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

Posts by Alexis Levinson

95 Posts

August 21, 2014

Slip of the Tongue in South Dakota Senate Debate (Video)

Slip of the Tongue in South Dakota Senate Debate (Video)

Republicans are favored to pick up Johnson's open seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

South Dakota Democratic Senate hopeful Rick Weiland apparently is not so hopeful.

Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds is the clear front-runner for the state’s open Senate seat, and Weiland accidentally ceded that fact at a debate Wednesday.

“Senator — or, soon-to-be —” Weiland said before catching himself and laughing. “No, not soon-to-be. That’s a good gaffe. I’ll take that back. Soon-to-want-to-be Sen. Mike Rounds.” Full story

Once a GOP Staffer, Candidate Now Vies to Be Main Event

Once a GOP Staffer, Candidate Now Vies to Be Main Event

Young, left, and Grassley, right, campaign at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ADEL, Iowa – When David Young first became Sen. Charles E. Grassley’s chief of staff seven years ago, the senator sat him down for a talk. Young thought he was in for the riot act or a long list of rules.

Once a GOP Staffer, Candidate Now Vies to Be Main Event

Instead, as he tells it in the parking lot where people are shucking corn for the Adel Sweet Corn Festival, Iowa’s beloved senior senator recounted some advice he received when he first came to Washington.

“He said, ‘[whatever] your constituents want, anything and everything, you do it,’” Young recalls. “‘If they want you to cut their toenails, you cut their toenails.’”

A few weeks later, Young went out and bought enough toenail clippers for the entire staff as a reminder of their mission. Today, Young recounts that tale as a candidate for Iowa’s open 3rd District. Grassley tells the same story in Young’s first general election radio ad.

Young jokes that he probably needs to start carrying around toenail clippers. “Undoubtedly, someone’s going to come up to me and say, ‘Cut ‘em Dave,’” he jokes, saying he might also need “a 5 gallon Purell pump” to finish the job.

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

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 14, 2014

Harry Reid to Fundraise for Two Democrats in Lake Tahoe

Harry Reid to Fundraise for Two Democrats in Lake Tahoe

Harry Reid of Nevada is the Senate Majority Leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will hold a retreat in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, this weekend with donors to boost two Democratic Senate campaigns: Rep. Gary Peters’ bid in Michigan and Sen. Al Franken’s re-election in Minnesota.

According to an invitation obtained by CQ Roll Call, the Lake Tahoe Retreat runs from Aug. 15 through 17 at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino in Incline Village. The required contribution to attend is $10,000 with checks made payable to Searchlight Lake Tahoe Victory Fund, Reid’s joint fundraising committee. Full story

August 13, 2014

Senate Democrats Launch $9.1 Million Ad Buy in North Carolina

 

Senate Democrats Launch $9.1 Million Ad Buy in North Carolina

Tillis is hit by a TV ad from national Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched a hard-hitting ad Wednesday against the Republican challenger to Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., the first spot of a $9.1 million investment in the state through Election Day.

The spot attacks state Speaker Thom Tillis on education, saying the budget passed by the state Legislature last year had negative impacts. Hagan has leveled similar attacks against Tillis, tying him to laws that emerged from last year’s legislative session.

“House speaker Thom Tillis drew a bull’s-eye on public schools, cutting nearly $500 million,” a female narrator says. At the same time, the narrator says, he gave “tax breaks to yacht and jet owners.” Full story

It’s the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State Fair

Its the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State Fair

Grassley hams it up in the pork tent at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — At the Iowa State Fair, the walk from the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building to the swine barn should take about five minutes.

But with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, it takes 45.

Its the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State FairSince the Republican was first elected to the Senate in 1980, Grassley, the Hawkeye State’s senior senator, has never been re-elected with less than 64 percent of the vote. At the Iowa State Fair, it is easy to see why.

On Friday, Grassley could not travel more than 10 feet without people stopping to shake his hand, get a picture or tell him how he great he is. GOP candidates agree with that sentiment: He was at the fair to campaign with Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for Senate to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

“I’d like to introduce you to someone. This is Joni Ernst, she’s running for Senate,” Grassley says, time and time again. Full story

August 12, 2014

In Iowa Senate Race, It’s Personality Versus Policy

In Iowa Senate Race, Its Personality Versus Policy

Ernst embraces a young supporter at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Joni Ernst is a hugger.

At the Iowa State Fair, the GOP’s nominee to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is hugging people she knows, people she’s meeting for the first time, and people who are excited to see her. On Friday, Ernst stops to hug and chat up someone else while Iowa’s three most senior Republican state officials — Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey — wait for her at a podium 10 feet away.

In Iowa Senate Race, Its Personality Versus PolicyErnst’s strong suit as a Senate candidate is that people seem to want to hug her back.

“Joni, we love you, honey! Keep up the good work!” shouts a man as she walks the fair with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.

Six months ago, Ernst was a second-tier candidate with little money in a four-way Republican primary. Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley had cleared the field, raised money, and seemed likely to keep the seat in his party’s hands.

Then, Ernst made a splashy ad about castrating hogs and a video emerged of Braley derisively referring to Grassley as just “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” Suddenly, Ernst was a contender, and Braley was back on his heels, trying to apologize to the state’s beloved senior senator.

Ernst rode that momentum to a resounding primary victory two months later, and since then, the race has been counted among the most competitive of the cycle. Ernst could well be Iowa’s first female senator if the Hawkeye State voters prefer her farm girl charm over Braley’s record in Congress.

It’s why walking the fair with Braley and Ernst is like experiencing night and day.

Full story

August 11, 2014

Jindal Calls McAllister an ‘Embarrassment’

Jindal Calls McAllister an Embarrassment

Jindal, right, met with Iowa politicians like Grassley. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal thinks Rep. Vance McAllister should step down, calling the Louisiana Republican’s continued tenure an “embarrassment” thanks to a scandal that left him with the nickname the “Kissing Congressman.”

“Look, he originally made the right decision when he decided not to run for reelection,” Jindal told CQ Roll Call during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on Saturday. “I said he should have stepped down at the time. I think he’s making a mistake, I think he should, I think he should’ve stuck to his original decision and not go back inside to try to run again. I think it’d be better for him, he said he wanted some time for privacy and to spend that time with his family, I think that’d be a good thing for him to do.”

“I think it’s been an embarrassment to him, the district, and the state,” Jindal added.

Full story

August 7, 2014

Tennessee GOP Primary Results: Lamar Alexander Wins

Tennessee GOP Primary Results: Lamar Alexander Wins

Alexander has served two terms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander likely secured his Senate seat for another term Thursday, handily winning the GOP primary in a safe Republican state.

Alexander led state Rep. Joe Carr 52.4 percent to 37.4 percent, with 20 percent of precincts reporting when The Associated Press called the race.

His victory means no Republican senators have lost a primary challenge, ending the tea party’s streak at two cycles. None of the remaining primaries feature a Republican senator .

Full story

August 6, 2014

Tennessee Primary: Tea Party’s Last Chance

Tennessee Primary: Tea Partys Last Chance

Alexander is favored to prevail in his primary Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tennessee Republicans head to the polls Thursday to decide the fate of Sen. Lamar Alexander, marking the last chance for tea-party-aligned conservatives to oust an incumbent senator in a primary.

It will likely be an anticlimactic finish to the primary season in a cycle that featured several potentially vulnerable incumbents, who all swatted away challenges from their right. Full story

Senate Candidate Targets Democrat on Immigration

Michigan Republican Terri Lynn Land is launching a TV ad Wednesday accusing her Democratic opponent in the state’s open Senate race of trying to have it both ways on immigration.

The spot, provided first to CQ Roll Call, shows back-to-back clips of Rep. Gary Peters talking about immigration. In the first, he says, “Certainly enforcement is very important.” In the second, he says, “Immigration reform is not about more enforcement.”

It comes one day after the Michigan primaries, marking the formal kickoff to a potentially competitive race in this Democratic-leaning state. Land and Peters ran uncontested for their respective nominations. Full story

House Candidate Launches First Ad in Open Seat Race

Iowa Democrat Staci Appel is airing her first TV ad Wednesday in a highly targeted, open-seat race for House Democrats.

Appel is squaring off with Republican David Young, a former staffer for Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, in one of the most competitive House races. The two are vying for the seat of retiring GOP Rep. Tom Latham.

The ad, a positive bio spot provided first to CQ Roll Call, is the first from either major party nominee. It will run district-wide on cable and network TV, though the campaign did not provide the size of the buy.

Full story

August 5, 2014

Kansas Primary Results: Pat Roberts Tops Tea Party Challenger (Updated) (Video)

Kansas Primary Results: Pat Roberts Tops Tea Party Challenger (Updated) (Video)

Roberts is a Kansas Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:56 p.m. | Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts survived a Republican primary challenge Tuesday, defeating Milton Wolf and extinguishing conservative hopes of taking down another incumbent this cycle.

Roberts led Wolf, 48 percent to 41 percent, when The Associated Press called the race for the incumbent with 70 percent of precincts reporting. That’s a weak performance for a three-term incumbent, but he held on in a year featuring several challenges to Republican senators.

Roberts, who was first elected to Congress more than three decades ago, battled the perception he was a creature of Washington, D.C., who spent little time at home in the Sunflower State. Wolf, a tea-party-aligned candidate and distant cousin of President Barack Obama, battered Roberts on the topic. Full story

August 4, 2014

Top 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Top 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

In 2014 Senate races, Pryor is one of the most vulnerable Democrats. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three months before Election Day, it’s clear some senators may not return to Congress after the midterms — and that’s mostly good news for Republicans.

The GOP’s path to the Senate majority includes a mix of open seats and targeted Democratic incumbents. The two most vulnerable seats are in South Dakota and West Virginia, where Democratic senators are retiring. Republicans also have opportunities in open seats in Iowa and, to a lesser degree, Michigan.

But even if they are victorious in those states, the GOP must defeat at least two incumbents to reach the net six seats needed for control.

Luckily for Republicans, Democrats make up the vast majority of endangered senators seeking re-election. The GOP has a lengthy catalog of states where it has an opportunity to win, though there is a wide gap betweenthe  No. 1 and No. 10 most vulnerable senators — who are ordered by most likely to lose.

Roll Call’s “10 Most Vulnerable Senators” list will be updated monthly ahead of the Nov. 4 elections. For now, here is where the incumbents stand: Full story

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