n-h-senate-senate-2016

This Ad Links Trump to SCOTUS Opening, Bashes Ayotte

Democratic ad seeks to gain ground with voters in the New Hampshire Senate race by magnifying GOP turmoil on the campaign trail and its position on an Obama Supreme Court nominee. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats love to criticize Republican senators about Donald Trump’s candidacy and the Supreme Court vacancy. Now, they’re combining the two issues into one TV ad.  

A Super PAC aligned with Senate Democrats is airing a new ad aimed at New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, linking her refusal to consider a new Supreme Court justice with the front-runner of the GOP presidential primary.  

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.  

Supreme Court Opening: A Dilemma for Swing-State Republicans

Portman expressed his condolences, but didn't stake out a position on whether Obama should appoint a successor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The sudden death of Antonin Scalia and ensuing fight over the process to replace him on the Supreme Court has created a vexing election-year problem for Senate Republicans, who – a mere nine months before November – are now caught between the competing demands of their conservative allies and moderate voters who could make-or-break the party’s already imperiled majority.  

In what might amount to their most high-profile decision of their campaigns, vulnerable Republican incumbents can side either with ideological allies who believe viscerally important issues like abortion-rights, immigration reform, and government overreach are at stake – or with moderates who are more broadly interested in lawmakers who lessen government dysfunction and help get things done.  

Political Wrangling Over 'People's Pledge' in New Hampshire

Ayotte challenged Hassan to a People's Pledge Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the presidential circus having left their backyard, New Hampshire's Senate candidates lost little time this week digging into each other's commitment to limiting spending in what's expected to be one of the most competitive and expensive Senate races in the country.  

Just days after Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic primary with 60 percent of the vote — a presidential race in which he's made campaign finance a big issue against Hillary Clinton — Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte came out with a surprising campaign finance proposal of her own. “Campaigns don't have to be driven by third-party groups — we can change the status quo and take a stand to say that this race should be about New Hampshire," she wrote to her Democratic rival, Gov. Maggie Hassan, in challenging her to sign a "People's Pledge" to limit outside spending in their Senate race.  

As Intraparty Divisions Fade, New Hampshire Gears Up for Next Competitive Race

With presidential campaigns emptying out, New Hampshire is getting ready for a competitive Senate race.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Presidential campaign signs are piling up at New Hampshire's transfer stations (more colloquially known as dumps), their temporary place of rest until called up for their next mission — a deployment to Massachusetts' or Maine's nominating contests, perhaps, or a repeat Granite State tour in November.  

After the first-in-the-nation primary, public works crews pluck yard signs from the state's highway medians and deliver them to transfer stations, where campaigns can retrieve them. With candidates now long gone for sunnier states, their entourages and the national media flock to the next stop on the primary trail, leaving Manchester quiet, save for the local chatter about how well Donald Trump performed Tuesday night and what a bad couple of days Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had.  

Ad Politicizing Violence Against Women Law is Pulled

   

An ad criticizing presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio for voting against the Violence Against Women Act will not be making it to the airwaves in New Hampshire, after the state's GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte objected strenuously.  

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.  

Democrats Target Vulnerable Senate Republicans over Party Loyalty

In tight Senate races, Democrats plan to point to the reliably Republican voting records of incumbents such as Pennsylvania's Toomey. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In some of the top competitive Senate races this year, Democrats on Monday planned a new line of attack against opponents they see as vulnerable: They are calling those Republican opponents reliable Republicans.  

Using a metric that has been used before by the GOP against Democrats, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said it would hit vulnerable Republicans in eight states over their high "party unity" scores, as ranked by the conservative Americans for Prosperity and the nonpartisan CQ Vote Studies.  “These candidates know their Washington records are a liability – that’s why senators like Pat Toomey and Kelly Ayotte," referring to the senators from Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, "spent the last year trying to rewrite their hyper-partisan history," said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokesperson for the group. "We took a look at how they’ve voted and no surprise, it’s consistently with the Washington special interests and always at the expense of the people who they were elected to represent."  

Down-Ballot Democrats Tread Carefully on Guantanamo Closure (Updated)

Ayotte has questioned Hassan's position on closing Guantanamo. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:59 p.m. | President Barack Obama has vowed to fulfill his 2008 campaign promise to close Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, military prison, with two detainees having already been transferred abroad this week.  

But Democrats running for Congress in a year when national security has ascended to the forefront of voters' minds are making campaign promises of their own that don't necessarily align with helping the president fulfill his 8-year-old pledge. In Congress and on the campaign trail, Republicans say the facility will be around forever under their watch, setting up a fundamental contrast between the president and the Republican Party about what's a bigger threat to national security — closing the facility or keeping it open.  

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.