WASHINGTON POST: SENATE DEMOCRATS ARE BUILDING A STELLAR 2016 RECRUITING CLASS. This week, the Washington Post chronicled Democrats’ major recruiting successes in states across the map:
“The party has recruited top-tier candidates in each of the four most competitive seats up next November and have another four solid candidates in Republican-held seats that could help them expand the national playing field…”
“In Florida, Rep. Patrick Murphy, a young, aggressive candidate and prolific fundraiser, is running.”
In four seats rated as toss-ups by analysts, “Democrats have a legitimate “A” recruit” in each.
“Right now, Democrats have to feel good about where they stand in that fight.”
THE GOP DISASTER IN COLORADO’S SENATE RACE. While Democrats build a strong class of Senate candidates for 2016, Republicans are losing their first-choice recruits and facing a bleak map. This week, Rep. Mike Coffman passed on the Colorado Senate race despite some very public begging by national Republicans.
“U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman won’t challenge Democrat Michael Bennet in Colorado’s Senate race next year, setting in motion a wild scramble to find a Republican challenger for 2016.”
The Hill: GOP loses prized Colorado Senate recruit
“Colorado is one of only two true pick-up opportunities for Republicans in 2016, along with Nevada. The GOP must defend 24 Senate seats, compared with 10 for Democrats, as the GOP seeks to protect its newly won majority. Coffman’s exit is a blow to those hopes.”
Politico: Post-Coffman, Colorado GOP Bench Is Thin
“With Rep. Mike Coffman’s decision not to run for the Senate in Colorado, Republicans have few good options to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.”
With Coffman out, even Republicans are publicly admitting that their chances of winning the race in Colorado are growing increasingly slim. Conservative radio host Peter Boyles put it this way on his show this week: “They’ll find somebody. They’ll find somebody that’ll lose.” And the Colorado Independent quoted a Republican in the state who said “our team doesn’t have a bench. We barely have a folding chair.”
OUR TAKE: Mitch McConnell and the GOP’s disastrous leadership in the Senate isn’t just hurting them among voters, but with potential candidates as well.
ELLEN ROBERTS IMPLODES BEFORE SHE DECLARES. After their top choice candidate passed on the race, another potential candidate made headlines for floundering as she tried to explain her position on abortion and tied herself in “rhetorical knots.” One Colorado columnist writes that Roberts “blew up even faster than [Ken] Buck.” We can’t wait to see who Washington Republicans will go after next.
ANALYSTS MOVE TWO KEY RACES TOWARDS DEMS. This week, Rothenberg & Gonzales moved the Illinois Senate contest from “Toss-Up” to “Tilts Democratic” while Cook Political Report moved the Ohio Senate race one step closer to Democrats. Read more below:
ROTHENBERG & GONZALES POLITICAL REPORT: Kirk’s Race Now Tilts to Democrats
“At least a handful of GOP senators are vulnerable this election cycle, but none more than Mark S. Kirk of Illinois.”
Kirk “should be regarded as an underdog.”
COOK POLITICAL REPORT: New Senate Bottom Lines
“Portman’s other challenge is that he is not well known and thus is not well defined”
“Expect a very competitive general election contest…”
MCCAIN STRUGGLES WITH 2016 BALANCING ACT. National Journal wrote this week about the tough balancing act that John McCain is facing in 2016. With strong challenges brewing from both the left and the right, National Journal notes that “In 2016, McCain’s path to victory is already more complicated.”
With Senate Conservatives Fund “casting about for a candidate” to take on McCain, and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick entering the race on the Democratic side, it doesn’t look like McCain’s 2016 will get any easier.
And this week, even a Republican consultant admitted that McCain remains “vulnerable” as he heads into 2016.
IN THE STATES:
MISSOURI – BLUNT CLAIMS HE DOESN’T TALK TO LOBBYIST SON. Roy Blunt is still trying to find a way to distract from his family ties to Washington lobbyists and convince voters that he’ll put Missourians ahead of special interests. Meanwhile, the Washington Post hailed Jason Kander as one of Democrats’ “stellar” recruits, calling him a “serious candidate.”
FLORIDA – CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA TAKES HEAT FOR SHADY FUNDRAISING. St. Peters Blog highlights that likely Florida Senate candidate Carlos Lopez-Cantera is already taking heat for “flirting with the boundaries of campaign finance law” as he prepares to announce his candidacy.
INDIANA – “FREE FOR ALL” IN GOP QUEST TO KEEP COATS’ SEAT. WBAA outlined the crowded GOP field in Indiana this week, noting that a GOP “free-for-all” is brewing for Coats’ seat.
WISCONSIN – RON JOHNSON STILL HATES LEGOS. In Wisconsin, Ron Johnson has apparently decided that calling a children’s move “insidious” and “propaganda” is a winning reelection strategy when you’re one of the most vulnerable Senators in the country, as he spent the weekend defending his criticism of The Lego Movie. As the old adage goes, “If you’re explaining you’re opposition to the Lego Movie, you’re losing.”
ILLINOIS – KIRK ON DEFENSE OVER HASTERT MONEY. The Chicago Sun Times reports that Mark Kirk “bowed to pressure” this week after being put on defense over the $10,000 in campaign contributions he had received from scandalized former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
MORE ILLINOIS – KIRK’S EARLY AD “SIGN OF SIGNIFICANT ELECTORAL WEAKNESS.” Rothenberg writes this week that Mark Kirk’s incredibly early ad is indicative of “significant electoral weakness” and likely won’t do much to “stave off Kirk’s vulnerability.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE – AYOTTE DRAGGED DOWN BY TIES TO GUINTA. The Nashua Telegraph editorial board wrote this week on Ayotte’s ties to scandal-embroiled Congressman Frank Guinta, noting that “Ayotte went out on a limb for Guinta back then and now he’s going to repay the favor by sawing the thing off behind her…”
MORE NEW HAMPSHIRE – VETS CRITICIZE AYOTTE FOR FILMING FORUM. VoteVets.org called out Kelly Ayotte after she filmed veterans at a forum for her campaign without knowledge of and consent from participating veterans. Ayotte’s campaign tied itself in knots trying to explain, first denying knowledge of the ads, and then later confirming.
NORTH CAROLINA – PPP POLL SHOWS BURR IN DANGER ZONE. A new PPP poll this week shows Richard Burr’s approval ratings stagnating in the low 30s, spelling trouble for the vulnerable Republican as 2016 approaches.