The Battle for the Senate in 2016- News from July

While all eyes were on the major party’s national conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia this past month and all the drama and controversy over plagiarized speeches and Wikileaks, there was news on the Senatorial front also.

Colorado:  The Democratic Party has reserved $5 million in advertisement time to defend their incumbent Michael Bennet.  Unfortunately, neither the NRSC nor Senate Leadership Fund (McConnell) have shown any signs of supporting GOP challenger Darryl Glenn.  The Senate Conservatives Fund supported him in the primary, but is silent on whether they’ll be back come the in fall.  Shame, shame…

Florida:  Things are interesting on the Democratic side as the front runners- Scott Murphy and Alan Grayson- (both Congressmen) are fighting it out.  Just about everyone and their uncle in Democratic circles are pulling for Murphy over the controversial Grayson.  And the controversy just got worse as he attacked a reporter in Philadelphia for asking questions about domestic violence and abuse during his failed marriage which has come to light.  Seems that from court documents, Alan Grayson had been waging a real war on women.

And polling out of Florida indicates that Marco Rubio leads both Grayson and Murphy so far.  The primary is in late August so this could get more ugly on the Democratic side.  Several Democratic leaders have called for Grayson to withdraw.

Indiana:  The big news of the month is out of this state where Republican Dan Coats is retiring.  Todd Young is the GOP candidate, but the Democratic candidate Baron Hill withdrew from the race allowing the state Democratic Party to pick a candidate.  They recruited former Senator Evan Bayh and the first poll conducted after that announcement showed Bayh with a huge 54-33 lead over Young.  More worrisome is the fact that 47% of Trump supporters have a favorable view of Bayh.  This race suddenly put this Republican seat in play for the Democratic Party.

Iowa:  One poll out of Iowa shows GOP incumbent Charles Grassley up by only one point over Democratic challenger Patty Judge.  The same poll found Grassley with a 49-41 approval rating and Judge with a 41-23 approval rating.  While the Democrats are talking up the larger margin for Judge in the approval rating, at 49%, Grassley is in fairly decent territory.

Louisiana:  The battle to succeed outgoing Republican David Vitter, who lost his gubernatorial bid, got a little more interesting when David Duke (formerly head of the KKK and Donald Trump fan) entered the race on the GOP side.  If no one receives 50% of the vote on Election Day in this “jungle primary,” the top two finishers advance to a runoff in December.  It is a crowded field and we shouldn’t expect a winner on Election  Day.

Nevada:  In the two most recent polls out of Nevada, Republican Joe Heck leads Democrat Catherine Cortez-Masto by 4 and 2 points respectively.  This is the best chance for the GOP to pick up a seat in the Senate although this writer believes they need to seriously invest in Colorado also.  Of course, the winner succeeds Harry Reid.

New Hampshire:  Although there hasn’t been a primary yet, it is pretty set that GOP incumbent Kelly Ayotte will face outgoing Governor Maggie Hassan.  I previously noted that Americans for Prosperity have pulled out of supporting Ayotte in this race given some votes in the Senate.  One poll has her up by 2 points while another had Ayotte by 9 points.  Either way, this should be a close one come November.

North Carolina: Incumbent GOP Senator got some good news in July as two polls show him up over his Democratic rival, Deborah Ross.  However, before excitement sets in, like New Hampshire one poll has him up by 10 points while another has him up by 3 points.

Pennsylvania:  Republican incumbent Pat Toomey is out with a hard-hitting ad against his Democratic opponent Katie McGinty accusing her of being soft on security issues.  McGinty responded by calling Toomey an “a$%hole.”  Planned Parenthood is running ads attacking Toomey over defunding that group using cancer victims.

Well, that’s it for this month.  There are key Senatorial primaries in August in Kansas (8/2), Alaska (8/16), Arizona (8/30) and Florida (8/30) where the drama is on the Murphy-Grayson race on the Democratic side.

Updated ratings indicate one one change placing open GOP seat in Indiana from “safe” to “toss up”:

R. Shelby- AL C. Grassley- IA J. McCain- AZ M. Kirk- IL
L. Murkowski- AK R. Blunt- MO M. Rubio- FL R. Johnson- WI
J. Boozman- AR R. Burr-NC (D. Coats- IN) OPEN R. Portman- OH
J. Isaakson- GA P. Toomey- PA K. Ayotte- NH
M. Crapo- ID
J. Moran- KS
R. Paul- KY
(D. Vitter- LA) OPEN
J. Hoeven- ND
J. Lankford- OK
T. Scott- SC
J. Thune- SD
M. Lee- UT
(B. Boxer- CA)- OPEN M. Bennet- CO (H. Reid- NV)- OPEN
R. Blumenthal-CT
B. Schatz- HI
(B. Mikulski-MD) OPEN
C. Schumer- NY
P. Leahy- VT
P. Murray- WA