Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 25, 2015

Posts in "Open Seat"

January 22, 2015

Billionaire Passes on California Senate Race

Billionaire Passes on California Senate Race

Boxer is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democrat who has spent considerable cash on environmental causes and candidates, will not run for Senate in California, he announced Thursday.

Steyer openly mulled entering the race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., but he passed on it, saying he decided he could have the most impact on environmental issues not in the Senate, but back home in California.

Full story

January 15, 2015

Why California Members May Think Twice About Running for Senate

Why California Members May Think Twice About Running for Senate

Rep. Darrell Issa, left, and Sanchez, right, are from California. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

More than a half-dozen House Democrats are considering a bid for California’s first open Senate seat in more than two decades — and unlike in most other states, none would start as a front-runner.

Sen. Barbara Boxer’s retirement has given ambitious but stifled Democrats an avenue to higher office, and it’s part of a significant changing of the guard among the party’s leaders in the state. State Attorney General Kamala Harris entered the race Tuesday, with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and billionaire Tom Steyer expected to announce their decisions within days.

Full story

January 12, 2015

Kamala Harris to Run for Open California Senate Seat

Kamala Harris to Run for Open California Senate Seat

Harris speaks onstage during Children's Defense Fund - California Hosts 24th Annual Beat The Odds Awards in Culver City on Dec. 4. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images File Photo)

Kamala Harris, the first woman to serve as attorney general of California, will run for the Senate seat being vacated in 2016 by retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, according to The Associated Press.

Harris will make the announcement Tuesday, five days after Boxer announced her retirement, and one day after fellow Democrat Gavin Newsom, the Golden State’s lieutenant governor, passed on the contest. Harris and Newsom run in the same political circles in the state, and many California Democratic operatives speculated there was not room for both in the contest.

Full story

December 31, 2014

10 Races to Watch in 2016: California Senate

10 Races to Watch in 2016: California Senate

Boxer, left, is a Democrat from California. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With her campaign account nearly dry, and staring down at least two years in the minority, Democratic operatives in California say there is a strong possibility Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, 74, will retire in 2016.

Boxer has indicated she will decide whether to seek another term in early 2015. But if she steps aside, pols will encounter the Golden State’s first open Senate seat in more than two decades — a scenario that would have reverberations throughout California’s political ranks.

Full story

November 12, 2014

How David Perdue Knew He Would Win

How David Perdue Knew He Would Win

Perdue, center, speaks with reporters as he and his fellow newly elected GOP senators walk from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office to Minority Whip John Cornyn's office in the Capitol Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The morning after he won Georgia’s open Senate seat, Republican David Perdue was asked on “Fox & Friends” how he avoided a runoff when every available poll had shown a tight race.

It was the question of the day in the Democrats’ best pickup opportunity — where millions of dollars poured in from both sides during the final month of the contest, yet the Republican emerged with an unexpectedly large 8-point victory.

His answer indicated the Perdue campaign may have been the only ones not in the dark.

“Our pollster, Chris Perkins, had it pegged all along,” the former corporate CEO and first-time candidate responded. Full story

November 11, 2014

How Elise Stefanik Became the Youngest Woman Ever Elected to Congress

How Elise Stefanik Became the Youngest Woman Ever Elected to Congress

Stefanik leaves the Capitol Hill Club with aide Anthony Pileggi. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep.-elect Elise Stefanik’s path to victory in New York reflected the trajectory of the midterms nationally, as Republicans invaded Democratic territory to make double-digit gains in the House.

But in so many other ways, Stefanik’s dominant win was of her own making.

Stefanik defeated a wealthy Democrat, Aaron Woolf, by more than 20 points in a district the president carried just a couple years ago. At 30 years old, she’s the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and New York Republicans now tout her as the future of their party.

But that’s nowhere close to where Stefanik started the cycle in the upstate wilderness. Full story

November 4, 2014

Why Senate Control May Not Be Known by Wednesday

Why Senate Control May Not Be Known by Wednesday

Landrieu rallies supporters Nov. 2 in Shreveport, La. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There are enough Democratic seats in play for Republicans to secure the Senate majority Tuesday, but there is also a chance the outcome won’t be known for days, weeks or even a couple months.

Needing to net six seats to win back control for the first time since George W. Bush’s second midterm in 2006, Republicans have taken advantage of a Democratic president in a similarly weak political position and have carved a path through 10 states. That means Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may be celebrating more than his own re-election in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday night.

Still, with runoffs likely in two competitive states, potentially razor-thin margins in a few races and vote-counting complications in Alaska, there are several hurdles to one party having clear control of the Senate by the time the sun rises Wednesday on the East Coast. Full story

November 3, 2014

The Other House Race in Louisiana

The Other House Race in Louisiana

Graves is one of the top GOP candidates in the crowded race in Louisiana's 6th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Though the fate of the “kissing congressman” in Louisiana is garnering some attention outside of the Pelican State, a crowded race to the south with its own colorful characters is wide open — at least on the Republican side.

Ten candidates are vying to replace Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, who vacated his seat to challenge vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu. Among them are state lawmakers, a tree farmer and an ex-governor/ex-congressman/felon. Since the Republican candidates are ideologically similar, there is no clear GOP frontrunner heading into Election Day.

“I think you’ve seen that all of the candidates are campaigning as conservatives so it would be difficult to contrast any of the Republican candidates’ policy stances,” Jason Dore, executive director for the Louisiana Republican Party, told CQ Roll Call. Full story

October 27, 2014

Donna Edwards Motivates Volunteers for Virginia Democrat

Donna Edwards Motivates Volunteers for Virginia Democrat

Edwards, right, motivates campaign volunteers for Foust, left, in Manassas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

MANASSAS, Va. — Democrat John Foust’s campaign boasts it has made 960,000 phone calls, knocked on 120,000 doors and registered 1,500 new voters in the quest for Virginia’s open 10th District.

But on a crisp Saturday afternoon in Manassass, just 10 days before Election Day, Foust asked his volunteers for a few more hours of help — and he brought in Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., for some last-minute motivation.

Donna Edwards Motivates Volunteers for Virginia Democrat“John has done everything right,” Edwards told the crowd of about 40 volunteers packed into a Democratic Party of Virginia’s campaign office, which was covered in signs for Foust and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who is also on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“He has raised the money, he has got the message and right now he’s got the momentum because you’re knocking on doors, and so I just want to thank you,” added Edwards, who made the short trip to Foust’s district with her arm in a sling after dislocating her shoulder the day before.

Foust, a tall, mustachioed and soft-spoken supervisor in Fairfax County, needs the last-minute help.

Full story

October 24, 2014

DCCC Polls Hawaii House Race

DCCC Polls Hawaii House Race

Djou served in Congress for several months in 2010. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new Democratic poll shows the party’s nominee in an open House contest in Hawaii with a 7-point lead over the Republican.

State Rep. Mark Takai, a Democrat, led former Republican Rep. Charles Djou, 49 percent to 42 percent, according to the survey, which was conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Public polling has shown a closer race, either a dead heat or with Djou slightly leading Takai. Both are seeking to succeed Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat who lost the primary for Senate earlier this year.

This week, American Action Network, a GOP group, went up with $300,000 on Honolulu broadcast attacking Takai’s past comments on taxes. They hope Djou will upset the Aloha State’s 1st District, which voted for President Barack Obama by a 41-percent margin in 2012.

On Friday, the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call to moved the race rating to Leans Democratic.

Full story

October 23, 2014

Sleeper No More: Both Parties Spending on Capito Seat (Updated)

Sleeper No More: Both Parties Spending on Capito Seat (Updated)

Mooney is the Republican running in West Virginia's 2nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:37 p.m. | National Democrats and Republicans will make major television buys in an off-the-radar House race in West Virginia, according to party sources tracking ad buys.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee intends to purchase $600,000 in airtime in West Virginia’s 2nd District, an open-seat race to succeed Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. The National Republican Congressional Committee will also make a $250,000 buy in Charleston through Election Day. Full story

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 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

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

NRCC Cuts TV Buy in Maine

NRCC Cuts TV Buy in Maine

Cain is the Democratic nominee in Maine's 2nd District. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee is cutting the last two weeks of its television reservations in Maine’s 2nd District, according to a committee spokeswoman.

The NRCC originally reserved $1.6 million for the open-seat race to succeed Rep. Michael H. Michaud, a Democrat who is running for governor. The committee spent $965,000 of that reservation, but will now shift the remaining funds to offensive seats elsewhere.

“We have put Democrats on defense in Maine, and we are increasing our buys in several offensive seats,” NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek told Roll Call on Monday.

The committee will now add six-figure sums to four other offensive opportunity races: Full story

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