Election 2012: In Senate, a mighty struggle to maintain status quo
The battle for the Senate now looks like a standoff with neither Republicans nor Democrats likely to win the 60 seats needed for political control. Will partisan gridlock change after Election 2012?
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Among these contests are Republican Sen. Scott Brown versus consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren in liberal Massachusetts, and the campaign by Republican Linda McMahon, cofounder of World Wrestling Entertainment, to take down Rep. Chris Murphy (D) in left-leaning Connecticut.Skip to next paragraph
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On the other side, former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp is trying to beat Rep. Rick Berg (R) in right-leaning North Dakota, and Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly is vying against state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in conservative Indiana.
In each case, the candidates going against their state's presidential preference are championing their moderate bona fides and arguing that they wouldn't be a rubber stamp for their own party's agenda in Washington.
That's the case in Montana, where incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) and the state's only congressman, Denny Rehberg (R), are neck-in-neck in the polls while battling to answer one question: Who is more Montanan?
Senator Tester, the only member of Congress who works his family farm, has cut advertisements highlighting his vote against the Wall Street bailout package – and taking viewers on a spin on a combine around his farm in Big Sandy, Mont.
Representative Rehberg, who claims a ranching lineage five generations deep, also touts his independent streak. Although a member of the House Republican leadership, he twice voted against the GOP budget plan championed by Rep. Paul Ryan, now the party's vice presidential nominee, and criticized House leaders for failing to move on the farm bill.
The Montana Senate race may also be a proving ground for outside groups spending big money to try to tip it – and control of the Senate – their way. It has been flooded with more advertisements than any other Senate campaign – more than 44,500, according to the Wesleyan Media Group. That ad spending, $4.5 million, comes from the two campaigns and 19 outside groups, by Mr. Parker's count.