Sens. Ayotte, Kirk Grasping at Straws in Efforts to Keep Senate Seat

It’s common knowledge that Republican control of the US Senate is in jeopardy come Nov. 8th and two of those in danger of losing their seats are flailing. Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Paul Kirk of Illinois faced their Democratic challengers in debates this week and pulled out all the stops to convince voters they should return to Washington.

Kirk, who trails war hero Democrat Tammy Duckworth in the most recent polls, may have stepped over the line with a racially charged comment during a debate Thursday. Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq, commented, “”My family has served this nation in uniform, going back to the Revolution. I’m a daughter of the American Revolution. I’ve bled for this nation. But I still want to be there in the Senate when the drums of war sound. Because people are quick to sound the drums of war, and I want to be there to say this is what it costs, this is what you’re asking us to do. … Families like mine are the ones that bleed first.”

Democrat US Rep. Tammy Duckworth and US Sen. Mark Kirk.
Democrat US Rep. Tammy Duckworth and US Sen. Mark Kirk.

Kirk responded with a flippant remark, “I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.” First, sarcasm doesn’t become Kirk. She was born in Thailand and her mother is Thai. However, she can trace her paternal history back to at least the Civil War and possibly to the Revolutionary War. Nice job, Sen. Kirk.

Right now, it looks like Duckworth can be counted as one of four seats needed for Democrats to regain control of the Senate. (This is assuming Hillary Clinton wins and a Vice President Tim Kaine would break any ties.)

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte is fighting for her political life in New Hampshire. She has been hurt badly by her “I’m with Trump, I’m against Trump, I’m writing in Mike Pence” fence sitting yet she still is either tied or barely trailing in recent polls.

The thing about this race for The Shad is that in the Boston media market that includes a good portion of New Hampshire the political advertisements are off the charts. Thursday night during the NBC Nightly News’ first commercial break, the ads went like this: anti-Ayotte, anti-Maggie Hassan (the sitting Democratic governor), anti-Ayotte, pro-Ayotte, pro-Hassan. The back and forth took up the entire break except for one spot featuring Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker pitching a “yes” on a state ballot question.
It remains to be seen what happens in the Senate.

One emerging issue is what happens with the Supreme Court. With Sens. John McCain and Ted Cruz making noise that a Republican-majority Senate might stymie any Clinton nominee for the court for four years is putting even more importance on Democrats’ effort to win.

Other endangered Republican senators include Richard Burr of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio of Florida, Dan Coats of Indiana, and Roy Blunt of Missouri. Democrats pick up four of these (plus Ayotte or Kirk) and Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump, Democrats will control who becomes the next Supreme Court justice.