Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 22, 2014

October 22, 2014

Senate Races 2014: Why Michigan Never Became Iowa

Senate Races 2014: Why Michigan Never Became Iowa

Peters is the Democratic nominee in Michigan. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Earlier this cycle, Republicans viewed the Michigan Senate race as a potential pick-up opportunity, much like the seat in Iowa.

But it didn’t turn out that way — not even close.

Both Iowa and Michigan featured open-seat races. In these states, Democrats had cleared the field to nominate a House member with partisan voting records. Meanwhile, the GOP’s top candidate picks took a pass on these Senate races, forcing the party to settle for second-tier recruits. To be sure, Michigan was a slightly more favorable battleground for Democrats — but Republicans were bullish about it.

Now, with two weeks until Election Day, the Iowa race is a dead heat with both parties spending massively to win the seat. Nearly 500 miles away, Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., solidly leads former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in every public poll. Earlier this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled more than $850,000 out of the state, canceling its final two weeks of television for Land and indicating the race was over.

“I’d rather be on Gary Peters’ campaign than on Terri Lynn Land’s,” said Michigan Republican consultant Dennis Darnoi.

So what happened? Full story

October 21, 2014

Crossroads Targets Nevada Democrat

Crossroads Targets Nevada Democrat

Horsford is a Democrat from Nevada. ( Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Crossroads GPS, a GOP group, bought $1 million in airtime Tuesday to target Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., an incumbent who was not considered vulnerable until now. Full story

House Democrats Boost Incumbents With TV Money

House Democrats Boost Incumbents With TV Money

This is the first time Democrats are spending on Loebsack's race. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats continue to bolster their incumbents, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee expanding its defensive spending.

Most notably, the DCCC is spending more in support of Democratic Reps. Collin C. Peterson in Minnesota and Dave Loebsack in Iowa, races that are only in recent days coming to the forefront of the House map.

Here are the changes, made as both parties re-evaluate their chances with two weeks to go until Election Day:

Full story

October 20, 2014

DCCC Raised $5 Million More Than NRCC in September

DCCC Raised $5 Million More Than NRCC in September

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats outraised the GOP by $5 million in September. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $5 million more than its Republican counterpart in September, as the two committees headed into the final stretch of the cycle.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which is defending a significant majority it’s all but guaranteed to retain, raised $11.4 million in September, according to a committee aide. The DCCC reported earlier Monday raising $16.7 million in September. Full story

San Diego DA: No Charges in Carl DeMaio Campaign Incidents

San Diego DA: No Charges in Carl DeMaio Campaign Incidents

DeMaio is a top Republican recruit. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The San Diego District Attorney’s office said it will not press criminal charges at this time regarding two investigations dogging Republican Carl DeMaio in a competitive House contest in California, according to a statement from the office Monday.

DeMaio is challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in a top pickup opportunity for Republicans, but the spate of news reports about the incidents has threatened to derail his bid.

In May, DeMaio’s campaign headquarters was vandalized in an alleged break-in, with thousands of dollars of computer equipment and other technology damaged. Then earlier this month, DeMaio revealed at a news conference that a former campaign staffer, Todd Bosnich, had accused DeMaio of sexual harassment. DeMaio denied the accusation, calling it a “smear” tactic to hurt his chances in the final month of the race.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a statement that the two cases involving DeMaio and his campaign were investigated by the San Diego Police Department, and there was insufficient evidence at this point to move forward with charges.

Full story

Michelle Nunn’s Big Challenge: Breaking 50 Percent

Michelle Nunns Big Challenge: Breaking 50 Percent

Nunn is introduced by state Sen. Freddie Powell Sims at an April campaign event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The competitive open-seat Senate race in Georgia has become an unwanted liability for Republicans’ chances of winning a majority, but Democrat Michelle Nunn still has a perilous path to win a majority of the vote on Nov. 4.

National Republicans, who just spent $1.4 million more to support their nominee, say David Perdue is still ahead. But his comments about his “outsourcing” past have undoubtedly breathed new life into the Nunn campaign — and given national Democrats their best offensive opportunity.

Still, with a third-party candidate expected to take a chunk of votes, an unfavorable national climate and a small margin for error in this Republican-leaning state, Nunn has several hurdles standing in the way of her best chance for victory — winning a majority of the vote on Election Day. Perdue would be favored in a Jan. 6 runoff because turning out the vote then would be an even heavier lift for Democrats.

“The numbers are strong,” said state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who recently led a statewide voter registration drive aimed at young minorities. “It’s certainly all about turnout, which is a generic trope, but real. If we can turn out the voters, she can win in November. But we have to be prepared for any eventuality, and I think the campaign is prepared for that.” Full story

For House GOP, a Wave … Or a Trickle?

For House GOP, a Wave ... Or a Trickle?

Kirkpatrick is one of the most endangered Democrats this cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans are on track to make gains this cycle, but two weeks before Election Day, it’s still unclear whether the party will procure a wave of double-digit gains in their quest to extend the majority.

Members of Congress and operatives alike note this is a toxic time for Democrats on the ballot that should result in huge losses for the president’s party. But a race-by-race evaluation of the House map shows Republicans are more likely in a position to pick up a net of around six seats this cycle.

“After two successful cycles for House Republicans, the playing field confines the upper limits of pickups that can be had,” said Brock McCleary, a Republican pollster.

Public surveys show President Barack Obama’s unpopularity, as events in the Middle East and Ebola on the home front drag down Democrats coast to coast. House Democrats are defending more seats than Republicans this cycle.

But this midterm is shaping up to be one of the most perplexing in recent memory. Both parties are on offense, and both parties are on defense. In private polling, dozens of races are too close to call. Given the unpredictability, it’s also possible the next 14 days could exacerbate Democratic losses.

Here’s why most political operatives estimate Republican will have a net gain in the mid-single digits:

Full story

Clay Aiken Returns to TV (Video)

Clay Aiken Returns to TV (Video)

Aiken released his first TV ad. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken, the Democratic nominee in North Carolina’s 2nd District, went up Monday with his first ad of the general election.

With two weeks to go, Aiken talks to camera in the 30-second spot, attacking Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers for keeping her paycheck during the government shut down, among other things.

Full story

NRCC Cuts TV Buy in Maine

NRCC Cuts TV Buy in Maine

Cain is the Democratic nominee in Maine's 2nd District. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee is cutting the last two weeks of its television reservations in Maine’s 2nd District, according to a committee spokeswoman.

The NRCC originally reserved $1.6 million for the open-seat race to succeed Rep. Michael H. Michaud, a Democrat who is running for governor. The committee spent $965,000 of that reservation, but will now shift the remaining funds to offensive seats elsewhere.

“We have put Democrats on defense in Maine, and we are increasing our buys in several offensive seats,” NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek told Roll Call on Monday.

The committee will now add six-figure sums to four other offensive opportunity races: Full story

New DSCC Ad Hits Thom Tillis on Women’s Health

New DSCC Ad Hits Thom Tillis on Womens Health

Kay Hagan is up for re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going up with a new ad in North Carolina attacking Republican Thom Tillis on women’s health issues.

Tillis faces Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. The race had been trending narrowly in Hagan’s favor, but last week the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced the party would invest an additional $6 million for the final few weeks. Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate, and they want this to be one of them.

The new ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, slams Tillis for acting to “defund Planned Parenthood,” and for previously saying that businesses should be able to deny coverage of contraceptives to their employees. Full story

DCCC Raised $16.7 Million in September

DCCC Raised $16.7 Million in September

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

House Democrats raised $16.7 million in September, according to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aide.

The committee ended last month with $34 million in the bank. Much of that money is currently being spent on television in House races across the country.  Full story

Mark Begich Targeted on Arctic Oil Drilling in New GOP TV Ad (Video)

Mark Begich Targeted on Arctic Oil Drilling in New GOP TV Ad (Video)

Begich is being targeted on ANWR in a new TV ad. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Republican-aligned outside group is hitting Alaska Sen. Mark Begich for failing to persuade his party to support opening drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Utilizing a theme of broken campaign promises from 2008, when Begich defeated Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, the new TV ad from American Crossroads hammers the Democrat for both the percentage of votes on which he agreed with the president last year and the fact that Congress has not approved ANWR oil exploration.

“We’ve had six years of Begich’s broken politics,” the ad’s announcer says. “Alaska needs a change.” Full story

October 17, 2014

Iowa Senate Race Becomes Headache for House Democrats

Iowa Senate Race Becomes Headache for House Democrats

Ernst, right, is running for Senate as a Republican in Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A competitive Senate contest in the Hawkeye State is creating a ripple effect down ballot, causing headaches for national Democrats as Election Day nears.

Recent polls show state Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, with a small lead over Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat. But the Republican’s advantage has percolated to three of Iowa’s four House contests, keeping one competitive district in contention for Republicans, plus putting two Democratic seats in play.

In particular, Ernst’s performance is buoying former Capitol Hill aide David Young, the Republican nominee in the competitive 3rd District, which is currently rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Privately, Iowa Republican operatives said Young is running a lackluster campaign against former state Sen. Staci Appel, a Democrat.

In the end, Ernst might be the one to pull him over the edge.

“I do think it looks to be like a pretty good year for Republicans in Iowa,” said John Stineman, an Iowa Republican operative. “It’s kind of a nail biter, but both Young and Ernst should be able to pull this out if we keep the momentum.”

Full story

Are These 10 Vulnerable Members Lucky or Good?

Are These 10 Vulnerable Members Lucky or Good?

Sinema is running for re-election in a competitive district in Arizona. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

All’s fair in love and … House races? Not so much.

Less than three weeks before Election Day, would-be safe incumbents such as Reps. Lee Terry, R-Neb., and Brad Schneider, D-Ill., are scrambling to win in partisan districts — while these 10 members are headed for victory in otherwise competitive districts.

Some are blessed with luck. Others create it for themselves. It’s your call which is which.

Here are the luckiest — er, slickest — incumbents of 2014, in alphabetical order: Full story

NRCC Throws Hail Mary in Nebraska House Race (Video)

NRCC Throws Hail Mary in Nebraska House Race (Video)

Terry, center, faces a tough race in Nebraska this cycle. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s the Willie Horton ad of 2014.

The National Republican Congressional Committee went up with an ad Friday tying the Democratic nominee in a competitive Nebraska House race to Nikko Jenkins, a former inmate convicted of murdering four people after his early release from jail.

It’s an ad reminiscent of the Willie Horton spot former President George H.W. Bush ran in 1988, tying his Democratic opponent to a convicted murderer who raped a woman while on a weekend pass from prison.

Republicans hope the Nikko Jenkins ad in the Omaha-based 2nd District will turn things around for Rep. Lee Terry, one of just two GOP House incumbents in a race rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Full story

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