Off to the races: Republicans' path to a Senate majority

Charlie Cook takes a look at the Senate math for the GOP: "The bottom line: While Republicans have a narrow path to the majority, the seats they must win are in friendly states, and turnout will work in their favor because this is a midterm election. It’s going to be a heck of a fight."

The National Governors Association annual meeting kicks off Friday in Milwaukee, WI, the home state of Republican Gov./2016 dark horse Scott Walker. The business sessions begin today with a session on employing people with disabilities. On Saturday, the governors will discuss infrastructure needs – interesting considering President Obama’s call this week for more infrastructure spending.

This week in 2016: The 2016 news this week was dominated by the spat between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R). Christie said Paul’s ideology on national security was dangerous. Paul swatted back, accusing Christie of being the “King of Bacon” for his “gimme, gimme, gimme” attitude on Sandy funding. Paul offered to “kiss and make up” over a beer. But Christie, channeling a viral YouTube moment, said, “I don’t really have time for that.”

Marco Rubio went on Fox Thursday and was asked which side he comes down on. Rubio took the middle ground, saying, “We have to do both… We must protect privacy, but these programs are important." It’s as if a 2016 presidential debate has broken out already. (Rubio also kept up his push to attempt to defund Obamacare this fall, calling it an “important moment. If we’re not going to fight for this issue what do we fight for? We realize this is it.” He noted that people will start signing up for the law Oct. 1.)

KENTUCKY: The Lexington Herald Leader previews this weekend's unofficial kickoff of the battle to unseat the Senate Minority Leader: "Mitch McConnell and his major Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, will take the same stage Saturday for the first time as rivals in next year's U.S. Senate race in Kentucky. The occasion will be the political speaking program Saturday afternoon at the 133rd annual Fancy Farm picnic in the far Western Kentucky county of Graves, where candidates often unleash old-school stemwinders laced with political raw meat. McConnell and Grimes have urged their supporters to trek to the grounds of St. Jerome Catholic Church in the tiny community of Fancy Farm, where the population is expected to swell from 458 to more than 10,000 this weekend."

Scott Wartman, who covers Kentucky politics for the Cincinnati Enquirer, teed up the event: “The heated political rhetoric at Fancy Farm this weekend should give voters a sense of how the 2014 U.S. Senate candidates stand up in a hostile environment.”More:“ ‘It will be interesting to see how he deals with it. The best of speakers can be thrown off guard by a heckler,’ Scott Kimmich, a former Kenton County deputy judge-executive and Erlanger Republican who has traveled to the Fancy Farm Picnic for all but two of the past 19 years.”

With an internal poll from The Mellman Group showing her leading McConnell by two points, Grimes told Politico she was “not going to be bullied" by McConnell. Grimes: “It seems as if Sen. McConnell wants to run against anyone but me, including the president, the Senate majority leader, leader [Nancy] Pelosi. And, unfortunately, I’m the one who filed my paperwork.”

MICHIGAN: NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran "has yet to discuss a Senate bid with Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, but he said the Ways and Means chairman would be a 'viable candidate' and he plans to reach out to him soon," per Roll Call. Moran: “I know Dave Camp very well. We served together in the House...I’m very interested in having that conversation to see what his interest and issues are.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE: WMUR: "A new poll shows that U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., remains popular, while the state's two U.S. representatives could be vulnerable. The WMUR Granite State Poll shows that Shaheen has a 53 percent favorability rating, and 50 percent of those surveyed said she should be re-elected, compared to 34 percent who want someone else....In the 1st District, 36 percent said they want U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., to get re-elected, while 42 percent said they want someone else. But among the three potential Republican choices, the poll finds only former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta is known, and more people don't like him than like him. The situation is worse for U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., in the 2nd District. Just 26 percent said they want to see her go back to Washington, and 39 percent want to see someone else."

NEW JERSEY: Roll Call: "Steve Lonegan, the underdog and likely Republican nominee in New Jersey’s Senate special election, is making the rounds in Washington, D.C., this week. The goal of the meetings: to prove there is a path to victory in the solidly Democratic Garden State and encourage financial assistance in the Oct. 16 special....With less than two weeks to go before the Aug. 13 primaries, Lonegan met with the Club for Growth and is scheduled to sit down Friday with the National Republican Senatorial Committee."

The Newark Star Ledger notes that frontrunner Cory Booker skipped a NCAAP candidate forum for the Democratic candidates ahead of the special election to fundraiser with Oprah Winfrey. Booker's campaign said the fundraiser was scheduled before the event was scheduled, "but the absence was felt as a snub in Newark, and the event’s organizers made no secret of it."

And Booker told Politico he "absolutely...unequivocally" wouldn't run for president in 2016 and would serve a full six-year term if he wins the special election and subsequent 2014 contest. 

SOUTH CAROLINA: "Nancy Mace, one of The Citadel’s first two female graduates, is expected to announce Saturday that she will challenge U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in next June’s GOP primary," the Charleston Post & Courier reports. "Mace has indicated she may run and said Thursday she will make her decision known Saturday morning at the Berkeley County GOP breakfast meeting in Goose Creek."

NEW YORK: Well, at least Anthony Weiner has this… The Rent is Too Damn High Party guy, Jimmy McMillan, endorsed Weiner for mayor, saying, “We all are freaky. He just exposed his freaky-ism in the wrong way.”