Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 29, 2014

Posts by Colin Diersing

14 Posts

August 19, 2014

Peterson’s Greatest Challenge Yet, but GOP Still Looks to 2016

Petersons Greatest Challenge Yet, but GOP Still Looks to 2016

(Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images File Photo)

Minnesota Democrats think Rep. Collin C. Peterson is nearly unbeatable in the 7th District. For the first time in more than a decade, that theory is about to be put to the test.

Peterson is one of just a handful of House Democrats representing a decidedly Republican district, but he has won re-election even in GOP wave years. In 2012, presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the conservative, rural district by 10 points as the Democratic lawmaker won his race by a 25-point margin.

This year, Peterson faces his most formidable challenger in several cycles. Though the Democrat remains the front-runner, Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom brings a compelling life story as the first blind member of the legislature, and more political experience than any of Peterson’s recent opponents.

“We’re paying attention,” Peterson told CQ Roll Call in a recent interview. “We’ve never been targeted before, so we’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen.”

Minnesota Republicans and Democrats agree on one point, at least: Westrom has a good shot at ending up in Congress.

It’s just not clear when.

Full story

July 25, 2014

Republicans Unite in Tossup New York House Race

Republicans Unite in Tossup New York House Race

Doheny endorsed his former primary opponent. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New York Republican Matt Doheny endorsed Elise Stefanik at a press conference Friday, more than a month after losing to her in a House race primary.

Stefanik, who was recently added to the NRCC’s Young Guns program, faces Democrat Aaron Woolf for the 21st District seat being vacated by Democrat Bill Owens. The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Report/Roll Call. Full story

July 24, 2014

Quirky Ex-Senator Stomps on Democrats’ S.D. Hopes

Quirky Ex Senator Stomps on Democrats S.D. Hopes

Johnson is retiring. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

South Dakota Democrats are playing a tough hand in the Senate race, but they thought they could count on a wild card — former Sen. Larry Pressler — to help the contest break their way.

Pressler seems to have other plans.

Democrats already faced long odds to hold retiring Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson’s seat. Obama lost South Dakota by 18 points last cycle, and the state marks the GOP’s best pick-up opportunity in its 6-seat quest to win the majority.

The front-runner, popular former GOP Gov. Mike Rounds, faces several foes: Democrat Rick Weiland; state Sen. Gordon Howie, a conservative Republican running as an independent; and Pressler, who served three terms as a Republican but is running as an independent.

Democrats held out hope the race would become competitive if Pressler splintered GOP votes from Rounds. But so far, Pressler is doing the opposite — splitting Democrats and extinguishing the party’s remaining hopes of keeping the seat.

“He seems to be veering to the left,” said Ben Nesselhuf, former South Dakota Democratic Party chairman, in an interview with Roll Call. “I like this Larry Pressler a lot more than I liked the one in the mid 1990s. … His message and Rick Weiland’s message seem to kind of overlap.”

Full story

July 22, 2014

Democratic Poll: The Issues That Resonate With Single Women Voters

Democratic Poll: The Issues That Resonate With Single Women Voters

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., participated in a recent news conference on legislation following the Hobby Lobby decision. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A new poll of likely voters in 12 Senate battleground states suggests a populist economic message and focus on women’s health issues could help Democrats improve their standing with unmarried women voters in advance of the midterm elections.

The poll was conducted by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg’s Democracy Corps in collaboration with Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, which focuses on increasing participation among unmarried women voters.

It found that Democratic candidates are currently underperforming with unmarried women voters, beating Republicans among the crucial demographic by just 11 points, compared to a 20-point gap in the 2010 midterms. But the poll also gave Democrats suggestions for messages that are most likely to resonate with this voting bloc.

“The movement in the races and in the states is really about the movement of unmarried women … based on hearing an economic agenda that resonates with their lives,” said Page Gardner, the founder of Women’s Voices Women Vote. Full story

July 21, 2014

The Re-Education of Rick Nolan

The Re Education of Rick Nolan

Nolan came back to Congress in 2012 — three decades after his first stint in the 1970s. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minnesota Democrats have two problems: The 8th District has changed, and Rep. Rick Nolan doesn’t want to.

The Gopher State Democrat returned to Congress in 2012 after a three-decade hiatus. This November, Nolan faces first-time candidate and wealthy businessman Stewart Mills in a historically strong Democratic district that encompasses Minnesota’s Iron Range.

But the district has become increasingly competitive in recent years, and sources from both parties question Nolan’s willingness to adapt to the requirements of a high-stakes, 21st century re-election campaign. Democrats highlight Nolan’s strong retail campaign skills and say they admire his principles — but others say a modern re-election requires more than that.

Full story

July 17, 2014

DNC Chair Predicts Party Will Exceed Expectations in 2014

DNC Chair Predicts Party Will Exceed Expectations in 2014

Wasserman Schultz is a Forida Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the strength of individual candidates will help her party outperform expectations in the upcoming midterms.

“Pundits are wildly misinterpreting or over interpreting,” the Florida Democrat said, specifically responding to a projection published by the Washington Post that gives Republicans an 86 percent chance of taking control of the Senate.

“Models don’t elect candidates. Voters do,” she said, speaking at a Thursday morning event organized by centrist Democratic think tank Third Way. Full story

July 7, 2014

Déjà Vu in Minnesota Senate Race?

Déjà Vu in Minnesota Senate Race?

Franken is seeking re-election in Minnesota. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Al Franken knows the story — just not from this side.

In 2008, a first-time candidate dogged by his career history faced a formidable incumbent dragged down by an unpopular second-term president. The result: now-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., defeated then-Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, in a shockingly close race that only ended after a months-long contentious recount and legal battle.

Now Coleman’s hand-picked candidate wants to return the favor in 2014. Franken will face a wealthy investment banker and first-time candidate, Mike McFadden, in November — and this time, he’s the senator battling an unpopular president’s drag on the ballot.

Full story

July 1, 2014

Democrats Work to Mitigate VA Scandal as Political Issue

Democrats Work to Mitigate VA Scandal as Political Issue

Begich has had to tackle the veterans affairs scandal as he seeks a second term in Alaska. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Politicians have always touted their support for military veterans back home. The willingness to expend federal dollars to provide the best care possible is popular across the partisan spectrum and is rarely cause for controversy.

But the issue has been turned on its head in recent months, with the fallout from the Veterans Affairs scandal prompting even the Obama administration to admit a “corrosive culture” at the VA affecting facilities across the country.

It’s also invited criticism of vulnerable House and Senate Democrats from Republican candidates and outside groups. For Republican challengers and operatives, the VA scandal offers a striking example of federal government mismanagement with a Democrat at the helm and provides another link between Democratic incumbents and President Barack Obama.

“Veterans’ issues tend to be bipartisan, non-controversial and not a big deal in most campaigns — which is why the VA scandal is a problem for Democrats this year,” Republican pollster Dan Judy said. “Democratic candidates in most of the competitive states already have the millstone of President Obama’s unpopularity around their necks, and the VA scandal is only making that weight heavier.”

Full story

June 19, 2014

Kevin McCarthy’s Real Foes: A Horse Breeder, an Ex-Cop and 12-Time Candidate

Kevin McCarthys Real Foes: A Horse Breeder, an Ex Cop and 12 Time Candidate

Kevin McCarthy is a Republican from California. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Regardless of the result of Thursday’s leadership vote, it’s unlikely House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy will suffer the same electoral fate as his colleague, Majority Leader Eric Cantor  — at least this cycle.

The Virginia Republican’s surprise primary loss on June 10 and subsequent decision to step down paved the path for McCarthy, who has emerged as the front-runner for the majority leader gig.

Back home in California’s 23rd District, McCarthy’s opposition is nearly nonexistent. No candidates qualified to appear on the June 3 primary ballot with McCarthy in this solidly Republican district. In California, the top two vote recipients on the primary ballot, regardless of party, proceed to the general election.

But four write-in candidates registered to run in the district, and the one who has received the most votes will appear on the ballot as McCarthy’s challenger in November. Officials are still tabulating the results, which will likely be available on July 1.

Full story

June 16, 2014

Crossroads Upends New York’s 21st District Primary

Crossroads Upends New Yorks 21st District Primary

Crossroads is spending heavily in New York's 21st District primary against Matt Doheny, above. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In New York’s sprawling 21st District, a recent influx of more than $1 million from outside groups has catapulted a 29-year-old first-time candidate ahead of the two-time nominee in the Republican primary for this coveted seat.

American Crossroads alone has already made more than $750,000 in independent expenditures to boost former White House aide Elise Stefanik’s bid — the group’s only spending in a House primary so far in 2014.

The June 24 Republican primary pits Stefanik against Matt Doheny, a deep-pocketed businessman and repeat candidate.

Early on in the race, Doheny’s familiarity with local voters and track record of self-funding his campaigns gave him an advantage. But two outside groups have flooded the district’s airwaves in a way that sources say has thrown the momentum to Stefanik.  Full story

June 9, 2014

Ruben Gallego Seeks Arizona’s 7th District (Video Interview)

State Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat, said he’s unsure how much money he’ll need to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., in the 7th District, according to an interview with CQ Roll Call.

“It’s hard to say,” Gallego said. “It’s not going to be a cheap race. This is a five month race.”

The Democrat is running in a crowded Aug. 26 primary in this Hispanic-majority district based in PhoenixThe Democratic nominee is expected to win the general election in this strong Democratic district.

Gallego’s most formidable opponent is former Maricopa County Board Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, a longtime local official backed by Pastor and EMILY’s List. Full story

June 6, 2014

Alaska Republican Sees Advantage as First-Time Candidate (Video)

Alaska Republican Sees Advantage as First Time Candidate (Video)

Sullivan visited Roll Call in Washington, D.C., June 4. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The candidate: Dan Sullivan, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve; formerly commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, state attorney general and George W. Bush appointee.
The member: Sullivan is running in the Republican primary to challenge first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.
The state: Begich, just the seventh senator in Alaska history, in 2008 became the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alaska since 1974. In 2012, President Barack Obama improved his performance from 2008, but still took just 41 percent. The race is rated Tossup/Tilts Democrat by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
The candidate’s team: Hans Kaiser of Moore Information (polling); FP1 Strategies (media); Arena Communications (direct mail); Michael Dubke of the Black Rock Group (general consultant); Ben Sparks (campaign manager).

Full story

June 4, 2014

Democrat Picks Preferred GOP Opponent in Maine (Video)

The candidate: State Sen. Emily Cain.
The member: Cain is running for the Democratic nomination in Maine’s 2nd District, an open-seat race because Democratic Rep. Michael H. Michaud is running for governor.
The district: Located in the northern part of the state, this district voted for President Barack Obama with 53 percent in 2012.
The candidate’s team: Jill Normington (polling), Steven Stenberg of The Strategy Group (mail), CD2 (media).

Full story

June 2, 2014

Report: Attitudes Changing Toward Female Candidates

Report: Attitudes Changing Toward Female Candidates

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia is one of the Senate GOP's top female candidates this cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As top female candidates around the country vie for competitive Senate and House seats in 2014, a report released Monday outlines key opportunities and challenges facing women who run for office.

Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women, a report from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, outlines shifting perceptions of female candidates. The report cautioned that women still face unique challenges running for office, but the authors also offered promising news for female politicians on voters’ perception of their economic acumen and non-traditional qualifications.

Foundation President Barbara Lee said the foundation’s research “applies to women running for office at every level,” though it focuses on women running for governor.

In the midterms, female candidates are running in some of the most high-profile races around the country, including Alison Lundergan Grimes’ challenge to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and state Sen. Joni Ernst’s Senate bid in Iowa. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 24 women are still in the running for Senate and 220 for House this cycle. Women currently hold 19 percent of seats in Congress. Full story

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