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August 26, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Freshman Rep. Rodney Davis entered the midterms as one of the most vulnerable Republicans on the map.
In 2012, the former staffer for Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., won the 13th District by a mere 1,002 votes to a perennial Democrat panned by party operatives. This cycle, Democrats in Illinois and Washington, D.C., recruited former judge Ann Callis, billing her as a top-tier challenger who could win this Springfield-based swing seat.
But nearly two months from Election Day, Republican operatives in the Land of Lincoln and Washington, D.C., are cautiously optimistic about Davis’ chances, thanks to his adept political skills and favorable tail winds behind the GOP in the midterms. At the same time, Republicans and, privately, Democrats say Callis has not lived up to her candidacy’s hype or made the necessary inroads to win the district.
“Other than knowing her name I don’t know if she even exists, frankly,” said Mark Scranton, a Republican and blasting and painting company owner from Decatur at the Illinois State Fair. “It’s going to be a challenging race, but I think Rodney’s been in office long enough that he’s proven himself, he makes himself available to his constituents, he’s been in my business several times over the last two or three years.”
Davis also appeared confident at Republican Day, Aug. 14, at the fair, where he glad-handed his way through the crowd of GOP insiders at the unofficial kick-off to election season. A red cup in hand, Davis handed out hugs and back slaps, catching up with operatives, insiders and elected officials, many of whom were pals from his years as a political operative in Illinois and on Capitol Hill.
Former state Sen. Steve Russell easily defeated State Corporations Commissioner Patrice Douglas in Tuesday’s GOP runoff, and now he is on a clear course to join Congress this fall representing Oklahoma’s 5th District.
Russell defeated Douglas, 59 percent to 41 percent, with 31 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. Full story
August 25, 2014
The end of the midterm primary season is nigh, and Tuesday marks the penultimate date of intra-party brawls this cycle.
Most notably, Rep. Ann Kirkptrick, D-Ariz., will at last her learn her general election rival as 1st District’s GOP voters pick a nominee in this competitive race. To the west, suburban Phoenix Republicans will nominate their challenger to freshman Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.
Another pair of House contests in Arizona and Oklahoma will almost certainly pick future House members in districts with highly partisan voting populations. EMILY’s List and a GOP effort to help female candidates also have skin in these contests.
Florida polls close at 7 p.m. EST, while Oklahoma’s close at 8 p.m. EST. Arizona latest polls close out the night at 10 p.m. EST. Check out Roll Call’s “At the Races” blog for live results as soon as the first polls close.
Here are the four things to watch on Tuesday evening:
1. Which Republican will Kirkpatrick face this fall?
Rep. Scott DesJarlais has officially won his primary, barely squeaking past state Sen. Jim Tracy, who conceded Monday after more than two tense weeks following Tennessee’s Republican primary in the 4th District.
“A contest would not be the right thing for the Republican party and the conservative cause in Tennessee,” Tracy said in a statement detailing why he decided not to contest the results.
“I have called Rep. DesJarlais to inform him of my decision to concede and congratulated him,” Tracy continued.
Tracy trailed DesJarlais by 38 votes after all of the votes from the Aug. 7 primary were certified.
August 22, 2014
Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., went up Friday with her first ad of the cycle, touting her commitment to women’s issues.
“I believe we are strongest when women are in charge of their own decisions,” Brownley says in the 30-second spot, which will air on cable districtwide and was provided first to CQ Roll Call. “That’s why I will always fight for equal pay for equal work, and defend your right to choose.” Full story
August 21, 2014
Freshman Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., released his first ad of the cycle Thursday, touting work he’s done that he says has helped “hold Congress accountable.”
The ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, is part of a $2.2 million buy on cable, broadcast and online through November.
“Scott Peters kept his promise: blocked congressional pay raises, and helped pass the ‘No Budget, No Pay’ Act, if they don’t pass a budget, they don’t get a pay check,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot.
August 20, 2014
State Rep. Pat Murphy, the Democratic nominee in the open-seat House contest to replace Iowa Democratic Senate nominee Bruce Braley, had an 11 point lead over his Republican opponent, according to a poll obtained by CQ Roll Call.
Murphy led businessman Rod Blum 51 percent to 40 percent according to the poll conducted by Myers Research and Strategic Services for Murphy’s campaign. The lead was outside the 4.9 percent margin of error.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The national political tide isn’t looking good for Democrats, but in Illinois this November, down-ballot candidates have an even bigger problem: the drag of Gov. Pat Quinn.
The Land of Lincoln is a hotbed of political activity this cycle, with Democrats defending three freshmen House incumbents and looking to pick-off one more — Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in the ultra-competitive 13th District.
All but one of those races take place outside of Chicago’s Cook County — the last bastion of support for Quinn and one of just three counties he carried in the state when he narrowly won the role in 2010. That geography is bad news for Democrats looking to tamp down losses in the midterms.
There was no clearer example of Quinn’s problems than last week’s Illinois State Fair, where elected officials, political operatives and party insiders from both sides of the aisle descended upon the Springfield fairgrounds for each party’s respective day of rallies.
On Aug. 14, Republicans flocked to the fairgrounds to support Bruce Rauner, the party’s wealthy gubernatorial nominee who rolled up to the rally on his Harley Davidson and then delivered a red-meat speech going after Quinn in front of a fired up crowd of supporters.
It was a stark contrast from Democrats’ gathering the day before, where instead of riling up his base at the fair, Quinn instead hosted a low-key picnic to pose for photos with a more mellow group of supporters, many of whom were bussed in from the Chicago area.
August 18, 2014
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raked in $11.5 million in July, bringing the committee’s total cash on hand to $56.7 million in the final stretch of the cycle, according to numbers released by the committee Monday.
The DCCC’s haul far surpasses the $8 million the National Republican Congressional Committee brought in during the same month. The NRCC’s July fundraising means the committee will report $48 million in the bank.
August 13, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Ill., — Back in their home states for the August recess, the Senate’s two top Democrats said Wednesday they are optimistic about the prospects of maintaining control of the chamber in November.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a union audience in Nevada that he believed Democrats would keep the Senate if the elections were held today, while also pushing steelworkers to work to get out the vote. And in Springfield, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin spoke to a gaggle of reporters outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and other statewide elected officials spoke to mark Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair.
The Senate leaders discussed the state of play with each other as recently as Tuesday, Durbin said.
Democrats face a challenging map and are likely to lose at least three open seats, but they are optimistic about their most-endangered incumbents and not allowing Republicans to pick up an additional three.
“Right now we have 55 seats. We lose six and we lose the majority,” Durbin said. “There are two or three that are tough, tough states, but the rest of them we feel pretty good about.” Full story
August 12, 2014
Former state Rep. Tom Emmer decisively defeated Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah Tuesday in the GOP primary for Minnesota’s open 6th District, putting him on a near certain path to Congress this fall to succeed retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
Emmer bested Sivarajah, 76.5 percent to 23.5 percent, with 28 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.
August 7, 2014
Updated: 11:00 a.m. | It was a night of small margins in Tennessee Thursday with one House Republican narrowly defeating his primary challenger and another clinging to a 33-vote lead headed into Friday morning.
The Associated Press called the race for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann with 98 percent of precincts reporting in Tennessee’s 3rd District. Fleischmann garnered 50.8 percent of the vote against venture capitalist Weston Wamp, the son of former Rep. Zach Wamp.
Fleischmann will face Democrat Mary Headrick in November, a contest rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Over in the Volunteer State’s 4th district, initial numbers showed Rep. Scott Desjarlais with a 33-vote lead with all precincts reporting, but those numbers were updated Friday morning, and left DesJarlais trailing by 2. The AP has not yet called that race.
August 5, 2014
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
Two House members have already lost their re-election in primaries this cycle — and it’s unlikely they will be the last with ruined plans to return to Congress.
Since the last edition of this ongoing feature, Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, lost re-nomination, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was upset in his Virginia primary and Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., survived his primary by a small margin.
Roll Call’s latest edition of the “Top 10 Most Vulnerable House Members” shows several more incumbents in peril. Some of them face top-notch opponents, others are running in unfavorable districts; a couple members just don’t run good campaigns.
We’ll revise this list during the first week of each month through Election Day. For now, here are the 10 most vulnerable House members in alphabetical order:
July 31, 2014
Two years is a lifetime in politics. Just ask Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
GOP operatives had all but written off the Tennessee Republican. In October 2012, it was revealed the anti-abortion rights physician had encouraged an ex-wife to have two abortions prior to their marriage and had carried on multiple affairs with patients and co-workers — an infraction for which he was fined $500 by a medical board.
It was too late for DesJarlais to face a serious challenge that cycle, but he soon became one of 2014′s most vulnerable House members. As DesJarlais’ campaign cash flow dried up, he faced a formidable foe: state Sen. Jim Tracy.
Until recently, Tennessee Republicans expected Tracy, a longtime state politician, to cruise past DesJarlais in the Aug. 7 primary. But in the final days of the race, DesJarlais is in a better position than Republicans ever anticipated.
He might even win. Full story