Democrats Move to Protect Vulnerable Senate Incumbents

Monday, 07 Apr 2014 09:53 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Democrats hoping to stem the tide in November midterm elections are coming together to protect Senate colleagues in tight races, Politico reported.

"We try to showcase our members who are up for re-election so they have a chance to shine and show what they believe in, why they are seeking re-election in their states," Democratic Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said. "I think it helps a lot."

The GOP is hammering Obamacare and Democrats who voted for the president's signature domestic legislation. To bolster their own candidates and change the narrative, the Democratic leadership is positioning some of its most susceptible senators in high-profile situations, according to Politico.

Arkansas' Mark Pryor has been given the lead on a bill to keep the Medicare eligibility age from rising beyond 65. Pryor is currently trailing his GOP challenger, Tom Cotton, by 9 points, according to a Hickman Analytics poll released last month.

"We have over 500,000 people in our state who are on Medicare, and it's a very important part of their lives," Pryor has said. Politico quoted a Cotton campaign spokesman as saying that "anyone who voted for Obamacare, as Sen. Pryor did, can't credibly claim to be 'protecting Medicare.'"

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is spearheading an energy efficiency bill, co-sponsored with Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, which Democrats hope will resonate in Shaheen's state.

In North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan will go on the offensive — advocating for long-term unemployment benefits — to change course from the hammering she has taken over her support for Obamacare, according to a Raleigh News & Observer story earlier this year.

Hagan has also introduced a bipartisan Sportsmen's and Public Outdoor Recreation Traditions Act, which expands access to federal public lands. The bill may garner support from hunting enthusiasts.

Colorado's Mark Udall and Louisiana's Mary Landrieu are looking to "fast-track U.S. natural gas imports — a key industry in their states," according to Politico.

Other options include "bequeathing" a veterans bill to Montana Sen. John Walsh, who served in the Montana National Guard for 30 years, and taking up manufacturing legislation from Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, according to Politico.

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