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Campaign Committees Open Holes While Filling Others

Democrats believe Heitkamp could be a competitive candidate for governor but would loosen the party's hold on her Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats want to hold the White House, take back the majorities in the Senate and the House, and gain ground in governorships. But what happens when those are conflicting goals?  

In Florida, strategists at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are excited Rep. Patrick Murphy is running for the state’s open seat. But Murphy is leaving behind a competitive House district that will be difficult for strategists at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to hold next fall.  

The DSCC didn’t recruit Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick into the Arizona Senate race, but she is running and gives the party a credible challenger to GOP Sen. John McCain. She also leaves behind a competitive House seat that will be difficult to hold. House Democrats will likely have to spend money defending Murphy’s and Kirkpatrick’s seat instead of playing offense in Republican territory.  

In more recent news, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is considering a run for governor in North Dakota. Strategists at the Democratic Governors Association realize that she would vault the state from a long shot to a legitimate takeover opportunity, while Senate Democrats understand Heitkamp’s unique hold on the Senate seat.  

Heitkamp wouldn’t have to give up her seat to run for governor in 2016. But victory would prompt a special election to replace her and Senate Democrats would likely struggle to find someone who can duplicate her unique political talents.  

The DSCC and DGA are also going head-to-head in New Hampshire. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan would be a top-tier challenger to GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte or the favorite for Democrats to hold the Granite State’s governorship. Hassan hasn’t announced her plans, but a committee will be left with either a recruitment hole or an open seat headache.  

Republicans aren’t immune to the intra-party committee tension. In Nevada, Rep. Joe Heck gives the NRSC a top-tier candidate for Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s open seat. But Heck leaves behind a competitive House seat for the National Republican Congressional Committee to defend. And if GOP Rep. Dave Reichert decides to run for governor of Washington, the NRCC would have to spend money holding his competitive 8th District.  

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