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

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

98 Posts

October 15, 2014

Democratic Poll: Jeanne Shaheen Leads Scott Brown

Democratic Poll: Jeanne Shaheen Leads Scott Brown

A Democratic poll has Shaheen leading her re-election race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen maintained a significant, single-digit lead in a new Democratic tracking poll.

The survey, obtained by CQ Roll Call, found the Democrat ahead 50 percent to 44 percent against former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass.

Kiley & Company conducted the poll for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. According to a polling memo, it found Shaheen with a 7-point net favorable rating, while Brown’s was 7 points underwater. The senator led by 15 points among women and by 7 points among independents, while Brown led by 4 points among men. The incumbent also led by 33 points on the question of which candidate “is committed to New Hampshire.” Full story

October 10, 2014

Independents Could Control Power in Senate

Independents Could Control Power in Senate

Roberts, left, debates Orman during a luncheon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The power in the Senate could increasingly flow not to Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell, but to a few independents who could hold the keys to the majority — and they know it.

The two unexpected GOP trouble spots in the Midwest feature independent candidates who are making noise about not joining either side in a divided Senate. In Kansas it’s Greg Orman, who is challenging long-time GOP incumbent Pat Roberts. Republicans are extremely dubious of Orman, pointing to campaign dollars he’s given to top Democrats, although Orman is fond of pointing to contributions to Republicans as well.

“I think what I’ve said and what I’ve been clear about since the beginning, is if one party or the other is in the majority I will seek to caucus with the party that is in the majority. But that if I get elected, and neither party is in the majority, then what I’m going to do is sit down with both sides, propose a pro-problem solving agenda and ask both sides, whether or not they’re willing to support that agenda. And we’re going to be likely to support the agenda, and the party that’s most likely to embrace a pro-problem-solving agenda,” Orman told reporters gathered after Wednesday’s debate. Full story

October 8, 2014

Why Senate Attendance Attacks Are Usually Bogus (Video)

Why Senate Attendance Attacks Are Usually Bogus (Video)

Hagan serves on the Armed Services Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The worst-kept secret on Capitol Hill? Senators miss committee hearings and meetings. All the time.

Unless the senator wields the gavel, he or she may only show up for five minutes, or when it is their turn to ask questions. The results include guffaw-inducing scenes where even senior lawmakers enter the wrong hearing room, misidentify a witness and question the wrong person on the other side of the dais.

But out on the campaign trail, a less-than-stellar attendance record has become the political ammo in a number of Senate races, with criticism of incumbent lawmakers flying in Alaska, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado and Iowa.

This cycle, much of the fodder has come from committee attendance records, at least compared to floor votes. It might look bad back home, but consistent committee attendance defies a reality on Capitol Hill. Full story

October 3, 2014

Grimes Campaign Used Vehicles Owned By Family Business

Grimes Campaign Used Vehicles Owned By Family Business

(Photo via CQ Roll Call tipster)

A tour bus that roiled Kentucky’s Senate race in August may have been parked after suggestions of impropriety, but smaller vehicles owned by companies associated with Alison Lundergan Grimes’ father have remained on the road for campaign purposes.

Vehicles registered to entities owned by Jerry Lundergan, the former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman, have been spotted at campaign events. The vans sport familiar Grimes logos and signage, like this Black Chevrolet Suburban spotted in a recent parade in Greensburg, Ky.

Full story

October 1, 2014

Bill Clinton Appears in Kentucky Senate Race Ad

Former President Bill Clinton stars in a new ad for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’ bid to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The spot marks the former president’s first foray into the 2014 airwaves in a Senate race, the Grimes campaign told WHAS-TV in Louisville, which first reported on the spot. The Kentucky Senate race is rated Leans Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Full story

September 29, 2014

Ad Highlights Mitch McConnell’s Role in Resolving Case (Video)

Ad Highlights Mitch McConnells Role in Resolving Case (Video)

McConnell's new ad highlights his role in resolving a parent child abduction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign is highlighting his efforts to resolve an overseas parental child abduction case, with the child’s mother sharing with Kentucky voters the story she previously told at a Senate hearing.

The campaign has put the account of Noelle Hunter and her daughter Maayimuna “Muna” N’Diaye in a new TV ad, highlighting the Republican leader’s personal involvement in getting N’Diaye returned to the United States from Mali, where she was taken by her father. The father disregarded an order of a Kentucky judge regarding shared parental rights. N’Diaye returned to the United States in July.

The minute-long campaign spot featuring Hunter will air statewide, and the campaign told CQ Roll Call the ad buy is at least in the six-figure range. That suggests if it gets resonance, the ad could air even more frequently between now and November. Full story

September 26, 2014

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

Marijuana accessories are pictured in Terrapin Care Station, a marijuana dispensary, in Boulder, Colo. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The national discussion about legalizing marijuana has now surfaced in Kentucky’s Senate race.

A day after Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes encouraged a conversation about it, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his opposition to following Colorado’s lead and legalizing marijuana more broadly in an interview on a local radio station Friday.

“I’m against legalizing marijuana,” the Republican said. “Certainly it’s not in the same category as heroin, but I think to begin … to sort of send the message that we’re giving up, you know, that this is just the way it’s going to be, then one thing leads to another and pretty soon … you completely transform your society in a way that I think certainly most Kentuckians would not agree with.”

Full story

September 16, 2014

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

McConnell's campaign is using this official photo of Obama shooting clay targets (Pete Souza/White House)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign has taken rapid response to the airwaves.

The Kentucky Republican is out with a new TV ad Tuesday rebutting a spot Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes released Monday morning to CQ Roll Call.

The Grimes ad featured the Kentucky secretary of state skeet shooting and highlighting differences from President Barack Obama on several policy issues, including guns and the environment. The McConnell response, which the campaign says is backed by a significant six-figure buy, connects Grimes’ past support of the Democratic Party platform. Full story

September 15, 2014

Alison Lundergan Grimes Shoots Skeet in New Ad (Video) (Updated)

Alison Lundergan Grimes Shoots Skeet in New Ad (Video) (Updated)

McConnell, center, is the minority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:57 p.m. | The latest television spot from Alison Lundergan Grimes shows her skeet shooting on a farm as part of the Senate nominee’s attempt to create distance with an unpopular president in the midterms.

The Kentucky Democrat will face Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. In the spot, after firing a few rounds at clay pigeons, Grimes looks at the camera and says “I’m not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA.”

Full story

September 10, 2014

John McCain’s Fall Campaign Schedule Includes Pat Roberts

 

John McCains Fall Campaign Schedule Includes Pat Roberts

McCain stumped for Virginia Senate candidate Ed Gillespie Sept. 3. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Arizona Sen. John McCain is planning a trip to Kansas to assist fellow Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, who is locked in a surprisingly competitive re-election battle.

In a brief interview with CQ Roll Call on Wednesday, McCain said he’ll stump for “an old Marine” — Roberts — at one of several stops the former presidential nominee will make across the Senate map over the final eight weeks of the cycle. He’s already been to New Hampshire and Virginia on behalf of Republican challengers, and that’s just the start.

“I’m going to Oregon. I’m going to North Carolina. I’m going to a couple other places,” McCain said. “You know how it is these last couple of months.” Full story

September 8, 2014

GOP Chicken Charges Dropped in New Hampshire

GOP Chicken Charges Dropped in New Hampshire

Shaheen is seeking re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

New Hampshire’s most famous Republican chicken is free.

Charges have been dropped against 23-year old Michael Zona, the Granite State’s Republican party said Monday. Zona was arrested for disorderly conduct at a parade in Londonderry, N.H., after allegedly harassing two prominent state Democrats, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

In November, Shaheen will likely face former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., who is expected to win his Tuesday primary.

Republicans have used the chicken to criticize Shaheen for not holding open town hall meetings. But the arrest of the young man in the chicken costume served as a leading — and the most entertaining — local news story during a Roll Call on the Road visit to New Hampshire in August.

Full story

September 2, 2014

Ted Cruz to Rally for Marilinda Garcia in New Hampshire

Ted Cruz to Rally for Marilinda Garcia in New Hampshire

Garcia speaks with a supporter of former Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Ted Cruz is stumping for congressional hopeful Marilinda Garcia this weekend, just ahead of New Hampshire’s Republican primaries next week.

The Garcia campaign invited supporters to attend a rally with the Texas Republican and potential 2016 presidential candidate Sept. 7 at the Nashua City Hall.

Garcia, a state representative, is in a hotly contested nomination fight in the 2nd District, where Republicans are vying to take on Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster. Garcia’s opponents include former state Sen. Gary Lambert, who has accused Garcia of supporting “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants.

Garcia has disputed that contention throughout the campaign, including in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call. The backing of Cruz, who has been leading the charge against potential executive action by President Barack Obama to expand deferred action on immigration, could well inoculate Garcia against that line of attack days before the Sept. 9 primary. Full story

August 29, 2014

Mitch McConnell’s Campaign Manager Resigns

Mitch McConnells Campaign Manager Resigns

McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jesse Benton, who had worked as the campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election bid, said Friday he would resign.

The veteran operative with close ties to the Paul family released a lengthy statement making the announcement. The Lexington Herald-Leader first reported Benton’s resignation, which is effective Saturday.

The move comes just two days after a former Iowa state senator admitted to accepting $73,000 in concealed payments from former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. In exchange for the money, that individual, Kent Sorenson, switched endorsements from Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to Paul, a Texas Republican.

Full story

August 28, 2014

Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

Garcia speaks with audience members as she arrives for GOP debate at Franklin Pierce University. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

RINDGE, N.H. — The total Hispanic population in the sprawling 2nd District hovers just above 3 percent, making it one of the least diverse House districts in the country. But Granite State Republicans could nominate a young Latina with star potential who’s already earned plaudits from national conservatives.

At last week’s Monadnock Debate on the campus of Franklin Pierce University, former state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, 31, was attacked like the front-runner ahead of New Hampshire’s Sept. 9 primary.

Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

Outside the auditorium, a flock of geese garnered more attention than any raucous sign-wavers for Garcia or anyone else on the stage — but the debate itself wasn’t without fireworks. Garcia’s opponents jumped on her relative inexperience, but they also attacked her on an issue that might surprise out-of-state voters.

Even in New Hampshire, thousands of miles away from the southern border, immigration has become a wedge in GOP primaries.

Gary Lambert, a Nashua attorney with 35-plus years of service in the Marine Corps who picked up the endorsement of a hometown newspaper on Monday, said immigration policy is an issue out on the campaign trail.

“I’m just telling you that out there in the 2nd District that issue is extremely important to the voters,” Lambert said. “It comes up at almost every single meeting. It’s one of the singular issues out there. Folks are very worried about the president and his executive amnesty plan.” Full story

August 25, 2014

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)

Shaheen seems to prefer events outside of the town hall format. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

LOUDON, N.H. — Will the 2014 midterms prove the death-knell for the traditional New Hampshire town hall?

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown and his backers have been relentless in pushing the case that the Democratic rival he’s trying to unseat, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, has eschewed the traditional format in a way that dodges tough questions from ordinary Granite State voters about supporting President Barack Obama’s agenda.

But should Shaheen and several other Democrats on the ballot in New Hampshire prevail, even in an unfavorable national climate, it might be grounds to reconsider the town hall format even for national candidates like those aiming to win the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Shaheen’s argument is that town halls have the propensity to be taken over by outside interest groups. She brushed off the Republican criticism last week, after an official Senate and Department of Agriculture event at a local farm.

Full story

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