,000 for the most recent quarter after Strickland entered the race.  As for Strickland, he raised an unimpressive $1 million in what is expected to be an expensive Senate race in 2016.

PENNSYLVANIA:  There is no secret that the Democrats are not keen on Joe Sestak to challenge Pat Toomey in 2016.  They have tried to recruit other candidates to no avail.  Some were privately endorsing Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski’s candidacy over that of Sestak.  That came to a screeching halt as the FBI raided his office and others in search of information involving contracts.  As a result, Pawlowski suspended his primary campaign and has since dropped off the radar.  Democrats may have to bite the bullet here and go with Sestak as no one else is stepping forward and those that did previously express at least some interest  have all gone silent.  In fact, reports are that One Eye Reid is lending support to Sestak.  This is setting up an very interesting fight between national and state Democratic operatives.  The state ones are pushing Katie McGinty who remains non-committed, but interested.  However, a nasty state budget fight was holding up any decision.  She has since resigned her position as Wolf’s chief-of-staff.  Wolf tried to install her as state Democratic leader, but the current leader refused to step aside.  He has since done so leading to speculation Wolf may want her in that job rather than in the US Senate.

WISCONSIN: Democrats believe that Russ Feingold lost in 2010 because he underestimated his opponent and ran a lax campaign.  Part of that laxity was his weak fundraising.  Their ears are now perked up as Feingold’s campaign announced they raised $2 million in the last quarter.  Thrown in with the “PAC” money left over from 2010 (sounds like Feingold is gaming McCain-Feingold), and he is building up a decent war chest.

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