pa-senate-2016

McGinty Drops First Ad Ahead of Primary

McGinty ran a seven-figure spot in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. (Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate Katie McGinty released her first ad of the campaign season that will run through the state's April 26 primary.  

The ad features  McGinty, a former candidate for governor and former chief of staff to Gov. Tom Wolf, speaking about the U.S. adding 14 million new jobs since the Great Recession while manufacturers work in the background talking. "A good start," McGinty says. "But too many families see the special interests gaining the upper hand in Washington, while paychecks don't go far enough."  

New Ads Target Senate GOP Over Supreme Court 'Obstructionism'

The Supreme Court vacancy following Scalia's death has become the subject of ads against Senate Republicans. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority PAC, a group aligned with Democrats, unveiled a new round of digital ads Tuesday accusing Senate Republicans of “unprecedented obstructionism" by vowing not to consider anyone whom President Barack Obama nominates to succeed Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  

Their effort came on the same day Senate leaders including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reiterated their belief  that the next president should choose a nominee to take the place of Scalia, who died earlier this month. “People across the country are fed up with Republicans putting politics ahead of the public good and McConnell’s unprecedented obstructionism has made his entire caucus that much more vulnerable this November,” Shripal Shah, a spokesman for Senate Majority PAC, said in a statement to Roll Call.  

The Long, Sophisticated Fight to Come Over the Supreme Court Opening

Kirk is the only Republican senator in a tough re-election race to not take a position on whether Obama should fill Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court or leave it to his successor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican and Democratic Senate campaigns have already clashed – fiercely – over when and how to confirm a new Supreme Court justice.  

But those early rhetorical salvos are only the beginning of what will be a sustained effort to take advantage of the court’s sudden opening, one that operatives from both parties say could reshape fundraising, turnout operations and targeted media to diehard partisans and swing voters alike. The blunt message from some of them: The terrain of the 2016 Senate election changed when Antonin Scalia died, and now it’s up to the party committees and their allied campaigns to recalibrate their strategy and tactics or be left behind.  

Supreme Court Opening: A Dilemma for Swing-State Republicans

Portman expressed his condolences, but didn't stake out a position on whether Obama should appoint a successor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The sudden death of Antonin Scalia and ensuing fight over the process to replace him on the Supreme Court has created a vexing election-year problem for Senate Republicans, who – a mere nine months before November – are now caught between the competing demands of their conservative allies and moderate voters who could make-or-break the party’s already imperiled majority.  

In what might amount to their most high-profile decision of their campaigns, vulnerable Republican incumbents can side either with ideological allies who believe viscerally important issues like abortion-rights, immigration reform, and government overreach are at stake – or with moderates who are more broadly interested in lawmakers who lessen government dysfunction and help get things done.  

Some Candidates Mention Flint Crisis in Fundraising Appeals

Weaver testified before Congress about the water issues in her city. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Congress heard testimony from Flint's mayor about the water crisis there, some House and Senate candidates sent out fundraising pitches to their email lists mentioning the Michigan city's troubles.  

In an email to supporters in his competitive Maryland Senate primary race against Rep. Donna Edwards, Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, linked to a webpage titled "Stand With Chris," with a donate button at the top. It asked potential donors to "Join Chris in demanding justice" for Flint.  

The Politics of Lead Poisoning

Flint, Mich. Mayor Karen Weaver testifies Wednesday during the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee hearing on "The Flint Water Crisis: Lessons for Protecting America's Children." (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The mayor of Flint, Mich., appeared on Capitol Hill on a panel Wednesday that received a standing ovation before House Democrats. The governor of Michigan is facing a recall campaign back home. And lawmakers from other states are realizing that the contaminated water crisis in one community could have political costs elsewhere.  

That may explain, in part, the lopsided, 416-2 vote in the House to approve a bill Wednesday requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to inform residents within 24 hours when tests show their water is contaminated with lead. In Flint, the EPA identified problems nearly a year ago but spent months arguing with state officials before informing the public. In the Senate, Michigan Democrats are leading negotiations on an aid package that would help Flint replace corroded pipes and support children and families exposed to lead, but those efforts are stalled at least until after the February recess.  

Bernie Sanders as GOP Tool: Their Plan to Use Him Against Democrats

Sanders speaks Feb. 1 at his caucus night rally at the Holiday Inn Des Moines Airport and Conference Center in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bernard Sanders’ surprisingly strong candidacy for president has laid bare a sharp division within the Democratic coalition, pitting its activist base against the moderate-minded establishment.  

It’s a split Republicans — especially the ones focused on winning down-ballot races this fall — are now racing to exploit.  

Pat Toomey Endorses Marco Rubio for President

Toomey is up for re-election this year.

Updated: 5:30 p.m |  Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio for president Wednesday during an interview on CNN.  

“We face a huge national security crisis, obviously, emanating from the Middle East. There is tension all across the world,” he said. “Marco has demonstrated clear understanding. He’s done the hard work, he’s knowledgeable, thoughtful and a smart guy.”  

Time Is Running Out for Senate Primaries Fundraising

Duckworth has outraised her primary and general election opponents. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For several of this year's competitive Senate primaries, the fourth quarter of 2015 was the last fundraising quarter before primary day.  

In Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina, voters go to the polls on March 15, a month before the next Federal Election Commission fundraising report deadline. In all three of those states, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has backed the better-known candidate, who, unsurprisingly, raised more money from October through December of 2015. In Illinois, Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, the DSCC's pick , raised $1.6 million, beating the $314,000 haul of her closest primary opponent, former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp. State Sen. Napoleon Harris reportedly raised about $1 million. Notably for Duckworth, she again slightly out-raised  vulnerable GOP Sen. Mark S. Kirk and substantially narrowed the gap between their cash-on-hand totals.  

Will Pro-LGBT Stances Hurt GOP Senators?

Portman supported same-sex marriage after his son came out as gay. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three Republican senators who support same-sex marriage are up for re-election in 2016, but though all three face primary challenges, they are betting it won't hurt their chances.  

Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are three of the four Republican senators who support same-sex marriage. (The fourth, Susan Collins of Maine, won re-election in 2014.)