All eyes and media focus are currently on the 2016, presidential election. Precious little attention is being given to the crucial senate races that will be waged in the next national election. This is an egregious error considering the current right-wing stranglehold on our government.
Once it became evident to the right that Barack Obama would be a two-term president, the financial guru’s who really run this country began to back congressional and state candidates, and to pave the way for the 2016 elections. Now that they have a majority, they clearly intend to buy the White House. That is why it is imperative that liberals and progressives begin today grooming and promoting viable Senate and House candidates who represent their interests. We do not have the luxury of waiting. Now it begins…
KELLY ANN AYOTE – Republican Senator from New Hampshire
Ayotte is a first-term Senator whose seat will be up in 2016, for reelection. She is the former State Attorney General. Her name came up as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012, and the next year Newsmax magazine listed her as number 11 among the 25 most influential women in the Republican Party. They called her “an emerging force in Congress. 1
In a tight race during the 2010, elections, Ayotte drew the endorsements of such party notables as John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Tom Coburn, and Rick Santorum.
In 2012, a scathing article appeared in Addicting Info which claimed:
“As Junior Senator, Ayotte voted against the United States Postal Amendments meant to save the Post Office, and against repealing tax deductions for oil companies. She voted for the Keystone XL Project, to extend the Bush tax cuts, and to reduce the corporate tax rate. She voted to remove all regulations regarding electronic debit card transactions and against emergency disaster relief appropriations, Ayotte is pro-fracking, pro-CISPA, and has an A rating from the NRA for her position on gun control. She is married to Lt. Joe Daley, a reservist fighter pilot, who flew combat missions in Iraq, and the mother of two children. Ms. Ayotte is on the front lines of the battle to treat captured terrorist suspects as prisoners of war rather than criminals. “We don’t want to tell a terrorist you have the right to remain silent, she says, “that’s the issue here.” Sarah Palin calls Kelly Ayotte, “a Granite State Mama grizzly who has broken barriers.”2
Upon careful review, I found those claims to be quite accurate. Ayotte is also pro-life and receives a consistent 100% rating from the National Right To Life Committee.
Her biggest donations came from Elliott Management Corporation which the management affiliate of hedge funds Elliott Associates, L.P. which is run by C.E.O., Paul Singer. In 2014, it was estimated that Singer had a net worth of $1.9 billion.
Interestingly, Singer, whose son is currently in a same-sex marriage, has donated millions of dollars to various organizations supporting LGBT rights, yet Kelly Ayotte is vehemently against gay marriage and gay adoptions.
Senator Kelly Ayotte is the goddess of right-wing conservatives. With close ties to Goldman Sachs, the Koch Brothers and much of corporate America it might be very hard to unseat her. However, if the left chooses to get its act together, it might not be impossible.
ROY DEAN BLUNT – Republican Senator from Missouri
Blunt is a former member of the United States House of Representatives (1997-2011) who won a Senate seat in 2010. Back in 2006, at the height of the scandal involving Jack Abramoff, Blunt’s name was thrown into the mix and his involvement with both Abramoff and Tom Delay came into question.3
He has been endorsed in the past by Missouri National Right to Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, Michele Bachmann, Red State, and the National Rifle Association. His political action committee the Rely on Your Beliefs Fund has met with it’s own scandal when Blunt accepted more than $1.1 million from corporations donated by the same companies that were implicated in the indictment of his friend and colleague Tom DeLay.
Blunt is a staunch pro-life, Southern Baptist. In 2012, he proposed the “Blunt Amendment” that was piggy-backed onto a highway appropriations bill. The amendment would have blocked part of the Affordable Care Act that requires all insurance plans to cover the birth control pill. The proposed amendment would have allowed not only religious organizations, but any employer with a “moral objection” to opt out of birth control coverage. The amendment was ultimately defeated.4
Earning a 92% rating from the Christian Coalition, Blunt has voted against same-sex marriage and gay adoptions. He has voted in favor of defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Additionally, he takes strong stands against the Separation of Church and State and Affirmative Action while advocating for the privatization of Social Security, faith-based initiatives, and an absolute right to gun ownership.
While in past elections he has won easily, there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction that has been growing within the party regarding Blunt. Many Tea Party members and ultra-right-wingers are questioning his efficacy. That dissention could prove to be a real factor in unseating him. However, it could also mean that he could be replaced with someone even more radically conservative. It should signal Missouri Democrats and Progressives that this is a Republican seat that could be won by the right liberal. The time to start is yesterday.
JOHN NICHOLS BOOZMAN – Republican Senator from Arkansas
Boozman is an Optometrist and former United States Representative (2002-2010). In 2010, Boozman was the first Republican to be elected to the Senate since Reconstruction. So, how is that working out for them?
Being a true Southern Baptist, and a true hard-core conservative, John Boozman takes a very strong stand against abortion, women’s rights, LGBT issues, the separation of church and state, and immigration. He is a staunch gun-rights advocate and favors expanding the military.
His previous endorsements came from the Susan B. Anthony List, the National Rifle Association, Wal-Mart Stores, and Elliott Management. Earlier this year, Boozman was one of the 47 Republican senators to sign the controversial letter to Iranian leaders in an attempt to hinder negotiations with that country.
Last year, Boozman suffered a heart attack and underwent heart surgery, however, it doesn’t appear that he is slowing down, nor has there been any indication that he plans to retire. In August of last year the Arkansas Times published the following statement:
“John Boozman meanwhile is one of the lowest profile Senators in the country. A plurality of voters in the state- 38%- have no opinion about him one way or the other. 34% approve of him to 28% who disapprove. Boozman’s big victory in 2010 was really a reflection on voters disliking Blanche Lincoln more than anything else, and it doesn’t appear that Boozman has made much of an impression in his own right.”5
The fact that Governor Beebe could beat Boozman in a “what if” scenario, however, is not indicative of anything on the horizon. The fact that there were 38% of those polled who had no opinion about him, could however, indicate that Arkansas voters are becoming more apathetic, or that they just don’t know what he is all about. At any rate, his seat will be up for grabs. It Democrats and Liberals put their skills to work, they really could pull this off.
RICHARD MAZUE BURR – Republican Senator from North Carolina
A former sales manager for Carswell Distributors, Burr has been in the United States Senate since 2005. Prior to that, he served 10 years in the House of Representatives.
Another hard-core conservative, Burr stands opposed to abortion, women’s rights and LGBT rights. While he opposes same-sex marriage on a personal level, he says that the decision should be up to individual states. He does not support the separation of church and state and believes in public school prayer as well as faith-based initiatives. He is a Second Amendment Advocate and wants to privatize social security.
Last year, as the ranking member on the Senate Committee of Veterans Affairs, Burr penned an angry letter to American veteran organizations for their failure to condemn the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Erick Shinseki, for his part in the VA scandal, claiming that the leaders of these groups did not care about the health and well-being of their members.6
Burr was also one of the 47 Republicans who signed the controversial, and some say, treasonous, letter to Iranian officials.
In January of this year, Burr took over as the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Just prior to his becoming Chairman, then Chairwoman, Diane Feinstein had released the executive summary of the CIA’s torture program. The full report was sent to the President. As one of Burr’s first acts, he sent a letter to Obama asking him to return all copies of the report signaling his dedication to maintaining secrecy and curtailing transparency.7
Although there have been rumors that Burr was planning on retiring, he recently quashed our hopes by announcing that he intended to run again in 2016. As far as the polls are concerned, there is almost a dead even split among those counted with a 36% approval rate, 37% who disapprove. Given the controversy surrounding Burr’s recent maneuverings, one can only hope that this long-time politician will be relegated to the farm. But, Democrats had better have someone really strong waiting in the wings.
DANIEL RAY “DAN” COATS – Republican Senator from Indiana (Retiring)
So, in Indiana we have a hard-core Republican retiring from the United States Senate. But…don’t get too excited. There are a few others hoping to fill that seat, not the least of which is Coats’ congressional staffer, Eric Holcomb who has already announced.
While this race promises to spawn a lot of candidates, it is important to note that Eric Holcomb is very well known in Indiana as the former chairman of the state Republican Party, and where Mitt Romney carried the day by 10 points in the 2012 elections. He will have the same support and funding that propelled former Governor Mitch Daniels through two elections.
It is pretty safe to assume that Holcomb embraces the same right-wing values as Senator Dan Coats, and will continue down much the same path. There are several other Republicans who are considering, but who also might be apprehensive about challenging such a powerful figure. While no democrats have announced yet, Evan Bayh, former Governor and Senator, is mentioned quite frequently as a potential candidate. This will be a tough race, but Democrats need to get their ducks in a row quickly.
MICHAEL DEAN “MIKE” CRAPO – Republican Senator from Idaho
Crapo is an attorney and former United States Representative (1993-1999). He has been in United States Senate since 1999.
Crapo is a Mormon, a bishop in the Church of Latter Day Saints, and although he previously publicly stated that he didn’t drink alcohol, he was arrested in 2012, and plead guilty to a DUI.8
In 2011, it was reported that Crapo was one of the members of the “Gang of Six,” a bi-partisan group charged with coming up with solutions to reduce the American deficit.9
He is a strong advocate for firearms ownership and voted against any expansion of background checks, so of course, the National Rifle Association has supported Crapo as well as the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and the United States Chamber of Commerce.
Crapo is a very hard-core conservative and conducts himself as such, standing firm against women’s and LGBT rights, he is supportive of a school-prayer amendment, faith-based initiatives, and the privatization of Social Security. He is also against raising taxes on the wealthy and providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals.
The only declared candidate in opposition to Crapo at this time is Independent Timothy A. Raty. Crapo’s DUI charge could have hurt him with the voters, but he has a pretty good stronghold on that seat, and some very deep pockets supporting him. However, a Democratic run at this seat should be launched immediately. It’s time to send the right a very big message.
CHARLES ERNEST “CHUCK” GRASSLEY – Republican Senator from Iowa
This 81 year-old politician is a former United States Representative (1975-1981). He previously served in the Iowa State Legislature (1959-1974). He has been in the United States Senate since 1981. Obviously, he has been very popular in that state.
In the past, a good portion of his funding has come from the oil producing industry, and insurance companies. Contributions from Monsanto have also been noted. He has been endorsed by Americans for Legal Immigration, Campaign for Working Families, Huck PAC, Iowa National Federation of Independent Business, National Federation of Independent Business, National Rifle Association, and National Right to Life Committee. All of these reflect this hard-core conservative’s views.
Chuck Grassley has been representing Iowa in his Senate seat for 34 years, and in D.C. for 40 years. It is inconceivable to me that he would want to shoot for another six, or that the voters would even consider him to still be a viable option. It is equally incomprehensible that the Democratic Party cannot field a candidate who could beat him in 2016. Come on, people! Get it together, and make this right!
JOHN HENRY HOEVEN – Republican Senator from North Dakota
Hoeven is a former banker and governor of North Dakota. He was elected to the United States Senate in 2010.
Hoeven is somewhat of an enigma in a couple of ways. In 2010, as he was paving the way for his Senate bid, it was reported that in 1996, he had been a Democrat:
“I have always been moderate in my political views, but now that I am considering elective office, I realize I must join a political party and stick to it,” Hoeven wrote in 1996. “I have decided to join the Democratic-NPL Party because I believe that is the best fit for my views.” Also in his 1996 letter, Hoeven strongly rejected the suggestion that he could be a Republican: “What people don’t want is partisan politics as usual. The effort by overly partisan members of the Republican Party to cast me as one of their own is just that, partisan politics as usual.”10
According to his campaign manager, Don Larson, at the time he was going to run for Governor, he realized that his views were more in line with the Republican Party than with the Democratic Party.
While Hoeven is pro-life except in certain situations, and anti-LGBT rights, favoring and Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, he strongly believes in Affirmative Action. He is against school vouchers and proposes an increase in pay for teachers, he doesn’t take a firm stand on the separation of church and state, or prayer in public schools. He does, however, favor faith-based initiatives.
Hoeven is a strong proponent of Second Amendment rights, and doesn’t favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals.
In his last bid for senate he was endorsed by Business-Industry Political Action Committee, Huck PAC, National Education Association, National Federation of Independent Business, National Rifle Association, and National Right to Life Committee.
While Hoeven seems more moderate than many of the Senators on some issues, it is imperative to remember that he is supported and funded by several unsavory and extremely right-wing people and groups. Unfortunately, given the fact that Hoeven won his seat by a 3 to 1 margin in 2010, and the total lack of apparent candidates from the Democratic Party, I think this one would be very hard, if not impossible to pull off.
JOHN HARDY “JOHNNY” ISAKSON – Republican Senator from Georgia
Isakson is a former president of a large real estate company, and a former United States Representative (1999-2005). He became a United States Senator in 2005.
Interestingly enough – and to demonstrate just how far right the Republican Party has gone – many within the rank and file have designated Isakson as a Republican in Name Only, a RINO. Yet, he consistently receives 100% ratings as well as endorsements from the National Right to Life Committee, Campaign for Working Families, National Federation of Independent Business, United States Chamber of Commerce, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Americans for Prosperity. American Conservative Union, Americans for Prosperity, Gun Owners of America, National Rifle Association, Numbers USA, American Family Association, Christian Coalition of America, Family Research Council, and ACT! For America – just to name a few.
Isakson has been backed, endorsed, sponsored, and funded by almost every major right-wing outfit in existence. Johnny Isakson is a hard-nosed, hard-core, right wing conservative who is owned by his handlers and makes all the right moves.
It is highly unlikely that Isakson will be unseated. I say this, not because he is wildly popular, but because he is a Republican in the State of Georgia, and, unfortunately, if the Democratic Party continues to insist that only moderate, middle of the road, Democrats stand a chance, the voters will be presented with little to no choice but to dance with the guy they went with. Pathetic truth.
RONALD HAROLD “RON” JOHNSON – Republican Senator from Wisconsin
Johnson is the former CEO of a polyester and plastics manufacturing company. In 2010 he beat out then Senator, Russ Feingold, for the Senate seat. He claims that he “sprung out of the Tea Party.”
Johnson is a Club for Growth tool. Because he had no political history and no voting record, he has been referred to as a “Blank Slate.” In truth, Johnson portrayed himself as a “moderate” during his campaign, and the voters bought it.
In 2011, a controversy arose over what was termed a “deferred compensation agreement” with his former employer. That “agreement” garnered Johnson $10 million – $9 million of that was spent on his campaign. He came under intense scrutiny over whether or not campaign finance rules had been broken. He refused to stipulate the terms of the agreement.
And, more controversy erupted a little over a month ago when it was reported that Johnson’s office sat on complaints about a VA medical center over-prescribing medications.11
Johnson takes the same right-wing, ultra conservative stands as his other Republican cohorts and rubs elbows with all the same money people. Wisconsin is home to a lot of Democrats who, right now, are very dissatisfied with the representation that he is providing. The Washington Post has called Johnson the “most vulnerable candidate on the map.”12
I agree that he is vulnerable. It is widely speculated that Russ Feingold might very well consider running against Johnson again. Whatever happens, this is a Senate seat that the Democrats need to take back.
MARK STEVEN KIRK – Republican Senator from Illinois
Kirk is an attorney and former United States Representative (2001-2010). From 1995-1999, he served as counsel to the House International Relations Committee. He was elected to the United States Senate in 2010.
Mark Kirk is among the more moderate Republicans in the senate at this time. He favors a woman’s right to choose, Affirmative Action, and same-sex marriage. He has a very low rating from the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, and favors providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals.
On the flip-side, he opposes Obamacare and favors the privatizing of Social Security. He also favors prayer in public schools as well as faith-based initiatives.
During his political career he has been endorsed by Business-Industry Political Action Committee, Citizens United Political Fund, Combat Veterans for Congress, ConservAmerica, Illinois National Federation of Independent Business, National Defense PAC, National Federation of Independent Business, National Education Association, Ocean Champions, Republican Main Street Partnership, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
In spite of his moderate stands, it should be remembered that Illinois is, generally speaking, more Democrat than Republican. Additionally, he has created his own downfall in many ways. Kirk is a decorated Navy reservist, but back in 2010, Kirk was giving a speech to a gathering of experts on U.S. Chinese relations when he stated, “In my role in the military, I command the war room in the Pentagon.” Completely untrue.13 Also, it was determined that another statement of braggadocio made by Kirk was equally as erroneous. Since 2002, Kirk has been telling audiences that he was the recipient of am “Intelligence Officer of the Year” award. What Kirk had received was actually the Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award.14
With the unfortunate claims made by Kirk, came the revelation that during a speech he delivered on the floor of the United States House of Representatives in 2003, he claimed, ““The last time I was in Iraq I was in uniform, flying at 20,000 feet, and the Iraqi Air Defense network was shooting at us”. Well, of course that didn’t happen. He would later retract that statement in the Chicago Sun-Times by saying, “I simply misremembered [sic] it wrong.” The fact is, the Pentagon has no record of Kirk’s transport ever being fired upon.
This kind of dishonesty is indicative of Kirk’s character and may very well not be lost on the voters of Illinois. Additionally, Kirk has recently come under fired for comments that can only be construed as racist.
In 2012, Mark Kirk had a stroke. His full recovery was in question for quite a little period of time.
This is definitely a senate seat just waiting for a Democrat to occupy. Democratic Representative Tammy Duckworth has already thrown her hat in the ring. It’s time for liberals to step up in Illinois.
JAMES PAUL LANKFORD – Senator from Oklahoma
Lankford is a Baptist youth worker and former United States Representative (2011-2015). He won the senate seat last year during a special election after the resignation of Tom Coburn. Lankford qualifies as a ReBiblican, for certain.
Lankford tows the political line of the extremist right, and stands squarely in the realm of theoretical rule, claiming that his “Biblical Worldview” will guide him in his decision making.17
In 2012, Lankford opposed protection of gay employees against discrimination. He argued that homosexuality is a choice that could be changed. When he became highly criticized for that comment, he claimed that he was being singled out because he was a Christian. Lankford has continued to attempt to block any and all legislation protecting LGBT rights, citing the Bible as his reason.18
Lankford recieves superior ratings from all of the usual conservative sources. His funding an support generally comes from American Council of Engineering Companies Oklahoma, Business-Industry Political Action Committee, Family Research Council, House Conservatives Fund, National Rifle Association, Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, National Right to Life, Campaign for Working Families, Eagle Forum, and the Christian Coalition of America.
There is little doubt that Lankford will be re-elected to the Senate. After all, we are talking about Oklahoma, perhaps the reddest state in the nation. It is also unlikely that the Democrats will be able to field a candidate who would provide the voters with much of fa choice. The Oklahoma Democratic party has become nothing more than weak and anemic, hence it’s doubtful that the Sooners will have any relief from the choke-hold that evangelicals and extremists have on them.
MICHAEL SHUMWAY “MIKE” LEE – Republican Senator from Utah
Lee is an attorney who was elected to the United States Senate in 2010. Prior to that, he served as a law clerk for now Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito. In 2005, he began serving as the general counsel for then Utah Governor John Huntsman. He is the son of Rex E. Lee, Reagan administration Solicitor General.
Suffice it to say, Lee is every bit as right-wing as his senatorial colleagues. After all, he is a Tea Party darling who aligned himself with Ted Cruz during the government shut-down. For many in the GOP, Lee is even too far to the right. Even John Huntsman, a hard-core conservative has indicated that he is considering supporting someone less radical.19 In spite of that, he still has a large support base and a lot of money at his disposal.
Lee is endorsed and funded by Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, Republican Senatorial Committee, Americans for Legal Immigration, Freedom Works, LibertySlate, National Rifle Association, National Right to Life Committee, One Nation PAC, Republican Liberty Caucus, Tea Party Express, and Utah National Federation of Independent Business.
In a speech he gave last week, Lee characterized the three of the GOP candidates, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz as three of his closest allies.20
The State of Utah is probably too Republican for Democrats to expect to mount a real political challenge to Mike Lee. More than likely, the best we can hope for is that he will have opposition in the form of a primary by a candidate less extreme and with less ties to the radical groups engineering the outcomes of our elections.
JOHN SIDNEY MCCAIN, III – Republican Senator from Arizona
McCain is a former Navy captain, Viet Nam Prisoner of War, United States Representative (1982-1986), and current United States Senator. Earlier this month, he announced that he would run again for this seat. McCain is currently 78 year-old, and has been a Senator for 29 years. In 2008, he ran for President, with Sarah Palin as his running mate.
McCain has been described as a “libertarian leaning conservative. He is an advocate of overturning Roe v. Wade and only providing abortions under certain circumstances. Yet he believes in Affirmative Action and is comfortable with same-sex marriage. He receives an 83% rating from the Christian Coalition, and favors prayer in schools along with vouchers and faith-based initiatives. He is an opponent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Mc Cain also favors the privatization of Social Security and an absolute right to gun ownership. He is vehemently against raising taxes on the wealthy, and for expansion of the United States military.
In past elections he has been endorsed and supported by Campaign for Working Families, National Right to Life Committee, Arizona Right to Life Committee, Arizona National Federation of Independent Business, Combat Veterans for Congress, National Federation of Independent Business, and the National Rifle Association, among others.
McCain will be challenged in a primary. While all of the players have yet to be revealed, a couple have emerged so far – Alex Melusky, and current Arizona State Senator, Dr. Kelli Ward. Both are hard-core conservatives. No Democrat has announced as of yet. It is important to remember that a Senate seat hasn’t been won in Arizona since 1988. Given the current mind-set of the Democratic Party, and it’s failure to endorse and support candidates in tough races, this could be a deciding factor. It is also important to note that McCain already has $3.5 million in his war chest.
There are a few names being bandied about in Democratic quarters, but none have taken the bait at this juncture.
JERRY MORAN – Republican Senator from Kansas
Moran is an attorney and former Kansas State Senator, as well as former United States Representative (1997-2011). After his senatorial win, he served as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee which, in 2014, produced the first Republican Senate majority since 2006.
In 2014, Moran lost some favor with the GOP when he teamed up with Ted Cruz and other Tea Partiers to try and defeat the omnibus spending bill.21
Additionally, Moran was one of the 47 Republicans who signed and sent the controversial letter to Iranian leaders. He would later explain this action thusly:
“The letter makes clear that any long-standing agreement must be reviewed by the Legislative Branch, and input from the Senate should be seriously considered by the Administration before any agreement with Iran is reached.”22
Moran’s previous endorsements and support has come from, National Right to Life Committee, Kansas National Federation of Independent Business, Kansas Farm Bureau, National Rifle Association, Campaign for Working Families, National Federation of Independent Business, Republican Liberty Caucus, American Security Council Foundation, and Partnership for America.
Given the fact that the last Democrat to be elected to the United States Senate by the voters in the State of Kansas was George McGill in 1932, it’s unlikely that it will happen in 2016. Given that incredible statistic, it is also unlikely that the Democratic Party will put much emphasis on fielding or supporting a challenger.
LISA ANN MURKOWSKI – Republican Senator for Alaska
Murkowski is an attorney who was first appointed to her senate seat in 2002, by her father, Frank Murkowski, then Governor of Alaska. In 2010, Murkowski lost in a primary. She then entered the race as a write-in candidate winning that election.
Murkowski is somewhat of an anomaly among senate Republicans. She is pro-choice, and a member of the Republican Majority For Choice. However, she voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She was one of only five Republican senators who voted for the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and she voted for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Yet, in 2004, she voted in favor of a federal constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman. In 2013, however she announced that her opinions were ‘evolving,’ and that she would now support same-sex marriage.
In true Republican fashion, however, she is no friend of the environment, supporting oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She also receives high marks from the Christian Coalition for her stand against the separation of church and state.
Also true to form, Murkowski is against raising taxes on the wealthy, favors the privatization of social security, stands firmly behind Second Amendment rights, and is against a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Murkowski is quite popular in Alaska, and you can bet that after her primary loss in 2010, she has been busy building that popularity and getting ready for 2016. We can only wonder if her old nemesis, Tea Party favorite, Joe Miller, will decide to give it another go. The Democrats do have one hope – Mark Begich, former United States Senator as well as former Mayor of Anchorage.
RANDAL HOWARD “RAND” PAUL – Republican Senator from Kentucky
Paul is an ophthalmologist and son of former United States Representative, Ron Paul. He was elected to the United States Senate in 2010, and is currently running for President of the United States.
Rand Paul is a Tea Party darling who considers himself a “constitutional conservative. He believes that life begins at conception and is against abortion in all circumstances unless the mother’s life is in danger. He has called same-sex marriage a “moral crisis” and says that it “offends myself and a lot of people.”23
In February, Paul took a stand against states requiring children to be vaccinated. He believes that parents have the right to decide that without government mandates.
“I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they are a good thing. But I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom.”24
Paul claims that women won the “war on women,” and are “no longer downtrodden,” and that it is illegal to impose racial segregation on the private sector. He stands in opposition to the separation of church and state, and favors faith-based intitiatives.
Rand Paul opposes all restrictions placed on gun ownership and assault rifles. In short, he is the consummate right-wing extremist.
Should Paul get the Republican nomination for President, his senate seat will become vacant. Should he not succeed in his presidency bid, he will be up for reelection. Either way, this a good opportunity to rid our government of a very unstable and unsavory individual. In many ways, his nomination by the Republican Party would be the optimal situation. There is little chance that he could win against a strong Democratic candidate. A senate race, however, that is solely dependent upon the Kentucky voters is a whole other story.
ROB PORTMAN – Republican Senator from Ohio
Portman is an attorney and former United States Representative (1993-2005). He was elected to the United States Senate in 2010.
Portman is a typical right-wing Republican in many aspects. However, his stand on same-sex marriage rapidly changed when his son announced to both Rob and his mother that he was gay. Portman did a complete about face.
While Portman is pro-life, and takes the same stands as most of the GOP on other issues, his flip-flop on same-sex marriage has put him at odds with the fundamentalist Christians and various “family-oriented” organizations. But, someone loves him.
At the close of the first quarter of this year, it was disclosed that Portman now has $8 million in his war chest. In February he published a list of about 500 Republican officials across the State of Ohio who have endorsed him.
This is a golden, and I do mean golden, opportunity for Democrats to wrest a senate seat from that clutches of the GOP. Former Governor Ted Strickland and City Councilman, P.G. Sittenfield are both expected to run against Portman. It would, undoubtedly, be in the best interest of the Democratic Party to encourage Sittenfield to bow out, as Strickland has garnered the support of Bill Clinton and promises to give Portman a run for his money. At any rate, the Democrats can win this election if they play their cards right.
MARCO ANTONIO RUBIO – Republican Senator from Florida
Rubio is an attorney and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. He was elected to the United States Senate in 2010, beating out Governor Charlie Christ for the nomination. He is also currently a candidate for President of the United States. He will not seek reelection to the Senate.
Rubio is a hard-core conservative who is far right of center. In 2013, he claimed to believe in protecting life, but was quick to say “I’m not a chauvinist.” He wants to expand birth control exemption for faith-based organizations, and to require ultrasounds before abortions. He supports giving legal protection to unborn children. Consequently, he has a 100% rating and endorsement from both Campaign for American Families and the National Right to Life Association.
He supports an amendment to ban same-sex marriage, but until that time, would leave it up to the states. He supports prayer in public schools, vouchers and charter schools, an absolute right to gun ownership, and the privatization of Social Security.
Rubio initially claimed that his parents had fled Cuba to escape Castro’s regime. This was later proven false when it came to light that they had arrived in the United States years before that time. This embellishment of the facts didn’t sit very well with the large Cuban population residing in Florida.
For a few years, as he was growing up, his family attended the Church of Latter Day Saints. In fact, he was baptized in the Mormon Church. He would later revert back to Catholicism.
Rubio is well known for his distortion and embellishment of facts.25 How well Rubio will do as a Presidential candidate remains to be seen, of course. However, he can be certain that these words will come back to haunt him.
While many believe that he has a lock on the Hispanic vote, it must be noted that non-Cuban Hispanics often hold deep grudges against the preferential treatment that has been given to Cuban immigrants.
As to who will inherit his senate seat, there are a number of Democrats who will certainly vie for that position. We can only hope that the Democratic Party in Florida is strong enough, and wise enough to get out there early and back candidates who will have the best interests of, not only Floridians, but the country at heart.
TIMOTHY EUGENE “TIM” SCOTT – Republican Senator from South Carolina
Scott is a realtor and financial advisor and former United States Representative (2011-2013). He was appointed to his senate seat by Governor Nikki Haley in 2013, upon the resignation of Jim DeMint. He is the first Republican African-American from South Carolina, and one of only two serving in the United States Senate. In 2014, he won a special election to fill out the term of DeMint.
Unfortunately, there is no other way to describe Scott than to call him and evangelical, hard-right, Republican who tows the party line, and brings his Biblical beliefs to the party.
When asked about poverty and welfare, Tim Scott said:
“I started my small business, in a small apartment with some friends. I was a poor kid growing up in a single parent household. I was losing myself. I had lost my way. I flunked out of high school as a freshman. I failed World Geography, Civics. Now think about that; a United States Senator who failed Civics. I used to think I was the only one, and when I became a member of the Senate, I realized that there might be a few more who didn’t pass Civics either, and then I failed Spanish and English. Now, when you fail Spanish AND English, they don’t call you bi-lingual. Nope, they call you bi-ignorant, because you can’t speak any language, and that’s where I found myself.
“That why I give so much credit to [my mentor] John Monis, a Chick-Fil-A operator. He came along at the right time. John Monise taught me that you can think your way out of poverty. That Citadel graduate taught me that if you really want to escape poverty, it comes through the power of education.”26
He has been previously endorse by American Conservative Union, American Veterinary Medical Association, Eagle Forum, FreedomWorks, National Rifle Association, South Carolina National Federation of Independent Business, and Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance.
As of yet, he has drawn no opposition from either party, and given South Carolina’s conservative nature, it is doubtful that a Democrat could be successful against the power and the money behind Scott. But, we can be hopeful – right?
RICHARD CRAIG SHELBY – Republican Senator from Alabama
Shelby is a former attorney and former United States Representative (1979-1987). He has been a United States Senator since 1987. Initially, Shelby was a Democrat and part of a group of Conservative Democrats known as the Boll Weevils. During his second term in office, he switched to the Republican Party. That was, undoubtedly, the best fit for Shelby.
As another hard-core conservative he stands with the party, and the religious right, on all issues. His endorsements and support come from Americans for Legal Immigration, Campaign for Working Families, National Federation of Independent Business, National Rifle Association, National Right to Life Committee, and the Christian Coalition.
We are talking about Alabama here. The likelihood that much is going to change is almost non-existent. Shelby has a pretty good lock on that Senate seat, and thus far, it appears that he will face little to no challenge. One Democratic candidate has filed – Ron Crumpton. I can pretty much guarantee that he will receive zilch in the way of backing. He is not very well known, stands on pretty much one issue – the legalization of marijuana – has no money, and promises to fizzle very quickly.
JOHN RANDOLPH THUNE – Republican Senator from South Dakota
Thune is a former United States Representative (1997-2003) He was elected to the Senate in 2004. His name has consistently been raised for both a Vice Presidential and Presidential candidacy.
Thune is another hard-core conservative, evangelical who votes consistently along those lines. He has raised $800,000 in the first quarter, but that’s not all – that $800,000 brought the amount in his coffers to over $10 million.27
The Democrats have a history of not even trying in South Dakota. It appears that might very well be the case again. Shame on them. So far, Thune hasn’t gained any challengers – wonder what he is going to spend all that money on.
PATRICK JOSEPH “PAT” TOOMEY – Republican Senator from Pennsylvania
Toomey is a businessman and former United States Representative (1999-2005). After that he served as the president of the Club for Growth. He was first elected to the United States Senate in 2010.
According to Politico: “…the Club for Growth is the pre-eminent institution promoting Republican adherence to a free-market, free-trade, anti-rregulation agenda.”28
Toomey is certainly a corporate tool, and a formidable fundraiser. He is endorses and supported by Business-Industry Political Action Committee, Campaign for Working Families, Catholic Families USA, Citizens United Political Victory Fund, Firearms Owners Against Crime, FreedomWorks, National Federation of Independent Business, National Rifle Association, National Right to Life Committee, One Nation PAC, Pennsylvania National Federation of Independent Business, Republican Liberty Caucus, Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Club for Growth.
This is going to be one of the most interesting campaigns of the 2016 elections. Toomey will meet Everett Stern, a Security Intelligence Consultant and whistleblower, in a primary. Ed Pawlowski, former Allentown Mayor and gubernatorial candidate, and Joe Sestak, former Congressman and retired Navy Admiral, both Democrats, have entered the race. Anything is possible, but there will be drama.
DAVID BRUCE VITTER – Republican Senator from Louisiana
Vitter is a lawyer and former adjunct professor as well as a former United States Representative (1999-2005) He was elected to the United States Senate in 2005.
In 2007, Vitter found himself in all kinds of hot water when it was revealed that his phone number had shown up on the D.C. Madam’s list. Of course, he would later publicly take responsibility for his “sin” with his wife standing by his side.
His penchant for a little on the side doesn’t temper his politics, however, he is the epitome of conservatism believing he protecting family values with his stands against abortion and same-sex marriage. As part of his penance for his lascivious behaviors, a few months after the scandal Vitter would earmark $100,000 for a the Louisiana Family Forum. The group’s focus was on challenging the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Vitter would explain that it was his way to help promote better science education.29
Vitter has lots of money behind him because he does the bidding of those to whom he is beholden. But, here’s the deal…Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, has reached his term limit. Vitter has announced his candidacy for that position. In his announcement he made the following statement:
“After much prayer, thought, and discussion with Wendy and our children, I have decided to run for governor of Louisiana in 2015,” Vitter said in his video announcement. “Let me first assure you that this decision will in no way limit the critical work I’m doing today in the U.S. Senate—representing you and your family will continue to be my top priority, but I believe as our next governor I can have a bigger impact addressing the unique challenges and problems we face in Louisiana.”30
The Louisiana Gubernatorial election will take place on October 24, 2015, with four candidates seeking that seat. Should Vitter win, he would then appoint someone to fill out his term.
This one will be a very interesting race. Why would anyone in Louisiana vote for a Republican? Well, why would any woman or minority vote for a Republican? Your guess is as good as mine.
- Meyers, Jim. “Newsmax Exclusive: The 25 Influential Women of the GOP” “http://www.newsmax.com/politics/newsmax-top-25-women/2013/07/31/id/518085/
- Middle Aged Woman Talking. Will Romney Choose Another Sarah Palin as an Answer to the War on Women? http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/05/02/will-romney-choose-another-sarah-palin-as-an-answer-to-the-war-on-women/
- USA Today. Blunt, Delay Shared Connections to Lobbyist Abramoff January 11, 2006. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-01-11-blunt-delay_x.htm
- Brown, Elizabeth & Knott, Alex. The Indictment of a System. http://www.publicintegrity.org/2005/11/21/5535/indictment-system
- Brantley, Max. Arkansas polling: Beebe could beat Boozman; Hillary falls to all Republicans. http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2014/08/06/arkansas-polling-beebe-could-beat-boozman-hillary-falls-to-all-republicans
- Stein, Sam. Veterans Groups Rip Into Sen. Richard Burr for Questioning Their Priorities. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/25/richard-burr-veterans_n_5389296.html
- Eaton, Joshua. Powerful Senate Republican Tamping Down Torture Disclosures. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/2/25/key-senate-republican-tamping-down-torture-disclosures.html
- Miller, Jake. CBS News. Senator Mike Crapo pleads guilty to DUI charge. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sen-mike-crapo-pleads-guilty-to-dui-charge/
- Meet the Gang of Six. http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ef45ghifi/mike-crapo-republican-2/
- Kleefeld, Eric. Flashback: Republican Candidate Hoeven Rejected GOP and Declared Himself a Democrat in 1996. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/flashback-republican-senate-candidate-hoeven-rejected-gop-and-declared-himself-a-democrat-in-1996
- Hess, Hannah. Rep. Johnson Denies His Office Sat on Whistleblower Tips. http://blogs.rollcall.com/hill-blotter/ron-johnson-denies-his-office-sat-on-whistleblower-tips/
- Chris Cillizza. Aaron Blake, & Sean Sullivan. Why Republicans’ Senate Majority Could be Very Short-Lived. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/11/07/why-republicans-senate-majority-could-be-very-short-lived/
- Smith, Ben. Politico. Kirk: ‘I command the war room in the pentagon.’ http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0510/Kirk_I_command_the_war_room_in_the_Pentagon.html
- Bryant, Steve. 5 NBC Chicago. What Would Kirk Be Saying if the Post Hadn’t Mentioned Giannoulias? http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/What-Would-Kirk-Be-Saying-if-the-Post-Hadnt-Mentioned-Giannoulias-95292714.html
- Todd Lightly, John Chase and Rick Pearson. Chicago Tribune. Lirk apologizes for misstatements about military career. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-06-03/news/ct-met-mark-kirk-military-record-060420100603_1_military-gulf-war-democratic-senate
- Pallasch, Abdon. Kirk says he ‘misremembered’ military record. http://chicago.suntimes.com/
- Dolan, Eric W. Raw Story. Oklahoma’s Senator Elect to use ‘biblical worldview’ to defeat the national debt. http://www.rawstory.com/2014/11/oklahomas-senator-elect-to-use-biblical-worldview-to-defeat-the-national-debt/
- Israel, Josh. Think Progress. What the Oklahoma Congressman Who Just Announced A Senate Campaign Thinks About LGBT Americans. http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/01/21/3184661/anti-lgbt-james-lankford/
- Raju, Manu. Politico. Tea partier braces for primary challenge from the establishment. http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/mike-lee-tea-party-2016-elections-113730.html
- Arkin, James. Real Clear Politics. Mike Lee on 3 GOP Candidates’ Strengths, Weaknesses. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/04/10/mike_lee_on_3_gop_candidates_strengths_weaknesses_126222.html
- Wise, Lindsay. McClatchy Washington Bureau. Conservatives take notice of Jerry Moran’s vote with Senator Ted Cruz on omnibus spending bill. http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article4732188.html
- Hancock, Peter. LJWorld.com. Sens. Roberts and Moran explain signing letter to Iran. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2015/mar/14/sens-roberts-and-moran-defend-signing-letter-iran/
- New York Times. April 7, 2015. Rand Paul on the Issues. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/us/politics/rand-paul-on-the-issues.html?_r=1
- Weinberg, Ali. ABC News. Rand Paul No-Show at Senate Vaccine Hearing in The Wake of Controversial Comments. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/rand-paul-show-senate-vaccine-hearing-controversial-comments/story?id=28868892
- Farley, Robert. FactCheck.org. April 13, 2015. FactChecking Marco Rubio. http://www.factcheck.org/2015/04/factchecking-marco-rubio/
- Speech at 2014 CPAC Convention. March 6, 2014. http://www.ontheissues.org/2014_CPAC.htm
- Doering, Christopher. Argus Leader. April 20, 2015. Thune raised $800,000 in first quarter. http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/politics/2015/04/20/thune-raises-first-quarter/26095001/
- Burns, Alexander & Palmer, Anna. Politico.com. April 7, 2014. Inside the Club for Growth’s art of war. http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/inside-the-club-for-growths-art-of-war-105415.html
- Eggler, Bruce. The Times-Picayune. September 22, 2007. Vitter earmarked federal money for creationist group. http://blog.nola.com/times-picayune/2007/09/vitter_earmarked_federal_money.html
- Izadi, Elahe. National Journal. January 21, 2014. Sen. David Vitter Makes His 2015 Run for Governor Official. http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/sen-david-vitter-makes-his-2015-run-for-governor-official-20140121