Aug. 27, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Tough Terrain for Senate Democrats

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Sen. Scott Brown faces an uphill battle to keep his seat in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.

On the upside, Hoekstra is a tested candidate. If he has dirty laundry, voters have probably heard about it already during his House races or his failed 2010 gubernatorial bid.

The downside for Hoekstra? He’s not the best fundraiser on the GOP Senate bench. It will be difficult for him to raise enough money to be competitive with the $4.1 million that Stabenow reported in cash on hand at the end of last month.

Stabenow ran a strong campaign over the past several months when there wasn’t an opponent in sight. Now she’s going to have to put that aggressiveness to good use.

The former GOP Congressman may not be the perfect candidate to run in Michigan, but he can still give Stabenow a run for her money — all $4 million of it.

Ohio

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) | Leans Democratic

Brown’s re-election prospects are more dependent on the political climate in swing-state Ohio than anything else. However, one Republican’s recent performance here should only encourage the GOP.

While GOP recruiting is lacking in other Rust Belt states, such as Pennsylvania, Republicans found their man in Ohio. State Treasurer Josh Mandel, an Iraq War veteran, boasted a strong few months as a Senate candidate, and he’s not even officially in the race.

Mandel landed two of the most coveted conservative endorsements last month, from the Club for Growth and Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) Senate Conservatives Fund. Also, Mandel’s would-be chief competition in the primary, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, announced he would not run. Finally, Mandel finished the fundraising quarter with the best showing of almost any Republican, incumbent or challenger, except Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.). His campaign raised $2.3 million, far more than the $1.6 million that Brown hauled in during the second quarter.

But there were some low points for Mandel over the past few months, and Democrats can take credit for many of them.

Democrats successfully criticized Mandel in the local media for pulling double duty as a newly elected state treasurer and an aspiring Senate candidate. (Mandel has filed paperwork to run but has not yet announced his campaign.)

He also took a hit from his right flank via his lesser-known GOP primary opponent, former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin. Coughlin released a video of Mandel, now 33, cheering on then-Vice President Al Gore’s bid for the White House in 2000 when he was in college.

To Brown’s credit, he is known for running a strong campaign with a top-notch, aggressive team.

West Virginia

Sen. Joe Manchin (D) | Leans Democratic

If there were a credible candidate running against Manchin, Republicans might have a shot at this seat. But for now, the popular former governor is in strong shape to win his first full term.

Manchin has hewed to an independent course since winning the special election over businessman John Raese (R) by 10 points to fill the remainder of the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd’s term. Keeping President Barack Obama, unpopular in West Virginia, at a comfortable distance, Manchin has made clear he won’t let anyone paint him as an Obama Democrat.

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