Senate Democrats may all be out of town Easter recess, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t having a terrible week in Washington. Democrats currently hold 53 out the Senate’s 100 seats, and two more nominally independent senators give them a functioning 55 seat majority. But in 2014, Democrats must defend seven seats in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012, six of them by double digits.
Incumbency was the Democrats best weapon in all of these races, but that edge almost immediately began to slip. Five-term incumbent Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., announced in January that he would not seek reelection, giving Republicans a smoother pick-up opportunity (Romney won the sate by 26 points). Then this week, three-term incumbent Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., announced his retirement, thus making another path easier for Republicans (Romney won the state by 18 points).
Many of the Democratic incumbents in the other five red states (Sens. Mark Begich, Alaska, Mark Pryor, Ark., Mary Landrieu, La., Max Baucus, Mont., and Kay Hagan, N.C.) also were put in a tough spot when billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg began running $12 million in television ads pressuring senators to support strict new gun control laws at the federal level. Pryor, Landrieu, and Hagan were all specifically targeted. These Democrats will need both pro- and anti-gun Democrats to turn out for them in 2014 if they have any shot of holding onto their seats. Bloomberg just made that harder.
The only bit of good news for Democrats is that Hollywood starlet and Tennessee resident Ashley Judd decided not to challenge Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Judd was shaping up to be an embarrassing candidate whose eccentricities would have been, at best, a distraction for other Democrats running in red states.
Republicans still have to recruit good candidates in all of these races. But if they do, it is hard to see how Democrats can maintain control of the Senate for the final two lame duck years of Obama’s presidency.
From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: Obama’s great high-speed train robbery
Philip Klein: The Supreme Court’s political option on gay marriage
Tim Carney: Could South Dakota elect a senator from K Street?
In Other News
Reuters, Glitch in health care law risks family coverage: Millions of Americans will be priced out of health insurance under the health-care overhaul law because of a glitch that hurts people with modest incomes who can’t afford family coverage offered by their employers, a leading health-care advocacy group said yesterday.
The Wall Street Journal, Use of Food Stamps Swells Even as Economy Improves The financial crisis is over and the recession ended in 2009. But one of the federal government’s biggest social welfare programs, which expanded when the economy convulsed, isn’t shrinking back alongside the recovery.
The New York Times, Cash-Hungry States Eye Sports Betting, to Leagues’ Dismay: Voters in New Jersey passed a referendum by a 2-to-1 margin making sports betting legal, and last year Gov. Chris Christie signed a law legalizing it at Atlantic City’s 12 casinos and the state’s 4 horse racing tracks. Illinois is considering allowing sports betting, and California lawmakers are looking to reintroduce a sports gambling bill that the State Senate passed last year.
The Washington Post, Justices Signal Doubts on DOMA: A majority of the Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared ready to strike down a key section of a law that withholds federal benefits from gay married couples, as the justices concluded two days of hearings that showed them to be as divided as the rest of the nation over same-sex marriage.
Politico, Charles Grassley writing alternative Senate gun bill: Sen. Chuck Grassley is crafting an alternative Republican gun control bill, a move that could further complicate what will already be a difficult lift for Democrats and the White House.
Ezra Klein says The Battle Over Obamacare Moves to States.
Nate Cohn asks What’s the Point of Bloomberg’s $12 Million Ad Blitz?
Greg Sargent says the next big target for liberals are state legislatures.