Post Politics: Congressional races

Rep. Jeff Flake wins backing of conservative kingmaker Jim DeMint in Arizona Senate race

Rep. Jeff Flake’s Senate campaign got a boost Monday afternoon from Sen. Jim DeMint, the influential South Carolina Republican and conservative kingmaker.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). (J. Scott Applewhite - Associated Press)
In a letter to members of his Senate Conservatives Fund, DeMint announced that he is backing Flake over businessman Wil Cardon in the Arizona Senate August GOP primary. Flake and Cardon are competing for the GOP nod in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

“When it comes to fighting wasteful Washington spending and parochial politics, nobody has done more to advance the cause of freedom than Jeff Flake. Nobody,” DeMint wrote.

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Scott Brown’s tax returns: A headache for Mitt Romney?

The same campaign advisers that have counseled Mitt Romney not to release several years’ worth of tax returns are counseling Sen. Scott Brown, who is running for re-election in Massachusetts, to do just the opposite.

Brown’s campaign plans to release six years’ worth of the Massachusetts Republican’s tax returns at the end of the week, the Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

And Brown’s campaign manager has penned a letter to Democrat Elizabeth Warren urging her to do the same.

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Congress and the campaign game (Monday’s Trail Mix video)

The Keystone XL oil sands pipeline takes center stage on Capitol Hill --­ again -- as congressional and campaign politics collide:

Ron Barber, former Gabby Giffords aide, sees race as call to civility

TUCSON, Ariz. — Ten miles down the road from the Safeway where he nearly lost his life last January, Ron Barber is holding court with some three dozen supporters.

It’s a sunny Thursday afternoon, 454 days since a bullet shot at point-blank range by alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner passed through former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) head, and 454 days since two separate bullets struck Barber, then Giffords’s district director, in the left cheek and thigh.

As he explains to volunteers his reasons for running to succeed his former boss in Congress, the bespectacled, soft-spoken Barber — who until recently walked with the aid of a cane — doesn’t shy away from mentioning the shooting that took the lives of six, left 13 wounded and would forever enter into the political lexicon the name of this city in the Sonoran Desert.

But he argues that the incident that almost ended his life was actually the beginning of something greater.

“We were not defined by the day of January the 8th,” he tells the volunteers gathered at his downtown campaign headquarters for a joint event with the No. 2 House Democrat, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.). “We were defined by what happened afterward.”

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Who will succeed Gabby Giffords? (Friday’s Trail Mix video)

Ron Barber, Gabby Giffords’s former district director, is running in this June’s special election and November’s general election for the Arizona Democrat’s former House seat.

Will he succeed?

We take a closer look at Barber’s candidacy in a separate piece this morning. But in the meantime, today’s Trail Mix video gives a preview of the race from the ground in Arizona:

The battle for the Senate kicks off (Thursday’s Trail Mix video)

Just as the Republican presidential primary has begun winding down, the race for the Senate is heating up. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has reserved $25 million in airtime, Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz reports. Which states will be the major battlegrounds? Today’s Trail Mix video takes a look:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce begins multi-million dollar ad campaign in congressional races

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a multi-million dollar ad blitz in House and Senate races across the country on Thursday.

Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Joshua Roberts - BLOOMBERG)

The launch marks the earliest start ever to the Chamber’s biennial ad campaigns in congressional races. The ads back Republicans in 11 House races and eight Senate contests. The group is supporting one Democrat: Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah.

“We’re engaging earlier and more aggressively than ever to educate constituents about which leaders recognize the role free enterprise plays in leading our economic recovery,” Chamber President Thomas Donohue said in a statement. “It comes down to a simple question: is big government or free enterprise the solution to our country’s economic problems?”

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