With President Obama's approval weak and Congress gridlocked, many red-state Democratic senators seeking reelection have struggled to come up with issues to run on. But one common theme has emerged from their campaign messaging: They're turning to their own families to help save their seats.
Democrats in almost all of 2014's crucial Senate battlegrounds — in seven of the nine Senate races rated as "Toss-ups" by The Cook Political Report — come from families with a history in state or federal politics. That includes all four senators who are up in states Mitt Romney carried in the last presidential election.
Sen. Mary Landrieu's father, Moon Landrieu, served as mayor of New Orleans, a post her brother Mitch holds today; Sen. Mark Begich's father, Nick Begich, represented Alaska in Congress for two years before being killed in a plane crash; Sen. Mark Pryor's father, David Pryor, served Arkansas for 16 years in the U.S. Senate.
And it's a testament to how much political lineage is present in these races that the least connected of the four is Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, whose uncle, Lawton Chiles, served as the governor and U.S. senator for Florida.
The political-dynasty dynamic also applies to the two Democrats running in red-state races considered potential pickup opportunities for the party: Alison Lundergan Grimes's father, Jerry Lundergan, is a former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman and longtime political scion in the Bluegrass State; and Michelle Nunn is the daughter of longtime Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia. (Not to mention Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter in the governor's race, whose grandfather is former President Jimmy Carter.)