(WASHINGTON) — With majority control of the Senate within reach for Republicans this November, one might presume that conservative party elders are doing everything within their power to elect GOP senators this fall. You’d be wrong.
Over the past two days, two veteran GOP lawmakers have gone out of their way to throw their support behind Democrats hoping to win a six-year term in the upper chamber.
Rep. Don Young, Alaska’s at-large representative who has served 20 terms in the House, taped a campaign video with Rep. Mazie Hirono, a three-term Democrat running for Hawaii’s open seat in the Senate.
“While Mazie and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, we’ve done something too many people in Washington refuse to cross the aisle and do,” Young says in a video endorsing Hirono. “We’ve worked together.”
“Here’s what’s important, Hawaii,” Young continues. “If you’re looking for a United States senator who doesn’t just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono will be that senator.”
“Thank you, Don,” Hirono replies. “I really appreciate that.”
“I’m certainly humbled a Republican friend like Don has taken this extra step of endorsing my candidacy for U.S. Senate, but I am even more proud of the work he and I have done together as Republican and Democrat to protect vital Native-Hawaiian and Native-Alaskan education programs,” Hirono wrote in a statement.
“Whatever his generous endorsement may mean for my Senate campaign, what matters most to me is that our bipartisan relationship helps solve problems for the people of Hawaii. Ours is an example of friendly cooperation and meaningful collaboration that Washington must follow, especially in challenging times like these.”
Currently there are 47 Republicans in the Senate, and 53 Democrats. But with twice as many Senate Democratic incumbents as Republicans defending their seats this fall, and the economy still tanking, the majority is up for grabs.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is also under fire for donating $250 to the reelection campaign of Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia.
“He votes thinking about the long-term interests of the country,” Coburn told The Hill newspaper. “We don’t agree on everything but he’s a good guy.”
Manchin, who won a special election in 2010 to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd, is gearing up for a rematch against businessman John Raese.
Hirono is running against former Democratic Rep. Ed Case in the state’s Aug. 11 primary. The winner will advance to take on Hawaii’s former GOP governor Linda Lingle in the race to replace Sen. Daniel Akaka, who is retiring from office at the end of his term.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sophie Tatum, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN