Four Red-State Democrats on The Hot Seat in 2014
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 09:28 PM
By: Cynthia Fagen
They supported Obamacare on red-state turf.
Now, four Democratic senators in Republican stronghold states face brutal campaigns to retain their seats in this year's mid-term elections.
If voters oust Democrat Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Mark Pryor (Arkansas) and Kay Hagan (North Carolina), it could help tip the balance of power toward a GOP Senate majority.
Democrats currently hold a 53-45 advantage in the Senate, with two independents, who caucus with Democrats. But, the Democrats hold on the Senate appears to be slipping.
Besides the four incumbent Democrats campaigning in red-state territory, five of the six senators retiring this year are Democrats.
In North Dakota, former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds is the front runner to replace retiring Democratic Tim Johnson's.
West Virginia Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito leads Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in the race to replace Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
And Democrats seats will be open in Montana, Michigan and Iowa.
With so many open seats, and so much at stake, the pressure is intense on Democrats Begich, Landrieu, Pryor and Hagan to retain their seats.
Here's a look at their races:
Sen. Mark Begich
Alaskan voters have given him the cold shoulder for supporting the Affordable Care Act, despite joining a handful of Democrats denouncing the disastrous rollout and proposing their own solution.
"I am not waiting for the president’s promise. I want to see results,” Begich said.
He's also been the target of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network for towing the party line and backing Majority Leader Harry Reid on invoking the nuclear option that made it easier to confirm President Obama's judicial nominees they charge are too liberal to preside on the bench.
Hot on his heels to replace him are Republicans Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, Joe Miller and Sean Parnell.
Sen. Mary Landrieu
Landrieu has her eye on the chair of the Energy Committee in 2015. A big backer of the oil and gas sector, the mainstay of the state economy, she told the Times-Picayune in April. "I'm indispensable," referring to her ability to "secure for Louisiana a significant and reliable string of revenue."
But critics say that behind the scenes her political action committee, Jazz PAC, has contributed nearly $400,000 to re-elect Senate opponents of the oil and gas industry. They claim she says one thing but does another that undermines the Bayou state's economy.
Her most prominent challenger is GOP Congressman Bill Cassidy.
Sen. Mark Pryor
The two term-incumbent voted for Obamacare, which is as unpopular as the president himself in the Bible-belt state.
Pryor's backing of so-called left-leaning judicial nominees hasn't earned him a lot of support either which has also put him in the crosshairs of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.
In an effort to woo the religious right Pryor recruited the Good Book in his TV campaign ads.
"The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers. Only God does. And neither political party is always right…This is my compass. My North Star. It gives me comfort and guidance to do what's best for Arkansas."
The one time co-chair of the National Prayer Breakfast, is being closely pursued by GOP Rep. Tom Cotton.
Sen. Kay Hagan
She cast the deciding vote for Obamacare and the reverberations have cost her a substantial lead as the last Democrat holding an elected seat in the state.
She's repeated "you can keep your plan if you like it" promise at least two dozen times, a line that PolitiFact named its "Lie of the Year" for 2013.
To stem the backlash in the Tar Heel State she's distancing herself from Obamacare, calling for two oversight agencies, the Government Accountability Office and the inspector general for the Health and Human Services Dept. to investigate the disastrous Affordable Care Act rollout.
She's got the thinnest margin against state House Speaker Thom Tillis.