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The Must-Read Stories You May Have Missed Over the Holiday

We hope you enjoyed your holiday break by unplugging for a few days. We’ve put together some of the must-read stories that posted while we were out – bottom line: Democrats start this election year in a strong position to take back the Senate.

NATIONAL

Hotline Senate Ranking: 10 of 12 Seats Most Likely to Flip are Republican

“The question is not whether Democrats will pick up Senate seats next year, it is almost certainly how many.”

Politico: Ayotte & McCain Make “Top Primaries to Watch” List

“Ayotte doesn’t have a primary challenger yet… but because the filing date isn’t until June 10 and the primary isn’t until September, the threat could limit how much Ayotte can tack to the center, or how far she can distance herself from an extremely conservative presidential nominee like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. And that, in turn, could present opportunities for Hassan.”

“McCain’s unfavorable ratings among Republicans (33 percent in a recent Strategies 360 poll) are a warning sign after years of GOP primary trouble… But it would be foolish to dismiss Ward after unheralded GOP challengers hit at least 40 percent of the primary votes against Republican incumbents last year.”

Boston Globe Headline: Top Republicans don’t rule out backing Trump

“While Trump continues to drive establishment Republicans to distraction, just a handful have declared they would not support him if he becomes the GOP nominee. Republicans may be uncomfortable or offended by Trump’s bombast, but they are clearly nervous about turning their backs on the elements of their party showing the most energy this campaign.”

In case you’re keeping count: each of the vulnerable Republican Senators and Senate candidates would still support Trump should he win the GOP nomination.

IN THE STATES

New Hampshire: Maggie Hassan started 2016 with a bang with her campaign announcing that she raised $2.1 million in the last fundraising quarter, breaking a record for off-year quarterly fundraising and outpacing incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte.

Missouri: Roy Blunt still faces questions about his failed national security record and mounting ethical concerns about his son’s dual role as his campaign manager and lobbyist, but refused to answer while back at home, earning yet another dismal headline:

Columbia Daily Tribune: Blunt deflects campaign questions after food bank tour

Meanwhile, Jason Kander ended “2015 on an upbeat note” with news that he’s tightening his race against Blunt.

Illinois: Tammy Duckworth hit the campaign trail with stops across the state:

Herald & Review: Duckworth woos Decatur on campaign stop

The Southern Illinoisan: Senate hopeful Duckworth makes stop in Carbondale

The News-Gazette: Duckworth draws big crowd in visit to Champaign

Mark Kirk also made news… for his desperate, fearmongering campaign ad:

“Candidates do a disservice to our nation, its citizens and themselves when they foster fear and feed dark undercurrents that flow against what America stands for. At the very end of what you might call the “be very afraid” radio spot, the voice changes. It’s the candidate’s with the obligatory “I’m Mark Kirk and I approve this message.”

“Personally, senator, I’d be ashamed.”

Wisconsin: Capital Times Editorial: Russ Feingold has answers to the most pressing questions of 2016

“Russ Feingold is different. He is making proposals based on decades of engagement with all the issues that must be addressed.”

Arizona: Ann Kikpatrick wrote an op-ed about the urgent need to close the Terror Gap loophole so that suspected terrorists cannot buy firearms. John McCain voted last month to keep the Terror Gap loophole open.

Ohio: Ted Strickland opened up about his experiences in working class Appalachia fighting the impact of drug abuse.

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