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August 1, 2014

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July 1, 2014

Democrats Work to Mitigate VA Scandal as Political Issue

Democrats Work to Mitigate VA Scandal as Political Issue

Begich has had to tackle the veterans affairs scandal as he seeks a second term in Alaska. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Politicians have always touted their support for military veterans back home. The willingness to expend federal dollars to provide the best care possible is popular across the partisan spectrum and is rarely cause for controversy.

But the issue has been turned on its head in recent months, with the fallout from the Veterans Affairs scandal prompting even the Obama administration to admit a “corrosive culture” at the VA affecting facilities across the country.

It’s also invited criticism of vulnerable House and Senate Democrats from Republican candidates and outside groups. For Republican challengers and operatives, the VA scandal offers a striking example of federal government mismanagement with a Democrat at the helm and provides another link between Democratic incumbents and President Barack Obama.

“Veterans’ issues tend to be bipartisan, non-controversial and not a big deal in most campaigns — which is why the VA scandal is a problem for Democrats this year,” Republican pollster Dan Judy said. “Democratic candidates in most of the competitive states already have the millstone of President Obama’s unpopularity around their necks, and the VA scandal is only making that weight heavier.”

Full story

June 3, 2014

Thad Cochran Runs on Incumbency, Appropriations in GOP Primary

Thad Cochran Runs on Incumbency, Appropriations in GOP Primary

Cochran greets a supporter at Windy City Grille in Hernando. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OXFORD, Miss. — Construction on Phase II of the grand Thad Cochran Research Center here on the Ole Miss campus is expected to be completed later this year, around the time the senator hopes to be re-elected to a seventh term.

Cochran’s help securing crucial federal funding for the pharmacy school’s natural products research facility is one of numerous examples of the Senate appropriator’s widely regarded ability to steer money toward his state, which has the lowest median household income in the country.

The incumbent spent the final week of an increasingly hostile race on a statewide bus tour touting his 36 years of experience in the Senate, despite the fact that his appropriations prowess — and accusations he doesn’t fight hard enough for conservative causes — is what led to the 76-year-old’s most competitive primary challenge ever, from tea-party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“I feel comfortable knowing that I can get things done for the state to help better address our economic problems, also our national security interests,” Cochran said in an interview in Hernando, when asked about voters who may be looking for someone new. “As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m situated to help influence the level of funding for a lot of government programs in the national security area that directly benefit Mississippi,” including both military installations and defense contractors. Full story

May 30, 2014

The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and Rallies

The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and Rallies

McDaniel speaks with an employee of Truhitt Service Center in Union, Miss. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and RalliesPHILADELPHIA, Miss. — The Chris McDaniel campaign bus is sputtering.

That’s what a reporter was told Thursday as it became clear the Mississippi state senator challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in the primary next week would be a no-show for both of his first two campaign events.

McDaniel, endorsed by former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., on Thursday, marks the tea party’s best hope for a major splash in the 2014 elections. But the recent arrest of at least two McDaniel supporters allegedly involved in the photographing of Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home has thrown the entire race into flux.

Amid the flurry of talk across the state, McDaniel is pushing forward with a 25-town statewide tour to detail his “Five Promises to Mississippi” platform. But like his Senate campaign, the McDaniel bus must navigate a bumpy route to its final destination.

Full story

May 27, 2014

First Incumbent Could Lose in Tuesday’s Texas Runoff (Video)

First Incumbent Could Lose in Tuesdays Texas Runoff (Video)

Hall has said this will be his final re-election bid. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Could Ralph Hall be saying goodbye to Congress Wednesday morning? It’s fight night in Texas and that’s the biggest question of Tuesday’s runoff.

Most of the political excitement in the Lone Star State is expected to take place in state races. Even though tea-party-aligned candidates hit recent road blocks in GOP primaries in federal races, anti-establishment conservative candidates are expected to dominate state-level politics Tuesday evening in Texas.

But in that shadow, there are a few House race runoffs with the potential to impact Capitol Hill — especially in Texas’ 4th District. After Republican Rep. Ralph M. Hall failed to win the majority of the vote in the March primary, he faces the fight of his career to return to Congress.

Lone Star State polls close at 9 p.m. EST (this cycle’s complete political calendar is available on CQ Roll Call’s Primary Chart).

Full story

April 22, 2013

Democrats Markey, Lynch Resume Campaigns #MAsen

Democrats Markey, Lynch Resume Campaigns #MAsen

Markey has led in all polls of the Massachusetts Senate special election so far. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reps. Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch resumed their Senate special-election campaigns on Monday. It’s been one week since the two Bay State Democrats suspended political activities after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Markey’s spokesman confirmed via email that he will start campaigning again, although neither candidate is running television ads yet:

Full story

November 1, 2012

Virginia: Mitt Romney, George Allen Rally GOP Faithful

Virginia: Mitt Romney, George Allen Rally GOP Faithful

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets the crowd at a campaign stop at the Farm Bureau Center in Doswell, Va. Romney was joined on the stump by Republican Senate candidate George Allen, who is locked in a tight race with Democrat Tim Kaine. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

DOSWELL, Va. — Presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Senate candidate George Allen rallied the GOP faithful today to begin a final joint push across this crucial battleground state.

In the second event of a three-stop tour, several hundred supporters donning stickers for Romney, Allen and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) crowded into the expansive Farm Bureau Center outside Richmond to hear the nominees for president and Senate. Full story

October 31, 2012

Joe Walsh Struggles With Crossover Appeal in Chicago Suburbs

Joe Walsh Struggles With Crossover Appeal in Chicago Suburbs

Rep. Joe Walsh speaks to supporters in front of his Addison Township campaign headquarters in Elmhurst, Ill., on Saturday morning. (Shira Toeplitz/CQ Roll Call)

PALATINE, Ill. — Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R) and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) have polar opposite personalities and politics. But they have one unusual similarity in this House race: They are both battling their national profiles to win this northwestern suburban Chicago House seat.

An unlikely victor last cycle, Walsh embodies the feisty tea party spirit of 2010 but made headlines on cable news for his rookie gaffes. Duckworth, a double amputee, is a Democratic darling who missed an opportunity to win a 2006 Congressional race at the height of the country’s anti-war frustration.

This cycle’s contest would have been a clash of two political movements if all signs didn’t point to a Democratic victory. But Duckworth picked up a few campaign tricks in the past six years, becoming a better candidate since she lost to now-Rep. Peter Roskam (R) by 2 points. Her fan base extends downstate to Democrats in Springfield, who redrew the 8th district to be more favorable to the party and to include her Hoffman Estates home. Full story

Changed Politics and District Haunt Judy Biggert in Illinois

Changed Politics and District Haunt Judy Biggert in Illinois

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

LEMONT, Ill. — Rep. Judy Biggert built a reputation as a genteel Republican willing to work across the aisle during her 14 years in Congress.

But politics has changed, and Biggert has not.

“The last time I went to the Civility Caucus, there were three people there: the two co-chairs and me,”  Biggert recalled to a roundtable of local business leaders last week.

Today, one of those co-chairmen is the head of the organization that has already spent $1.35 million to defeat her next week: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.).

Biggert has never faced a race like this — and it shows. Now there’s a good chance her hesitance to embrace the aggressive tactics of today’s politics could cost her in her race against former Rep. Bill Foster (D). Full story

October 30, 2012

Robert Dold Fights District, Party Label in Bid for Second Term

Robert Dold Fights District, Party Label in Bid for Second Term

Rep. Robert Dold and his 5-year-old daughter, Honor, greet a supporter at his campaign headquarters in Highland Park, Ill. (Shira Toepliz/CQ Roll Call)

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — Freshman Rep. Robert Dold boasts the dubious distinction of representing the most Democratic district of any Republican Member of the House.

If he’s lucky, Dold will keep that title next year in this redrawn district north of Chicago.

“Where is Zion?” asked his daughter Harper, 10, studying an atlas from the front seat of Dold’s blue, decorated campaign bus early Saturday afternoon. “Is this the right map?”

That’s probably the same question Dold asked himself 16 months ago, when Democrats redrew the Congressional map in Illinois. Democrats unsuccessfully dumped millions into the 10th district during the past three cycles, so Dold began his first term as a top target, even before the redrawn map made his road to a second term more challenging. Full story

Illinois: Democrats’ Redistricting Crown Jewel Not as Royal as Expected

Illinois: Democrats Redistricting Crown Jewel Not as Royal as Expected

Rep. Jan Schakowsky campaigns with Democratic House hopefuls Tammy Duckworth and Brad Schneider at Harmony Park in Arlington Heights, Ill. (Shira Toeplitz/CQ Roll Call)

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — Democratic hopes of winning the House majority have been quashed, but in this northern Chicago suburb’s crowded village hall on a Saturday morning, one can see the glimmer of what might have been.

At this single location, early voters wait an hour to cast ballots in one of three redrawn Congressional districts. The hall serves as a symbol of the extent to which Democrats redrew the lines of the state’s map to their advantage.

Throughout the cycle, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) repeated these words: “The road to the majority runs through Illinois.” But less than week before Election Day, it’s clear that Democrats won’t net the 25 seats needed to regain the Speaker’s gavel, and it’s equally clear they won’t make as many gains in Illinois as they had hoped. Full story

October 25, 2012

No Room for Error in Indiana Senate Contest

 

No Room for Error in Indiana Senate Contest

(Tom Strattman/Associated Press)

INDIANAPOLIS — By now, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock should know when to hold his tongue.

But the Republican Senate nominee, who’s been in Indiana politics for more than two decades, has a habit of speaking freely, frequently.

Many Hoosiers agree with his ideology, but Mourdock’s errors are political. As a result, less than two weeks before Election Day, Mourdock’s greatest hurdle to winning a Senate seat is himself.

“Richard doesn’t really believe in a filter,” said one Hoosier Republican and Mourdock ally, who declined to criticize the nominee on the record. “He is who he is and refuses to compromise for expediency.”

On Tuesday evening, Mourdock described pregnancy that results from rape as “something that God intended to happen” in response to an open-ended question on abortion. He delivered a tearful apology the next day to those who misunderstood his comments, which he described as not “articulate.”

The comments sent the Indiana race into turmoil two weeks before Election Day, just as Mourdock regained his footing against Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) following a rocky September for Republicans nationwide.
Full story

October 23, 2012

Age More Than Just a Number for Mandel, Brown in Ohio Battle

Age More Than Just a Number for Mandel, Brown in Ohio Battle

Though 35, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s age is often underestimated by even his supporters. But on the campaign trail, the Senate hopeful has been attacking his 59-year-old opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, for his alleged immaturity. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

MARIETTA, Ohio — Many Ohio voters describe Josh Mandel as a “young” 35. His hairless chin and wiry frame means even his supporters underestimate his age by a decade.

“He looks 25,” said John Walsh, 72, a retired businessman loafing at the Skyline Café on a Friday afternoon.

“Earlier, you said he looked 19,” called out Steve Barros, the 55-year-old coffee shop owner, across the counter.

“It’s a good thing,” explained Walsh, a registered Republican. “You don’t have to be old to be smart.”

But the state treasurer’s youthful appearance hasn’t made it easier for him in his race against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). Image matters in politics, especially in a populous state such as Ohio, with 12 million residents. Most voters will never meet Mandel, but they will see his visage on television.
Full story

October 22, 2012

Ohio: Josh Mandel Internal Poll Shows Tied Senate Race

Ohio: Josh Mandel Internal Poll Shows Tied Senate Race

Ohio Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel makes a stop on his bus tour at the courthouse in Caldwell. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

MARIETTA, Ohio  — State Treasurer Josh Mandel’s internal polling shows a statistically tied race with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), and the Republican says he has a path to victory even if Mitt Romney doesn’t win the crucial Buckeye State.

According to a Public Opinion Strategies poll taken Oct. 16-17, Mandel and Brown were virtually tied at 44 percent to 43 percent.

Most recent independent public polling shows Brown with a high single-digit lead, and Roll Call continues to rate this race as Leans Democratic. Republicans privately acknowledge Romney must win the Buckeye State for Mandel to succeed in toppling Brown.

But Mandel disputes that.

“While I believe he’s going to win and I’m doing everything I can to help him, we believe we have a path to victory, whether or not he wins,” Mandel said during an interview Friday on a downtown stoop in this river town bordering West Virginia. Full story

October 21, 2012

Max Cleland, Inspired by Bobby Kennedy, Looks to Young Joe

Max Cleland, Inspired by Bobby Kennedy, Looks to Young Joe

Joe Kennedy, the Democratic candidate for Massachusetts' 4th district, former Sen. Max Cleland and Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren appear at a rally at Laborers Hall in Hopkinton, Mass. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

HOPKINTON, Mass. — Former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) told the story here on Saturday of how he came to politics. It began with an undergraduate, floundering at Stetson University, who came upon a picture of fellow students meeting then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

As Cleland, a triple-amputee Vietnam War veteran who served in the Senate from 1997 to 2003, spoke about the spark of inspiration that photo lit in his mind, Kennedy’s grandson, Congressional candidate Joe Kennedy III, stood behind him.

Cleland, 70, on a tour of events in support of Democratic Senate nominee Elizabeth Warren, took a few minutes to reflect on the meaning of Kennedy, 32, introducing him. And then he gave the candidate, running for the open seat in the 4th district, his endorsement.

“Hearing Joe talk about public service, I wouldn’t be here at all without some of his forebearers,” he told a rapt audience. Full story

After ‘Brutal’ Races, Steve Stivers Sits Pretty in Redrawn Ohio District

After Brutal Races, Steve Stivers Sits Pretty in Redrawn Ohio District

(Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio — It’s less than three weeks before Election Day, and Rep. Steve Stivers (R) appears relaxed for the first time in six years.

After running in the battleground state’s most competitive House district for two cycles, Stivers will coast to re-election in November — thanks to redistricting.

“They were brutal,” Stivers said of his 2008 and 2010 races, while lining up to drive with his toddler, Sarah, in the Pumpkin Show Parade here. After the GOP-led redraw, “we’re not on anybody’s target list,” Stivers added.

That’s a first. Full story

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