- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Democrats running in competitive Senate races are giddy about the prospect of businessman Donald Trump leading Republicans into the fall election, confident that their GOP rivals could get swallowed up in an anti-Trump undertow.

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is running to unseat Sen. Rob Portman, pounced on the news Wednesday that his successor, John Kasich, planned to suspend his presidential bid, following in the footsteps of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and clearing the way for Mr. Trump to become the GOP’s standard-bearer.

“Today, we know that Rob Portman will be running alongside Donald Trump,” Mr. Strickland said in a fundraising email.

“For nearly a year, as Donald Trump spewed hate, mocked people with disabilities, attacked POWs, women and people of color, Rob Portman continued to back him,” he said. “Then he even took it a step further and said he ‘intends to support’ Trump if he is the GOP nominee.”

Republicans hold a 54-46 seat Senate majority.

To flip control of the chamber, Democrats would either need to net five seats or win four and the White House because the vice president holds the tie-breaking vote.

“Almost all of the most competitive presidential states also feature competitive Senate races, and Republicans are playing defense in most of those states,” said Kyle Kondik, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “It seems likely that the winner of the presidential race will probably also win the Senate, given this overlap.”

“So if things go south for Trump, one could imagine the Senate majority also slipping away, unless Republicans can quarantine Trump from having down-ballot impact,” he said.

Democrats are counting on blowback against Mr. Trump to help them in places like New Hampshire, where Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte is being challenge by the Maggie Hassan, the state’s Democratic governor.

The Hassan campaign on Wednesday tied Mrs. Ayotte to Mr. Trump and mocked her plans to support — but not “endorse” — the GOP nominee.

“The people of New Hampshire will soundly reject the Trump-Ayotte ticket in November,” said Aaron Jacobs, spokesman for Mrs. Hassan’s Senate campaign.

It is a similar story in Nevada, where Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto’s campaign highlighted the video footage of Rep. Joe Heck, the likely Republican nominee, saying he “will support whoever the nominee is coming out of the convention.”

The Nevada race is for the seat being vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Mr. Heck is running for the GOP nomination in a crowded GOP primary that includes tea party favor Sharron Angle, who lost to Mr. Reid in 2010.

“No matter who emerges from the Republican primary for Senate, Sharron Angle or Congressman Heck, Nevadans will have a Republican nominee who shares Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda that would tear families apart,” said Zach Hudson, spokesman for the Masto campaign.

“Whether it’s Trump-Angle, or Trump-Heck, Nevadans will reject this anti-immigrant ticket and elect Catherine Cortez Masto to the Senate to focus on solving problems like passing comprehensive immigration reform, raising the minimum wage and creating an economy that works for everyone, not just billionaires like Donald Trump,” Mr. Hudson said.

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