Newspaper article Roll Call

DSCC Chairman Urges Patience in Senate Race Recruitment

Newspaper article Roll Call

DSCC Chairman Urges Patience in Senate Race Recruitment

Article excerpt

Senate Democrats' campaign chief urged patience with the party's recruitment progress as Republicans picked up a top challenger this week in a key race.

"Everyone wants the races to be jelled today," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet told reporters in a Wednesday briefing after the quarter-mark of the cycle. "They're not, and they never are."

Congress may be preparing for a monthlong recess, but the 2014 battle for the Senate is only gaining steam. Fifteen months removed from the midterm elections, both Senate campaign committees are still deep in the recruitment phase of cycle.

But with Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton expected to announce a challenge to Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor next week, Republicans are moving closer to having recruits in each of their top pickup opportunities. The outliers fall in North Carolina, where the GOP field could still expand, and Montana. The GOP also lacks challengers in the swing states of New Hampshire, Colorado and Virginia, where Democratic incumbents are favored.

"This is the hand we were dealt," Bennet said of the challenging map.

Thanks to retirements, Democrats face recruitment challenges for their three most vulnerable open seats in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota. Republicans have top-tier recruits in the latter two and are awaiting a decision from Rep. Steve Daines of Montana, who would likely give the GOP the edge there.

At this point last cycle, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., was still three months away from entering an open-seat race that appeared unwinnable for Democrats. Asked if there were any star recruits such as Heitkamp in those three open seats, Bennet replied, "Yes."

"I wouldn't say slowly, but surely we are filling out our roster, and we're going to continue to work to do that in Montana and South Dakota and West Virginia," Bennet said. …

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