TIME 2014 Election

The 6 Feistiest Ads From the Battle To Be Arizona’s Next Governor

Senate Judiciary Cmte Holds Hearing On Americans' Access To Voting Booths
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee about voter rights at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill December 19, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

One Republican ad for governor in Arizona includes screaming sheep

The Arizona gubernatorial primary election is just four days away, and for months now, Arizonans have been hearing the six Republican candidates on the ballot fight over who can do one thing best: stop illegal immigration.

Arizona has long been at the center of the national immigration policy debate, especially this year as record numbers of unaccompanied minors crossed the Mexico-United States border. Current Republican governor Jan Brewer—who championed the state’s controversial SB1070, or “show-me-your-papers,” law—is term-limited, and the race to take up her mantle has been feisty. Candidates’ soundbites at a gubernatorial debate in late July included Ken Bennett, Arizona’s current secretary of state, saying, “a good neighbor doesn’t hop your fence, break into your garage, and live out of your freezer;” former California Congressman Frank Riggs adding that he would have credibility with Congress because he knows where the men’s room is at the Capitol; and Scott Smith, former mayor of Mesa, Arizona, comparing his competitors’ promises to carnival games.

The Republican nominee will face Democratic challenger Fred DuVal, former president of the Arizona Board of Regents, who has been endorsed by Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly. Republican campaign advertisements, predictably, have centered on who would best protect the border. Here’s a roundup of the topline:

Scott Smith, former mayor of Mesa, Arizona, has Brewer’s endorsement. His spot features screaming sheep:

Ken Bennett, the Arizona secretary of state who asked Hawaii officials to verify President Barack Obama’s birthplace in 2012 before putting him on the state’s presidential ballot, says he’s a nice guy, and a tough one:

Doug Ducey, Arizona state treasurer and former Cold Stone Creamery CEO, snagged endorsements from Senator Ted Cruz and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

Christine Jones, attorney and former GoDaddy executive, got a boost this week from GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons, who contributed $1 million to a PAC backing her campaign:

Frank Riggs, former U.S. Representative, does pullups while discussing border security:

Andrew Thomas, former Maricopa county attorney, adds that he has “stood up to the gay lobby:”

TIME 2014 Election

This Democratic Senator Is Running on Obamacare in a Surprising New Ad

Hell freezes over

+ READ ARTICLE

Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is running in one of the tightest reelection races in the country, facing freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a U.S. Army veteran. So it may come as some surprise that in Pryor’s new ad released Wednesday, he chose to hone in on his support of President Barack Obama’s unpopular healthcare law.

In the personal new ad, Pryor’s father, David, a former senator himself, talks about his son’s battle with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in 1996. “When Mark was diagnosed with cancer, we thought we might lose him,” David Pryor says in a voiceover. “But you know what? Mark’s insurance company didn’t want to pay for the treatment that ultimately saved his life.”

By opening up about the struggle for his own life, Pryor aims to connect with his constituents. “No one should be fighting an insurance company when you’re fighting for your life,” he says in the ad. “That’s why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you’re sick or deny coverage from preexisting conditions.”

Pryor’s ad does at least three things right. First, he hones in on the most popular aspect of the Affordable Care Act: coverage for those with preexisting conditions, which has support across the aisle. “We all agree that nobody should be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition,” David Ray, a Cotton campaign spokesman, told TIME in an emailed statement.

Second, Pryor’s ad doesn’t use the term “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act’s nickname first coined by its critics. A Kaiser Health Tracking poll released August 1 found that a little over half of the public—53%—have an unfavorable view of Obamacare. But when referred to by a different name, the law’s negative ratings can decrease, polls show. One Kentucky poll in May found that while 57% of registered voters disliked “Obamacare,” only 22 percent had unfavorable views of Kynect, the state exchange created as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s passage in 2010.

Third, the ad includes his father, a former Congressman, Senator and Governor who is still a popular advocate despite being out of office for the better part of two decades.

And as Pryor runs on Obamacare, Senate Republican candidates and their supporters across the country have backed off on their attacks against the law. In April, anti-Obamacare advertising accounted for 54 percent of the issue ads in North Carolina, and almost all ads in Louisiana were focused on the health care law, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, as reported by Bloomberg. But by July, that number dropped to 27% in North Carolina and 41% in Louisiana.

This shift could be for a variety of reasons, including a renewed focus on the economy and jobs in this election cycle. But Republicans might also be reacting to a law that beat expectations, with higher enrollment figures and fewer than expected cancelled plans (1.9 million versus the purported 4.8 million, according to Health Affairs.) In Arkansas, the law reduced the percentage of uninsured from 22.5% to 12.4% over last year, according to Gallup. That 10.1% decline is the largest of any state in the nation.

Of course, Republicans stated goal on Obamacare remains “repeal and replace,” and ads could reemerge this fall even if premiums don’t increase. David Ray, a campaign spokesman for Pyror’s opponent, Cotton, told TIME in an emailed statement that the aforementioned pre-existing condition provision makes sense, but overall the law should be overturned as it raises health care costs and taxes and lowers wages.

“We thank God that Senator Pryor survived cancer, and we admire his courage in that fight,” wrote Ray. “However, we didn’t need Obamacare to change insurance regulations. We all agree that nobody should be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Obamacare raises taxes on the middle class, has caused millions of Americans to lose insurance plans they were promised they could keep, has doubled or even tripled premiums on families who can’t afford it, has caused lost wages and hours at work, and is preventing many small businesses from growing and hiring more people. Further, Senator Pryor has supported a taxpayer-funded bailout of big insurance companies that lose money as a result of Obamacare. We need to start over with reform that makes healthcare more affordable and keeps healthcare decisions between patients and doctors.”

TIME 2014 Election

Hawaii Democratic Senate Primary Finally Ends As Rep. Colleen Hanabusa Concedes

Colleen Hanabusa
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, left, and a group of supporters do some last minute campaigning near the polling place on Aug. 15, 2014, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Marco Garcia—AP

Hanabusa announced Tuesday she will not challenge the results of the Senate primary in court

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will not challenge the results of the close primary election between her and Sen. Brian Schatz, a race that came to an end an entire week after the originally scheduled primary.

In a statement published by several media outlets in Hawaii, Hanabusa said ,”though I will not be challenging the results of this election, I remain very concerned about the public’s confidence and trust in our election process.”

“I ask former colleagues and friends in the Hawaii State Legislature to explore what is necessary to ensure the people that their vote truly counts,” the statement continues. “I heard from many who feel strongly that they were disenfranchised from the voting process this election and I stand ready to support any collaborative effort to have those voices heard,” Hanabusa says.

Late last Friday the Associated Press called the race for Schatz, who beat Hanabusa by 1,769 votes following a rare one-day vote in two precincts in the rural Puna district of the Big Island of Hawaii. The district was ravaged by Tropical Storm Iselle, which downed trees and caused widespread power outages that kept voters from making it to the polls on Aug. 9.

Before last week’s election, Hanabusa filed a legal request to delay the election by a week so residents of Puna could focus on recovering from the storm, but a Hawaii judge denied the request. In interviews following the election, Hanabusa hinted that she might challenge the election in court.

On Tuesday, Schatz issued a statement congratulating Rep. Hanabusa for “waging a tough and spirited battle.”

“This election has been extraordinary from beginning to end. It took heart, teamwork and a belief that together we are making a real difference for our state and our country,” Schatz’s statement reads. “Now it is time for us to unite as we move forward to the general election.”

The election has been one of the toughest Democratic primaries this election season, but Schatz is expected to win the general election come November. A Republican hasn’t won a Senate election in Hawaii since 1970. Schatz and many Democrats believe his progressive stance, particularly his support for expanding Social Security, have and will carry him to victory in the general election.

TIME 2014 Election

Dan Sullivan Wins Alaska’s GOP Senate Primary

And it didn't take long for general election fight to begin in earnest

Former Alaska Natural Resources commissioner Dan Sullivan won a nasty—and with nearly $10 million spent, costly—GOP primary Tuesday to take on Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat vying for a second term — and it didn’t take long for the two campaigns to start slinging attacks at each other.

With 98.6% of precincts reporting, Sullivan garnered 40% of the vote to Tea Partier Joe Miller’s surprisingly strong 32% and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s embarrassing 23%. Though Miller had once threatened to run as an independent spoiler should he lose the primary, he said in recent weeks that he’d back the nominee. With the Republican Party finally united after an eight-month primary battle, Sullivan and Democrats quickly turned to the general election fight.

Labeling Sullivan an “Outsider” within minutes of the results, Democrats launched what will surely be the first of many attacks on what they call Sullivan’s carpetbagger status. Sullivan grew up in Ohio before joining the Marines. When he left the Corps in 1997, he moved to Alaska where he practiced law for five years before moving to Washington DC to join the Bush Administration in 2002. He returned to Alaska in 2007 to serve as then Gov. Sarah Palin’s attorney general and then director of the National Resources Commission.

“Alaska’s bitter and divisive Republican primary exposed that Dan Sullivan does not look out for what’s in the best interests of Alaskans,” said Matt Canter, deputy director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the Senate. “After carrying water for Sarah Palin and trying to restrict access to public lands for hunters and fishers, Sullivan is now hoping to do the Koch brothers’ bidding in the U.S. Senate.”

Republicans, meanwhile, worked to tie Begich, a former Anchorage mayor, to President Obama, who is disliked by six out of 10 Alaskan voters. “Mark Begich has championed the Obama agenda, and served on [Senate majority leader] Harry Reid’s leadership team that has brought the Senate to a grinding halt,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the Senate. “Even though Senator Begich has failed to pass even a single amendment during his five years in Washington, he has voted for the Obama agenda a staggering 97% of the time – including costly energy taxes, spending increases, and of course, ObamaCare.”

Alaska remains one of the most hard fought Senate races and the battle between Begich and Sullivan—and their outside groups— is only just ramping up. If Alaskans were hoping for a respite in the biting television ads and dirty mailers, it’s going to be another two and a half months yet.

TIME 2014 Election

Kentucky Democrat Got Discounted Bus Rental from Dad, Report Says

A Politico report suggests Alison Lundergan Grimes' bus may be being rented at a rate below market value

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic Senate candidate who hopes to unseat incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, came under fire on Tuesday after a report in Politico suggested her father may be renting out a 45-foot campaign bus to the candidate at a discounted price.

If true, the rented bus could spell trouble for Grimes with the Federal Election Commission. If the contribution was found to be in violation of federal law that prohibits accepting goods and services at prices below market value, her campaign would have to pay a hefty fine.

Politico’s analysis found that Grimes’s campaign paid about $456 a day for a bus used between last August and June owned by a company belonging to Jerry Lundergan, Grimes’ well-connected dad. Politico found four bus companies that typically charge between $1,500 and $2,000 a day to rent similar buses, and reported Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign paid about $2,200 a day to rent a similar bus earlier this summer.

In a statement sent to TIME on Tuesday, Grimes’ campaign lawyer Marc Elias denied the campaign had received a sweetheart deal for the bus. “The campaign obtained quotes for the rental cost of a comparable vehicle from other providers in the Kentucky and regional market, and arrived at a reasonable reimbursement cost. We have reviewed the campaign’s methodology and agree that it complies with the applicable rules.”

The McConnell campaign jumped at the opportunity to criticize Grimes over Politico‘s allegations. “The revelation that Alison Lundergan Grimes has potentially accepted large, illegal gifts and services from her father, Jerry Lundergan’s corporate interests is shocking and should set off warning bells for all Kentuckians concerned about ethics in public office,” McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton said.

A Real Clear Politics analysis considers the Kentucky senate race a toss-up, with McConnell currently leading Grimes by 3 points.

TIME 2014 Election

Why Joni Ernst Isn’t ‘Iowa’s Sarah Palin’

Iowa Politics
Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican Senate candidate, campaigns at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8, 2014. Tom Williams—CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Trying to turn her into a caricature, Democrats paint Ernst as “crazy”

Updated 8/18/14 at 1:08pm

Des Moines, Iowa

Standing before a crowd at the Iowa State Fair, perspiring slightly in sun that had finally emerged after two days of rain, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the crowd what she really thought about Republican Iowa Senate hopeful Joni Ernst.

“She’s like an onion of crazy; the more you peel back the layers, the more disturbing it is,” Wasserman Shultz said, followed by a cheer of audience approval.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee went up with a television ad on Monday entitled, “Joni Ernst & Sarah Palin¹s Tea Party Agenda Is Too Extreme For Iowa.”Joni Ernst is the only Republican Senate nominee in the country who chose to campaign with Sarah Palin because no one is more in line with Palin’s Tea Party ideas that are bad for Iowa families,” said Christina Freundlich, communications director of the Iowa Democratic Party. This is the conventional wisdom Democrats have been pushing in this too-close-to-call race between State Sen. Ernst and Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, also a Democrat: Ernst is an extreme, Tea Party nut job, the female version of Ted Cruz. The problem with this line of rhetoric is: it’s not true.

Ernst broke out in the primary, despite being enormously outspent by retired businessman Mark Jacobs, with a pair of innovative commercials. In one, she aims a gun at the camera while a narrator says, “Once she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni’s gonna unload.” Then she fires. In another, she talks about growing up on a farm castrating pigs, and how she knows how to “cut pork.” Both drew national attention for their boldness—some calling them Palinesque— and in that respect, they worked. With relatively little money or name recognition, Ernst won the GOP primary with 56% of the vote.

All primary candidates say things they inevitably regret in the General Election and Ernst is no exception. Since the General Election has begun, videos of Ernst talking about Agenda 21, a Glenn Beck conspiracy theory about the United Nations’ superseding U.S. laws, states nullifying federal laws and impeaching Obama have surfaced. Ernst has since backpedaled from all of these statements, saying the impeachment talk, in particular, was taken out of context, arguing that she was answering a hypothetical question.

To be sure, Ernst is more conservative than most Republicans in the Senate. She believes life begins at conception, and co-sponsored a personhood amendment in the Iowa State Senate. Personhood laws often ban several types of contraception, as well as Plan B, on the grounds that conception could have taken place already.

Ernst, who served more than 20 years in the military, including a deployment to Iraq, is also enthusiastically pro-gun. And if elected, she would make it one of her top priorities to repeal Obamacare. She also enjoys the support of those she has been lobbed together with: Cruz and Palin.

That said, Ernst’s other endorsements include Mitt Romney, whom she endorsed in the 2008 and 2012 Iowa caucuses, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. She’s also the only 2014 primary candidate to be backed by both the Chamber of Commerce and the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has funded Tea Partiers looking to usurp establishment candidates.

When asked which Senator she’d be most like, Ernst tells TIME she thinks she’d be like Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer. Fischer was elected as a little-known Tea Partier, and was also endorsed by Palin and accused of being the “Sarah Palin of Nebraska” by some Democrats at first, but has since proven to be a relatively quiet, self-described compromiser in the Senate. “We both come from Plains states and we have a lot in common both stylistically, and ideologically, speaking,” Ernst says.

Ernst’s campaign argues that in the State Senate, she has a record of bucking party lines in order to compromise. She pushed her leadership to pass the Valor Act, which banned lying about military medals; even though many had reservations that the bill violated the First Amendment. As a county auditor, she opposed a salary increase for county employees. Rather than simply opposing it, though, she did a survey of the county’s private businesses, asking if anyone was increasing salaries during the economic downturn.

The results built support opposing the salary bump. She also took on her own party to help pass bills which required public schools to test for dangerous toxins in their buildings, protected funding for mental health services for Iowans and allowed parents of children with severe epilepsy to buy non-addictive cannabis oil.

In other words, Ernst was hardly the bomb-throwing Ted Cruz of the Iowa Senate.

To compare Ernst to Palin these days isn’t fair either. Palin now is more of an entertainer akin to Rush Limbaugh than a politician. But Ernst does bear a resemblance to the politician Palin once was–the Palin who had an 80% approval rating in Alaska and saw through compromise legislation. As a new governor, Palin was never shy about taking on the establishment, a trait which helped make her name, but it wasn’t until her stint as John McCain’s pitbull VP choice that she became so polarizing.

To be fair, Republicans play the same comparison game with Democrats. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi is cartoon of “San Francisco extremism.” Wherever Sen. Elizabeth Warren goes, accusations of Typical Massachusetts Liberal follow. When Warren stumped for female candidates in Kentucky and West Virginia recently, Republicans tarred those candidates as “Elizabeth Warrens” of hyper-partisan extremists, which of course they weren’t.

It is hard enough to elect women to office where they still have less than 20% representation. It becomes exponentially harder when strong women are caricatured to political ends. This is no more true than with Republican women. There was a time when Democrats labeled Sen. Kelly Ayotte the “Sarah Palin of New Hampshire.” Ayotte has proven to be so un-Palinesque that Palin withdrew her endorsement years ago.

Now, it seems, Ernst is one Tina Fey sketch away from being unfairly boxed into a persona she is working hard to avoid.

TIME 2014 Election

Fact Checking Group Slams New Democratic Ad for ‘Deception’

Tom MacArthur
In this Thursday, April 24, 2014 photograph, candidate in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District, Tom MacArthur answers a question in Brick Township, N.J. Mel Evans—ASSOCIATED PRESS

Factcheck.org comes down on the DCCC but the Democratic group stands by the ad

The political fact checking site FactCheck.org slammed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Thursday over an ad the group described as deceptive, a characterization the DCCC disputes.

The ad was released by the DCCC in the New Jersey race between Republican Tom MacArthur and Aimee Belgard. It accuses MacArthur of “cheating disaster victims” while a CEO of a risk management company. MacArthur and Belgard are competing to fill the congressional seat being left open by GOP Rep. Jon Runyan, who is not seeking reelection.

Factcheck.org’s primary objection to the ad is that MacArthur was never personally cited for wrongdoing, but rather that his company was sued—twice—for mishandling insurance claims of Hurricane Ike and the 2008 Syre Fire in California, while MacArthur was chairman and CEO. Factcheck objects chiefly to a visual that placed MacArthur’s name above the quote “accused of cheating disaster victims.” The audio of the ad does say that MacArthur ran the insurance company, not that he was personally accused.

In a statement to TIME, the DCCC stood by the ad and criticized FactCheck.org for not contacting the group for comment before running it’s critique.

“If factcheck.org had called us before running their item, we would have happily shared the reality: that this ad clearly and accurately communicates to voters that under Tom MacArthur’s leadership, his company was accused of cheating disaster victims and he profited,” said DCCC spokesperson Emily Bittner.

 

TIME 2014 Election

Senate Democrats Launch $9-Million Ad Buy in North Carolina

Largest ad campaign so far for Democrats in key Senate race

Democrats started a large advertising buy in North Carolina’s contested Senate race on Wednesday with a new ad criticizing Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis’ record in the legislature.

The $9-million buy from the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee is the group’s largest so far this year. Tillis is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan in a race that could help decide which party controls the Senate next year.

The new 30-second titled in “Black and White” says Tillis cut funds from the state’s public schools while giving tax breaks to “yacht and jet owners.” The Republican-led North Carolina state legislature in 2013 cut education spending over the next two years by nearly $500 million dollars.

“North Carolina deserves better than Speaker Tillis and over the next three months the DSCC will continue to highlight just how wrong Speaker Tillis is for North Carolina,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The ad comes one day after Hagan’s campaign attacked Tillis’ education agenda, calling it “irresponsible” and “destructive” in large part due to Tillis’ proposal to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education.

“After doing so much damage in Raleigh, promising to eliminate the Department of Education as his first action is just one more reason Speaker Tillis has the wrong priorities,” Hagan said.

Tillis has called for the elimination of the Department of Education, but the Tillis camp, McClatchy reports, said he would preserve financial aid and assistance to schools and thinks there is room for the department to work better with states and be more efficient. Tillis has also been critical of Hagan’s record in Congress, saying she has introduced “zero bills that have become law.”

“Kay Hagan is one of the most ineffective senators in North Carolina’s history, having failed to sponsor a single bill that became law during her six years in Washington,” said Tillis’ communications director Daniel Keylin in a statement last week. “Instead of working across the aisle to pass laws benefitting North Carolina families, Hagan has put her liberal special interest allies first, rubber-stamping President Obama’s failed partisan agenda 95 percent of the time.”

The North Carolina Senate race is one of seven races deemed toss-ups by the Cook Political Report.

 

TIME 2014 Election

Immigration Not Top Election Issue on Arizona-Mexico Border

Martha McSally
Republican candidate for Arizona Congressional District 2, Martha McSally talks at a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. Ross D. Franklin—AP

Even on the southern border, economic concerns reign supreme

From a distance, freshman Rep. Ron Barber’s seat in southeastern Arizona, which sits along a long stretch of the Mexican border with Latinos making up over 25% of the population, seems like it would be ground zero in the midterm election battle over immigration. The race is one of the tightest in the country, with Barber likely facing retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, a Republican who came within one percent of beating Barber two years ago.

But if you look up close, immigration is not exactly the issue of the day in Arizona’s 2nd District. In interviews with TIME, Arizona Democratic and Republican donors and activists said that economic issues were eclipsing immigration in the battleground. “Immigration I think is a piece of it, [but] I don’t think it’s a determining factor,” says Edmund Marquez, a senior member of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce who supports McSally based upon her “strong” personality. “I think it’s more economy, more jobs, more fiscal responsibility.”

Arizona Democrats counter that Barber is best suited on economic issues, particularly on how to save the Davis-Monthan Air Force base—a top-three employer in Tucson, the largest city in the district—from potential cuts, despite McSally’s military background. The Administration requested in its budget for fiscal year 2015 to retire the A-10 aircraft, the main plane flown out of the base. “Congressman Barber has been working hard for several years with many of the civilian and military groups to protect the A-10 squadron,” says Dr. Don Jorgensen, the Chairman of the Pima County Democrats. “It’s Ron Barber who’s gotten the attention for the work he has done in essentially saving that investment.”

The local Democratic chair said local voter concern over immigration has actually faded in recent years. “Immigration is still there, just not the same level of intensity of two years ago…when it was front and center,” says Bill Roe, the chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party.

Outside groups have poured money into the race at unprecedented levels, but not on immigration issues. During the Administration’s fumbled rollout of the online health care exchange HealthCare.gov, conservative outside group Americans for Prosperity slammed Barber over the President’s “if you like the [health care] plan you have, you can keep it” line. The Democratic House Majority PAC, in turn, has hit at the ads funded in part by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, charging that McSally is tied to an anti-Social Security, minimum wage and Medicare agenda. Both campaigns refute the negative attacks.

The McSally and Barber campaigns have so far spent their money on positive ads that distance themselves from a historically unpopular Congress. In McSally’s only 2014 campaign video on her website, pictures of her in uniform—she was the first American woman to fly a fighter aircraft in combat (the A-10) and command a squadron—are interspersed with broad attacks on Washington. Barber’s first ad, “Home,” portrays himself as a longtime local businessman who was the fourth most likely Congressman to vote independent of his or her party. The ad does present securing the border as an issue, as well as blocking congressional pay raises, protecting Medicare and saving the A-10. According to Elizabeth Wilner, the senior political vice president for campaign ad tracker Kantar Media Intelligence, no ad in the race has focused on the border crisis.

There have been recent signs that McSally is willing to go after Barber on the issue of immigration. She released a statement bashing Barber for opposing the $694 million border bill that passed the House with Republican support two weeks ago. “Congressman Barber failed Southern Arizonans by voting against a bill to help secure our border and provide badly needed resources to deal with the humanitarian crisis,” she wrote. “Either he doesn’t understand how important this issue is or is more concerned with following his party’s wishes.”

In a statement to TIME, Barber said the vote was “essentially political theater,” since the House legislation has no chance of passing the Senate. He said the bill “did not provide the resources needed to secure the border or address the humanitarian crisis.” Barber added that he supported a recent proposal by Arizona Republican Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, which never got off the ground. That proposal would make legal changes to speed the deportation of undocumented children, added funding for more judges and increased the number of refugee visas that Central Americans could apply for from their home countries.

TIME 2014 Election

President Obama Suggests Upcoming Supreme Court Vacancy

The President suggests for the first time a Supreme Court vacancy in his final two years of office

President Barack Obama hinted at the possibility of an upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court Monday during a fundraiser for Senate Democrats.

Speaking to a group of donors to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on a break from his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Obama said he needs Democrats to hold a majority this year to fill vacancies to the high court.

“What’s preventing us from getting things done right now is you’ve got a faction within the Republican Party that thinks solely in terms of their own ideological purposes and solely in terms of how do they hang on to power,” Obama said. “And that’s a problem. And that’s why I need a Democratic Senate. Not to mention the fact that we’re going to have Supreme Court appointments, and there are going to be a whole host of issues that many people here care about that are going to be determined by whether or not Democrats retain the Senate.”

It was not the first time Obama has tied the Supreme Court to the midterm elections, but it was the first time Obama has explicitly suggested there would be a vacancy in his final years. Two of the Court’s left-leaning justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, 81 and 75 respectively, have been facing calls from Democrats to step aside before Obama leaves office in 2017 to ensure that their seats remain occupied by liberals in the event Republicans regain the White House.

Ginsburg brushed aside calls for her retirement last month in an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric. “All I can say is that I am still here and likely to remain for a while,” she said. Ginsburg has twice been treated for cancer while on the bench.

Obama successfully nominated Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in his first two years in office. If Democrats lose the Senate this November, Obama would find it nearly impossible to get a Supreme Court nominee with a liberal bent confirmed.

A White House spokesperson said Obama did not have a specific vacancy in mind Monday. “The President’s comments were meant to convey the important role the Senate would play in the event of a Supreme Court vacancy,” the spokesperson said. “They were not in reference to a specific vacancy.”

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