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.  

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.  

In Arizona, Ann Kirkpatrick Raised $1.8 Million in 2015 for Senate Campaign

Ann Kirkpatrick’s campaign bragged that their haul was the “strongest off-year fundraising effort ever” for a Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the addition of $600,000 in the final three months of 2015, Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick ended the year having raised $1.8 million to fund her Senate campaign, the campaign told Roll Call.

In a statement, Kirkpatrick’s campaign bragged that their haul was the “strongest off-year fundraising effort ever” for a Democratic Senate candidate in the Grand Canyon State, as the third-term lawmaker attempts to unseat Republican Sen. John McCain.  

Wicker: Security Threats Key for Republicans in 2016

Wicker said the focus on threats, "helps us everywhere whether it's the Northeast or the Southwest. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

BALTIMORE — The man in charge of the Senate GOP's campaign arm thinks national security will help turn the tide in his party's favor in November.  

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Roger Wicker said in an interview with Roll Call at the annual Republican policy retreat that the "umbrella of security" and international unrest could help Republican incumbents in contested races.  

New Ad Casts McCain as Tough on Terrorism

Pro-McCain ad comes as the Arizona senator attempts to define his race on national security and fend off primary opponents. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 2:30 p.m. | In a move to highlight Arizona Sen. John McCain’s national security credentials in this election year, a political action committee backing his campaign for re-election has launched a large television advertising campaign, Roll Call has learned.  

The new commercial  by a pro-McCain group, A Secure Arizona, will target Republican primary voters on air and online as the fifth-term lawmaker attempts to define his race on the issue of national security and fend off primary opponents in a contest that already features former state Sen. Kelli Ward.  Over clips of ambulances in Paris following the November terrorist attacks there and of the shot-up vehicle used by terrorists in San Bernardino, Calif., a narrator in the spot says, “Obama doesn’t understand the threat” of groups such as the Islamic State, and attempts to contrast the president’s approach to McCain’s own.  

Presidential Primary Calendar Could Help Congressional Challengers

Facing primary foes the same day as the presidential nominating contest, Alabama's Shelby is spending money on re-election, just to be sure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In more than a dozen states, House and Senate primary elections will happen on the same ballot with the presidential race — timing that could pose a challenge for incumbent candidates in intra-party battles.  

Presidential candidates such as New York City real estate mogul Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are hoping to lure new, anti-establishment voters to the polls, a change that would skew the kinds of voters candidates will face.  “The S.E.C. states,” said Midwest-based Republican consultant James Harris, using the nickname for the group of southern states that share the March 1 primary date, “will have an uptick in their normal turnout because of the presidential primaries.”  

McCain Ends 2015 Without a Serious Challenge From Right

McCain will made it out of 2015 mostly unfazed from his right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A year that began with concerns among members of his team over whether Arizona Sen. John McCain would face a viable primary challenger from his right is ending with the fifth-term Republican looking mostly unfazed.  

Though about six months remain between now and Arizona's June 1 candidate filing deadline, all but one of the Republicans in the state's congressional delegation — Rep. David Schweikert — have said they will not run against him, and the three GOP candidates in the race against him haven't gained much traction. "No matter the consternation about Sen. McCain on the right, he’s a tough cookie who’d be tough to beat," said one Republican operative with knowledge of the race.  

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.  

Senate Democrats Nearly Run Table in Recruitment

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan's entrance into the Granite State Senate contest, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has secured nearly every top-tier recruit it sought for 2016 — when Democrats will attempt to net the five seats necessary to regain control of the Senate.  

Aside from Hassan in New Hampshire, the DSCC secured strong candidates in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The DSCC also scored wins with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick's decision to run for Senate in Arizona, as well as three Democratic senators from red states forgoing gubernatorial bids in 2016.