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DSCC FRIDAY TAKEAWAYS – VULNERABLE GOP SENATORS HAVE A SCORE PROBLEM – CO GOP FIELD GROWS (A LOT) – DEMS HAVE IMPRESSIVE Q4 NUMBERS – NRSC CHAIR EXPLOITS NATIONAL SECURITY – AYOTTE DOUBLES DOWN ON TRUMP SUPPORT BUT GETTING TIRED OF THE QUESTIONS

DSCC LAUNCHES ATTACKS ON VULNERABLE SENATE REPUBLICANS’ HYPER-PARTISAN HISTORY. With Congress’ return from recess, we expect vulnerable incumbent Republican Senators and Senate candidates to try to cover-up the problematic votes they’ve taken – like supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare, opposing student loan reform and defunding Planned Parenthood. Before they can re-write their record, we took a look at what damage they’ve already done and, no surprise, they’ve sided with Washington Republicans and special interests at the expense of the people they were elected to represent.

COLORADO REPUBLICANS: THREE MORE CANDIDATES IN LAST WEEK. We don’t blame you if you can’t remember how many candidates are running or planning to run as a Republican in the U.S. Senate primary in Colorado. Both Jon Keyser and Robert Blahathrew their hats into the GOP primary field this week after Tim Neville did last week. Washington Republicans spent months being turned down by their top tier candidates, and now they are faced with a crowded group of second and third tier candidates that will leave the eventual nominee damaged and too extreme for Colorado. We’re excited to just sit back and let this one play out. (For the record, it’s 9 declared candidates for the GOP primary).

From The National Journal: “The absence of a top-tier recruit has made Colorado the Senate GOP’s biggest disappointment of the year, and left it with a field of little-known alternatives…”

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES POST IMPRESSIVE FUNDRAISING QUARTERS. Following up on their stellar third quarter fundraising, Democratic candidates across the country are posting impressive fourth quarter fundraising totals, showing what strong positions they’re in to win in November.

ILLINOIS – Tammy Duckworth outraised Senator Mark Kirk for the second quarter in a row, this time by a whopping $600,000. Duckworth raised $1.6 million in the fourth quarter, bringing her total cash on hand to $3.6 million, which is almost equal to Kirk’s war chest.

WISCONSIN – Russ Feingold reported another huge fundraising quarter, raising $2.7 million. Feingold now has $4.8 million cash on hand. Ron Johnson hasn’t released his fundraising numbers yet, but Feingold outraised Johnson in both the second and third quarters.

MISSOURI – In the fourth quarter, Jason Kander reported his best numbers yet. He raised $870,000, and goes into 2016 with more than $2 million cash on hand.

NEW HAMPSHIRE – In her first quarter since becoming a Senate candidate, Maggie Hassan raised nearly $2.1 million. WMURtouted Hassan, saying her fourth quarter “exhibits a strong fundraising prowess.”

OHIO – Ted Strickland raised $1.05 million in the fourth quarter, bringing his total 2015 fundraising to $3.7 million. He goes into 2016 with more than $2 million cash on hand.

WASHINGTON – Patty Murray raised $1.7 million in the fourth quarter, bringing her cash on hand to $5.95 million. She has nearly138 times more money than her Republican challenger.

NRSC CHAIR: SECURITY THREATS GOOD FOR REPUBLICANS. Last month, it was Rob Portman who said ISIS “helps the Republican Party.” Then John McCain expressed his confidence there would be other terrorist attacks before the election and argued that “national security being where it is obviously helps Republicans.” Now, NRSC Chair Roger Wicker – charged with helping both Portman and McCain navigate increasingly difficult reelections – is talking about national security threats as a political opportunity. You cannot make this stuff up.

Roll Call: Wicker: Security Threats Key for Republicans in 2016

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Roger Wicker said in an interview with Roll Call at the annual Republican policy retreat that the “umbrella of security” and international unrest could help Republican incumbents in contested races.

“Whether it’s border security, terrorism or the need for our military to be taken care of,” Wicker said, the focus on threats “helps us everywhere whether it’s the Northeast or the Southwest.”

CORTEZ MASTO READY TO LEAD WHERE CONGRESSMAN JOE HECK HAS FAILED. Congressman Joe Heck has spent his time in Congress voting with the Republican Party 90% of the time, which means he’s left working families hanging out to dry. But Catherine Cortez Masto is focused on the issues that matter to families who are just trying to make ends meet, and this week she spoke at the Raising Wages Summit in Las Vegas about what needs to be done to give hardworking families more economic security. She stressed the importance of closing the wage gap and providing working families with family and sick leave.

HOW THE MAJORITY “WORKS” – SENATE CONFIRMS NOMINEE TOOMEY DELAYED FOR MONTHS, THEN MCCONNELL PROMISES TO CONFIRM NO MORE NOMINEES. On Monday, the Senate finally confirmed Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo after Pat Toomey held up the nomination for months. Almost immediately after the much-delayed vote, Politico published a story that featured Mitch McConnell promising that no more nominees would be confirmed.

Politico: Conservatives: No more Obama nominees

  • Blocking nominations has often been a unifying objective for McConnell’s conference.”
  • McConnell is setting a new low for confirming presidential nominees: In 2015, the Senate confirmed 173 total civilian nominees, according to the Congressional Research Service, about 100 fewer than were confirmed in 2007 when a Democratic Senate took over during the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency.”
  • McConnell is taking his nomination blockade a step further on judges.”
  • Toomey was hammered for months as Restrepo’s nomination stalled, and he now has four Pennsylvania district court nominees moving through the confirmation process. It may upset the conservative base, but a few confirmations could be helpful to Toomey, who faces a tough path to reelection this fall.”

AYOTTE TIRING OF PERFECTLY FAIR TRUMP QUESTIONS. After the New Hampshire frontrunner Donald Trump arguably won last night’s GOP debate, it appears Kelly Ayotte is starting to tire of exactly what Republican insiders are most afraid of: Trump dominating the conversation. NHPR’s story, “Ayotte chides press for constantly asking her about Donald Trump,” encapsulates what vulnerable Senators like Ayotte are so worried about. And yet Ayotte continues to pledge her steadfast support of the Donald should he win the nomination.

IN THE STATES

WISCONSIN – JOHNSON CALLS VOTING TO DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD “FUN.” In a radio interview this week, Ron Johnson called his vote to defund Planned Parenthood and put at risk health services for 65,000 Wisconsin patients “fun.” Johnson couldn’t be more out of touch – there is nothing ‘fun’ about voting to take away women’s access to preventative health care.

MORE WISCONSIN – OOPS! JOHNSON PUTS HIS FOOT IN HIS MOUTH. While discussing Nikki Haley’s State of the Union response, Ron Johnson said that Governor Nikki Haley is an immigrant. Haley was born in South Carolina. Read about it here, here and here.

FLORIDA – GOP PRIMARY WAR OF WORDS WAGES ON. After an ally of Carlos Lopez-Cantera called Ron DeSantis a jerk last week, Ron DeSantis fired back with a few jabs of his own. He accused Lopez-Cantera and David Jolly of being insiders and too connected to lobbyists.

ARIZONA – WHOMP, WHOMP: HANNITY “DISAPPOINTED” IN MCCAIN. The same week a dark money group took to the air to prop up McCain – note: the ad “will mostly appear on Fox News, suggesting that it’s aimed at shoring up McCain with primary voters” – Sean Hannity said in an interview with McCain’s primary challenger Kelli Ward that he is “disappointed” in the incumbent senator and that “Dr. Ward has a good shot at knocking off McCain.”

TWEET OF THE WEEK – This week’s Tweet of the Week goes out to Politico’s Burgess Everett for pointing out just how ridiculous Kevin McCarthy’s comment was: @burgessev: McCarthy says GOP can pick up Senate seats #confessyourunpopularopinion

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Ron Johnson Had “Fun” Voting to Deprive Thousands of Wisconsin Patients of Basic Health Services

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