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October 31, 2014

Posts in "NRSC"

October 27, 2014

10 Moments That Won or Lost Senate Control

10 Moments That Won or Lost Senate Control

Ernst, above, is running against Bruce Braley for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The 2014 battle for the Senate has featured a few candidate bumbles and some colorful characters.

So far, it’s lacked any cycle-defining gaffes — “Todd Akin moments” — but there is still a week to go until Election Day and potentially two runoffs extending things into early next year.

Every election cycle provides noteworthy events or moments in time that, in hindsight, proved to be pivot points in the outcome. Roll Call has identified 10 such instances that helped define this cycle’s Senate landscape.

In 2012, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe’s, R-Maine, last-minute retirement began to alter the conventional wisdom that Republicans were likely headed for the majority. Months later, comments about rape by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock sealed the deal for Democrats.

Now, once again, the majority is up for grabs: Republicans have pushed the fight into purple states, while Democrats are holding out hope the party can hang on.

Here are 10 moments that helped get us here, in chronological order:

Hollywood Star Declines McConnell Challenge (March 27, 2013) Full story

October 24, 2014

DSCC Raises $6.5 Million in Early October

DSCC Raises $6.5 Million in Early October

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is chairman of the DSCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the first two weeks of October, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee edged the National Republican Senatorial Committee in fundraising, taking in $6.5 million to the NRSC’s $6.1 million.

But the NRSC brought in more funds during that time if a $4 million transfer from the Republican National Committee is included in the total. The DSCC received a $1.5 million transfer from the Democratic National Committees.
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 22, 2014

Senate Races 2014: Why Michigan Never Became Iowa

Senate Races 2014: Why Michigan Never Became Iowa

Peters is the Democratic nominee in Michigan. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Earlier this cycle, Republicans viewed the Michigan Senate race as a potential pick-up opportunity, much like the seat in Iowa.

But it didn’t turn out that way — not even close.

Both Iowa and Michigan featured open-seat races. In these states, Democrats had cleared the field to nominate a House member with partisan voting records. Meanwhile, the GOP’s top candidate picks took a pass on these Senate races, forcing the party to settle for second-tier recruits. To be sure, Michigan was a slightly more favorable battleground for Democrats — but Republicans were bullish about it.

Now, with two weeks until Election Day, the Iowa race is a dead heat with both parties spending massively to win the seat. Nearly 500 miles away, Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., solidly leads former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in every public poll. Earlier this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled more than $850,000 out of the state, canceling its final two weeks of television for Land and indicating the race was over.

“I’d rather be on Gary Peters’ campaign than on Terri Lynn Land’s,” said Michigan Republican consultant Dennis Darnoi.

So what happened? Full story

October 20, 2014

Michelle Nunn’s Big Challenge: Breaking 50 Percent

Michelle Nunns Big Challenge: Breaking 50 Percent

Nunn is introduced by state Sen. Freddie Powell Sims at an April campaign event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The competitive open-seat Senate race in Georgia has become an unwanted liability for Republicans’ chances of winning a majority, but Democrat Michelle Nunn still has a perilous path to win a majority of the vote on Nov. 4.

National Republicans, who just spent $1.4 million more to support their nominee, say David Perdue is still ahead. But his comments about his “outsourcing” past have undoubtedly breathed new life into the Nunn campaign — and given national Democrats their best offensive opportunity.

Still, with a third-party candidate expected to take a chunk of votes, an unfavorable national climate and a small margin for error in this Republican-leaning state, Nunn has several hurdles standing in the way of her best chance for victory — winning a majority of the vote on Election Day. Perdue would be favored in a Jan. 6 runoff because turning out the vote then would be an even heavier lift for Democrats.

“The numbers are strong,” said state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who recently led a statewide voter registration drive aimed at young minorities. “It’s certainly all about turnout, which is a generic trope, but real. If we can turn out the voters, she can win in November. But we have to be prepared for any eventuality, and I think the campaign is prepared for that.” Full story

October 16, 2014

NRSC Confirms Tightening Race in Georgia

NRSC Confirms Tightening Race in Georgia

Perdue is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee confirmed Thursday they were looking at a tougher race in Georgia, a Republican-held state they were predicted to win fairly easily.

The executive director of the NRSC, Rob Collins, told reporters the race “has tightened up” between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michele Nunn in Georgia.

Recent public polling has shown Nunn gaining traction, and Perdue is struggling to move past his comment that he was “proud” of outsourcing jobs during his business career. Last week, the NRSC announced they were putting another $1.4 million into the state to help Perdue, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee followed by announcing additional spending for the state.

Full story

October 15, 2014

3 Senate Endgame Scenarios

3 Senate Endgame Scenarios

The winner of the race between Roberts, left, and Orman, right, will play a major role in deciding the Senate majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

So much for a predictable midterm cycle. The past month has left multiple possible outcomes for control of the Senate.

Republican groups are barraging Kansas with resources and advertising to save a three-term incumbent being challenged by an independent in a solidly GOP state. Democrats, lacking much hope for months of holding an open seat in South Dakota, are all of a sudden dropping $1 million in advertising there — and being matched by Republicans — in a last-second Hail Mary that could possibly save its majority.

Just three weeks remain until Election Day, yet control of the Senate remains a dogfight and more than a handful of seats could conceivably go either way. The GOP has at least 10 states to find a path to six Senate seats and the majority, but — while public polling in most states appears to be moving in its direction — at this point the party has only locked up two Democrat-held seats in a favorable national climate.

Making matters more convoluted are the unknowns surrounding independent candidates Greg Orman in Kansas and Larry Pressler in South Dakota, who have yet to say which caucus they would join.

With so many variables and competitive races, plus potential and competitive runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, the outcome of the midterm elections is anyone’s guess.

But as the votes start rolling in, there’s a chance the result will be one of the following three scenarios: Full story

October 14, 2014

NRSC Airs First South Dakota Ad (Video)

NRSC Airs First South Dakota Ad (Video)

The race for Johnson's seat is heating up. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched its first TV ad today in the newest hot race on the competitive Senate playing field, one day after national Democrats released an ad of their own.

The spot, part of the committee’s recently-announced $1 million ad buy in the state, takes aim at Democrat Rick Weiland and independent Larry Pressler — the two greatest challengers to Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds.

“In the race for U.S. Senate, Rick Weiland and Larry Pressler have a lot in common,” the ad’s announcer says, noting they both support the president’s health care law, “strict new gun laws” and higher energy costs. Full story

October 13, 2014

DSCC Raised $16 Million in September

DSCC Raised $16 Million in September

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is chairman of the DSCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Monday that it raised $16 million in September, leaving it with $14.2 million in cash on hand for the final month before Election Day.

That monthly haul brought the DSCC’s total raised this cycle to $127.1 million. The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced last week raising more than $97 million cycle-to-date after bringing in $15.5 million in September.

With about three weeks to go, both committees are spending heavily in an ever-shifting slate of competitive states. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate. Full story

October 10, 2014

NRSC Shifts Resources to Six States

NRSC Shifts Resources to Six States

Roberts, left, greets Moran, the NRSC chairman, at an event in their home state of Kansas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Updated, 9:04 a.m. | TOPEKA, Kan. — With less than four weeks until Election Day, the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s independent expenditure arm is shifting resources to increase its investment in six states, including South Dakota and Georgia.

The NRSC has moved $1 million to South Dakota, plus another $1.45 million to Georgia.

In South Dakota, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made a $1 million television ad buy this week, on the heels of tightening poll numbers that showed its candidate, Rick Weiland, gaining ground. In Georgia, a new poll suggests a runoff is likely.

Full story

October 9, 2014

The 5 Big Questions on Senate Race Spending

The 5 Big Questions on Senate Race Spending

Republicans are closely keeping tabs on Tillis, right, and the North Carolina Senate race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s decision Wednesday to drop $1 million into South Dakota, a race previously written off as a Republican win, was just the latest shakeup of the Senate landscape this week.

On Tuesday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee cut its financial investment in Michigan, where an open seat and a favorable national environment had created an opportunity for the party.

With the Senate majority at stake, the national campaign committees and their outside-group allies are constantly re-evaluating races and analyzing where their resources are most needed and best put to use. It’s all part of a real-life game of Tetris, as the groups meticulously watch each other’s moves and look to fit their ads and messaging into a larger picture.

Many of the moves by the NRSC, the DSCC and other outside groups likely will fly under the radar over the next 26 days — though with potential runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, Senate ads actually could be airing on TV into early next year. But others, including spending by the campaigns themselves, will offer definitive signs of a race’s potential competitiveness, as in South Dakota and Michigan.

With less than four weeks to go, here are some big questions about the Senate playing field and where the millions more in spending to come will land: Full story

September 29, 2014

Democrats Dominate Michigan Senate Race Spending (Charts)

Democrats Dominate Michigan Senate Race Spending (Charts)

(Courtesy Echelon Insights)

Outside groups are driving the spending on broadcast television ads in the final months of the Michigan Senate race and Democrats are dominating the spending battle, according to a breakdown compiled by Republican firm Echelon Insights for Terri Lynn Land’s campaign.

Land is running against Democratic Rep. Gary Peters in the open seat contest.

In the past month, 54.89 percent of ad spending in the race has come from outside groups, a higher percentage than any other Senate race in the country, according to the data, provided to CQ Roll Call.

Full story

September 25, 2014

The Big Issue in the North Carolina Senate Race

The Big Issue in the North Carolina Senate Race

Hagan speaks with Victor Crosby, 95, on Wednesday during an event with volunteers and supporters at a campaign office in Statesville, N.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

STATESVILLE, N.C. — The biggest issue in the North Carolina Senate race? It’s not health care, Syrian airstrikes or even the economy.

It’s education.

The Big Issue in the North Carolina Senate RaceOften relegated to state and local elections, education has taken a leading role in the race between Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and her GOP opponent, state Speaker Thom Tillis. And in a state steeped in a rich tradition of public schooling, the focus on education is mostly working in Hagan’s favor in this high-stakes race.

At her field office Wednesday evening, Hagan readily brings it up to supporters.

“In the state house, [Tillis] did the tax cuts, then he cut, cut, cut. What did he cut? He cut a half a billion dollars from our education system,” Hagan said. “You know in North Carolina, education has always been a sacred bipartisan priority.” Full story

September 19, 2014

Top Campaign Aides Reveal Picks for #RCReadersChoice

If the campaign committees had their way, Roll Call reporters would be heading to disparate locations during the final stretch of the midterms.

Top Campaign Aides Reveal Picks for #RCReadersChoice

As part of our survey to determine our final campaign stops of the midterms, Roll Call asked top communications aides at each of the four congressional campaign committees for their picks for our next road trip. Not a single one of them chose the same race.

Voting for this round ends Friday at 5 p.m., and two finalists in each category will be announced next week. Until then, here are picks from each communications guru at the House and Senate campaign:

Justin Barasky, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

“There are so many great options where Democratic candidates are clearly contrasting their fight for the middle class with the Republicans allegiance to the Koch brothers, but I would vote for North Carolina where Speaker Tillis’ devastating education cuts are ending his chances.

Brad Dayspring, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee:

“Kansas is lovely this time of year. It’s about time reporters asked the Obama supporting, Reid donating, felon-friendly Democrat Greg Orman a few questions. The first couple should be centered on Orman’s shady business deals with convicted insider trader Rajat Gupta. ” Full story

September 17, 2014

Cotton’s Softer Side Displayed in Senate Race (Video)

Cottons Softer Side Displayed in Senate Race (Video)

Cotton is challenging Pryor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton’s campaign kicked off the final sprint to November with advertising designed to soften the image of one of the GOP’s most-touted Senate recruits.

The freshman congressman, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, boasts multiple Harvard degrees, military service and broad support across the GOP spectrum. His political advantages also include a state trending Republican and a midterm cycle featuring a second-term Democratic president with a 31 percent approval rating in Arkansas, according to a recent NBC News/Marist poll.

But Cotton is running against a two-term senator with a respected brand name, which has given Pryor an advantage some of his fellow red-state Democratic colleagues don’t share. Cotton, who was a first-time candidate in 2012 and has represented just a quarter of the state for less than two years, had the added challenge of boosting his relatively low name ID while refining his skills on the stump. Full story

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