Vulnerable GOP Senators Steer Clear of CPAC

Toomey is a Pennsylvania Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As conservative operatives and activists gather this week for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a handful of notable GOP senators are absent from the speaking lineup.  

Several vulnerable Senate Republicans seeking re-election in 2016 will skip the confab, which serves as a national stage for politicians and conservative media stars . Three of them addressed the conference in past years.  

Wisconsin: Tammy Baldwin Wins Senate Race

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrat Tammy Baldwin made history tonight, winning in Wisconsin to become the first openly gay candidate elected to the Senate.

In one of the most expensive and bruising races in the country, Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), the establishment favorite who narrowly won a four-way August primary.

Daily Ad Track
Daily Ad Track

Here is what cut through the clutter today:

Massachusetts 6

American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS Make Gargantuan Final Senate Ad Push

The Republican-affiliated sister groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS will begin a massive $10.5 million Senate ad blitz today and Wednesday, blanketing competitive Senate races, including those in Maine, Montana and New Mexico, with hard-hitting attack ads.

With control of the Senate in the balance, the deep-pocketed groups are making a concerted final push to help put GOP candidates over the line.

Wisconsin: More Negative Ads Out to Shape Senate Race

Rep. Tammy Baldwin and former Gov. Tommy Thompson are continuing to pursue an advertising strategy, implemented last week, that seeks to spook Wisconsonites. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Welcome to the kitchen sink, Wisconsin.

"Nuclear Iran." ... "Uranium." ... "Big oil." ... "Body armor."

Wisconsin: Feisty Senate Debate Boils Over on 9/11 Exchange

(Bill Clark CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

By the end of the night in Wisconsin, the exchanges between former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin seemed less like a debate than a fight between two candidates desperate to beat one another and exhausted from the battle.

The blows have become personal in the Badger State, where the Senate race has devolved from big issues such as the economy and health care to the candidate's responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Wisconsin: Will Dueling 9/11 Ads Affect Senate Race?

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson released an ad this week knocking his Democratic opponent over the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Bill Clark CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

In a Senate race that has been defined by negative ads, where both candidates are more disliked by voters than they are liked, Wisconsin might be on the verge of discovering whether there is such a thing as too negative.

And in 2012, a cycle in which nastiness and pettiness has reigned supreme nationwide, that's saying something.

Wisconsin: Tammy Baldwin Responds to Tommy Thompson's 9/11 Ad

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) today responded to a searing ad released Tuesday by former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) that attempted to paint his opponent for Wisconsin's open Senate seat as unpatriotic because of her 2006 vote against a resolution involving the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Hoping to mitigate any potential damage caused by Thompson's spot, which showed images of a charred building and fliers of missing persons from 9/11, Baldwin's team released a retaliatory ad claiming that Thompson profited off of 9/11 victims, citing an $11 million contract won by Logistics Health, Inc. while Thompson was board chairman.