Veterans Group Drops Illinois Ad Buy Supporting Duckworth

Duckworth is running for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In response to an ad from Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk's re-election campaign hitting his likely opponent in November, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, for supporting Syrian refugees, a liberal veterans' group is making its first Illinois Senate ad buy for her.  

Earlier this week, Kirk's campaign released an ad criticizing Duckworth's position on allowing refugees from Syria into the U.S. The campaign is spending slightly more than $800,000 to show the ad across the state on broadcast and cable. Kirk's ad ends by asking who do voters trust to protect their family, and answering by saying Kirk's name.  

New Kirk Ad Hits Duckworth on Syrian Refugees

Kirk's campaign dropped $800,000 on an ad to be played statewide.. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk is spending big against his likely general election opponent, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., with a statewide ad buy hitting Duckworth for her stance on Syrian refugees.  

The ad's narrator says the terrorists who committed the attacks in Paris used fake passports and criticizes Duckworth for allowing 200,000 refugees into the U.S. and contrasts that with Kirk's stance.  

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.  

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.  

Kirk Mum on Supreme Court Position

Kirk has not said he would automatically oppose an Obama Supreme Court nominee. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

While about two dozen Republican senators are saying the next president should choose a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has yet to commit.  

Kirk is currently up for re-election and considered one of the more vulnerable Republican incumbents in the 2016. However, in a statement, Kirk largely danced around the question of replacing Scalia, who was found dead Saturday at a Texas ranch. "The political debate erupting about prospective nominees to fill the vacancy is unseemly, let us take the time to honor his life before the inevitable debate erupts," said Kirk, who is considered one of the more socially moderate Republican senators, one of only four who supports same-sex marriage.  

Duckworth Blames Kirk for Radicalized Muslims

Duckworth implied that statements made by her potential Republican opponent cause Muslims to be radicalized. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., implied that politicians like incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk may be responsible for radicalization of young Muslims. Kirk's campaign called Duckworth's comments "dangerously foolish."  

In a session among Democratic senate candidates held by the Chicago Tribune to determine who the paper would endorse in the Democratic race to run against Kirk, Duckworth was asked about ensuring refugees would not pose a security risk.  

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.)  

Andrea Zopp Makes Her Case to Congressional Black Caucus Members

Zopp was invited by Davis to attend the State of the Union. (Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call)

Despite trailing Rep. Tammy Duckworth in the Illinois Senate race, Andrea Zopp met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus ahead of the State of the Union to show she is the best candidate to advance their causes.  

Zopp was invited to the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee's annual State of the Union breakfast reception on Tuesday by Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., who also invited Zopp to be his guest at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. "I'm definitely going to ask them to endorse and support her, and I think the values expressed by the CBC are exactly the same values expressed by Andrea," Davis said. Ahead of the address, Zopp will also join Davis for an open house event with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.  

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.