SPRINGFIELD, Ill., — Back in their home states for the August recess, the Senate's two top Democrats said Wednesday they are optimistic about the prospects of maintaining control of the chamber in November.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a union audience in Nevada that he believed Democrats would keep the Senate if the elections were held today, while also pushing steelworkers to work to get out the vote. And in Springfield, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin spoke to a gaggle of reporters outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and other statewide elected officials spoke to mark Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair.
The Senate leaders discussed the state of play with each other as recently as Tuesday, Durbin said.
Democrats face a challenging map and are likely to lose at least three open seats, but they are optimistic about their most-endangered incumbents and not allowing Republicans to pick up an additional three.
"Right now we have 55 seats. We lose six and we lose the majority," Durbin said. "There are two or three that are tough, tough states, but the rest of them we feel pretty good about." "I don't see this Republican wave they’re talking about," he continued. "To be honest, the public is not very enamored with either political party at this point. I went through the races yesterday with Harry Reid — the Senate races — and we feel good."
Reid was speaking at the USW 2014 International Convention at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"We've got a fight on our hands," Reid said, "but if the election were held today, we would maintain control of the Senate. And we're going to continue doing that, working hard, until November, Election Day. And with your help we're going to get over the finish line."
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which also provided video of a portion of Reid's remarks, said that he used familiar rhetoric about providing a "fair shot." That's been the buzz term for the politically themed parts of the Democrats' floor agenda in the Senate.
In setting up the schedule for a hectic September work period, Reid previously said that he planned to call for do-over votes on a number of the bills connected to that agenda. Speaking to the friendly audience of steelworkers Wednesday, Reid highlighted efforts to spend on public works projects.
"We want to do something about infrastructure. This is a fancy word, but it means construction jobs. I learned when I came to the House of Representatives decades ago that there are two things that stimulate the economy: building homes and building highways, roads, bridges, dams. And ... a lot of steel goes into those projects," Reid said, knowing his audience.
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