Running Scared

Senate Democrats flee from Obama


Vulnerable Senate Democrats in several states are running for re-election and away from President Obama in 2014.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) is facing a difficult fight against Republican challenger Rep. Tom Cotton, with Pryor saddled particularly by his support for Obamacare. The president’s health care law is deeply unpopular there, and Pryor has done his best to distance himself, pronouncing himself “disappointed” with Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. A vulnerable Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) also said she was displeased with Obama’s speech, particularly for not tackling the issue of the Keystone Pipeline.

Sen. Mark Begich (D., Ala.) said flatly he did not want Obama to campaign with him as he seeks re-election in Alaska, and Sen. Mark Udall (D., Colo.) repeatedly dodged CNN reporter Dana Bash’s questions about whether he’d welcome Obama’s assistance on the trail.

In North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) made headlines earlier this month when she skipped an Obama appearance in her home state, telling reporters she couldn’t make the speech because the Senate was in session. One reporter quipped it was the equivalent of making the “washing my hair” claim. Hagan faces dismal poll numbers, also in part for her support for Obamacare.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) told Bash earlier this week he would encourage Democrats to have Obama appear alongside them to drum up support, but he struck a different tone a day later, after the president’s tepid State of the Union.

“It’s up to individual senators,” Reid said. “I can’t tell them who to ask to campaign for them. That’s up to them.”