Feb. 11, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Recess Not Playtime for Nervous Incumbents

Richard Burr, perhaps the only vulnerable incumbent Republican Senator seeking re-election, said he expected to log 1,200 miles this week on the road in North Carolina. This is nothing new for Burr, who makes it a regular practice to show his face in the Tar Heel State’s 100 counties. But he acknowledged it was crucial to spend the recess connecting with his constituents.

Burr described his schedule this week as “work, work, work, work,” and he said he would focus on discussing national security, job creation and — above all else — what he views as the negative impact spending and the federal deficit are having on economic growth.

“The fiscal crisis in Washington is severe,” Burr said he intended to tell his constituents. “If we don’t make the right decisions very quickly and begin to show the fiscal restraint that we need, we will go the direction of some of the areas of the world that have severe economic crises today, which might make 2008 look like a warm-up for what we end up with.”

Another round of key primaries will be held a week from today. In addition to Lincoln’s runoff with Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — among this election cycle’s most vulnerable Democrats — will finally get an opponent in Nevada. And Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is potentially endangered, will learn her challenger.

Burr won’t know whom he is running against until the conclusion of North Carolina’s Democratic primary runoff, set for June 22.

“To me, those are all very important races. They all have their unique qualities,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said. “The one that may send the biggest shockwave through Washington, D.C., would be Arkansas, if Blanche Lincoln doesn’t survive her own party primary.”

While GOP leaders caution that the playing field could change over the next five months, Alexander said Republicans feel a gale-force wind at their back, and Cornyn said he does not expect the basic contours of the political landscape to change.

Democrats don’t necessarily disagree. They believe their challenge is to remind voters that they chose to throw the Republicans out of office 17 months ago for failing to adequately address many of the exact same problems that plague the country today.

“I think overall, our job is to really communicate whose side we’re on — whose side we’re fighting for,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said.

When President Barack Obama took office, Stabenow noted, “we were almost losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now we’ve turned that around to gaining about 250,000 a month because of what we have done, not by accident.”

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