Though it was a short week in the nation's capital, it sure felt like a long one in the political world. Combined with the president's State of the Union Address and the new Congress getting to work on priority legislation, the Capitol was buzzing all four days this week.
Even though it is early in the election cycle, political parties and potential candidates for 2016 Senate seats are jockeying for position already. One key Senate seat both parties will be watching is who will challenge Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. The moderate Republican from Illinois, who came into power during the tea party wave of 2010, is a top target for a Democratic takeover in the Senate. Illinois is a reliable blue state in presidential years, which will make this race the toughest Kirk has ever faced. Republicans are hoping for a crowded field on the Democratic side, where they hope they will beat themselves to a pulp and leave a damaged candidate to take on Kirk. Currently rumors are swirling that up to four Democratic House members from Illinois are eyeing the seat, including Representatives Cheri Bustos, Tammy Duckworth, Bill Foster, and Robin Kelly. While not all four are expected to jump into the race, it is likely two of them may. Most Democrats think Duckworth, a veteran who represents the suburbs of Chicago, would be the favorite in a primary. Her personal story of losing both legs and sustaining damage to an arm when a helicopter she co-piloted in Iraq was shot down in 2004 is a very compelling story. Currently the race is rated as a tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.
Senate Republicans will have to defend 24 seats in 2016, many of which take place in states that elect Democrats in presidential cycles. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is taking an all hands on deck approach as they announced three vice chairman for the cycle. Two of them are new elected members: Joni Ernst of Iowa and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. The third member is Dean Heller of Nevada who will play an important role in the key state of Nevada as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid runs for re-election.
As rumors and speculation surround the moves of every potential 2016 candidate, here at the HUPAC Round Up, we will keep you informed each week with any movement or potential leaps into the race. Starting on the Democratic side, Vice President Joe Biden still hasn't ruled out a bid for his party's nomination in 2016 even if Hilary Clinton runs. Biden expressed, "There's a chance, but I haven’t made my mind up about that, we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then. There’s plenty of time." Most pundits believe he won't jump in if Hilary decides to go for it in 2016.
On the Republican side, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a potential candidate for the nomination, sent some early punches this week on Twitter on the news that former Governors Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush were meeting in Utah. Paul went after Bush's support for Common Core and for Romney's potential third attempt at the presidency. You can read the full tweets here.
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