Wishful thinking or a good bet? A memo the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is circulating Monday morning promotes the idea that incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, is vulnerable in his re-election bid next year.
The memo includes a checklist of reasons, including that Burr has never been tested in a close campaign, after being elected to the Senate in 2004 and re-elected in 2010, which were strong GOP showings nationwide. The Democrats contend that 2016’s higher presidential turnout will be a good thing for Democrats, and will be boosted by what they portray as an unpopular governor and state legislature.
Backing that up is the contention that Kay Hagan’s extremely close loss to Thom Tillis for Senate last year, which was the most expensive race in the country, should have been part of a Republican wave bolstered by a huge infusion of outside money.
Despite a strong Democratic showing in 2008, the party got clobbered in 2012. But the DSCC puts the blame on gerrymandered election maps: Democratic House candidates received slightly more votes overall than Republican House candidates.
Still, there are a lot of “if’s” in the DCSS’s 2016 campaign scenario, and even that group concedes that North Carolina is a battleground state that neither side can feel confident about winning yet.
And there’s another problem in the Democrats’ strategy: They don’t have a candidate yet. Hagen ended weeks of speculation recently by announcing she would not run for Burr’s seat. A handful of potential contenders has been making the rounds, but nothing firm yet.
Update: “The panic coming from the DSCC on North Carolina is breathtaking and this flailing memo is just the latest failed attempt to stop the bleeding when it comes to their massive recruiting failures across the map this cycle,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Matt Connelly emailed in response.