WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton is lending her name and support to a half-dozen key midterm races for the Senate and several for governor as she considers another White House bid in 2016.
Clinton plans to campaign for Senate candidates Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia and Kentucky. She also intends to help out gubernatorial campaigns in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Illinois.
Her travels will also take her to California, where she will headline a fundraiser for Senate Democrats on Oct. 20, the same day as a San Francisco event for House Democrats with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
The former secretary of state has said she expects to decide her political future around the beginning of 2015, but the campaign travel before the midterm elections will help her connect with Democratic partisans, donors and voters who could fuel a second White House race. Along with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, the former New York senator is the most sought-after fundraiser and surrogate for Democrats this year in a challenging political climate.
Some of the dates and events, which were first reported by Politico, are still being finalized. But Clinton's schedule will take her across a competitive Senate landscape for Democrats seeking to maintain their majority during President Barack Obama's final two years. And it will inject her into governor's races featuring a slate of longtime allies and early presidential states with a special appeal to female voters.
"There is no one better at connecting with working women," said Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist who advised Bill Clinton.
The former first lady kicked off her campaign season in Iowa, appearing at the annual steak fry fundraiser for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin in September. She expects to make a second trip to Iowa before the election.
In a bookend of sorts, Clinton plans to return to New Hampshire on Nov. 2 — two days before the election — to drum up support for Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. The state often pivots on the support of female voters, and Clinton's appearance there could help drive up turnout.
Clinton has not been back to the nation's first presidential primary state since October 2008 but she has maintained strong ties to Democrats there, who helped her stage a comeback victory over Obama in the 2008 primary and have long backed her husband. Mrs. Clinton appeared at a New York fundraiser for Shaheen earlier this week.
The Los Angeles fundraiser on Oct. 20 will re-connect her with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation and a major Democratic donor. The dinner for Senate Democrats will be organized by Andy Spahn, a consultant who worked with Katzenberg to raise millions for Obama's campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
Governor's races will also get her attention. Clinton stopped in Miami on Thursday to help Charlie Crist, the ex-Republican Florida governor who is now competing for his old job as a Democrat. Crist and GOP Gov. Rick Scott have tangled in one of the nation's most competitive governor's races, which could be a dry run for a 2016 battle in the nation's premier swing state.
On Wednesday, Clinton plans to be in Chicago, close to the suburban community where she was raised, to help Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, one of the most vulnerable Democratic governors in the nation. On Thursday, she will raise money in New York City for Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, a top target for Republicans in Bill Clinton's home state, and attend a women's event in Philadelphia for Tom Wolf, who is favored to defeat Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania.
Other events are planned to help vulnerable Sens. Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mark Udall in Colorado and Senate candidates Bruce Braley in Iowa, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky and Michelle Nunn in Georgia. Clinton is also expected to help Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts attorney general running for governor, and Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., a longtime ally.
Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report. Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KThomasDC