Worry over losing Washington Senate seat draws visits from top Democratic leaders

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Facing a tight reelection race, Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray is all of a sudden quite popular among the upper levels of the Democratic establishment. This month alone Murray will have had visits from President Barack Obama, first lady Michele Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden — twice.

The Democrat incumbent has held the seat for nearly two decades. Despite her long history in the state, however, the race is still considered a toss-up.

According to the Real Clear Politics average, Murray currently maintains a small lead over her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi. But if the number of visits from top Democrats is any indication, the Democratic establishment is not taking any chances.

University of Virginia professor and political handicapper Larry Sabato believes the reason the Democratic establishment is paying so much attention to Washington is that it could be the race that decides which party takes the Senate.

“It’s entirely possible that the Washington Senate race will end up deciding control of the Senate,” Sabato wrote in an e-mail to The Daily Caller. “There is a large Democratic base in this state, and so the key for Murray in this GOP-leaning year is energizing that base. The Obamas, Biden, and Clinton all help her do that. Will it be enough? The size of the Republican wave will determine that.”

While there may be practical reasons for the national Democratic focus, Rossi’s camp is criticizing the senator for cavorting with the powerful as opposed to Rossi who they say is more focused on the people.

“Sen. Murray continues to hold events with the D.C. insiders she works for, while Dino Rossi is meeting with voters across the state who are looking for a leader in the Senate to represent them,” Rossi spokeswoman, Jennifer Morris told TheDC.

The Murray campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

E-mail Caroline May