Senate GOP Leaders Hit the Campaign Trail (Updated)
Updated 2:38 p.m.| With the majority hanging on a handful of Senate races, Republican leaders not facing re-election have been fanning out across the nation to help stump for their candidates.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas have been focused on their re-election campaigns, though Cornyn, who has an easier race, has traveled to raise money for Senate Republican contenders.
But Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota, Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri and Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming have all been active as well in trying to give GOP candidates the edge in intensely contested races.
Barrasso has been particularly energized, but he is not expected to seek a different post within the Senate Republican leadership, such as the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He plans to keep his leadership slot chairing the Policy Committee, according to a Republican source. Before the September recess, Barrasso traveled to Alaska for Dan Sullivan, to Louisiana for Rep. Bill Cassidy, North Carolina for Thom Tillis, Colorado for Rep. Cory Gardner, South Dakota for former Gov. Mike Rounds and Montana for Rep. Steve Daines, his office said.
The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the Alaska, Louisiana and Colorado races as “Pure Tossups,” while the North Carolina race is considered a “Tossup/Tilts Democrat.”
In September, Barrasso traveled to Oklahoma to attend events for Cassidy, Tillis and Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., who is running for the seat of the retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Barrasso was also recently in Iowa for Joni Ernst, who is in a “Pure Tossup” race according to the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
In October, Barrasso is scheduled to travel to Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Mississippi for Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
“We are close to confirming a few others [trips], and expect to add more events to his schedule before Election Day,” a Barrasso aide said.
Thune was pictured on Twitter at an event Tuesday for Gardner, a day after Gardner’s debate with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.
Blunt has also been active, an aide in his office said.
“Senator Blunt is working to help build a Republican majority by contributing to his Republican colleagues and challengers from his leadership PAC, as well as traveling where needed to raise money on their behalf,” the aide said.
A Cornyn aide said his fundraising effort has primarily consisted of hosting events for candidates with his donors in Texas, as well as traveling for campaign events to states including Louisiana , Kansas for embattled Republican Pat Roberts, Colorado, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Dakota. He has also been on party fundraising trips to New York and California.
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