Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2014

Posts in "Primaries"

August 1, 2014

How Lamar Alexander Staved Off His Primary Challenger

How Lamar Alexander Staved Off His Primary Challenger

Alexander faces a primary on Aug. 7. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Conservatives have poured millions into primary challenges to senators this cycle, even in races where chances of success were slim.

But Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has proved one of the greatest exceptions, and now he’s poised to defeated state Rep. Joe Carr and several lesser-known challengers in the Aug. 7 GOP primary.

So how did Alexander avoid the fate of many of his colleagues? Full story

July 31, 2014

Hawaii Senator Gets Distance From Governor Who Appointed Him

Hawaii Senator Gets Distance From Governor Who Appointed Him

Brian Schatz is an appointed senator from Hawaii. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The careers of Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz and Gov. Neil Abercrombie have been linked for several years, but the Schatz campaign has worked for the past 18 months to ensure their political fates are not.

With the Aloha State Democratic primaries just a week away, it’s increasingly possible Schatz, the former lieutenant governor appointed by Abercrombie in December 2012, could win the Senate nomination, even as the governor loses his own re-nomination.

Schatz faces Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Aug. 9 contest, which both campaigns say is close.

Schatz hasn’t overtly run away from Abercrombie, whom he supports, but his campaign has focused squarely on the influence and accomplishments the freshman senator garnered in less than two years on Capitol Hill. The intent is to differentiate him from Hanabusa, with the added benefit of building a profile unique from his association with the unpopular governor. Full story

Club For Growth Back on TV for Justin Amash

Club For Growth Back on TV for Justin Amash

Amash faces a primary on August 5. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Club for Growth’s independent expenditure arm has started airing television spots again on behalf of Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., according to Federal Election Commission records.

The move could be indicative that Amash is in some political jeopardy just days ahead of the August 5 primary.

Amash is fending off a primary challenge from former East Grand Rapids School Trustee Brian Ellis, a self-funding candidate with endorsements from a slew of business-friendly groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The club is one of several tea party groups and members of Congress who are circling their wagons around the libertarian-minded Amash.

Full story

Scott DesJarlais’ Re-Election Hopes Rise, Despite Abortion Scandal (Video)

Scott DesJarlais Re Election Hopes Rise, Despite Abortion Scandal (Video)

Scott DesJarlais practices ahead of the congressional football game. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Two years is a lifetime in politics. Just ask Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

GOP operatives had all but written off the Tennessee Republican. In October 2012, it was revealed the anti-abortion rights physician had encouraged an ex-wife to have two abortions prior to their marriage and had carried on multiple affairs with patients and co-workers — an infraction for which he was fined $500 by a medical board.

It was too late for DesJarlais to face a serious challenge that cycle, but he soon became one of 2014′s most vulnerable House members. As DesJarlais’ campaign cash flow dried up, he faced a formidable foe: state Sen. Jim Tracy.

Until recently, Tennessee Republicans expected Tracy, a longtime state politician, to cruise past DesJarlais in the Aug. 7 primary. But in the final days of the race, DesJarlais is in a better position than Republicans ever anticipated.

He might even win. Full story

July 30, 2014

GOP Congressman’s Abortion Scandal Broadcast in New TV Ad

GOP Congressmans Abortion Scandal Broadcast in New TV Ad

DesJarlais is a Republican from Tennessee. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Scott DesJarlais, the Tennessee Republican who came under fire in 2012 after unearthed divorce proceedings revealed he encouraged an ex-wife to have two abortions, is contending with the scandal again, days out from the Volunteer State primary.

State Sen. Jim Tracy, the top Republican challenging DesJarlais in the Aug. 7 GOP primary in the 4th District, is airing a scathing ad in the final two weeks of the contest. It’s on the airwaves during the pivotal early voting period, which began July 18 and runs through Aug. 2.

“The press says Congressman DesJarlais no longer has credibility,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot. “Reprimanded, fined for unethical conduct, he deliberately deceived the voters. Conservatives said DesJarlais should resign because of his hypocrisy. Scandal makes DesJarlais ineffective in Washington.”

Full story

July 29, 2014

In Kansas, Conservatives Suffer From Mississippi Hangover

In Kansas, Conservatives Suffer From Mississippi Hangover

Roberts faces a primary challenge on Aug. 5. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As conservatives reel from a bruising loss in Mississippi, they are looking to the primary in Kansas to knock off an incumbent and salve their wounds.

But on Aug. 5, when GOP Sen. Pat Roberts faces Milton Wolf in a primary, they will likely realize they are not in Mississippi anymore.

Roberts has been in office for several decades — much like Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, who survived a runoff with state Sen. Chris McDaniel last month by a narrow margin but galvanized conservatives to make it a close contest. The Kansan has been criticized for spending more time in Washington than in his home state — another accusation McDaniel leveled at Cochran.

But unlike McDaniel, Wolf’s bark might be stronger than his bite.

Full story

Ex-Congressman Tacks to Center in GOP Comeback Bid

Ex Congressman Tacks to Center in GOP Comeback Bid

Tiahrt dressed up as Wyatt Earp as a delegate at the 2012 Republican National Convention. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A former congressman is attempting a comeback by appealing to an unconventional bloc of GOP primary voters: moderates.

And that’s not even strangest thing about former Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s campaign to oust his successor, GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo, on Aug. 5. With the help of one of Pompeo’s former foes, wealthy oilman Wink Hartman, Tiahrt is taking on his one-time backers and the GOP’s ultimate Goliath, the Koch brothers, in their own backyard.

Tiahrt’s eleventh-hour bid comes four years after he lost a bitter Senate primary to now-Sen. Jerry Moran. After that, the former eight-term appropriator endorsed Pompeo — twice.

Then there’s the ex-congressman’s message: Tiahrt is running to the left of Pompeo, striking a populist tone in the conservative district.

“It’s tough to get to 50 [percent] that way in a Republican primary in the 4th District of Kansas,” said David Kensinger, a former chief of staff to Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

Full story

July 25, 2014

Republicans Unite in Tossup New York House Race

Republicans Unite in Tossup New York House Race

Doheny endorsed his former primary opponent. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New York Republican Matt Doheny endorsed Elise Stefanik at a press conference Friday, more than a month after losing to her in a House race primary.

Stefanik, who was recently added to the NRCC’s Young Guns program, faces Democrat Aaron Woolf for the 21st District seat being vacated by Democrat Bill Owens. The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Report/Roll Call. Full story

Tea Party Circles the Wagons Around Justin Amash

Tea Party Circles the Wagons Around Justin Amash

Amash is a Michigan Republican. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

No House Republican enrages the business-friendly wing of the GOP more than Justin Amash. But members and operatives who hoped to end his political career are running out of time and moxie before Michigan’s Aug. 5 primary.

So far, many of Amash’s cash-flush critics have passed on investing substantial resources in his GOP rival, former East Grand Rapids School Trustee Brian Ellis. At the same time, Amash allies such as the Club for Growth and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have tangibly backed the libertarian sophomore’s re-election in the 3rd District.

Full story

Alaska Republican Super PAC Launches Another Ad

Alaska Republican Super PAC Launches Another Ad

Dan Sullivan is getting some outside help. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A super PAC supporting Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan is launching a radio ad Friday taking aim at his two leading Senate race opponents.

The 60-second ad from Alaska’s Energy/America’s Values, backed by an $80,000 buy and running statewide, mentions Democratic Sen. Mark Begich and Sullivan’s top opponent in the Aug. 19 primary, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.

The ad lands on the airwaves on the heels of an accompanying TV ad from the group. Both label Sullivan a true Alaskan — one of the leading attacks against the native Ohioan — and state he is the only Republican who can defeat Begich. Full story

July 22, 2014

Georgia Runoff Results: David Perdue Wins GOP Nod for Senate (Video)

Georgia Runoff Results: David Perdue Wins GOP Nod for Senate (Video)

Perdue won the Georgia Republican Senate nomination Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Businessman David Perdue’s outsider narrative and personal wealth propelled him to the Republican nomination Tuesday in the Georgia Senate race, defeating Rep. Jack Kingston.

Perdue led the 11-term congressman, 51 percent to 49 percent, with 93 percent of precincts reporting when The Associated Press called the race.

After an extra nine weeks were tacked on to the initial May 20 primary, the race is finally progressing to the general election — where Democrat Michelle Nunn has quietly been compiling cash for what will be a pricey contest.

Full story

Georgia Runoff Results for House Races: Ex-Congressman Bob Barr Loses Comeback Bid

Georgia Runoff Results for House Races: Ex Congressman Bob Barr Loses Comeback Bid

Jody Hice defeated Mike Collins, above, for the GOP nod in a Georgia House race. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:52 p.m. | Former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk thwarted former Rep. Bobb Barr’s comeback, capturing a decisive win in Tuesday’s GOP runoff.

Loudermilk defeated Barr 70 percent to 30 percent, with 41 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.

There is no Democrat running in the 11th District in the fall, making Loudermilk the de facto next member of Congress from this Marietta-based district. He will succeed Rep. Phil Gingrey, who lost a GOP Senate primary in May.

Full story

July 21, 2014

Georgia Runoff: Republicans Pick Senate and House Nominees Tuesday

Georgia Runoff: Republicans Pick Senate and House Nominees Tuesday

Kingston is running for Senate in Georgia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Georgia Republicans will pick their nominee for Senate in a runoff Tuesday, ending Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn’s nine-week wait for an opponent in the open-seat contest.

The Senate contest has reverberated around the Peach State, creating three open-seat House races with GOP runoffs that will also be decided Tuesday.

In the statewide race, many Republicans said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., has a small edge over former Dollar General and Reebok CEO David Perdue. Both of whom have spent millions on the anticipated low-turnout contest, and polls close at 7 p.m.

In May, Perdue came in first in a seven-candidate Republican primary field that included three members of Congress with 31 percent — below the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. Kingston came in second with 26 percent.

Full story

Super PAC Targets Democrat in Georgia

Super PAC Targets Democrat in Georgia

Nunn is being targeted on TV as the GOP primary concludes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the Georgia Republican Senate runoff ending Tuesday, an outside group focused on eradicating wasteful government spending launched a TV ad against Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn.

The group, Ending Spending Action Fund, spent more than $200,000 to produce and place the ad, according to an independent expenditure report filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission. It also spent more than $28,000 on opposition research.

The 30-second ad, which is running statewide and kicked off over the weekend, was timed to run just as either Rep. Jack Kingston or former corporate CEO David Perdue wins the Republican nomination and the general election officially begins. The seat in this Republican-leaning state is one of Democrats’ only pickup opportunities. Full story

July 20, 2014

Megachurches Prove Mega-Influential in GOP Primaries

Megachurches Prove Mega Influential in GOP Primaries

Collins, left, is a Georgia Republican and former senior pastor at his church. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The influence of religious conservatives might be waning nationwide, but the movement only stands to grow in Congress.

Already this year, three candidates with close ties to massive churches won decisive Republican primaries. A fourth — Pastor Jody Hice — could win a Tuesday GOP primary runoff in Georgia and come to Congress in November.

Their victories come as public opinion has shifted dramatically on some social issues, notably same-sex marriage, denounced by most religious conservatives. The rise of the tea party and libertarian factions in the Republican Party has also diluted the influence of social conservative activists in the GOP.

But in the case of these faith-figures-turned-pols, the candidates’ close relationships to their churches played a factor — perhaps the deciding one — in their victories.

“People generally like their pastor, and in politics it’s always good to be liked by voters,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon.

Full story

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