Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 3, 2014

September 3, 2014

GOP Responds to Mark Pryor’s Health Care Ad

GOP Responds to Mark Pryors Health Care Ad

Pryor is targeted on health care in a new GOP ad. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Any questions about whether the Affordable Care Act would still play a central role in Republican messaging against Democratic incumbents this cycle have been answered — at least in Arkansas.

Crossroads GPS, the non-profit arm of GOP-aligned American Crossroads, is kicking off a post-Labor Day, two-month, $2.5 million media campaign in the Razorback State with an ad targeting Sen. Mark Pryor on his support for the president’s health care law.

Pryor is being challenged by Rep. Tom Cotton in a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.

The incumbent released an ad two weeks ago that got plenty of media buzz as he touted a couple benefits of the law. But he didn’t refer to the legislation by name, so this latest GOP ad aims to fill in that gap. Full story

Bill Enyart Challenger Looks to Leap From Illinois House

Bill Enyart Challenger Looks to Leap From Illinois House

Bost makes a mid-August campaign stop at a Du Quoin, Ill., brewery. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DU QUOIN, Ill. — With more than 19 years under his belt as an Illinois legislator, state Rep. Mike Bost has seen it all on the campaign trail.

At a mid-August campaign stop, the Republican taking on Democratic Rep. Bill Enyart, one of the most vulnerable members of Congress, dished on door-knocking memories as he sipped a beer at the St. Nicholas Brewing Company. It’s a new craft beer joint here in a farming town of some 6,000 people, connected to Chicago and Carbondale via Amtrak’s Saluki train, and in the heart of the swingy 12th District.

Bost leaned over to an aide, smirking. “I’m going to tell her about walking precincts with my wife in Belleville,” he said, before relaying the tale of finding a pool of blood in a driveway and missing a fatal stabbing by just hours.

While he survived that experience, Bost admits his challenge this cycle may be the greatest he’s staked yet. But it’s one national Republicans are increasingly optimistic about.

Full story

The 10 Most Vulnerable House Members

The 10 Most Vulnerable House Members

Coffman is one of the most vulnerable members. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Welcome to the general election: Labor Day has passed, nearly every primary has finished, and Roll Call has revised its monthly list of the 10 most vulnerable House members.

Since this feature last published in August, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., lost his primary by a wide margin, while Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., barely survived his, defeating his primary foe by 38 votes.

That opened up two spots in the Top 10 — and there are a plethora of choices this cycle to fill their spots, plus more honorable mentions below.

House Democrats must net 17 seats to win the majority. But most of the names below are Democrats, symbolic of a cycle increasingly favorable to Republicans.

For now, here are the 10 most vulnerable House members in alphabetical order:

Full story

September 2, 2014

GOP’s Favorite Wins Arizona House Primary

GOPs Favorite Wins Arizona House Primary

Kirkpatrick is an Arizona Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Arizona state Speaker Andy Tobin will take on Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick after his closest GOP primary opponent conceded the race Tuesday.

Tobin led rancher Gary Kiehne by less than 500 votes Tuesday, a week after the Aug. 26 primary, according to The Associated Press. The race remained too close to call when Kiehne stepped aside in a show of party unity.

“This was a hard-fought and very close election that we fell just short of winning,” Kiehne said in a statement. “But that doesn’t take away from how proud and grateful I am to my supporters for everything they did to help our campaign.” Full story

Jerry Brown Backs Mike Honda in Democratic Duel

Jerry Brown Backs Mike Honda in Democratic Duel

Honda won the backing of California Gov. Jerry Brown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

California Gov. Jerry Brown has stepped in to one of the most competitive and aggressive Democratic races of the cycle.

Brown, who is expected to cruise to re-election in November, endorsed Rep. Michael M. Honda on Tuesday, praising the seven-term, Golden State Democrat’s support for the San Francisco Bay Area’s commuter rail system.

Honda faces a fierce challenge from fellow Democrat Ro Khanna in the Silicon Valley-based 17th District, where both advanced from the June top-two primary.

“Mike Honda has dedicated his career to tackling difficult issues and doing what’s right for working people,” Brown said in a release. “After leading the local effort to bring BART to San Jose, Mike got $900 million in federal funding for the project creating 10,000 jobs for the Silicon Valley. Mike is an effective advocate in Congress for his district and all of California — I’m proud to support him.”

In the primary, Honda, who also has the backing of President Barack Obama, took 49 percent to 27 percent for Khanna, an attorney whose campaign is run by former Obama campaign staffers.

Full story

Ted Cruz to Rally for Marilinda Garcia in New Hampshire

Ted Cruz to Rally for Marilinda Garcia in New Hampshire

Garcia speaks with a supporter of former Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Ted Cruz is stumping for congressional hopeful Marilinda Garcia this weekend, just ahead of New Hampshire’s Republican primaries next week.

The Garcia campaign invited supporters to attend a rally with the Texas Republican and potential 2016 presidential candidate Sept. 7 at the Nashua City Hall.

Garcia, a state representative, is in a hotly contested nomination fight in the 2nd District, where Republicans are vying to take on Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster. Garcia’s opponents include former state Sen. Gary Lambert, who has accused Garcia of supporting “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants.

Garcia has disputed that contention throughout the campaign, including in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call. The backing of Cruz, who has been leading the charge against potential executive action by President Barack Obama to expand deferred action on immigration, could well inoculate Garcia against that line of attack days before the Sept. 9 primary. Full story

Michael Grimm Won’t Face Trial Until After Midterms

Embattled Rep. Michael G. Grimm, the New York Republican facing a litany of federal indictments on tax evasion charges, will not face a jury until after the November midterms a federal judge said Tuesday — welcome news for one of this cycle’s most endangered incumbents.

Grimm’s trial will begin on Dec. 1, according to ABC New York, a month after voters select their congressman from New York’s Staten Island-based 11th District.

Grimm will defend himself against 20 counts of alleged tax evasion, mail fraud, wire fraud, hiring undocumented immigrants and perjury stemming from the health food store he owned before his election to the House in 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Democrats had hoped Grimm’s trial would begin in October, leading to weeks of negative press in the run up to the midterms.

But Grimm’s legal troubles still imperil his re-election hopes.

Full story

September 1, 2014

The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Roll Call ranks Landrieu as the most vulnerable senator. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There is a new chart-topper in Roll Call’s latest monthly ranking of the 10 most vulnerable senators.

Montana’s appointed Sen. John Walsh was by far the most endangered incumbent in the chamber at the time of the previous installment in early August, but his decision last month to not seek a full term opened the top slot to a couple other worthy contenders.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is still in a perilous political position, but Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has leapfrogged him on the list to become the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbent. Full story

August 29, 2014

Mitch McConnell’s Campaign Manager Resigns

Mitch McConnells Campaign Manager Resigns

McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jesse Benton, who had worked as the campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election bid, said Friday he would resign.

The veteran operative with close ties to the Paul family released a lengthy statement making the announcement. The Lexington Herald-Leader first reported Benton’s resignation, which is effective Saturday.

The move comes just two days after a former Iowa state senator admitted to accepting $73,000 in concealed payments from former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. In exchange for the money, that individual, Kent Sorenson, switched endorsements from Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to Paul, a Texas Republican.

Full story

Likely Stockman Successor Has Deep Texas Roots

Likely Stockman Successor Has Deep Texas Roots

Babin and wife Roxanne celebrate. (Courtesy Tyler County Booster)

WOODVILLE, Texas — Brian Babin, the small-town dentist poised to take over Steve Stockman’s House seat in November, may be a political unknown in Washington — but don’t try peddling that line to folks here.

Everybody in the vast, mostly rural 36th in southeast Texas, it seems, knows “Doc Babin.”

Likely Stockman Successor Has Deep Texas RootsDuring an interview with CQ Roll Call recently at a diner in his hometown, the 66-year-old Republican was greeted with hugs and handshakes from almost everyone in the lunch crowd, including a star-struck waitress who said she’s been a fan — “He’s great!” — of the longtime local dentist since she was a little girl.

Babin, dressed casually in jeans and a checked shirt, worked the room like he was the mayor (which, of course, is one of the many posts he’s held in this community of 2,586).

“After all these years, I feel like I know every Republican in five counties — and most Democrats, too, for that matter,” Babin said, grinning.

Those connections, built up over decades — he’s also been a city councilman, a school board member, chamber of commerce director, state historical commission member and a representative on the area water authority — made him a formidable contender when Stockman announced last year he would forgo another term in the House to mount what turned out to be an ill-fated challenge to Sen. John Cornyn.

Full story

August 28, 2014

Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

Garcia speaks with audience members as she arrives for GOP debate at Franklin Pierce University. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

RINDGE, N.H. — The total Hispanic population in the sprawling 2nd District hovers just above 3 percent, making it one of the least diverse House districts in the country. But Granite State Republicans could nominate a young Latina with star potential who’s already earned plaudits from national conservatives.

At last week’s Monadnock Debate on the campus of Franklin Pierce University, former state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, 31, was attacked like the front-runner ahead of New Hampshire’s Sept. 9 primary.

Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

Outside the auditorium, a flock of geese garnered more attention than any raucous sign-wavers for Garcia or anyone else on the stage — but the debate itself wasn’t without fireworks. Garcia’s opponents jumped on her relative inexperience, but they also attacked her on an issue that might surprise out-of-state voters.

Even in New Hampshire, thousands of miles away from the southern border, immigration has become a wedge in GOP primaries.

Gary Lambert, a Nashua attorney with 35-plus years of service in the Marine Corps who picked up the endorsement of a hometown newspaper on Monday, said immigration policy is an issue out on the campaign trail.

“I’m just telling you that out there in the 2nd District that issue is extremely important to the voters,” Lambert said. “It comes up at almost every single meeting. It’s one of the singular issues out there. Folks are very worried about the president and his executive amnesty plan.” Full story

Thom Tillis Rebuts Democratic Attacks in New Ad

Thom Tillis Rebuts Democratic Attacks in New Ad

Hagan is tied to the president in a new GOP ad. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis is going up with a new ad Tuesday to combat Democratic ads attacking him for cuts to education.

The state House speaker faces Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in one of the most competitive races and likely the most expensive. The ad is the first of a $1.4 million coordinated buy with the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Democrats have reserved $9.1 million in air time through the election. The party’s first two ads focused on cuts to education made by the legislature under Tillis’ leadership.

Tillis rebuts those claims in the new ad, in which he illustrates on a classroom whiteboard how often Hagan votes with President Barack Obama. Full story

National Democrats Hit Tom Cotton on Social Security

National Democrats Hit Tom Cotton on Social Security

The DSCC is helping Pryor with another ad in Arkansas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a new TV ad in Arkansas Thursday that continues a theme of portraying Republican Rep. Tom Cotton as someone voters can’t trust.

The DSCC’s latest spot is part of a total $3.6 million investment to support Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, whose brand has helped make him competitive for re-election in this Republican-leaning state and in a challenging national environment for his party.

The ad targets the freshman congressman on Social Security. It features Brett Smith of Helena, Ark., vocalizing his concern for his retirement.

“I can see my retirement from here, but every time I see Tom Cotton I feel it slipping away,” Smith says in the ad. Full story

Romanoff Courts Latinos Crucial to Colorado Race

Romanoff Courts Latinos Crucial to Colorado Race

Romanoff, left, toured the theater that caters to the Latino community. Becerra joined the Democratic House candidate on the campaign trail. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Aurora, Colo. — Outside the Cinema Latino as he campaigned against Rep. Mike Coffman, Democratic House hopeful Andrew Romanoff outlines his strategy for winning over Hispanic voters critical to his chances in the Nov. 4 contest.

Romanoff told CQ Roll Call he is optimistic turnout will be high, thanks in part to a state law passed last year to allow same-day registration and voting, as well as a requirement every voters is automatically sent mail-in ballots.

Romanoff Courts Latinos Crucial to Colorado Race

“Those two things — universal mail-in balloting, Election Day registration — will increase turnout and that’s good not just for my campaign…but I think for democracy,” said Romanoff, the former state house speaker.

To win here, Democrats need Latinos to vote. Romanoff, who speaks fluent Spanish, has been trying to win over the community as he battles Coffman in a race The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rate a Tossup.

That’s one reason why on this summer day his campaign has reached out Cinema Latino’s management team for a tour. He lauded the business owners as working to “maximize their connection to the community.” Romanoff has visited a few dozen small- and medium-sized businesses as he tries to win over voters in the 6th District in the central part of the Centennial State. Full story

August 27, 2014

National Democrats Slam Thom Tillis Again on Education Cuts

National Democrats Slam Thom Tillis Again on Education Cuts

A DSCC ad again hits Tillis on education. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Democrats are launching yet another TV ad hitting North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis on state cuts to public education.

Education is rarely the leading issue in a Senate race, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and its allies are pushing to ensure it stays at the forefront of the conversation. Tillis, the speaker of the state House, is challenging Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in a top GOP pickup opportunity.

Senate Majority PAC and EMILY’s List have run similar ads. The latest one is from the DSCC, the second spot of a total $9.1 million buy in the state through the election.

“Our schools are not some luxury,” North Carolina resident Shawn Jackson says in the ad. “But the tax cuts that Thom Tillis gave out for private jets and yachts? Those are. I don’t understand his priorities.” Full story

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