ohio-senate-2016

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.  

Portman Criticizes Strickland's Foreign Policy In New Web Ad

Portman's ad ties Strickland to Obama and Hillary Clinton, whose policies “have made America weaker and ISIS stronger." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rob Portman’s re-election campaign is renewing attacks on Democratic candidate Ted Strickland’s foreign policy, accusing in a new Web ad that the former Ohio governor’s position on international issues enables ISIS and Iran.  

The ad is part of a series of online spots targeting Strickland’s foreign policy, an issue Republicans are confident will give them an edge in the general election. A Portman official, who declined to elaborate how much the campaign is spending on the series but said it was worth at least $100,000, says the buy will run until it reaches 1 million views.  

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.  

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.  

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.)  

Strickland's Past Positions on Guns Put Him in a Tough Spot

Strickland says his views on guns have changed in the wake of school shootings. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama make moves on gun policy, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's past record on the issue has put him under scrutiny.  

When he was up for re-election in 2010, the Democrat was given an A-plus rating by the National Rifle Association, which endorsed him over Republican John Kasich, who got a B.  

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.