ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky.—Mitch McConnell says he expects to maintain but not grow the U.S. Senate’s Republican majority next year.

The Senate majority leader said Tuesday the GOP’s chances of gaining seats are “pretty slim” because Republicans must defend 24 seats compared to the Democrats’ 10. Plus, Republicans will field candidates in several states dominated by the presidential election, including New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois. He said Republicans “regretfully” have an open seat in Florida because Marco Rubio is running for president and not re-election at the same time, as McConnell’s fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul plans to do.

McConnell told the Elizabethtown Rotary Club that Republicans have a chance to gain seats in Nevada, where Sen. Harry Reid is not seeking re-election, and Colorado where Republicans defeated an incumbent last year.



MORE CANDIDATES TO ANNOUNCE

WASHINGTON—Presidential announcement mania is coming. Look fast or you’ll miss it.

Five more candidates—four Republicans and one Democrat—are expected to formally announce their presidential intentions between now and June 4.

The upcoming batch of Republican announcements includes: Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 Iowa caucus winner, on Wednesday; former New York Gov. George Pataki on Thursday; Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on June 1; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on June 4.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to announce on Saturday his bid for the Democratic nomination.

UPSTART DEMOCRAT WILL BATTLE McCAIN

WASHINGTON—Democratic Arizona Rep. said Tuesday she will challenge Republican John McCain for his Senate seat next year, launching an uphill bid to unseat the five-term senator in the GOP-leaning state.

Kirkpatrick, 65, is serving her third House term in a district she has won narrowly. She was already being targeted by Republicans for what was expected to be her House re-election bid in 2016.

McCain, 78, has long been one of his party’s most influential voices on military and foreign policy issues and is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

CLINTON AWARE SOUTH CAROLINA IS NOT A GIVEN

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Hillary Clinton arrives in South Carolina on Wednesday for her first visit of the 2016 presidential campaign cycle with universal name recognition and a 10-person paid campaign team already in place.

But the scars have not completely healed from an ugly battle in 2008 with Barack Obama in the early primary state, and key Democrats say Clinton will not be able to skate to victory here, even as they acknowledge her lack of substantial primary competition.

The Clinton c is eager to show its effort to win a primary that so far lacks a big-name challenger, while learning the lessons of 2008.

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