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.
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.
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.
Since 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
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.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton are exciting Democrats who hope for their help in the midterm elections. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Democrats are gearing up to unleash the Clinton Dynasty.
They hope deploying the popular former White House occupants could help drum up money and hype in what could be a tough election year for the party. Democrats see the power couple as an asset, especially because Republicans have no singular unifying figure who can hit the trail.
But good thing there’s two of them.
Democratic operatives say each half of the Clinton duo appeals to different segments of the electorate — so assignments to races must be deliberate and strategic.
North of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of the Mississippi River is former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton territory — replete with voters who have already warmed to electing women to Congress. Former President Bill Clinton, party officials say, plays better in the South and Midwest, where he performed well with traditional Yellow Dog Democrats who relate to the party’s economic message but tend to be more conservative on social issues.
Together, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate say there are few areas where the Clinton duo wouldn’t have a positive impact.
“Both Clintons can go into any competitive district in the country and be enormously helpful to Democratic candidates,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said. “The second Secretary Clinton is ready, we’d love to have her campaigning for House Democrats.”
An Iowa GOP convention picked a nominee to try to succeed Latham, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Former Capitol Hill aide David Young won the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 3rd District on Saturday, overcoming five other Republican opponents in an hourslong nominating convention.
Young defeated state Sen. Brad Zaun, 276 votes to 221 votes, in the fifth round of balloting among hundreds of local delegations, according to the Republican Party of Iowa. Young now moves on to face the Democratic nominee, former state Sen. Staci Appel, in November.
Young’s win comes as a relief to Republicans, who hoped the nominating convention would turn out a candidate other than Zaun.
Iowa Republicans will use a convention to pick a nominee to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Latham, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
In Iowa, a rare and unpredictable convention will pick the Republican nominee in one of the country’s most competitive House districts — and the results could determine whether Republicans hold the seat in 2014.
It’s a process that has only happened twice in 50 years. The last time was in 2002, when now-Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, won the nomination.
“Any one of them could win legitimately,” said Doug Gross, a former chief of staff to Gov. Terry E. Branstad and a 3rd District convention delegate. “Anybody who tells you they can handicap that race is smarter than anyone around or is lying — one of the two. No one knows what is actually going to happen.”
Although the convention is unpredictable, some GOP operatives in the Hawkeye State said the process gives them a second chance to avoid state Sen. Brad Zaun as their nominee. Zaun finished first with 25 percent in Tuesday’s primary, among a field of six candidates.
Braley won the Democratic nod for Senate and will face Ernst. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated June 4, 1:00 a.m. and 5:12 a.m. | Joni Ernst has won the Republican nominee for Senate in Iowa, boosting the GOP’s hopes of picking up this a competitive, open seat in 2014.
Ernst, a state senator, scored a decisive victory over her three major opponents, leading with 53 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race at 10:52 p.m. She easily surpassed the 35 percent threshold she needed to win the nomination outright and avoid a convention. Full story
Cochran and his staff make their way to their bus after a tour of City Hall in Olive Branch, Miss. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tuesday is the busiest primary night of 2014, with voters heading to the polls in Alabama, California, Mississippi, Iowa, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota.
It’s a big night, with the tea party’s last chance to save face in the Mississippi Republican Senate primary, a close contest in Iowa’s Republican Senate primary, plus highly competitive House races in California, New Jersey, Iowa and Alabama.
Republicans will pick nominees in key Senate races in Mississippi, Iowa and South Dakota. Down the ballot, House primaries in several open seats will likely determine the future members of Congress from both parties.
Here is Roll Call’s comprehensive look at watch to watch in June. Bookmark this page, and check out our primary map for results from past primaries.
June 3 With primaries in eight states, this date marks the busiest night of the cycle.
Alabama: In the 6th District, seven Republicans are running in an open-seat race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus. This district is located in and around Birmingham. State Rep. Paul DeMarco is the front-runner, followed by Club for Growth-backed surgeon Chad Mathis and businessman Will Brooke. If no candidate garners at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will continue to a July 15 runoff. Polls close at 8 p.m. EST. (Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Safe Republican)
California: In this House race battleground, the top-two vote recipients, regardless of party, advance to the general election. Republicans will also pick a gubernatorial nominee who could have an impact down the ballot in November. Polls close at 11 p.m. EST. Here are the primaries to watch in the Golden State:
Israel is the current chairman of the DCCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved $43.5 million in television airtime in dozens of targeted House districts this fall — a signal the party is attempting to play defense and offense in a challenging midterm cycle.
The money is split across 36 districts, including 17 pickup opportunities, according to a DCCC aide. More districts and more money could be added to the reservations as the cycle progresses, the aide said.
The DCCC had $43.3 million in the bank at the end of April and has raised more than its Republican counterpart by large margins this cycle. The committee ended April with an $11 million cash-on-hand advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee.
These ad reservations give insight into which members Democrats see as vulnerable, and which seats the DCCC sees as the best possibility to take in November. They also signal to outside groups where the the party might need help on the airwaves this fall.
However, parties can cancel or change these reservations until shortly before the advertisements air in most cases.
Here are the districts where the DCCC has reserved airtime:
Welcome to Roll Call’s new feature to highlight the most interesting campaign ads every week.
In fall 2012, Roll Call ran a similar daily feature highlighting the good, the vicious and the wild of political ads. We planned to bring the feature back this fall, but the early influx of advertising in campaigns this cycle prompted a speedier comeback.
More than anything else, Roll Call seeks to highlight ads that break through the clutter in this new weekly feature. Here are those TV ads from this week:
Conservative groups spent big bucks over the last four years making House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the bogeyman in television ads targeting Democrats.
Now, outside groups backing the two Republicans running in this safe GOP primary are trying to tar the opposition with an association to Pelosi.
The most recent instance of this came this week from a tea party group.
Ad Buyer: Madison Action Fund Ad buy: The group says they put $34,000 behind the spot, which includes Fox News and “some broadcast.” The Race: Attorney Bryan Smith is challenging Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho. Groups like Madison and the Club for Grown would like to see their candidate, Smith, oust Simpson, a Boehner ally.
In the spot, Simpson “joined Pelosi in voting to take more of your money to fund sex study programs of San Francisco prostitutes.”
But Pelosi also surfaced in an ad from Defending Main Street super PAC, a group that backs Simpson.
SCF just endorsed Loudermilk, a candidate for the House in Georgia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Senate Conservatives Fund — an organization that has traditionally supported conservative Senate hopefuls — has backed five House candidates.
On Tuesday, SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote the endorsements, which are part of the organization’s new “House Conservatives Project.”
“These candidates believe deeply in our nation’s founding principles and will be strong voices for freedom in Washington,” Hoskins wrote. “They are strong conservatives who will fight to balance the budget and repeal Obamacare.” Full story
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rolled out the first 35 districts of its “Red to Blue” program Monday, highlighting the GOP-held seats the party believes it can flip and open seats it hopes to keep in the Democratic column in the 2014 midterms.
Needing to net 17 seats to win back the House majority, the announcement makes clear where the party believes its most important fights will take place.
“This is our initial roll out,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said Monday morning on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.” “There will be more, and we will have a very competitive battlefield as we go deeper into the cycle.” Full story
The race to fill Latham's seat is expected to be a tight one. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)
Cable television executive David Oman announced Tuesday that he will not seek the GOP nomination in Iowa’s most competitive House district, nixing the possibility of a tea party vs. business battle in this competitive seat.
Oman, a former aide to Gov. Terry E. Branstad, was eyeing a bid for retiring GOP Rep. Tom Latham’s seat, but he said he decided against a run in order to avoid a potential nominating convention. Full story