Obamacare Spurs More GOP Senate Candidates

Image: Obamacare Spurs More GOP Senate Candidates Rep. Cory Gardner

Monday, 03 Mar 2014 08:57 AM

By Courtney Coren

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The weakened Democratic party, following the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, has opened up doors to new GOP Senate candidates to make bids for seats that were considered unwinnable a year ago.

One of those candidates is Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who announced Feb. 26  that he will challenge Sen. Mark Udall in The Centennial State, giving the Republicans more hope that they will be able to take back the majority in the Senate and unseat Udall, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Gardner, who is considered a rising star in the GOP, declined to run when he was first approached by GOP officials over the summer, as he currently occupies a safe House seat, and Udall was ahead by 10 points over the Colorado Republican and other candidates in hypothetical matchups in an April poll by Public Policy Polling.

But problems surrounding the rollout of the new healthcare law have changed the field in Colorado, as Obama's falling approval rating has taken its toll on the Colorado Democrat.

In a Quinnipiac poll released in early February, Udall's double-digit lead had shrunk over potential candidates to just a few points.

"We don't know if the [political] environment is better," Gardner told The Journal. But "it certainly feels like it has turned a corner."

The same is true in North Carolina and Virginia. Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina is now considered one of the top six most vulnerable Senate Democrats going into the November midterms. She has been aligned with Obamacare in ads by conservative groups in recent months.

The shifting political field has also led Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, to make a run against Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia.

GOP officials are keeping a close eye on whether former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown will challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire.

The Journal reported in January that five Senate seats that Obama carried in 2012 are now considered vulnerable — Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, and New Hampshire. The GOP needs to pick up six seats to have a majority in the Senate.

These are in addition to the Senate seats in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina that were already considered vulnerable in November.

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