- Supreme Court Puts Hold on Same-Sex Marriages in Virginia
- Six Races Will Decide Control of the Senate
- Pryor Touts Obamacare in New Ad
- Is Georgia Slipping Away for Democrats?
Posts in "Race Ratings"
August 19, 2014
Minnesota Democrats think Rep. Collin C. Peterson is nearly unbeatable in the 7th District. For the first time in more than a decade, that theory is about to be put to the test.
Peterson is one of just a handful of House Democrats representing a decidedly Republican district, but he has won re-election even in GOP wave years. In 2012, presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the conservative, rural district by 10 points as the Democratic lawmaker won his race by a 25-point margin.
This year, Peterson faces his most formidable challenger in several cycles. Though the Democrat remains the front-runner, Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom brings a compelling life story as the first blind member of the legislature, and more political experience than any of Peterson’s recent opponents.
“We’re paying attention,” Peterson told CQ Roll Call in a recent interview. “We’ve never been targeted before, so we’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen.”
Minnesota Republicans and Democrats agree on one point, at least: Westrom has a good shot at ending up in Congress.
It’s just not clear when.
August 18, 2014
TUCSON, Ariz. — Operatives couldn’t make up a better candidate résumé if they tried: retired Air Force Colonel, first in her class at the U.S. Air War College, the first female fighter pilot in combat who flies the very plane — an A-10 Warthog — that’s economically essential to the 2nd District.
At a time when Republicans wrangle with messaging to female voters, this 48-year-old’s spunk and articulate bite is made for television — and unlike anything the House GOP Conference has seen in a while.
“L-O-G-O-M-A-C-H-Y,” McSally enunciates to the judges, who nod in approval at a spelling bee fundraiser just off the Old Pueblo’s newly booming downtown strip. It means an argument about words — something of which there’s plenty in her race.
After nearly a dozen rounds, the competition has dwindled from 15 local celebrities and the judges have to regroup because they’ve run out of pre-selected words to challenge the two finalists. McSally is one of them, and when it’s her turn, she walks into the single spotlight on stage and tries to spell “sayonara.”
She blows it. Full story
August 15, 2014
Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst told TIME Friday that she was sexually harassed in the military. Separating herself from many of her fellow Republicans, Ernst also said she would support taking sexual assault cases out of the military chain of command.
Ernst, a 20-year veteran, said in the interview with TIME that there are situations when soldiers may be hesitant to report sexual harassment.
“I had comments, passes, things like that,” Ernst said. “These were some things where I was able to say stop and it simply stopped but there are other circumstances both for women and for men where they don’t stop and they may be afraid to report it.”
After reports of high levels of sexual assault in the military, lawmakers worked to address the issue last spring. A main point of contention was whether such cases should be handled by military officers. Full story
August 13, 2014
Updated 6:40 a.m. | State Sen. Glenn Grothman has won the GOP primary by a slim margin in the only open House district in Wisconsin.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the 6th district primary race for Grothman, who garnered 36.2 percent of the vote in the four-way contest to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Tom Petri.
State Sen. Joe Leibham trails Grothman with 35.8 percent — or by 215 votes.
August 12, 2014
DES MOINES, Iowa – Joni Ernst is a hugger.
At the Iowa State Fair, the GOP’s nominee to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is hugging people she knows, people she’s meeting for the first time, and people who are excited to see her. On Friday, Ernst stops to hug and chat up someone else while Iowa’s three most senior Republican state officials — Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey — wait for her at a podium 10 feet away.
“Joni, we love you, honey! Keep up the good work!” shouts a man as she walks the fair with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.
Six months ago, Ernst was a second-tier candidate with little money in a four-way Republican primary. Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley had cleared the field, raised money, and seemed likely to keep the seat in his party’s hands.
Then, Ernst made a splashy ad about castrating hogs and a video emerged of Braley derisively referring to Grassley as just “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” Suddenly, Ernst was a contender, and Braley was back on his heels, trying to apologize to the state’s beloved senior senator.
Ernst rode that momentum to a resounding primary victory two months later, and since then, the race has been counted among the most competitive of the cycle. Ernst could well be Iowa’s first female senator if the Hawkeye State voters prefer her farm girl charm over Braley’s record in Congress.
It’s why walking the fair with Braley and Ernst is like experiencing night and day.
PHOENIX — Once known for her progressive politics, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has coasted to the center in her first re-election.
The freshman bills herself as bipartisan, and now party operatives — even Republicans, privately — view her as the safest of the state’s three vulnerable Democrats. But that’s also because she’s lucky: A brutal Republican primary is bound to leave her future foe broke and bruised 10 weeks before Election Day.
“I’m working to make it cool to compromise in Congress,” Sinema tells 30 mostly baby boomers at a Thursday lunch with the Phoenix West Rotary Club. “I don’t know if we’re quite there yet, but I’m working on it.”
Sinema started her elected career nearly a decade ago at the state House, 10 miles away from this Sheraton conference room.
Some of her first political experience came working for Ralph Nader’s spoiler 2000 presidential bid. She tried her own third party attempt in a losing race for the state House as an independent affiliated with the Green Party two years later. She finally won the seat as a Democrat in 2004. Full story
August 11, 2014
The press secretary to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is heading to the South to help Republicans retain one of their two most endangered Senate seats.
Megan Whittemore told reporters in an email Monday that beginning later this week, she will be communications director for David Perdue’s campaign in Georgia.
Whittemore’s exit comes as Cantor is set to resign from Congress, effective Aug. 18. The Virginia Republican’s descent from leadership and early exit followed his stunning June 10 primary defeat — and Whittemore was one of several top Cantor staffers identified as likely attractive candidates for new jobs.
Four candidates are vying for the GOP nomination in Wisconsin’s only open House district, with no clear front-runner in the Tuesday primary.
In the race to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Tom Petri, three top Republican candidates have tried to brand themselves as the most conservative contender in the 6th District: state Sen. Joe Leibham, state Sen. Glenn Grothman and state Rep. Duey Stroebel.
“I think it’s going to be a tight race,” said Scott Becher, a Wisconsin GOP consultant with Red Shoes PR.
Public and private polling on the race has been scare. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as a Safe Republican contest, and whoever wins the primary on Tuesday will likely head to Congress next year. Full story
TALLULAH, La. — Vance McAllister’s political career flatlined earlier this year, a victim of self-inflicted wounds from an embarrassing infidelity scandal.
But less than three months before the midterm elections, the Louisiana Republican has suddenly, improbably, become the man to beat this November.
McAllister, who was holding a series of businesslike, low-drama town hall meetings in small communities in the east end of his mostly rural district last week, told CQ Roll Call that both he and his constituents have moved on from the ”Kissing Congressman” scandal that erupted in April, after a video surfaced showing him embracing a married staffer.
“It’s really only the Washington media that’s keeping that going,” he said in an interview outside the community meeting room in the small farm town of Winnsboro, population 4,910.
And, at least among the business leaders, city council members, farmers and veterans who attended the question-and-answer sessions in Winnsboro and nearby Tallulah, McAllister seemed to have a point.
The congressman was asked about the border crisis, the Keystone XL pipeline, national security issues and the problems with Department of Veterans Affairs — but not a single question arose about the video.
August 10, 2014
The Democratic primary between Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was too close to call early Sunday morning, and the race may not be decided for days.
Voting in two precincts on the Big Island, which was hit hardest by Hurricane Iselle, was postponed because of storm damage, KITV reported. Those Democrats will vote absentee and essentially decide the contest, though Hanabusa has some ground to make up.
Both campaigns told Civil Beat they will be heading to the Big Island before the crucial final ballots are cast.
With all but those two precincts reporting, Schatz led Hanabusa 49.4 percent to 48.6 percent — separated by just less than 1,800 votes out of some 214,000 cast. After Schatz was appointed to the seat in December 2012 following the death of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, the winner will likely prevail in November and serve out the remaining two years of Inouye’s term, and then undoubtedly run for a full term in 2016.
The race kicked off amid an inescapable feeling of bitterness among Inouye and Hanabusa allies, perturbed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s selection of Schatz to serve in the Senate instead of Inouye’s preferred successor, Hanabusa. It had nearly as rocky a finish, as the islands avoided a one-two punch of hurricanes that threatened to disrupt the election to a greater degree than it did.
August 8, 2014
TUCSON, Ariz. — Rep. Ron Barber guides his Ford through the flat, four-lane paved streets, ticking off landmarks on the corners of his desert city surrounded by jagged mountains.
That’s Rincon High School, where he enrolled as a sophomore in 1959. There’s the middle school his grandson attends. As he makes a left turn, Barber points to St. Cyril of Alexandria Church, where he married his wife, Nancy, 47 years ago.
On the opposite corner of the church is another Barber landmark, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ office, where he worked as her district director for several years. One memory sticks out: On the night of the Affordable Care Act vote, he put out a press release and left around midnight. A couple of hours later, someone shattered the office door and window. He said they later discovered bullets inside.
It’s not the most notorious time Barber risked gunfire — not even close. At the main gate of the University of Arizona campus, the former state bureaucrat gestures up the road toward the trauma center where he was treated after a gunman killed six and injured a dozen more, including Barber and Giffords, in January 2011. Full story
July 31, 2014
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
July 30, 2014
Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor led his Republican challenger by 2 points in a recent Democratic poll, which is the third survey on the race released in the last two days.
The polling memo, obtained by CQ Roll Call, stated Pryor led by a 48-46 percent margin, with 6 percent undecided — a lead within the 4-point margin of error. The survey included a sample of 600 likely voters and was conducted July 20-24 by Democratic firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, which counts as a client the Arkansas gubernatorial campaign of former Rep. Mike Ross.
The memo comes one day after the Pryor campaign released an internal poll (taken July 7-10) showing him ahead 45-39 percent and an independent poll from Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College (taken July 22-25) found Cotton up 44-42 percent. Full story
July 29, 2014
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran said Tuesday the GOP’s pickup opportunities have expanded to around a dozen states — twice as many as needed to take control of the Senate.
“I think we have a good map in the sense that we have good candidates and good states,” Moran told CQ Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski. “The map has expanded over time. In my view, [it] started out with six or seven — now 10 or 12.” Full story
July 25, 2014
The League of Conservation Voters is spending $380,000 on a TV ad campaign over the next two weeks to boost Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz in the Aug. 9 Democratic primary.
Schatz, who was appointed to fill the seat of Daniel K. Inouye in December 2012, faces Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the competitive nomination fight. They’re running to serve the remaining two years of Inouye’s term.
LCV’s first ad, which begins running Saturday, focuses on the threat of climate change to Hawaii and states Schatz is “holding corporate polluters who cause it accountable.” It also highlights the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s recent endorsement of him. Full story