An influential anti-tax group on Wednesday snubbed the Republican establishment pick challenging Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and endorsed a tea party-backed candidate.
The Club for Growth political committee announced its support for Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle over former state GOP chair Sue Lowden. It was the latest blow to Lowden, who has stumbled after suggesting that patients should barter for health care with chickens.
"Sharron Angle is the true economic conservative in the Nevada Senate race, a candid, commonsense leader with the courage to stand up against liberal big spenders in both parties," Club for Growth president Chris Chocola said.
Reid, the Democratic leader, is lagging in polls behind a crowded cast of Republican hopefuls.
The primary is June 8.
Political litmus tests have left Republicans with a narrower party and weaker candidates, Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine said Wednesday, a day after a tea party favorite won a GOP Senate nomination in Kentucky.
Kaine, the former governor of Virginia, painted an optimistic picture for his party heading into midterm elections that typically see the party controlling the White House lose seats in Congress. He said tea party favorite Rand Paul's win over Trey Grayson puts the Kentucky race in play and threatens the GOP's appeal.
But Kaine also acknowledged the challenges in a hostile environment. Sen. Arlen Specter lost his bid for a sixth term despite the backing of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Obama-backed Democrats in four races have lost in the past year, including a stunning defeat in the Massachusetts Senate race in January.
"We are running against a significant headwind," Kaine said.
He did crow about a Democratic win in a special election to replace the late-Rep. John Murtha in Pennsylvania.
"The (Republican) party's failure to take a seat also shows that while conventional wisdom holds that this cycle will be tough for Democrats, the final chapter on this year's elections is far from written." Kaine said.
About another high-profile race in Pennsylvania, Kaine only spoke briefly during luncheon remarks at the National Press Club.
Sen. Arlen Specter, who left the Republican Party last year in the face of a primary challenge, lost his bid to seek re-election as a Democrat. Rep. Joe Sestak won the Democratic nomination after a bitter primary.
"Now, it's true that Sen. Arlen Specter fell short in yesterday's Pennsylvania senatorial primary. ... But while the Senate will be losing a talented and courageous public servant, Joe Sestak has also been a supporter of the president's agenda and has definitely showed that he will be a great campaigner for us this fall," Kaine said.
-- The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee remains undefeated in special elections this cycle. Their backed candidates have now won seven special elections in a row, although it's likely that streak will end in Hawaii's special election on Saturday.
-- The Denver Post on Wednesday reported a groan-drawing exchange between Republican Senate candidate Jane Norton and a voter in Wray, Colo. "I'm true to conservative principles, and we need people who will have broader appeal," she said when asked why she was a better candidate than fellow Republican Ken Buck. She then turned to a nearby staffer, Cinamon Watson. "Cinamon, what else?"
-- Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick dodged a potential Democratic primary challenge. Long-shot community organizer Grace Ross fell short of collecting enough signatures to challenge Patrick, an Obama ally whose popularity has faltered and fundraising has lagged in an anti-incumbent year.