9:01 PM, Aug 18, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
How does a Democratic Senate candidate running in a conservative state in 2014 try to win? There are many strategies, from Louisiana’s incumbent senator Mary Landrieu emphasizing her ties to the energy industry to Michelle Nunn of Georgia running as a business-friendly moderate willing to work with Republicans. Behind the various strategies is an underlying principle: These Democrats should distance themselves as far as possible from their unpopular party and its head, the increasingly unpopular Barack Obama. The goal is to convince red-state voters that you’re not one of those Democrats.
Even so, it’s tough to raise campaign cash from Democratic donors when you’re touting your oil-and-gas bona fides or saying you’ll reach across the aisle. That explains why the campaigns of five Democrats, including four from Republican-heavy states, have created a joint fundraising committee with one stated goal: keeping the Senate blue. In fact, it’s in the organization’s name.
On August 13, Blue Senate 2014 registered with the Federal Election Commission as a joint fundraising committee, a sort of political fundraising co-op that allows like-minded candidates to raise and pool funds. The campaign committees of Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Natalie Tennant of West Virginia, and Michelle Nunn of Georgia are listed as participants in Blue Senate 2014. Each hail from states Barack Obama lost in 2012 and, in the cases of Landrieu, Tennant, and Nunn, from states the Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t won since 1996 or earlier. In addition, the campaign committee of Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire is listed as an additional participant in the joint committee.
According to the FEC filing documents, Blue Senate 2014 “collects contributions, pays fundraising expenses and disburses net proceeds” on behalf of all five Democrats’ campaigns. The group’s treasurer is Judith Zamore, a veteran of Democratic campaigns including Sherrod Brown’s successful 2006 Senate run in Ohio. Zamore is described at her firm’s website as having done “extensive work in the area of joint fundraising agreements [that] has been unparalleled.” The listed address for Blue Senate 2014 is in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
All five participating candidates are running in Senate races of varying difficulty. In the most trouble is Tennant, West Virginia's secretary of state whose campaign has struggled to gain much traction against Republican Shelley Moore Capito, the popular congresswoman whose likely to succeed retiring Democrat Jay Rockefeller in the Senate. In Georgia, Nunn has a better shot against Republican David Perdue in that state's open seat; she's behind by about 4 points, and has racked up the endorsement of conservative Democrat (and frequent Republican supporter) Zell Miller. The daughter of former senator Sam Nunn will need plenty of cash to run ads in the expensive Atlanta market if she hopes to have a chance.
Of the three sitting senators involved in Blue Senate 2014, Landrieu may have the toughest road to reelection. She only trails Republican Bill Cassidy by one point in a head-to-head matchup, but more scrutiny of her official travel violations and Louisiana's increasingly Republican tilt suggests Landrieu may struggle to pull out a victory in the state's general election runoff. That runoff, in December following the November open primary, could determine the control of the Senate and will likely be very costly.
The race in North Carolina has already proven costly, with the Hagan and her Republican challenger Thom Tillis spending more than $10 million combined so far. Millions more are being spent by outside groups on behalf of both candidates, and the race continues to be close. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, Shaheen appears to be in good shape against likely Republican opponent Scott Brown and, through her own fundraising network, may be able to help out her fellow Democrats as November approaches.
3:52 PM, Aug 14, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn experienced a week of embarrassment late last month when National Review's Eliana Johnson published a leaked memo from Nunn's Senate campaign. The memo was essentially Nunn's plan for how to win her race in Georgia, a state her Democratic father represented in the Senate until 1997 but that had grown more Republican in the ensuing years.
8:01 AM, May 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In the lead-up to Georgia's July 22 GOP runoff election for U.S. Senate, Congressman Jack Kingston of Savannah has received an endorsement from the Heisman Trophy-winning University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker. Walker, a Georgia native and star running back of UGA's undefeated 1980 season, says in a new ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that he cares "deeply about Georgia's future."
"Thats why I want my friend, Jack Kingston, carrying the ball for us in Washington," says Walker. Watch the ad below:
11:58 PM, May 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Associated Press reports that former CEO David Perdue and congressman Jack Kingston won first and second place, respectively, in Tuesday's Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Georgia. Because Perdue, at 30 percent, did not win an outright majority, both he and Kingston (who got 26 percent) will face off in a runoff election for the GOP nomination on July 22. Fewer than 25,000 votes separated Perdue and Kingston.
9:35 AM, May 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
If there’s one thing we know about today’s Georgia Republican primary for U.S. Senate, it’s that we really don’t know who will win. Or, more precisely, we don’t know which candidates will come in first and second to proceed to the inevitable runoff election in July. With five major candidates in the running, it’s unlikely the winner will get the necessary 50 percent support to avoid a runoff. So even after today, we still won’t know who will be the Republican nominee in November.
1:09 PM, May 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn is coasting to victory in Tuesday's Democratic primary, while her Republican opponent won't likely be decided until the July 22 runoff. With a contentious, crowded GOP field getting most of the attention, Nunn has been able to stay out of the spotlight.
11:02 AM, Apr 29, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Savannah-based congressman Jack Kingston is getting some support in his bid for the U.S. Senate in Georgia by way of a new ad from the Chamber of Commerce. The ad calls Kingston a "consistent conservative." Watch it below:
Kingston, a 12-term House member, earned the Chamber's endorsement for the GOP primary earlier this month.
1:46 PM, Apr 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Michelle Nunn, the likely Democratic nominee for Senate in Georgia, has a new ad that explores her biography. The daughter of former senator Sam Nunn, the younger Nunn points out that while she played basketball like her father, she did not follow him into politics.
"Instead, I devoted my life to raising a family and building volunteer organizations," says Nunn. "And I went on to become CEO of President Bush's Points of Light Foundation." Watch the ad below, which features a cameo of her father:
10:11 AM, Apr 25, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Karen Handel, a Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, has a new TV ad that pitches her as a "conservative fighter" who wants to "stop illegal immigration and Obamacare" and "cut spending."
"I've been a fighter my whole life. I left a troubled home at 17, but I beat the odds," Handel says in the 30-second spot. "I worked my way up in the private sector and implemented Georgia's tough voter ID law." Handel is the former secretary of state. Watch the video below:
10:41 AM, Apr 14, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Michelle Nunn, the presumptive Democratic nominee for an open Senate seat in Georgia, has raised $2.4 million in the first quarter of 2014. The Associated Press reports:
A spokesman for Democrat Michelle Nunn says she'll report about $2.4 million in contributions, her strongest fundraising quarter to date in her bid for Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat.
10:55 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In a new radio ad, Republican Senate candidate Karen Handel of Georgia hits back at her primary opponent David Perdue for his recently released comments about her lack of a college education. Perdue also touted his international business experience. The minute-long Handel ad replays Perdue's comments.
12:15 PM, Apr 7, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Karen Handel, the former secretary of state of Georgia, has raised $200,000 in the past two weeks for her campaign for Senate, according to a spokesman. The cash-strapped Republican, who is facing better financed primary opponents, has raised more in that time than she had in the previous quarter.
9:29 AM, Apr 3, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Michelle Nunn, the likely Democratic nominee for Senate in Georgia, has released her first 30-second TV ad of the campaign. Nunn is the daughter of former senator Sam Nunn, but the ad seeks to introduce her more broadly to voters in Georgia.
"Some people ask me why, with all the dysfunction in Washington, I'm running for Senate," Nunn says in a voiceover. "In the end, I think it comes down to being an optimist."
8:02 AM, Apr 3, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia criticized a fellow primary opponent for having only a high school degree. David Perdue, a businessman and first-time candidate for office, was touting his experience and education to a group of voters in January when he made a reference to "a high school graduate in this race."
That candidate is Karen Handel, the former secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate. Handel left an abusive home at age 17, according to her campaign, and finished high school. She never graduated from college.