- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2014

Democratic Party officials increasingly say they are convinced that their candidates will beat this year’s tough election cycle, retain the party’s majority in the U.S. Senate and maybe even flip some GOP strongholds from red to blue.

It’s a tall order that would require Democrats to overcome a lopsided 2014 electoral map, the drag of their party’s unpopular president and an almost daily uproar over White House blunders.

But the party’s strategists said they’ve devised a winning formula of keeping Democratic campaigns focused on local issues and not President Obama while demonizing Republican challengers as right-wing extremists or puppets of billionaire activists David and Charles Koch.


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PHOTOS: Democrats insist candidates will retain control of Senate, Republican aren't buying 'spin'


That’s why House Democrats are expanding their map of targeted GOP districts and Senate Democrats are eyeing pickups in deep red Kentucky, Georgia and possibly Mississippi.

“In each competitive Senate race right now there is a clear contrast between a Democratic candidate who is focused on creating opportunities for the middle class and is willing to disagree with their own party leadership and a Republican candidate that is beholden to the tea party and Koch brothers,” said Justin Barasky, national press secretary for Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

In three of the six other close races for Democrat-held seats, party officials point to polls showing consistent leads for incumbent Sens. Mark Begich in Alaska, Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Mark Udall in Colorado. Democrats also insisted they are in striking distance of victory in tight races in Kentucky, Georgia and Mississippi. (Associated Press photographs)
In three of the six other close races for Democrat-held seats, party ... more >

“That’s what Republican Senate candidates embody up and down the map,” he said.

Democrats dismiss the notion that they are tainted by Mr. Obama’s low approval ratings or the steady stream of bad news and controversies flowing out of the White House.

In just the last week, Democrats had to contend with the administration announcing unpopular new environmental rules for power plants, more horror stories from dysfunctional Veterans Affairs hospitals and blowback from Mr. Obama’s prisoner swap of five top Taliban terrorists for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Senate races are a choice between the two candidates on the ballot. They do not live and die with whatever is happening in the White House, no matter which party is in power,” said Mr. Barasky. “It’s why we feel very confident about holding the majority.”

Republicans aren’t buying the Democrats’ optimistic outlook.

“The Democrats are panicked,” said Brook Hougesen of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, calling their confidence mere “spin.”

“Democratic strategists are saying, ‘We can win.’ In other news, the sky remains blue,” said Ms. Hougesen. “Yet, it looks like Obama is already abandoning Democrats on the ballot. Evidence suggests that five months prior to Election Day, the president is trying to unilaterally push through liberal executive [actions] in preparation for a Republican takeover of the Senate.”

Senate Republicans would have to gain a net of six seats in November to wrest control of the chamber from Democrats, who have nine seats in toss-up elections this year, three of which they will are widely seen as likely to lose — Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia.

In three of the six other close races for Democrat-held seats, party officials point to polls showing consistent leads for incumbent Sens. Mark Begich in Alaska, Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Mark Udall in Colorado.

What’s more, Democrats insisted they are in striking distance of victory in tight races to unseat Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, claim the open Georgia seat of retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss, or possibly pick up the Mississippi seat if tea party-backed Chris McDaniel bests six-term Sen. Thad Cochran in a vicious Republican primary runoff June 24.

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