nev-senate-senate-2016

Joe Heck Keeps His Distance From Presidential Caucus in Nevada

While Heck has avoided making waves in the presidential race, Cortez Masto, his Democratic opponent, hit the trail for Clinton's presidential campaign. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In Nevada and New Hampshire, two Senate battleground states that also have early presidential preference contests, Democratic candidates endorsed and served as as surrogates for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.  

Catherine Cortez Masto, the Nevada Democrat who Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wants to take his seat, attended get-out-the-vote events aimed at women and Latinos.  

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.  

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."  

Races Where Spending Bill Vote Could Be an Issue

Neither Republicans nor Democrats, whose Senate committee is led by Tester, see a clear political win from the omnibus vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress hadn't even left town when political campaigns in some of the most competitive House and Senate races zeroed in on Friday’s vote on a massive government spending bill. But rather than cleaving along partisan lines, Democrats and Republicans — incumbents and challengers alike — came down on both sides of the issue depending on their states and districts, suggesting national party committees aren't likely to take up the vote in their national messaging. The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, voted for the bill – even though some of his most vulnerable colleagues opposed it – while Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Tester of Montana opposed it, with similar divergences in his own party. In the case of this bill, every candidate is on their own.  

Pennsylvania Senate Sen. Patrick J. Toomey voted against the bill, criticizing it as an instrument of the government’s “out-of-control spending” that would exacerbate the deficit, fund the resettlement of Syrian refugees and implement “damaging” federal regulations. And yet, in a statement released after the vote, he went on to tout that the bill for which he did not vote includes bipartisan proposals that he said will support jobs in the Keystone State. He also praised the bill’s suspension of the medical device tax, support for the military, Alzheimer’s research and health care for 9/11 responders.   That’s a contradiction that former Rep. Joe Sestak, who’s vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge Toomey in 2016, seized on in Twitter messages Friday afternoon. https://twitter.com/JoeSestak/status/677930799744868354  

Could National Security Make 2016 Tougher for Women Candidates?

Hassan joined with GOP governors calling on the federal government to stop accepting refugees from Syria until vetting "is as strong as possible." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As national security becomes a bigger issue in the wake of the attacks in Paris, some Democratic strategists worry the issue could cause troubles for their Senate candidates in 2016 — and women candidates in particular.  

Polling shows voters generally view Republicans stronger on national security issues than Democrats. But some Democratic strategists and pollsters add the issue is especially challenging for women, who do better at the ballot box when the economy and social issues are at the top of voters' minds.  

With the Senate Up for Grabs, All Eyes Are on the Presidential Race

Democrats think that Trump at the top of the ticket will make their path to control of the Senate easier. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Among those watching the White House race most closely a year from Election Day are those who stand to gain the most from the top-of-the-ticket contest. House and Senate candidates from both parties know their fates are closely tied to the fortunes of their parties’ respective presidential nominees and the tenor of the national conversation next November.  

“Obviously the national environment is something that, to a certain extent, we have very little control over,” NRSC Communications Director Andrea Bozek said. “So our mentality is to prepare for the worst-case scenario.”  

Schumer and Reid Like the Lay of the Land in Senate Races

Schumer highlighted recruiting successes for Democrats in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democratic leaders are not being shy about their chances to move a handful of desks across the aisle and take back the chamber's majority.

"The map looks very good," New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer told CQ Roll Call last week. "First, the map itself is good. We have two Democratic, you know, seats that are in some degree of jeopardy. They have a much larger number."

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.  

Harry Reid Talks Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton

Reid talks Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump used to raise money for him and that he really likes Hillary Rodham Clinton, even if he hasn't formally endorsed her presidential bid quite yet.  

The Nevada Democrat's comments about Trump, Clinton and predicting a 2016 Democratic takeover of the Senate came on a Las Vegas radio program where the retiring senator has appeared frequently over the years. "I have no problem with someone changing their philosophy ... but he's changed pretty quickly. It wasn't long ago he was doing fundraisers for Harry Reid," Reid said while opining about politics on KNPR .  

Joe Heck to Run for Nevada Senate (Video)

Heck twice won re-election in his district by large margins. (File Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep Joe Heck announced Monday he'll run for Senate in Nevada, giving Republicans a top pick in a crucial contest that could determine Senate control.

"I see a Nevada of unlimited opportunity, a place with better jobs, higher wages and the chance to rise as far as the path will take us," the GOP lawmaker said in a video announcing his Senate run. "And that’s why I’m running for the United States Senate."