A total of 471 seats in the U.S. Congress (36 Senate seats, including three special elections, and all 435 House seats) are up for election on November 4, 2014.
Heading into the election, Democrats control the U.S. Senate while Republicans are the majority in the U.S. House. For Republicans to regain the majority in the Senate, they need to net six seats and retain control of the 14 seats currently held by a Republican. For Democrats in the House, a pick up of 17 seats is needed.
As of April 2014, six incumbent senators and 41 representatives have announced they are not seeking re-election. Additionally, three senators and six representatives left office very early.
Separate political action committees (PACs) are behind the many direct mail-outs, with Alabama 2014 PAC funding the piece against Harbison who is running against liberal incumbent Rep. Mac Buttram and Clean Sweep PAC paying for the attack on Henry who is being challenged by Cullman attorney Melvin Hastings.