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November 26, 2014

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November 10, 2014

The Best Congressional Campaigns of 2014

The Best Congressional Campaigns of 2014

Ernst is the senator-elect from Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As a national Republican wave crested on Election Day, there were several campaigns in both parties that stood out as outstanding operations.

The GOP expanded its House majority and obtained control of the Senate. As a result, more Republican campaigns emerged deserving of the spotlight. But there were also several Democratic operations worthy of recognition.

Roll Call has compiled a list of the cream of the crop of 2014. Many faced long odds, crowded primaries, an unpopular president and millions in targeted attack ads. But through all that and more, these campaigns ably managed the curves of the cycle — and all but one were victorious.

In alphabetical order by candidate, here are the best congressional campaigns of the midterms: Full story

October 20, 2014

For House GOP, a Wave … Or a Trickle?

For House GOP, a Wave ... Or a Trickle?

Kirkpatrick is one of the most endangered Democrats this cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans are on track to make gains this cycle, but two weeks before Election Day, it’s still unclear whether the party will procure a wave of double-digit gains in their quest to extend the majority.

Members of Congress and operatives alike note this is a toxic time for Democrats on the ballot that should result in huge losses for the president’s party. But a race-by-race evaluation of the House map shows Republicans are more likely in a position to pick up a net of around six seats this cycle.

“After two successful cycles for House Republicans, the playing field confines the upper limits of pickups that can be had,” said Brock McCleary, a Republican pollster.

Public surveys show President Barack Obama’s unpopularity, as events in the Middle East and Ebola on the home front drag down Democrats coast to coast. House Democrats are defending more seats than Republicans this cycle.

But this midterm is shaping up to be one of the most perplexing in recent memory. Both parties are on offense, and both parties are on defense. In private polling, dozens of races are too close to call. Given the unpredictability, it’s also possible the next 14 days could exacerbate Democratic losses.

Here’s why most political operatives estimate Republican will have a net gain in the mid-single digits:

Full story

October 16, 2014

DCCC Cuts Massachusetts Media Buy (Updated)

Updated 8:37 p.m. | The Democratic House political arm is scrapping plans to spend a substantial sum of money on the Massachusetts 6th District race, but is still investing in the Boston media market on New Hampshire’s two competitive House races, according to a source tracking media buys.

A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aide characterized the move as a sign of confidence Democrat Seth Moulton will be able to hold the open seat against Republican Richard Tisei.

The DCCC had more than $1 million reserved in the Boston media market combined between the Massachusetts 6th District and New Hamsphire’s 1st District and 2nd District. Full story

September 10, 2014

How to Lose a Primary in 10 Days

How to Lose a Primary in 10 Days

Tierney lost his primary Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

By the time Massachusetts Rep. John F. Tierney knew he had a real primary race on his hands, it was too late.

The nine-term lawmaker lost Tuesday night to fellow Democrat Seth Moulton, an Iraq War veteran who latched onto frustration with Tierney’s past ethical troubles and an anti-incumbent sentiment to win by a stunning 8-point margin.

Multiple Democratic operatives in the Bay State and the District say the race shifted quickly in Moulton’s favor in the final week and a half, as voters ended summer vacations, kids returned to school and the electorate as a whole began to finally pay attention to the race.

By that point, Moulton had been on air for weeks with hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising that Tierney declined to match. Moulton ran spots painting himself as the more electable Democrat in the 6th District, located in the suburbs and towns northeast of Boston. The region’s biggest newspapers, including the Boston Globe, endorsed Moulton, which he touted in his closing ads as a final sell to remaining undecided voters.

“It just moved faster than I think anyone thought it would,” said a Democratic operative privy to internal polling in the contest. “It closed quickly, but that’s what a million dollars in unanswered spending does.”

Full story

September 9, 2014

John Tierney Loses Primary in Massachusetts (Video)

John Tierney Loses Primary in Massachusetts (Video)

Tierney is a Massachusetts Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 9:52 p.m. | Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass., became the cycle’s first Democratic incumbent to lose a primary Tuesday when he fell to a well-funded challenger in the 6th District.

Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton was leading Tierney, 51 percent to 40 percent, when The Associated Press called the race for the challenger.

Moulton now moves on to face former state Sen. Richard Tisei in November in this district, located northeast of Boston. Full story

4 Things to Watch in the Final Primaries of 2014

4 Things to Watch in the Final Primaries of 2014

Garcia is running the GOP primary in the 2nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The final primary night of the midterms takes place Tuesday, with consequential contests across New England and Delaware.

In New Hampshire, former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., faces a crowded GOP primary filled with hopes of challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in November. Down the ballot in the Granite State, GOP primaries in House races will determine nominees in two key contests.

Across the border in Massachusetts, Rep. John F. Tierney faces the toughest primary of his 18-year congressional career. He could be the fourth incumbent to lose re-election in a primary in 2014 — and perhaps the only Democrat (to see which members lost their primaries this cycle, check out Roll Call’s Casualty List).

There are also primaries in Delaware and Rhode Island, although neither state features competitive congressional races.

Polls close in all four states at 8 p.m. You can follow live result updates on Roll Call’s “At the Races” politics blog.

Here’s what to watch:

Full story

September 8, 2014

Could John Tierney Lose His Primary?

Could John Tierney Lose His Primary?

Tierney is a Massachusetts Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. John F. Tierney faces the toughest primary of his 18-year congressional career Tuesday, when he will attempt to stave off a well-funded, top-flight Democratic opponent.

For months, polls have shown Tierney with a hefty advantage over Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton. But in the final days before the Massachusetts primary, automated polls showed the congressman with minuscule, single-digit leads.

It’s clear Tierney also feels the heat on the ground.

“The fact Barney Frank and Joe Kennedy are campaigning for Tierney, and a brutal ad he ran during the Patriots game at halftime against Moulton tells you he is in trouble,” Mary Anne Marsh, a Massachusetts Democratic operative, said of the 6th District lawmaker. ”It is fair to say it is a jump ball that will be decided by ground game Tuesday.”

Full story

June 16, 2014

Elizabeth Warren Endorses in Targeted Massachusetts Race

Elizabeth Warren Endorses in Targeted Massachusetts Race

Elizabeth Warren is in demand on the 2014 campaign trail for Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., endorsed Rep. John F. Tierney’s re-election bid at a campaign rally in the Bay State’s 6th District Monday, calling the House Democrat a “tireless champion for Massachusetts families.”

“I had the chance to work closely with Congressman Tierney on consumer protection issues years before I ran for the Senate, and I’m very glad to work as his partner in Congress today,” Warren said in a release. “Throughout his career, he has fought hard to strengthen our schools, to improve access to high-quality, affordable education, and to make the kinds of investments that grow our economy in the 6th District and across the Commonwealth.”

Tierney faces a primary in September against veteran Seth Moulton and attorney Marisa DeFranco. Moulton has raised more money than Tierney — one of only a few challengers to bring in more bucks than an incumbent this cycle — although the congressman has more cash in the bank.

Full story

May 29, 2014

DCCC Reserves $43.5 Million in TV Airtime for Midterms

DCCC Reserves $43.5 Million in TV Airtime for Midterms

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:

Full story

May 12, 2014

Meet the NRCC’s New Young Guns

Meet the NRCCs New Young Guns

Dold, seen at the Capitol in 2012, was selected to be of the NRCC's Young Guns this cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden on Monday unveiled the first round of House GOP candidates elevated to “Young Gun” status.

The NRCC’s Young Guns program is the highest designation for recruits in either open-seat races or in districts where the GOP is on offense. The program allows the party to communicate to donors and the political world who are the most organized recruits of the cycle.

Candidates earn this status by demonstrating “their ability to build a formidable campaign structure and achieve important goals and benchmarks,” according to a news release.

“Candidates that reach ‘Young Gun’ status have met a series of rigorous goals that will put them in a position to win on Election Day,” Walden said in a statement. “Our job as a committee is to help elect Republicans to office that will serve as a check and balance on the Obama Administration.”

The new Young Guns are:

Full story

April 18, 2014

Where Is Democratic Super PAC Spending Money? These 24 Districts Get Fall TV Reservations

Where Is Democratic Super PAC Spending Money? These 24 Districts Get Fall TV Reservations

Raul Ruiz, seen here during his 2012 campaign in California, is among the freshmen Democrats getting a boost from a super PAC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority PAC, a super PAC with the aim of electing House Democrats, announced its first round of television reservations for the fall.

The reservations, totaling about $6.5 million, are for “the final weeks of the election in 24 districts,” a news release stated.

The super PAC during the 2012 cycle made its first round of reservations in early July in partnership with the Service Employees International Union.

“By placing these reservations early, we will make our dollars go further and ensure we have the air time to effectively fight back against the flood of Koch brothers’ dollars,” House Majority PAC Executive Director Alixandria Lapp said in a statement.

The super PAC is on offensive in six Republican-held districts and on defense in 18 Democratic districts. Often, releasing ad reservations to the press is a means to telegraph to allies, like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, how outside groups intend to spend money.

Below is a breakdown of the buys, categorized by offensive and defensive targets:

Full story

April 9, 2014

John Tierney Survived 2012. Now What?

John Tierney Survived 2012. Now What?

Tierney at a recent event in Peabody, Mass. (Shira T. Center/CQ Roll Call)

John Tierney Survived 2012. Now What?SALEM, Mass. — Rep. John F. Tierney may have successfully put a family legal scandal far enough behind him to win re-election in 2012, but he’s facing another test. And this time, the Massachusetts Democrat’s challenge is primarily political.

Last cycle, Democrats had all but written off Tierney as a goner, but he managed a 4,300-vote victory — about 1 percent — over the Republicans’ best candidate for the seat in years, the affable former state Sen. Richard Tisei.

This year, Tierney first faces a Sept. 9 primary challenge from Seth Moulton, a Marine with a stellar résumé. Tisei, who is openly gay, is aiming for a rematch and will face the Democratic victor.

CQ Roll Call talked with voters in the 6th District — which includes the swath of suburbs north of Boston, is peppered by coastal towns and curves all the way to the New Hampshire border — over the past two months. The picture that emerged is that voters know and like their congressman, despite his recent ethics issues and his family’s legal foibles.

On a chilly March morning as he courted voters at the Salem Democratic Caucuses, Tierney sported a charcoal blazer and pressed pants and appeared certain the storm was behind him. The coiffed congressman told CQ Roll Call he is confident that this cycle’s battle will be easier than his last. But his supporters, like Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, are more cautious.

“I think it’s definitely going to be a challenging race,” Driscoll said in the three-story Salem High School library reminiscent of 1985’s classic film, “The Breakfast Club.” “We had a lot more turnout last time. We’re talking about an election that had the president and Elizabeth Warren on the ballot. So you had just a lot more grass-roots effort going on, a lot of help in terms of field organization statewide.”

Full story

March 26, 2014

Gay Republican Candidate ‘Comfortable’ in GOP (Video)

The candidate: Richard Tisei, a real estate broker, former state Senate minority leader and the 2012 GOP nominee in this district.
The member: Nine-term Democratic Rep. John F. Tierney, who defeated Tisei in 2012 by about 1 point. Tierney racked up double-digit victories over the past decade or so, but ethical questions (a case since closed by the House Ethics Committee) plunged him into political vulnerability.
The district: Massachusetts’ 6th stretches from the northern Boston suburbs along the coast to the New Hampshire border and reaches west to include Bedford and the outskirts of Lowell.
The candidate’s team: David Paleologus of Dapa Research (polling), Todd Harris and Heath Thompson of Something Else Strategies (media), Gridiron Communications (direct mail), Nathan Wurtzel (fundraising) and  Ryan Gough (campaign manager).

Full story

March 13, 2014

Republicans Fundraise for Gay House Candidates

Some Republican House members, pundits and activists raised money this week for two openly gay House candidates running in competitive districts.

The pair, former Massachusetts state Sen. Richard Tisei and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, teamed up in late October to create a joint political action committee, the Equality Leadership Fund, which raised more than $250,000 in the final two months of 2013.

The fund benefited from two fundraisers this week — one Monday night in Miami and another Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

“We’re … raising money across the country from people who were interested in our candidacies, because they believe we represent something different and we could be a catalyst for change in the Republican Party on issues of equality,” Tisei said in a Tuesday interview with CQ Roll Call.

Tisei is challenging Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass. DeMaio is taking on Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif. Full story

February 13, 2014

Tierney Primary Challenger: I’m Being Encouraged to Run (Video)

The candidate: Veteran Seth Moulton, a Democrat.
The member: Nine-term Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass.
The district: Massachusetts’ 6th District, located in the northeast corner of the state, is a reliably Democratic district. But past ethics inquiries into Tierney’s personal finances make him a uniquely vulnerable Democrat. Tierney faces Moulton and Democrat Marisa DeFranco in a Democratic primary. The primary victor will likely face former state Sen. Richard Tisei in the general.
The candidate’s team: Mark Mellman (polling), Dover Strategy Group (mail), Scott Ferson (general consultant), Joe Trippi (senior adviser), Max Glass (campaign manager), Carrie James Rankin (communications director).

Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton, a Democrat challenging nine-term Rep. John F. Tierney in a Democratic primary in Massachusetts’ 6th District, says he is being strongly encouraged to run by members of his own party.

“If I had a penny for everyone who’s whispered in my ear to say, ‘We want you to win the primary. We may not be able to publicly support you, but we’d really like you to win this because Congressman Tierney is a liability in this seat,’ my fundraising numbers would be even better than they are,” Moulton said in an interview with CQ Roll Call this month.

Full story

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