Despite Lisa Murkowski’s allegiance to Republican Party leadership she could end up with a challenger from the right or a third party in Alaska. Recently, Alaska’s other Senator Dan Sullivan refused to back her for reelection despite her support for him last cycle. Democrats won the Senate race in Alaska in 2008 and despite the GOP wave in 2014, came within a few points of winning again in this traditionally red state. Democrats are poised to run another strong race this time with a candidate who will put Alaska first.
John McCain faced a frosty reception from the right when he announced he would run for reelection, and conservatives in Arizona are itching for a primary challenge. Just recently, Tea Party state Sen. Kelli Ward announced that she will challenge McCain in a primary, a move that will likely force him to move even farther to the right than he already is. Last year McCain was actually censured by the Republican Party of Arizona.
Rumors continue to swirl about the possibility of John Boozman retiring but Democrats are reaching out to community leaders and elected officials across the state to ensure we find the best possible candidate to take him on should he decide to run. Boozman consistently votes with his party over Arkansas and the right candidate can make this a competitive race.
Democrats are well-positioned to retain the California Senate seat and continue Senator Barbara Boxer’s legacy of leading on the issues that matter most for working families. California has a “top two” or “jungle primary” election system meaning that the top two vote winners in the primary will move on to the general election, regardless of their party affiliation. Republicans have not won a Senate race in California since 1988.
State Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez have already announced their plans to run for the open seat.
Before coming to the Senate, Bennet served as Superintendent of the Denver Public Schools where he led a bold reform effort to increase student achievement and turn around failing schools. During his first term in the Senate, Senator Michael Bennet has used his background in business and public service to champion issues that are most important to middle class families in Colorado. Bennet has been an effective leader on issues such as immigration, small business support and, of course, education.
After serving an unprecedented five terms as Connecticut’s Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal entered the Senate with a long record of fighting for people against large and powerful special interests, and he has continued to build that record during his first term in the Senate. Blumenthal now serves as the Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, a post that allows him to advocate on behalf of our nation’s honored veterans who deserve nothing less than the very best.
With Marco Rubio launching his presidential bid, Florida’s Senate contest becomes a tossup and the map becomes increasingly complicated for Republicans. Florida represents one of our best pickup opportunities, and Republicans are staring down a potentially messy primary in the Sunshine State. Democrats won a competitive Senate race in Florida decisively in 2012. Patrick Murphy’s record of fighting for Florida’s working families, seniors and the environment make him the strongest candidate to win the Florida Senate race and flip the seat.
Johnny Isakson has spent his entire career marching in lock step with Washington Republicans and he could face a stiff challenge in Georgia, a state that has trended blue in Presidential election years. In fact, despite the overwhelming GOP wave of 2014, Democrats made the Georgia Senate race competitive and took 45% of the vote. Changing demographics plus the Presidential year electorate should help ensure an even closer race this time.
Brian Schatz has committed his career to advocating on behalf of Hawaiians best interests. Having won his 2014 special election by more than 40 points, Schatz is well prepared to win in 2016 to continue his work building a clean energy economy, supporting our seniors and veterans, and representing Native Hawaiians.
Despite his best attempts to appear moderate, Mark Kirk is a reliable Republican vote – repeatedly
supporting the government shutdown, and plan to end Medicare as we know it – who faces steep odds in deep blue Illinois. He is at the top of the list of vulnerable Senators who were swept in during the 2010 wave election and must now face a much more Democratic-leaning electorate. Democrats have a long list of credible candidates, and the eventual nominee will mount a strong campaign to defeat Kirk.
Senator Dan Coats’ retirement vaults Indiana to the top of the list of competitive races this cycle. The state has gone blue more than once in recent years – President Obama won the state in 2008, and Democrats won a tough Senate race in Indiana in 2012. Within hours of Senator Coats’ announcement, numerous Republicans had already expressed serious interest in entering the race. The crowded Republican primary has already started to get nasty with outside groups like Club for Growth taking sides, and the messy primary will hurt the GOP’s chances of retaining the seat.
81 year old Chuck Grassley isn’t going to have an easy time getting reelected in this Presidential battleground that President Obama won twice. Iowa promises to be a very competitive race as Democrats look at a talented roster of potential candidates who will work to put a Democrat from Iowa back in the U.S. Senate.
Tea Party hero Rand Paul has spent his first term in the Senate leading the charge for the extreme right. He’s made no bones about his Presidential ambitions, and his focus clearly lies with seeking higher office instead of working to represent the people of Kentucky. Kentucky could turn into a prime pick-up opportunity depending on how Paul’s Presidential hopes distract him from the Senate race.
It’s no secret that David Vitter is running for governor in 2015 and that will either make Louisiana an open seat in 2016 or leave the Republicans stranded with a candidate in Vitter who has shown he has no more interest in being a Senator. Vitter is a poster child for the extreme right as he’s worked to dismantle Medicare, reduce women’s access to health care, and oppose increases to the minimum wage. There is a rich Demoratic history in Louisiana and Republicans shouldn’t take this seat for granted.
Maryland has a deep bench of potential candidates who will continue Senator Barbara Mikulski’s legacy of looking out for students, women, seniors and Maryland’s middle class families. Republicans haven’t won a Senate race in Maryland since 1980, and with such a talented pool of potential candidates, Democrats are well-positioned to retain the seat.
Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards have already announced their plans to run for the seat.
Roy Blunt is a career politician who has lost sight of what matters to Missourians and moved further to the extreme right, presumably because he’s worried about a primary challenge from Todd Akin. Democrats won the last Presidential year Senate race in Missouri by more than 15 points and are poised to win again this cycle thanks to Secretary of State Jason Kander. Jason Kander has dedicated his life to service and he will make a great U.S. Senator who always puts Missouri first. Jason’s experience serving his country in Afghanistan, as a U.S.
The Silver state went blue in the last two presidential elections, and Democrats won a Senate race in Nevada by 5 points in 2010 despite the tough election cycle. Democrats already have a strong candidate in former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. Cortez Masto’s strong record and reputation will power her campaign to victory and ensure the seat stays in Democratic hands.
Republicans’ top-choice recruit, Governor Brian Sandoval, recently passed on the race, leaving Republicans with a likely damaging and expensive primary that will yield a second-tier candidate.
Kelly Ayotte is a Tea Party Republican who was swept into power in the 2010 wave, but New Hampshire voters have repeatedly shown they don’t like her brand of governing. Not only did President Obama win New Hampshire twice, but Jeanne Shaheen was reelected in 2014 despite an overwhelming GOP wave. Already it appears Washington Republicans are very worried about Kelly Ayotte’s reelection, and for good reason. There’s a deep bench of qualified candidates in New Hampshire that will spell trouble for Ayotte, who is among the most vulnerable Senators in the country.
Chuck Schumer has never lost his laser focus on doing what’s best for the people of New York, and it’s that attention combined with his sharp political sense that has propelled him to several re-elections by double digit margins. Schumer rode to a 33-point victory in his last election in 2010. Don’t expect Schumer to leave anything to chance. He will continue his intense focus on representing the entire state of New York and running a strong campaign that ends in victory.
In this key swing state, Richard Burr has spent his time in the Senate voting in lockstep with the Republican Party. That voting record will be problematic for Burr as he is set to face a much more energized and Democratic leaning electorate than the one he went before in 2010. Democrats lost by just 1 percent in North Carolina in the 2014 cycle despite the overwhelming GOP wave and appear poised to take a Senate seat back this time around. With low name ID and very little money raised so far, Burr is easily a top target for 2016.
Rob Portman is a creature of Washington who has shown over the course of his career that he will put the interests of Washington special interests over Ohioans. Portman supports outsourcing jobs, voted for the government shutdown, opposed the auto rescue, and he supported a plan to end Medicare as we know it. Worst of all, he was an architect of Bush Administration economic policies that contributed to the Great Recession. Democrats have recruited a top-tier candidate in former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland who has spent his entire life helping working folks across the state.
Ron Wyden has been a steady and hardworking voice for the people of Oregon. Wyden is well-known back home for holding an open town hall meeting in every Oregon county each year – to date that’s over 600 meetings. Wyden serves as Ranking Member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Throughout his career he has honed his ability to make progress and get results for Oregon by standing up for his state’s values and priorities. Last cycle despite a tough environment nationally, Democrats easily reelected Ron Wyden’s colleague in the Senate, Jeff Merkley.
In 2010, a year that was a slam dunk for many Republican Senate candidates, Toomey barely eked out a win. Having spent this last four years as a reliable GOP vote, including 2014 when he voted with his party 95% of the time, Toomey is certain to face an uphill battle in this key swing state that has gone blue in Presidential election years in every election since Bill Clinton. In 2012 Bob Casey was easily reelected despite Pennsylvania’s reputation as a battleground state.
With a strong focus on human rights, protection of civil liberties, and always standing up for Vermont, Patrick Leahy has been a critical voice for his state and nation his entire career. Leahy serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee where he has been an advocate for domestic violence prevention, privacy laws and public transparency. We’re confident that Patrick Leahy will continue representing Vermont for years to come.
As a tireless advocate for women, families, veterans and the middle class, Patty Murray has never lost sight of the priorities that drove her to seek public office. Once told by a state lawmaker that she “couldn’t make a difference” when advocating for a preschool program, Murray has certainly proved him wrong time and again. As the self-described “mom in tennis shoes” Murray has built a reputation as a workhorse who gets results on women’s health, veterans funding, and other priorities of Washington state.
Elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, Ron Johnson enters the 2016 cycle as the most vulnerable Senator up for re-election in the entire country. For the last 4 years, Johnson has never wavered from the rigid, extremist ideology on which he campaigned, voting with his party over 97% of the time on average. That’s not the type of independent, thoughtful leadership Wisconsin voters need.