Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 30, 2014

September 30, 2014

Republican Cavalry Starts Spending on House Races (Finally)

Republican Cavalry Starts Spending on House Races (Finally)

Walden is the chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For months, Republicans feared outside groups would skip over House races this cycle, saving their cash for the battle over Senate control.

But the conservative cavalry has finally arrived.

Republican groups — which have mostly sat on the sidelines in House contests this cycle until recently — have reserved nearly $12 million on the television airwaves in competitive races through Election Day, according to two sources tracking ad buys in House contests across the country. The reservations, placed over the last two weeks, are a mix of GOP pickup opportunities and defensive ground.

The reservations include:

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Ex-First Lady of Florida Fires Back at Congressman

Ex First Lady of Florida Fires Back at Congressman

It's hard being the parents of a political candidate. Former Sen. Bob Graham and his wife Adele Graham in 2004. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. — Former Florida First Lady Adele Graham is not happy with her daughter’s political rival, Republican Rep. Steve Southerland II.

Graham and her husband, ex-Sen. Bob Graham, have been a pervasive presence on the campaign trail in support of Democratic attorney Gwen Graham’s bid to unseat Southerland in his 2nd District in the Florida panhandle.

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GOP Outside Group Targets Tim Bishop on TV

GOP Outside Group Targets Tim Bishop on TV

Bishop is being targeted on the air by a Republican group. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Republican-aligned outside group is airing a TV ad slamming New York Rep. Timothy H. Bishop on his support for the Affordable Care Act.

The Democrat is locked in a challenging re-election campaign against Republican Lee Zeldin.

This is American Action Network’s first independent expenditure TV ad of the general election. It’s running on cable and online, and is part of AAN’s $1.2 million IE campaign in New York’s Long Island-based 1st District.

“Tim Bishop thinks Obamacare is a damn good idea?” says a man named John from Setauket, N.Y. “We think it’s a damn bad idea.” Full story

September 29, 2014

Collin Peterson Campaign Responds to GOP Poll

Collin Peterson Campaign Responds to GOP Poll

Peterson's race is rated Leans Democratic. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In response to a poll released last week by Republicans showing a tight race, Minnesota Rep. Collin C. Peterson’s campaign on Monday released a poll of its own from early September that had found the incumbent with a wider lead.

The three-week-old survey, shared first with CQ Roll Call, showed the Democratic incumbent up 53 percent to 29 percent over state Sen. Torrey Westrom. Westrom’s poll, conducted Sept. 21-23 by the Tarrance Group, found Peterson with a 5-point lead.

The Peterson poll also showed the incumbent with a 58 percent favorable rating, with just 19 percent viewing him unfavorably. That survey of 405 likely voters was conducted by Global Strategy Group from Sept. 4-7 with a 4.9-point margin of error. Full story

Ad Highlights Mitch McConnell’s Role in Resolving Case (Video)

Ad Highlights Mitch McConnells Role in Resolving Case (Video)

McConnell's new ad highlights his role in resolving a parent child abduction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign is highlighting his efforts to resolve an overseas parental child abduction case, with the child’s mother sharing with Kentucky voters the story she previously told at a Senate hearing.

The campaign has put the account of Noelle Hunter and her daughter Maayimuna “Muna” N’Diaye in a new TV ad, highlighting the Republican leader’s personal involvement in getting N’Diaye returned to the United States from Mali, where she was taken by her father. The father disregarded an order of a Kentucky judge regarding shared parental rights. N’Diaye returned to the United States in July.

The minute-long campaign spot featuring Hunter will air statewide, and the campaign told CQ Roll Call the ad buy is at least in the six-figure range. That suggests if it gets resonance, the ad could air even more frequently between now and November. Full story

Club for Growth Ad Attacks Vance McAllister

Club for Growth Ad Attacks Vance McAllister

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The political action arm of the conservative Club for Growth is launching a TV ad Tuesday attacking embattled incumbent Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La.

The 30-second spot, which is backed by a “six-figure buy,” starts out with media coverage of the married congressman being caught on camera kissing a staffer, but quickly pivots to his voting record. The “Kissing Congressman” has been attempting to move past the scandal, including debuting an ad that features McAllister with his wife. Full story

Democrats Dominate Michigan Senate Race Spending (Charts)

Democrats Dominate Michigan Senate Race Spending (Charts)

(Courtesy Echelon Insights)

Outside groups are driving the spending on broadcast television ads in the final months of the Michigan Senate race and Democrats are dominating the spending battle, according to a breakdown compiled by Republican firm Echelon Insights for Terri Lynn Land’s campaign.

Land is running against Democratic Rep. Gary Peters in the open seat contest.

In the past month, 54.89 percent of ad spending in the race has come from outside groups, a higher percentage than any other Senate race in the country, according to the data, provided to CQ Roll Call.

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September 28, 2014

Congressional ‘Perks’ Under Siege in Midterm Ads (Video)

Congressional Perks Under Siege in Midterm Ads (Video)

Peterson, seen here on the Hill with his band in 2012, has been scrutinized in campaign ads for accepting congressional 'perks.' (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Flights home from Washington, D.C., a six-figure salary and the House gym: They’re all perks of the congressional gig.

They’re also political collateral in more than a dozen House races this cycle.

In political ad after political ad, challengers are taking aim at incumbents for accepting “perks” in a Congress mired in gridlock. Incumbents feel the heat, emphasizing their own commitment to ending taxpayer-funded congressional benefits.

The irony, of course, is that the winning challengers will have access to the same salary and benefits as soon as they’re sworn into office in January. But operatives from both parties argue the message remains potent in a political environment where Congress is unpopular.

“Look, if you were any other person on the planet and you didn’t do your job and you still got paid and all the perks that came with it — the only other place you can do that is Wall Street, and they’re not so popular themselves,” said Democratic consultant Travis Lowe, who has made ads attacking GOP incumbents and their perks this cycle. “So of course, it hits a chord.”

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September 26, 2014

New Bill Cassidy Ad Stars Former Landrieu Supporters

New Bill Cassidy Ad Stars Former Landrieu Supporters

Cassidy greeted voters outside the LSU football stadium on Sept. 20. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is launching a new Senate ad Saturday featuring former supporters of Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.

The spot, shared first with CQ Roll Call, showcases three women who say they’ve previously voted for the three-term incumbent and list Landrieu’s support for the Affordable Care Act as the main reason they now back her leading Republican challenger.

“We’re voting for Bill Cassidy,” one of the women says. “He stands up to Barack Obama,” says another. “And he’ll vote to repeal and replace Obamacare,” says the third.

The ad will run statewide and is initially backed by a $400,000 buy, according to a Cassidy campaign aide. Full story

Internal Poll: Democrat Holds Slight Lead in Arkansas

Internal Poll: Democrat Holds Slight Lead in Arkansas

Hays is a Democrat from Arkansas. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new campaign poll from Democrat Patrick Henry Hays showed him ahead of his Republican opponent by 3 points in one of his party’s top House targets in Arkansas.

Hays, the former mayor of North Little Rock, had a small lead over banker French Hill, 44 percent to 41 percent, according to the poll conducted by Global Strategy Group and paid for by Hays. That’s within the poll’s 4.8 percent margin of error.

Hays and Hill are vying for Arkansas’ 2nd District, an open-seat race because GOP Rep. Tim Griffin is leaving Congress to run for lieutenant governor. The district voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a 12-point margin last cycle, and the race is rated a Leans Republican contest by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

Marijuana accessories are pictured in Terrapin Care Station, a marijuana dispensary, in Boulder, Colo. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The national discussion about legalizing marijuana has now surfaced in Kentucky’s Senate race.

A day after Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes encouraged a conversation about it, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his opposition to following Colorado’s lead and legalizing marijuana more broadly in an interview on a local radio station Friday.

“I’m against legalizing marijuana,” the Republican said. “Certainly it’s not in the same category as heroin, but I think to begin … to sort of send the message that we’re giving up, you know, that this is just the way it’s going to be, then one thing leads to another and pretty soon … you completely transform your society in a way that I think certainly most Kentuckians would not agree with.”

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DSCC Ad Ties Thom Tillis to Ryan Budget

DSCC Ad Ties Thom Tillis to Ryan Budget

Tillis, right, at an event Wednesday with ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going up with a new TV ad Friday in North Carolina that attacks Republican Thom Tillis on Medicare and continues to push the theme that he cares more about the wealthy.

The spot, provided first to CQ Roll Call, ties the state House speaker to Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal, which would have cut spending on Medicare and used a voucher-like system. Tillis expressed support for certain aspects of the Wisconsin Republican’s plan.

In the ad, an older woman named Marie Grauerholz, says that would be a problem for her.

“I’m not a millionaire and I don’t own a private jet,” she says. “I depend on Medicare. I think the fact that Thom Tillis wants to cut Medicare just shows that he doesn’t know what people in North Carolina are like and what the average person needs.” Full story

Bill Cassidy Dips Into Landrieu Territory for Votes

Bill Cassidy Dips Into Landrieu Territory for Votes

Cassidy speaks with pharmacy students from Xavier University of Louisiana. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NEW ORLEANS — At a Saturday morning community health fair in a Vietnamese enclave in the predominantly black eastern wing of this city, Cassidy wasn’t exactly in politically friendly territory.

Bill Cassidy Dips Into Landrieu Territory for VotesBut he was quickly met by a familiar face ready to show him around. Greeting Cassidy behind a mobile pregnancy care bus was former Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, a fellow Republican who entered the House with Cassidy after the 2008 elections and served for a single term.

Cassidy, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, would work his way through a welcoming campus-wide, college football tailgate in Baton Rouge later that day. But first he was here in a church parking lot in Village de L’Est, a traditionally Vietnamese neighborhood with a growing Hispanic population, to try to pick up a few votes.

“Wherever I can meet the most voters works for me,” Cassidy said as Cao led him toward the crowd.

Full story

September 25, 2014

Democratic Super PAC Enters Maine Race (Video)

Democratic Super PAC Enters Maine Race (Video)

Cain is a Democrat running in Maine. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority PAC will start airing advertisements Friday targeting an open seat in Maine, suggesting Democrats are concerned the race could become more competitive than initially anticipated.

HMP, a super PAC aiding House Democrats, laid down a $270,000 buy on broadcast television in the Bangor and Portland markets, according to spokesman Matt Thornton.

Thornton said the buy aims to get their candidate “across the finish line safely” — and before other groups start spending there.

Maine’s 2nd District features an open seat race between state Sen. Emily Cain, a Democrat, and former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, a Republican. The race is currently rated a Leans Democratic contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Full story

The Big Issue in the North Carolina Senate Race

The Big Issue in the North Carolina Senate Race

Hagan speaks with Victor Crosby, 95, on Wednesday during an event with volunteers and supporters at a campaign office in Statesville, N.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

STATESVILLE, N.C. — The biggest issue in the North Carolina Senate race? It’s not health care, Syrian airstrikes or even the economy.

It’s education.

The Big Issue in the North Carolina Senate RaceOften relegated to state and local elections, education has taken a leading role in the race between Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and her GOP opponent, state Speaker Thom Tillis. And in a state steeped in a rich tradition of public schooling, the focus on education is mostly working in Hagan’s favor in this high-stakes race.

At her field office Wednesday evening, Hagan readily brings it up to supporters.

“In the state house, [Tillis] did the tax cuts, then he cut, cut, cut. What did he cut? He cut a half a billion dollars from our education system,” Hagan said. “You know in North Carolina, education has always been a sacred bipartisan priority.” Full story

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