Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 17, 2014

September 16, 2014

Report: Congressional Candidate Fundraising Down in Midterms

Report: Congressional Candidate Fundraising Down in Midterms

A new report says congressional candidates aren't raising as much money as a whole this cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Residents of states with competitive House and Senate races may not believe it, but congressional candidate spending has decreased in 2014, according to a review by the Federal Election Commission released Tuesday.

Congressional candidates raised more than $1.1 billion combined in the first 18 months of the midterm elections. Of those funds, candidates spent $767 million as of June 30, which marked the end of the second quarter of the year.

Both of those figures are down from 2012, when candidates had raised $1.2 billion at the same point in the cycle. In fact, this cycle’s total is the lowest amount raised in this period since 2008.

Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 5:49 p.m.
DCCC, DSCC, FEC, NRCC, NRSC

NRCC Makes $1 Million Ad Buy to Defend GOP Incumbent

NRCC Makes $1 Million Ad Buy to Defend GOP Incumbent

Benishek is getting help from the NRCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Tuesday reserved $1 million in television airtime to defend Michigan Rep. Dan Benishek, according to a source tracking buys in the district.

The NRCC will go up Friday on Traverse City broadcast and stay up through Election Day in support of the two-term incumbent. The buy, which was not part of the NRCC’s initial slew of ad reservations in June, is a signal the party views Benishek as vulnerable.

In 2012, Benishek squeaked his way to a second term by less than a point, even as Mitt Romney won the northern Michigan-based 1st District — which includes the Upper Peninsula — by an 8-point margin.

Full story

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

McConnell's campaign is using this official photo of Obama shooting clay targets (Pete Souza/White House)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign has taken rapid response to the airwaves.

The Kentucky Republican is out with a new TV ad Tuesday rebutting a spot Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes released Monday morning to CQ Roll Call.

The Grimes ad featured the Kentucky secretary of state skeet shooting and highlighting differences from President Barack Obama on several policy issues, including guns and the environment. The McConnell response, which the campaign says is backed by a significant six-figure buy, connects Grimes’ past support of the Democratic Party platform. Full story

NRSC Ad Hits Bruce Braley on Congressional Attendance (Video)

NRSC Ad Hits Bruce Braley on Congressional Attendance (Video)

Braley is the target of another NRSC ad. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is launching a TV ad in Iowa Tuesday that criticizes Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley for his attendance record on the House floor and a committee he served.

The NRSC Independent Expenditure Committee ad, shared first with CQ Roll Call, is at least the second one to slam Braley for missing a significant number of committee hearings.

This one hits the congressman for his time on the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, as well as for missing more votes than any other Iowa member. A previous spot from GOP-aligned Freedom Partners hit Braley for skipping Veterans’ Affairs hearings. Full story

Scott Brown’s Path Back to D.C. Widens

Scott Browns Path Back to D.C. Widens

Brown is a Republican running for Senate in New Hampshire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Sen. Scott P. Brown’s path to victory in the New Hampshire Senate race has widened.

Once a second-tier race that seemed unlikely to impact control of the Senate, a trio of recent polls show the race between Brown and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., has tightened.

A CNN/ORC poll released Monday had the race tied at 48 percent. A WMUR/UNH poll from early August put Shaheen ahead, 46 percent to 44 percent. A CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll conducted in the final weeks of August and early September had Shaheen with 47 percent to Brown’s 41 percent.

Shaheen remains the front-runner, but even Democrats acknowledge the race has moved to a single-digit contest — and Republicans are more bullish about Brown’s chances than ever. Full story

DSCC Topped NRSC in August Fundraising

DSCC Topped NRSC in August Fundraising

Senate Democratic leaders hope to hold the majority in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Tuesday it raised $7.7 million in August, topping its Republican counterpart and bringing its total raised for the cycle to more than $111 million.

With spending on independent-expenditure advertising and a field operation picking up, the DSCC ended last month with more than $25 million in cash on hand. Full story

September 15, 2014

Giffords Group Airs Tough Ad Against Martha McSally

Giffords Group Airs Tough Ad Against Martha McSally

Barber is an Arizona Democrat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

In one of the toughest ads yet of the cycle, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ gun control group is up with a new spot connecting a House candidate’s policies to the actions of a murderous stalker.

The ad will it air in Giffords’ former district around Tucson, where one of the country’s most competitive House races is taking place. Giffords’ group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, is supporting her former top aide, Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, in his rematch against Republican Martha McSally.

In the spot, a tearful Tucson mother described explained how a rejected suitor shot her daughter and her husband. Full story

Shop Talk: Republican Group Starts Women’s Outreach Series

Shop Talk: Republican Group Starts Womens Outreach Series

Ellmers is scheduled to participate in a women's outreach town hall this month in Charlotte. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Main Street Advocacy, a group that seeks to promote moderate Republican ideas, will launch a nationwide initiative later this month to bring more women into the political process.

“Women2Women” kicks off Sept. 25 in Charlotte. GOP Reps. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Susan W. Brooks of Indiana are expected to attend the discussion of issues that women say drive them to the ballot box.

The idea is the brainchild of Sarah Chamberlain, the group’s chief operating officer, who grew frustrated over the past two cycles when Republican candidates’ comments on social issues helped squander GOP pickup opportunities — hindering the party’s past efforts for Senate control. Remarks on rape from former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin and former Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in 2012 — who both lost their Senate races — sullied the GOP’s image among women and likely hurt the party’s chances in other states.

Full story

Democrats Sound the Alarm on Southern California Race

Democrats Sound the Alarm on Southern California Race

Brownley is a freshman Democrat from California. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats are sending warning signals on a previously sleepy southern California House race — a tangible sign of an increasingly tough midterm for the party.

Freshman Rep. Julia Brownley is one of three House Democrats receiving extra and early help from the national party. A year ago, her district was barely on the party’s radar of competitive races, after President Barack Obama carried it by 10 points last cycle.

“This is a tight race and a difficult seat, and we are committed to hanging onto it,” said Matt Thornton, a spokesman for House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC aiding Brownley’s re-election.

Full story

Democratic Poll Shows Dead Heat in New Jersey Race

Democratic Poll Shows Dead Heat in New Jersey Race

MacArthur is running for the House in southern New Jersey. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poll shows a dead heat in a competitive New Jersey House race.

In the survey, obtained first by CQ Roll Call, insurance company owner Tom MacArthur, the Republican nominee, leads the Democrat, Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, 46 percent to 43 percent. The results are within the poll’s 4.9 percent margin of error.

New Jersey’s 3rd District is open this cycle because GOP Rep. Jon Runyan is retiring. The district, which starts in the Philadelphia suburbs and runs east to the Garden State’s coastline, picked President Barack Obama by a 5-point margin in 2012.

But the president’s unpopularity has shifted the national political climate to increasingly favor the GOP in the midterms. Full story

Rand Paul Sets Timeline to Decide Presidential Bid

Rand Paul Sets Timeline to Decide Presidential Bid

Rand Paul has said he's considering running for president in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul will announce whether he’ll run for president by next spring, the Kentucky Republican said Monday.

“Next spring we’ll probably — our decision — when we’ll make our final decision,” Paul told anchor Charlie Rose on “CBS This Morning.”

Paul is one of a handful of Republican senators mulling a national bid in 2016. Full story

Kay Hagan Holds Small Lead in New Poll

Kay Hagan Holds Small Lead in New Poll

Hagan is a North Carolina Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll showed Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, holding a small lead over Republican Thom Tillis in the contested North Carolina Senate race.

The Elon University poll found Hagan ahead of Tillis, 44 percent to 40 percent, among likely voters. The margin of error for the poll is 3.91 points.

Republicans must pick up a net of six seats to gain control of the Senate, and the Tar Heel Senate race is one of their top targets in the midterms. Hagan has held a narrow edge in most polls over the past two months.

You Decide: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

You Decide: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

Associate Politics Editor Kyle Trygstad, left, interviews GOP Senate candidate David Perdue on the campaign trail in Georgia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In our unprecedented effort to cover the midterm elections, Roll Call has hit the campaign trail in 14 states so far this year, covering 24 congressional races and writing 36 datelined stories from Adel, Iowa, to Tallulah, Louisiana.

We’ve written about House and Senate races in ArizonaGeorgiaIllinoisIowaMassachusettsMississippiNew HampshirePennsylvania, TexasWest Virginia and more. Later this week, we’ll head back to Louisiana to cover this cycle’s most vulnerable senator.

You Decide: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

Unfortunately, there are still a few races we haven’t covered yet from the ground — and we’re running out of time. We’d like help from you, our readers, to pick two of Roll Call’s final campaign stops this cycle.

Vote for your race by 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19. Readers will pick two races from the finalists next week. Full story

Alison Lundergan Grimes Shoots Skeet in New Ad (Video) (Updated)

Alison Lundergan Grimes Shoots Skeet in New Ad (Video) (Updated)

McConnell, center, is the minority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:57 p.m. | The latest television spot from Alison Lundergan Grimes shows her skeet shooting on a farm as part of the Senate nominee’s attempt to create distance with an unpopular president in the midterms.

The Kentucky Democrat will face Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. In the spot, after firing a few rounds at clay pigeons, Grimes looks at the camera and says “I’m not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA.”

Full story

Democrats Have a Plan to Overcome Obama in Red States

Democrats Have a Plan to Overcome Obama in Red States

Hagan is a North Carolina Democrat seeking re-election this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As national analysts say the odds are increasingly against them, Democratic senators and senior operatives remain optimistic the party’s most vulnerable incumbents can survive stiff re-election challenges, even in red states where the president’s popularity is sunk.

With his national approval ratings mired in the low 40s seven weeks out from the Nov. 4 elections, Senate Democrats are well aware of the anchor President Barack Obama is proving to be in the midterms. It’s clear party strategists have had to tailor their red-state strategies around that reality on a map already tilted against them, with three principles at the crux of Democrats’ path to defend seats in GOP-leaning and solidly Republican states where the majority will be won or lost.

As Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Guy Cecil outlined in an interview last week with CQ Roll Call, it’s imperative for Democrats in these states to remind voters why they supported the incumbent in the first place, to over-perform generic Democratic numbers and continue to fund persuasion efforts — along with getting out the vote — through Election Day.

“The president’s ratings are a factor in our elections, but they are not the only factor in our elections,” Cecil said, noting the tens of millions of dollars being spent on advertising and the DSCC’s field campaign efforts. Full story

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