Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

Posts by Emily Cahn

610 Posts

October 24, 2014

DCCC Polls Hawaii House Race

DCCC Polls Hawaii House Race

Djou served in Congress for several months in 2010. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new Democratic poll shows the party’s nominee in an open House contest in Hawaii with a 7-point lead over the Republican.

State Rep. Mark Takai, a Democrat, led former Republican Rep. Charles Djou, 49 percent to 42 percent, according to the survey, which was conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Public polling has shown a closer race, either a dead heat or with Djou slightly leading Takai. Both are seeking to succeed Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat who lost the primary for Senate earlier this year.

This week, American Action Network, a GOP group, went up with $300,000 on Honolulu broadcast attacking Takai’s past comments on taxes. They hope Djou will upset the Aloha State’s 1st District, which voted for President Barack Obama by a 41-percent margin in 2012.

On Friday, the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call to moved the race rating to Leans Democratic.

Full story

DCCC Spends to Boost Five Incumbents

DCCC Spends to Boost Five Incumbents

Rahall is receiving a boost from national Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added an additional $1.3 million in ad buys Friday in five districts to boost incumbents with increasingly challenging re-election races.

The cash injection comes 11 days before voters head to the polls and signals House Democrats are increasingly fearful they could see double-digit losses on election night.

Here are the five districts where the DCCC is adding airtime:

Full story

7 Nail-Biter House Races

7 Nail Biter House Races

Martha McSally, a Republican, is running in Arizona. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Less than two weeks before Election Day, the parties don’t agree on much — except these House races will be decided by the slimmest of margins.

Candidates in these contests are expected to have a long wait on the evening of Nov. 4. In fact, some of these races will be so close that the winner might not be known for days — even weeks — after Election Day.

Last cycle, nine House races were too close to call on election night. One candidate even attended freshman orientation the following week, before officially losing the race and heading home.

In alphabetical order, here are the House contests this cycle that operatives expect will come down to the wire on Election Day:

Full story

October 23, 2014

5 Sleeper House Races

5 Sleeper House Races

Keating is a Massachusetts Democrat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the midst of wall-to-wall political coverage before Election Day, this handful of House races have managed to mostly fly under the radar.

These are sleeper races, from Arkansas to West Virginia, where the district’s partisan breakdown does not reflect the competitive nature of the race.

As little as two weeks ago, some of these contests were completely overlooked by national political operatives. But new polling suggests these races — like many more competitive contests — are closing, creating eleventh-hour opportunities for the parties.

To be sure, these seats won’t necessarily flip party control on Nov. 4. But thanks to recent events, they should make any election night watch list.

In alphabetical order, here are five sleeper House races of 2014:

Arkansas’ 2nd District Full story

October 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

October 15, 2014

DCCC Chief Pleads for Outside Money

DCCC Chief Pleads for Outside Money

Israel is the current chairman of the DCCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told reporters Wednesday he is “frustrated” that his party’s outside groups have not supported House Democrats on television in the final stretch of the midterms.

Many big Democratic players — such as environmental and labor groups — focused their financial firepower on the Senate, which is in play this cycle. This has caused increased anxiety among House Democrats, who also face losses in 2014.

House Democrats must pick up a net of 17 seats to win control of the House, but it’s increasingly likely the party will lose seats in that chamber this cycle. For the first time, Israel made a public plea to outside groups for their financial help. 

Full story

October 14, 2014

The 9 Biggest Candidate Flameouts

The 9 Biggest Candidate Flameouts

Walsh will not run for re-election to a full term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Meet the cycle’s biggest candidate disappointments.

They are the congressional hopefuls who just didn’t live up to their hype. Once touted as top recruits, these House and Senate candidates are headed for defeat on Election Day in all likelihood. Some of these candidates tanked so early in the cycle, their races never got off the ground.

The reasons for their declines vary — from poor fundraising and stalking allegations to plagiarism and missteps on the trail. Whatever the reason, don’t expect to see these faces when the 114th Congress is sworn into office next year.

To be sure, there are a few more candidates who could have easily made this list, but they’ve been boosted by districts or states that favor their parties, as well as outside spending keeping them afloat. The prime example is Arizona Speaker Andy Tobin, a poor fundraiser who barely won his August primary but is nonetheless in a strong position to challenge Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the 1st District, which slightly favors the GOP.

In alphabetical order, here are the rest of the 2014 cycle’s most disappointing candidates:

Full story

October 10, 2014

Carl DeMaio Sexual Harassment Allegations Threaten to Derail Bid (Updated)

Carl DeMaio Sexual Harassment Allegations Threaten to Derail Bid (Updated)

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

Updated 6:40 p.m. | In one of the hottest House races in the country, a top Republican recruit has become mired in a dispute over sexual harassment allegations, presenting the GOP with a high-profile distraction in one of its best pickup opportunities.

Former San Diego Councilmember Carl DeMaio is a Republican running against freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in a San Diego-based district. One of DeMaio’s former staffers, Todd Bosnich, sat down for an interview with CNN in which he described in vivid detail his harassment allegations. DeMaio has denied Bosnich’s allegations.

“I came over to his office, door was open. And he was masturbating,” Bosnich told CNN in an interview that aired Friday. “I saw his hand, his penis in his hand and he had a smile on his face. And as soon as I came over, he was looking at me.”

CNN’s Chris Frates confronted DeMaio, who reportedly offered to provide evidence to refute the former aide’s allegations. But the reporter said DeMaio only offered to share the documents if CNN did not report on the situation, and “on its own, the material did not appear to refute Bosnich’s claims.” At one point, CNN was contacted by Washington attorney Ben Ginsberg. After requesting more time, he eventually directed the reporter back to the campaign manager.

Bosnich also told CNN that after he confronted DeMaio about the alleged harassment, he was let go from the campaign and offered $50,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

National Republicans are standing by their candidate.

“We fully support Carl DeMaio and we don’t make decisions based on unsubstantiated claims,” said Andrea Bozek, communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

But the allegations surfaced just as vote by mail ballots were sent to thousands of voters in the district. And if the dust-up gains traction, DeMaio could see the ground shift from underneath him. The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Full story

October 9, 2014

Poll: Democrat Opens Lead in Top Iowa House Race

Poll: Democrat Opens Lead in Top Iowa House Race

Young hopes to keep Iowa's 3rd District in the Republican column. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Former state Sen. Staci Appel has opened up a significant single-digit lead over her Republican opponent in a competitive open-seat race in Iowa, according to a tracking poll conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Appel led former Capitol Hill aide David Young, 49 percent to 42 percent, according to the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll. Nine percent of respondents were undecided.

The poll showed Appel increasing her lead from the DCCC’s last poll on Sept. 15, when Appel led Young 47 percent to 44 percent. 

Full story

Meet the House Republican Still Sweating the Shutdown

Meet the House Republican Still Sweating the Shutdown

Terry is a vulnerable Nebraska Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

OMAHA, Neb. — Mention Rep. Lee Terry’s name in this town, and almost everyone has an opinion about the embattled Republican.

“I know I was not happy with the shutdown and his comments,” said Patrick Ryan, a veteran of the Air National Guard turned Burke High School social studies teacher, before a Friday night football game. “I was kind of taken aback by it, thinking it was kind of arrogant considering the kind of job he’s in.”

Meet the House Republican Still Sweating the Shutdown

“There’s a litany of times when he has literally stuck his 10.5 [size shoe] in his mouth,” state Sen. Bob Krist, a Republican backing Terry’s Democratic opponent, told CQ Roll Call in his colleague’s kitchen on Sunday morning. “Which time do you want to apologize for?”

“Don’t get him started,” said a woman seated at the bar at The Drover on Oct. 3, an old school downtown steakhouse, pointing to her husband, who regurgitated an unprompted verbatim account of the exact words dogging Terry’s quest for a ninth term.

More than a year ago, when the federal government shuttered and federal employees — including active military service members and civilian contractors — feared they wouldn’t get their paychecks, Terry was adamant he would keep his own.

“Dang straight,” Terry told the Omaha World Herald for an Oct. 4, 2013, story. “I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I’ll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.”

He’s apologized for the remarks, but the 16-year incumbent can’t seem to get out from underneath them. It’s an example of how just a few ill-suited words can ruin a congressional career — and the key reason Terry is struggling for re-election in this GOP-leaning district against state Sen. Brad Ashford.

Full story

Super PAC Drops $1.5 Million Targeting Fred Upton

Super PAC Drops $1.5 Million Targeting Fred Upton

Upton is a Michigan Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mayday PAC, a super PAC aiming to overhaul campaign finance laws, will spend $1.5 million to target House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton in Michigan, the group announced Thursday.

The group will spend $1.2 million of those funds on a 30-second ad that seeks to connect the PAC money Upton has received from drug and health insurance interests to his vote against allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. The rest of the money will go toward a grassroots field operation and direct mail campaign, the group said.

The spending comes on the heels of the group’s Tuesday announcement that it will spend $1 million in South Dakota’s open-seat Senate contest in support of the Democratic nominee, Rick Weiland.

Mayday PAC is spending millions this cycle, an ironic effort to elect a congressional majority in favor of ending super PACs.

Full story

October 3, 2014

Grassley Aide Attempts to Parlay His Boss’s Popularity in House Race

Grassley Aide Attempts to Parlay His Bosss Popularity in House Race

Young, left, and Grassley, right, walk through the Iowa State Fair in August. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

FARRAGUT, Iowa — Locked in a highly competitive House contest, Republican David Young is looking to capitalize on some of his former boss’s goodwill in the final days of the race.

Grassley Aide Attempts to Parlay His Bosss Popularity in House RaceThis week Young, ex-chief of staff to Iowa GOP Sen. Charles E. Grassley kicked off a four-day tour of Iowa’s 3rd District with the popular senator in tow — hitting each of the district’s 16 counties to greet voters and drum up support for his bid. It’s a pared-down version of what Iowans affectionately dub, “The Full Grassley,” in which the 81-year-old senator traverses every one of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties annually.

On Thursday, the tour reached Fremont County, a sparsely populated pocket of farm country in the southwestern corner of the state. About a dozen and a half folks showed up to greet the duo at a dusty and aging Masonic Temple in a town Young joked has “more deer than people.”

Full story

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