Senate candidate Mike Johanns (R) is set today to hold a fundraiser that is being hosted by 14 Republican Senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Minority Whip Trent Lott (Miss.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R), whom Johanns hopes to replace.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has declined to pick sides in the GOP Senate primary, which features Johanns — the former governor and ex-Agriculture secretary — and state Attorney General Jon Bruning. But Johanns’ fundraiser, which is scheduled for this evening at NRSC headquarters, suggests Johanns has the tacit support of the committee and a sizable chunk of the GOP Conference.
Johanns definitely appears to be the choice of the Republican establishment on Capitol Hill. Among those Senate Republicans listed as “welcoming and supporting U.S. Senate candidate Mike Johanns” on the candidate’s fundraiser invitation are McConnell, Lott, Hagel, and Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kit Bond (Mo.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Norm Coleman (Minn.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Ted Stevens (Alaska).
Democrats, meanwhile, are still searching for a candidate. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) said last month that he would not run, leaving Democrats to turn to Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey and 2006 3rd district nominee Scott Kleeb. Both have said they are considering running for Senate next year, but neither has revealed his plans as of yet.
— David M. Drucker