n-c-senate-senate-2016

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.  

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.  

DSCC Endorses Deborah Ross in North Carolina

Ross is challenging GOP Sen. Richard Burr. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed former state Rep. Deborah Ross Thursday morning in her bid to challenge GOP Sen. Richard M. Burr.  

"Deborah was recognized as one of North Carolina’s most effective legislators during her time in the state legislature, and her commitment to fighting for North Carolina families is unwavering. We are proud to support her in this campaign and eager to welcome her to the Senate next fall," DSCC Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., said in a statement. Last week, Ross earned the endorsement of EMILY's List.  

Kay Hagan on Running Again: 'Never Say Never'

Hagan started a new job at Akin Gump this week but didn't rule out a return to elected office one day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan is back to splitting her time between Washington and the Tar Heel State. She's just not doing what she thought she'd be doing, or what Democrats hoped she would be doing in 2017.  

After narrowly losing her 2014 re-election, Hagan taught at the Harvard Institute of Politics , and on Monday, she started a new job at the lobbying firm Akin Gump  in Washington, D.C.  

Democrats Target Vulnerable Senate Republicans over Party Loyalty

In tight Senate races, Democrats plan to point to the reliably Republican voting records of incumbents such as Pennsylvania's Toomey. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In some of the top competitive Senate races this year, Democrats on Monday planned a new line of attack against opponents they see as vulnerable: They are calling those Republican opponents reliable Republicans.  

Using a metric that has been used before by the GOP against Democrats, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said it would hit vulnerable Republicans in eight states over their high "party unity" scores, as ranked by the conservative Americans for Prosperity and the nonpartisan CQ Vote Studies.  “These candidates know their Washington records are a liability – that’s why senators like Pat Toomey and Kelly Ayotte," referring to the senators from Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, "spent the last year trying to rewrite their hyper-partisan history," said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokesperson for the group. "We took a look at how they’ve voted and no surprise, it’s consistently with the Washington special interests and always at the expense of the people who they were elected to represent."  

8 Senate Races to Watch as 4th Quarter Fundraising Ends

The fourth quarter will be Hassan's first to file as a Senate candidate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the end of the year comes the end of another fundraising quarter. And while campaigns are not required to file their quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission until Jan. 31, now begins a month of speculation about who will end the year on a high note and who will ring in 2016 needing to step up their cash game. New HampshireIn the battle for the Senate, all eyes will be on New Hampshire, where Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan will be filing her first quarterly report since entering the race to unseat GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte in October. In what’s expected to be one of the most competitive races in the country, Hassan’s haul will be closely scrutinized to see how she compares to Ayotte, who has more than $5 million in cash on hand. North Carolina:  This will also be the first fundraising quarter for former state Rep. Deborah Ross , one of the Democrats vying to take on GOP Sen. Richard Burr. Ross has emerged as Washington Democrats’ preferred candidate after several top recruits, including former Sen. Kay Hagan, passed on the race, but she hasn’t received any formal endorsements from the D.C. establishment. This quarter will go a long way toward clarifying how competitive Ross will be against No. 7 on Roll Call’s list of the 10 most vulnerable senators . Maryland Senate:  Until primary day, fundraising reports are one of the few metrics available to assess who’s pulling away in intraparty matchups.

We’ll be watching to see whether the $1 million that EMILY’s List invested in TV and radio spots on her behalf can help Edwards close the gap before the April 26 primary.

Conservative Groups Not Rushing to Help Burr Primary Challenger

Brannon has launched a repeat bid for Senate after losing it in 2014's GOP primary.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Obstetrician and 2014 Senate candidate Greg Brannon barely snuck under Monday's filing deadline to challenge North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr in March's primary.  

Whether that's too late for Brannon to amass the tea party support he might need to unseat a two-term senator remains to be seen, but so far, the kinds of groups that would back an anti-incumbent challenger such as Brannon don't sound effusive about his candidacy.  

With the Senate Up for Grabs, All Eyes Are on the Presidential Race

Democrats think that Trump at the top of the ticket will make their path to control of the Senate easier. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Among those watching the White House race most closely a year from Election Day are those who stand to gain the most from the top-of-the-ticket contest. House and Senate candidates from both parties know their fates are closely tied to the fortunes of their parties’ respective presidential nominees and the tenor of the national conversation next November.  

“Obviously the national environment is something that, to a certain extent, we have very little control over,” NRSC Communications Director Andrea Bozek said. “So our mentality is to prepare for the worst-case scenario.”  

The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Democrats are going all-in to try to beat Illinois Republican Kirk. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The script has most definitely been flipped  on Senate battlegrounds in 2016.  

This cycle, Republicans take nine of the 10 spots on Roll Call's list of the most vulnerable senators. That's a marked turn from 2014 , when there were nine Democrats and one Republican.  

EMILY's List Puts 4 More GOP Senators 'On Notice'

EMILY's List signaled it may spend money against McCain in 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

EMILY's List, a group that supports Democratic women who back abortion rights, put four more Republican senators "On Notice" Tuesday — a signal the group could spend money to try to topple those incumbents in 2016.  

The four are among Democrats' top targets next year, when the party will seek to net the five seats necessary to ensure Senate control. All four are likely to face female challengers whom EMILY's List has endorsed or is looking at endorsing in the coming months.