It was a busy week in Senate news, with the Massachusetts special election set and on a possibly competitive collision course.
But there’s been a lot of action this week in many top 2014 races too, as members are on recess and considering their own electoral futures. Republicans are still searching for a nominee in Iowa, while Democrats still need one in West Virginia--but there’s no shortage of GOP candidates eyeing the open Georgia Senate race. Plus: the primary clash in Hawaii is official and Democrats get their man in Michigan.
Here’s our Senate race rundown this Friday:
Hawkeye cries: One Republican passing on the race and another former recruitment target’s jokes didn’t make for a good week for the GOP in Iowa yet again. Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey became the latest Republican to say no, and even Rep. Steve King, whose candidacy many in the party establishment feared, isn’t certain about a bid. In his statement announcing he wouldn’t run, Northey even said he hopes King runs. But this week the conservative congressman admitted he’s “embarrassed” that he hasn’t made a decision yet but doesn’t know when that might happen.
National Republicans are still holding out hope that Rep. Tom Latham will reconsider running, and for a brief moment Thursday afternoon it looked like he might have. In an email to supporters titled, “I am seriously reconsidering,” Latham writes, “You read that subject line right! After experiencing today's weather I am seriously reconsidering whether this truly is spring in Iowa.” Well played, congressman. We’re thinking the folks at the NRSC didn’t find your joke as funny.
Rep. Bruce Braley entered the race for Democrats back in February to succeed the retiring Sen. Tom Harkin.
Peachy for the GOP? Meanwhile, in the Georgia Senate race, there’s no shortage of Republicans jumping at an open seat. GOP Rep. Jack Kingston became the third House member to throw his hat into the growing Senate primary, joining his fellow congressmen Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey. Rep. Tom Price is still deciding, but the longer he waits, the more Republicans don’t think he’ll jump in. A Price pass would pave the way for his ally, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, to join, and this week she sent a friendly reminder to supporters that she’s still considering the race.
Broun, meanwhile, got an endorsement from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this week. In such a crowded primary, there’s significant worry among Republicans that a flawed nominee, such as the conservative Broun, who’s had questionable past statements, or Gingrey, who made controversial comments about rape last year, could give Democrats an opening, like last year’s Missouri and Indiana contest.
That’s exactly what Democrats are hoping for, as they continue to try to woo conservative Rep. John Barrow (D) into the race. Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, could run too, but it’s unlikely both will run. Need more evidence Barrow is burnishing his conservative bona fides for a possible statewide run? Check out the cover of this month’s South magazine, featuring the pro-gun congressman.
Aloha means “It’s on!” It’s no secret that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) was none too pleased when Gov. Neil Abercrombie ignored the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s deathbed wishes and passed her over to appoint his lieutenant governor, Brian Schatz, to the Senate. Now Hanabusa’s made official what comes as a surprise to no one--she’ll primary Schatz next year. This won’t be a pretty primary, and expect it to get nasty fast.
Big Blue. Michigan Rep. Gary Peters (D) officially announced his Senate bid to succeed retiring Sen. Carl Levin on Wednesday, and so far it looks like he’ll have the field to himself. Democrats still have the advantage here, and the GOP is still searching for a candidate. Rep. Mike Rogers and libertarian-leaning Rep. Justin Amash are considering runs.
Madam Senator? National Democrats may have zeroed in on former Gov. Brian Schweitzer as their top choice to succeed Max Baucus, but that’s not stopping other Democrats from looking at the race either. At an event on Thursday announcing their push to elect the first female president, Emily's List President Stephanie Schriock confirmed she’s thinking about running in her home state.
“I have been overwhelmed by the interest in the Senate race,” said Schriock, who managed Sen. Jon Tester’s 2006 race. “I will say this, Montana has a great history of electing women. Emily’s List has been involved a long time in Montana and I think, like you, I am waiting to see how this all plays out.”
Country Roads, Take Me Out. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) won’t run for Senate, leaving Democrat still searching for a nominee to take on GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. For now, wealthy attorney Nick Preservati seems to be Democrats’ top choice, but the waiting game continues. Capito continues to amass cash, and could face a primary challenge herself, but a real threat doesn’t seem likely to the GOP frontrunner.