FEINGOLD IN: CAST AS “IMMEDIATE FAVORITE” – “TOP-LEVEL RECRUIT” & “VICTORY FOR NATIONAL DEMOCRATS” Yesterday, Russ Feingold announced his bid for Senate in Wisconsin, setting up big trouble for one of the GOP’s most vulnerable incumbents. Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report all rate the race as a tossup. Feingold was immediately hailed as a star recruit and the early favorite in the race, underscoring Johnson’s steep odds in 2016:
Politico: His decision to run is a victory for national Democrats who hope to take back the Senate in 2016.”
AP: “His entry brings Democrats immediate credibility in the race to regain control of the Senate.”
The Hill: “If Feingold enters the race, he’ll be an immediate favorite over Johnson…”
Cook Political Report: Johnson “may not entirely appreciate the circumstances that led to his victory…”
Washington Times: “Feingold is the latest top-level recruit Senate Democrats have netted for 2016.”
National Journal: “Feingold might even be the rare challenger to enter the race as a favorite.”
Capital Times: “Johnson… has been deemed one of the most vulnerable senators up for re-election in 2016.”
Vox: “An April poll showed Feingold leading [Johnson] by 16 percentage points (54 to 38) — very grim numbers for an incumbent.”
The DSCC endorsed Russ Feingold immediately:
“Russ Feingold has been a tenacious champion for the people of Wisconsin throughout his career and we’re thrilled to announce our support for his campaign. Russ has a long record of standing up to the special interests trying to influence our democracy and a strong reputation of working to create opportunity for all Wisconsinites. As Senator, I know that Russ will always put Wisconsin first and we’re very proud to support what will be his successful campaign.”
JOHNSON STRUGGLES. While Feingold’s campaign started off strong, Ron Johnson faced another week of bad headlines. Huffington Post reports that Johnson “didn’t bat an eye,” let alone push back, when a man at a Wisconsin town hall twice called President Obama a “Muslim terrorist.” Johnson then capped off the week by shamefully using the threat of ISIS to build an email list for his re-election campaign.
MARK KIRK PANIC WATCH. Mark Kirk must be seeing the same numbers we do, because he just aired his first ad of his re-election campaign this week. National Journal’s Alex Roarty quickly noted that the ad blitz is “unusually early… even from a vulnerable incumbent.”
MARK KIRK PANIC WATCH 2. Kirk highlighted just how out-of-touch he is with Illinois when he turned to right-wing extremist Tom Cotton for fundraising help. Kirk is already facing dismal re-election prospects in deep blue Illinois, but he decided to stand shoulder to shoulder with a Senator who thinks women shouldn’t be allowed in combat roles, opposes the Violence Against Women Act, and wants to end Medicare as we know it. Great strategery.
GOP’S BAD MAP. The Hill released their Senate rankings this week, and eight out of the top ten seats ranked most likely to flip are currently held by Republicans. The Hill also noted that while the 2016 map was never favorable for Republicans, “Retirements have made the GOP’s path even tougher.” With Republicans staring down a bleak map in 2016, it’s no surprise they’re already in full-on panic mode in Illinois and Wisconsin. Some highlights:
On Wisconsin: “Sen. Ron Johnson faces the most uphill climb of any GOP Senate incumbent…”
On Illinois: Kirk is an “endangered GOP Senate incumbent”
On Ohio: Strickland “is a prodigious fundraiser with solid name recognition across the state.”
REID BOOSTS DEMOCRATS ACROSS THE MAP. National Journal reported this week that Harry Reid will be working throughout the 2016 cycle to help Democratic Senate candidates in states across the map. Reid’s work to boost resources will be a significant advantage for Democrats in 2016.
IN THE STATES:
INDIANA – MESSY GOP PRIMARY UNDERWAY. Rep. Marlin Stutzman announced his bid for Senate this week, and was quickly endorsed by right-wing Senate Conservatives Fund, setting off the messy primary that the GOP has been dreading in Indiana.
MISSOURI – KANDER KNOCKS BLUNT. The Kansas City Star reports that Jason Kander slammed Roy Blunt last week as “all-Washington and no-Missouri.” The paper also notes that Kander has gotten off to “a fast start in fundraising and has gained national notice as a competitive challenger.”
PENNSYLVANIA – TOOMEY VOTES AGAINST AMERICAN MANUFACTURERS. Yesterday, Pat Toomey shamefully voted against protecting American manufacturers, steelworkers and automakers – the industries that bolster his own state’s economy – when he voted against passing a customs enforcement bill aimed at stopping unfair trade practices.
ARIZONA – EDITORIAL BOARD: MCCAIN COULD LOSE. The Lake Havasu News-Herald’s editorial board highlighted McCain’s vulnerability in an editorial this week, noting that his chances of winning re-election are far from certain.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: This week’s tweet comes from Sabato’s Kyle Kondik, who put it very simply after Russ Feingold’s announcement: @kkondik: “Ron Johnson is quite clearly, to me, the likeliest Senate incumbent to lose in November 2016”