Congressional Leaders Hit October Campaign Sprint

By Jessica Brady and Anna Palmer, CQ-Roll Call

House and Senate leaders from both parties will be stumping across the country over the next month as they seek to defend, or knock off, vulnerable incumbents.

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) will be spending much of October in Nevada campaigning for a fifth term, other senior Democrats will be hitting the trail to campaign for Democrats in tough races.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the only Democratic leader not up for re-election this year, will be working to elect Illinois Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, who is running in a tight race against GOP Rep. Mark Steven Kirk for President Barack Obama ’s former Senate seat. Durbin will also be spending time with House candidates, including Democrat Dan Seals who is making his third try at winning a Congressional seat, as well as other Democratic candidates accross the country, according to his office.

Durbin may also travel for Reid, who remains locked in a tight race against GOP challenger Sharron Angle. Reid has held a narrow lead against the former state assemblywoman in recent weeks, and plans spend much of the next month campaigning and raising money to secure another term.

Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Wash.), another endangered incumbent, will similarly spend the next four weeks reminding voters that her leadership role and seat on the Appropriations Committee make her a valuable asset to the Evergreen State. Murray’s closer-than-expected race has received national attention, and this month she will be joined by Vice President Joseph R. Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama at separate campaign events.

With his re-election all but assured, Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) is expected to spend the month barnstorming his state to help fellow New Yorker Kirsten Gillibrand , who was appointed last year to fill the seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton . Gillibrand is running to serve out the remainder of Clinton’s term through 2012, and is heavily favored against former Rep. Joe DioGuardi (R). Schumer is facing a challenge from GOP political consultant Jay Townsend.

“He takes no vote for granted in his re-election campaign, and will be crisscrossing all 62 counties of New York just like he does every year,” said Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon.

Senate Republicans will be keeping equally hectic travel schedules through Election Day.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who has no opponent and is certain to win a second term, will travel to at least five states this month to aid GOP Senate candidates: Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington, Indiana and Wisconsin. Thune will also give an assist in his home state, where Republican Kristi Noem is looking to oust three-term Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D). Thune has said he’s considering whether to launch a White House bid in 2012.

Aides noted the rest of the Senate GOP leadership will make campaign appearances and fundraising stops over the recess, although details for some of them were still being worked out. Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has made himself available to help any of his colleagues, spokesman Ryan Patmintra said, including fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), who is expected to win a fifth term this fall. Kyl will also go to California for GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina, who is running against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D).

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