Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 21, 2014

August 20, 2014

Super PAC Greets Sullivan Win With Attack Ad

Super PAC Greets Sullivan Win With Attack Ad

Begich-friendly super PAC has a TV ad against Sullivan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Alaska’s newly minted Republican Senate nominee will awake the morning after his primary victory to a negative TV ad from a Democratic super PAC.

Put Alaska First, a group formed to support Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, launched an ad Wednesday against Republican Dan Sullivan targeting his lack of Alaska roots and using a controversial mining project in the state as a wedge issue.

“There’s two things you need to know about Dan Sullivan,” a Dillingham, Alaska, resident says in the ad, which is airing statewide on broadcast and cable. “He’s not from Alaska, and he supports the Pebble Mine.” Full story

Iowa Poll Shows Democrat With Big Edge in Open House Contest

State Rep. Pat Murphy, the Democratic nominee in the open-seat House contest to replace Iowa Democratic Senate nominee Bruce Braley, had an 11 point lead over his Republican opponent, according to a poll obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Murphy led businessman Rod Blum 51 percent to 40 percent according to the poll conducted by Myers Research and Strategic Services for Murphy’s campaign. The lead was outside the 4.9 percent margin of error.

Full story

Pat Quinn Could be Drag on Illinois Democrats

Pat Quinn Could be Drag on Illinois Democrats

Schock, left, and Davis, watch Rauner fire up the crowd. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The national political tide isn’t looking good for Democrats, but in Illinois this November, down-ballot candidates have an even bigger problem: the drag of Gov. Pat Quinn.

The Land of Lincoln is a hotbed of political activity this cycle, with Democrats defending three freshmen House incumbents and looking to pick-off one more — Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in the ultra-competitive 13th District.

All but one of those races take place outside of Chicago’s Cook County — the last bastion of support for Quinn and one of just three counties he carried in the state when he narrowly won the role in 2010. That geography is bad news for Democrats looking to tamp down losses in the midterms.

There was no clearer example of Quinn’s problems than last week’s Illinois State Fair, where elected officials, political operatives and party insiders from both sides of the aisle descended upon the Springfield fairgrounds for each party’s respective day of rallies.

On Aug. 14, Republicans flocked to the fairgrounds to support Bruce Rauner, the party’s wealthy gubernatorial nominee who rolled up to the rally on his Harley Davidson and then delivered a red-meat speech going after Quinn in front of a fired up crowd of supporters.

It was a stark contrast from Democrats’ gathering the day before, where instead of riling up his base at the fair, Quinn instead hosted a low-key picnic to pose for photos with a more mellow group of supporters, many of whom were bussed in from the Chicago area.

Full story

Alaska Primary: Dan Sullivan Will Face Mark Begich

Alaska Primary: Dan Sullivan Will Face Mark Begich

Sullivan won the GOP primary Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Alaska Republicans have finally picked a nominee to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the cycle.

Dan Sullivan, a former appointed state attorney general and commissioner of the state Department of Natural Resources, defeated three other Republicans in the primary Tuesday to earn a spot in the general election.

Sullivan ran as the most qualified of the group to defeat Begich. His nomination has been the expected outcome for months, but the general-election race couldn’t start in earnest until Sullivan dispensed with his Republican foes.

Sullivan led with 40 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race early Wednesday morning with 80 percent of precincts reporting. He was followed by 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller with 32 percent, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell with 25 percent and a fourth candidate, John Jaramillo, with 3 percent.

Sullivan, an Ohio-born attorney, is a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves and was an assistant secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration. He resigned his natural resources post a year ago to run for office, and now he’s emerging from a late primary to take on an incumbent lauded by operatives in both parties as a skilled politician.

Full story

August 19, 2014

NRSC Launching Coordinated Ad Buy in North Carolina

NRSC Launching Coordinated Ad Buy in North Carolina

Republicans hope Tillis will win the North Carolina Senate seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is launching a coordinated TV ad buy next month with North Carolina Senate hopeful Thom Tillis.

The $1.4 million buy begins Sept. 2 and runs through Sept. 22 on broadcast and cable, according to the Tillis campaign. Full story

Peterson’s Greatest Challenge Yet, but GOP Still Looks to 2016

Petersons Greatest Challenge Yet, but GOP Still Looks to 2016

(Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images File Photo)

Minnesota Democrats think Rep. Collin C. Peterson is nearly unbeatable in the 7th District. For the first time in more than a decade, that theory is about to be put to the test.

Peterson is one of just a handful of House Democrats representing a decidedly Republican district, but he has won re-election even in GOP wave years. In 2012, presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the conservative, rural district by 10 points as the Democratic lawmaker won his race by a 25-point margin.

This year, Peterson faces his most formidable challenger in several cycles. Though the Democrat remains the front-runner, Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom brings a compelling life story as the first blind member of the legislature, and more political experience than any of Peterson’s recent opponents.

“We’re paying attention,” Peterson told CQ Roll Call in a recent interview. “We’ve never been targeted before, so we’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen.”

Minnesota Republicans and Democrats agree on one point, at least: Westrom has a good shot at ending up in Congress.

It’s just not clear when.

Full story

Jeff Merkley Touts Efforts to Stop Outsourcing in New Ad

Jeff Merkley Touts Efforts to Stop Outsourcing in New Ad

Jeff Merkley is seeking re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call))

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is going up with a new ad Tuesday focusing on his efforts to prevent companies from outsourcing jobs.

Merkley speaks directly to the camera in the positive spot, provided first to CQ Roll Call, describing his father working at a mill when he was growing up.

“As men and women clock in across the state, thousands of hands are building a stronger Oregon. But there are still special interests that want to give tax breaks to corporations that ship our jobs overseas,” Merkley says.

Full story

August 18, 2014

John McCain Holds Court in ‘Second Favorite State’

John McCain Holds Court in Second Favorite State

Brown, left, and McCain, right, campaign in New Hampshire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

DERRY, N.H. – Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has returned to New Hampshire to campaign — but this time, it’s for former Sen. Scott P. Brown. 

“It is with great nostalgia I come back again to my second favorite state,” McCain told a Pinkerton Academy auditorium, where he stumped for Brown, a Massachusetts Republican waging an uphill battle to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Granite State Democrat. 

John McCain Holds Court in Second Favorite StateIn predictable fashion, McCain joined Brown for what was billed as a foreign policy town hall meeting, at times taking charge as Monday’s star attraction. The event was part of a broader “New Hampshire Speaks” tour for Brown, but audience questions ran the gamut, even touching on impeachment.

“I’m a realist. That’s not going to happen,” Brown said of impeaching the president, instead pushing his stump speech about Shaheen’s record of voting with President Barack Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. 

“It would require 67 votes in the United States Senate for an impeachment,” McCain said. Full story

DCCC Raises Millions More than NRCC in July

DCCC Raises Millions More than NRCC in July

Steve Israel of New York is the DCCC chairman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raked in $11.5 million in July, bringing the committee’s total cash on hand to $56.7 million in the final stretch of the cycle, according to numbers released by the committee Monday.

The DCCC’s haul far surpasses the $8 million the National Republican Congressional Committee brought in during the same month. The NRCC’s July fundraising means the committee will report $48 million in the bank.

Full story

Alaska Republicans Set to Choose Mark Begich Challenger

Alaska Republicans Set to Choose Mark Begich Challenger

Sullivan is running for the GOP nomination in the Alaska Senate primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

DNR Dan. Afghan Dan. The Other Dan.

No matter how voters refer to Senate candidate Dan Sullivan to distinguish him from the Anchorage mayor of the same name, he just hopes they choose him Tuesday in the GOP primary.

Sullivan, a first-time candidate, is the clear frontrunner for the nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in a state central to the GOP’s path to the majority. He’s the favorite of Republicans on Capitol Hill and obliterated his primary opponents, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller, in fundraising through the end of July.

But the former appointed state attorney general and commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources still must close the deal amid pointed attacks from his fellow Republicans over a dozen or so debates and an influx of outside spending from Democrats.

“By and large it looks like Sullivan will make it through,” Art Hackney, who is running a pro-Sullivan super PAC, said late last week. “But it doesn’t mean that’s cause for jubilation for more than five minutes.” Full story

Martha McSally Tries to Fly to Victory

Martha McSally Tries to Fly to Victory

McSally is running for Congress in Arizona. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

TUCSON, Ariz. — Operatives couldn’t make up a better candidate résumé if they tried: retired Air Force Colonel, first in her class at the U.S. Air War College, the first female fighter pilot in combat who flies the very plane — an A-10 Warthog — that’s economically essential to the 2nd District.

At a time when Republicans wrangle with messaging to female voters, this 48-year-old’s spunk and articulate bite is made for television — and unlike anything the House GOP Conference has seen in a while.

Martha McSally Tries to Fly to VictoryBut can Martha McSally finally win this House seat on her third try, and, more pressing for this Friday evening, can the Republican spell “logomachy”?

“L-O-G-O-M-A-C-H-Y,” McSally enunciates to the judges, who nod in approval at a spelling bee fundraiser just off the Old Pueblo’s newly booming downtown strip. It means an argument about words — something of which there’s plenty in her race.

After nearly a dozen rounds, the competition has dwindled from 15 local celebrities and the judges have to regroup because they’ve run out of pre-selected words to challenge the two finalists. McSally is one of them, and when it’s her turn, she walks into the single spotlight on stage and tries to spell “sayonara.”

She blows it. Full story

August 16, 2014

Montana Democrats Nominate John Walsh’s Replacement

Montana Democrats Nominate John Walshs Replacement

Montana Democrats replaced Walsh on the ballot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Montana Democratic Party nominated state Rep. Amanda Curtis on Saturday to replace retiring Sen. John Walsh on the ballot in November.

Curtis, a 34-year-old, first-term state legislator and high school math teacher from Butte, enters the contest a heavy underdog against Republican Rep. Steve Daines — as was Walsh. The race is rated Favored Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Walsh, appointed to the Senate in February but plagued by a plagiarism scandal, announced on Aug. 7 he would not seek a full term. Since the primary had already passed, state Democrats held a convention Saturday morning at the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds in Helena to select a new nominee. Full story

Schatz Defeats Hanabusa in Hawaii Senate Primary

Schatz Defeats Hanabusa in Hawaii Senate Primary

Schatz won the Hawaii Senate primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nearly a week after most of the state voted, Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz has now defeated Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary.

A final count was delayed when the state rescheduled voting to Friday for a few thousand people on the Big Island, where storm damage had closed two polling places on the original primary day, Aug. 9. Schatz led by 1,635 votes coming out of last weekend, giving him a significant edge that Hanabusa was unable to overcome.

According to the state Office of Elections tally, Schatz won with 48.5 percent to 47.8 percent for Hanabusa — a margin of 1,769 votes out of more than 233,000 cast. Full story

August 15, 2014

Joni Ernst Tells TIME She Was Sexually Harassed in the Military

Joni Ernst Tells TIME She Was Sexually Harassed in the Military

Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican Senate Candidate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst told TIME Friday that she was sexually harassed in the military. Separating herself from many of her fellow Republicans, Ernst also said she would support taking sexual assault cases out of the military chain of command.

Ernst, a 20-year veteran, said in the interview with TIME that there are situations when soldiers may be hesitant to report sexual harassment.

“I had comments, passes, things like that,” Ernst said. “These were some things where I was able to say stop and it simply stopped but there are other circumstances both for women and for men where they don’t stop and they may be afraid to report it.”

After reports of high levels of sexual assault in the military, lawmakers worked to address the issue last spring. A main point of contention was whether such cases should be handled by military officers. Full story

Revised Election Schedule Submitted in Florida Map Case

Revised Election Schedule Submitted in Florida Map Case

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., represents one of the seven districts affected by the proposed new map. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Florida Secretary of State submitted an alternative election schedule Friday to a state judge who is considering whether or not a redrawn congressional map should apply to the midterms.

According to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, should the new map apply to this cycle, the earliest possible primary date for the seven districts affected by the new map would take place on March 17, 2015. The general election would follow on May 26, 2015. Full story

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