McConnell’s allies are wasting no time planning for the 2016 Senate elections. They’re establishing a super PAC to ensure the Senate remains in Republicans hands (via NYT):
The new group, known as the Senate Leadership Fund, will seek to become the main vehicle for donors wanting to help Mr. McConnell’s fledgling majority. Like the outside groups that supported Mr. McConnell’s re-election campaign in Kentucky last year, the Senate Leadership Fund will work in tandem with American Crossroads, the most prominent Republican super PAC, which is led by Mr. McConnell’s former chief of staff Steven J. Law. Mr. Law will sit on the board of the new organization, and the two groups will coordinate advertising purchases, messaging and fund-raising efforts, though they will not necessarily use the same vendors to buy advertising.
“The U.S. Senate is under new management — and is taking on President Obama’s freedom-constricting, big-government agenda,” the group’s website says. “As a new, independent super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund has one goal: to protect and expand the Republican Senate majority when Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren and their army of left-wing activists try to take it back in 2016.”
The new group could also provide Mr. McConnell a powerful tool for exercising leadership of his caucus — albeit an indirect one, given that the Senate leader may not coordinate spending decisions with the group, or explicitly solicit funds for it. Strategists involved in setting up the Senate Leadership Fund said it would not rule out intervening in primaries or backing candidates for open seats in its quest to preserve Republican control of the Senate.
While some headlines read how the 2016 Senate elections will be friendlier to Democrats, the reality is things are still uncertain; a common axiom in politics regarding elections that are almost two years away. But, when that time comes, Democrats only need to pick-up five seats to reclaim their lost majority.
The 2016 cycle will see Democrats defending 10 seats, while Republicans will be trying to hold the line in nearly two-dozen races, with several of those races being in states that aren’t necessarily a lock for Republicans (via WaPo):
Seven of those 24 Republican seats are in states that President Obama won not once but twice: Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
To win the majority, Democrats need to win five of those seven seats in November 2016.
And while the map looks great for Democrats on paper, several of those seven races look less rosy in reality. Iowa is a tough Democratic pickup unless Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R) decides to retire, which he insists he isn’t going to do. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R) is a gifted politician and fundraiser, while the Democratic bench in the state is decidedly thin. The Democratic fields in New Hampshire, Florida and Illinois are still quite muddled. And neither Sens. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) nor Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are political dead men walking.
There are also two genuinely vulnerable Democrats — Sens. Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and Michael F. Bennet (Colo.) — on the ballot in 2016.
It’s never too early to start filling that campaign war chest.