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April 21, 2014

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April 20, 2014

Georgia Republicans Brawl for Conservative Mantle in Senate Debate

Georgia Republicans Brawl for Conservative Mantle in Senate Debate

Handel, left, and Perdue, right, debate for the Senate seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Georgia Republicans Brawl for Conservative Mantle in Senate DebateAUGUSTA, Ga. — Seven Republican Senate hopefuls stood before a mammoth American flag Saturday afternoon for the sixth of seven debates hosted by the state GOP.

In front of a couple hundred voters at the Columbia County Exhibition Center, just outside Augusta, the candidates sought to fortify their conservative credentials on immigration, the 2nd Amendment, abortion and what can be done to improve confidence in the economy.

With so many candidates running for the state’s open Senate seat, none are expected to win a majority of the vote in the May 20 primary. They’re fighting to finish in the top two and advance to the July 22 runoff, when all bets are off.

The name of Michelle Nunn, the likely Democratic nominee, wasn’t mentioned until the final three minutes of the 90-minute debate — symbolic of where the GOP’s focus still is in the race to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel first uttered the Nunn name in her closing remarks, as she portrayed herself as the most electable conservative on the stage.

“I would just love to see Michelle Nunn try to drop the ‘war on women’ on me,” Handel said.

Handel is the only woman in the field of candidates, of which five have at least an outside shot at making the runoff. Former Reebok and Dollar General CEO David Perdue, the cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, continually pitches himself as the outsider with the business background, grouping Handel in with the three members of Congress as the “career politicians.”

“Sometimes real change takes an outsider’s perspective,” Perdue said. “Fresh eyes, determination and a bucket-load of common sense. That’s what I will bring to the United States Senate.”

Full story

April 18, 2014

Jack Kingston Works His Base at Rural Cookout

Jack Kingston Works His Base at Rural Cookout

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., greets supporters as he arrives at an annual cookout. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Jack Kingston Works His Base at Rural CookoutGLENNVILLE, Ga. — Rep. Jack Kingston, who’s represented Savannah in Congress for the last two decades, was at home Thursday evening in nearby Tattnall County, where elected officials and candidates streamed in to put their face in front of the loads of sheriffs, police and first responders gathered on the grounds of a rural pond house.

The Republican was one of three candidates vying for the party’s Senate nomination to attend the 27th annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Cookout, held just outside Kingston’s district. More than 1,000 people from around the state were on hand, sipping light beer and munching on pork barbecue, smoked chicken, Cadillac rice and Brunswick stew. Kingston, the only candidate with a campaign booth, could barely turn around without running into someone he knew, inevitably wearing his campaign sticker.

Southeast Georgia is Kingston country. His campaign has been working for months to broaden his brand beyond this area and into vote-rich Atlanta ahead of the competitive May 20 primary. But on this day, the congressman was sewing up his base.

Full story

April 17, 2014

Michelle Nunn Hits Bipartisan Tone in Georgia Senate Stump Speech

Michelle Nunn Hits Bipartisan Tone in Georgia Senate Stump Speech

Michelle Nunn leaves a campaign event in Shellman, Ga. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Michelle Nunn Hits Bipartisan Tone in Georgia Senate Stump SpeechSHELLMAN, Ga. — Michelle Nunn strolled along train tracks stretching past a depleted downtown lined with empty storefronts and toward a crowd of supporters hoping to meet the state’s next senator.

At a private home in the southwestern corner of the state, the first-time candidate greeted a bipartisan duo of state legislators, chatted up some 50 curious admirers and delivered a rhythmic 10-minute stump speech that was heavy on bipartisanship and light on an unpopular president.

“We have a real viable race here,” Nunn said.

How viable depends in part on which Republicans emerge from the May 20 primary and who is nominated in the July 22 runoff. That crowded race remains up in the air, with five Republicans capable of advancing. As a result, the contest to replace retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss is stuck in idle until mid-summer, giving Nunn another three months to prepare for the general. Full story

April 16, 2014

A Low-Key Paul Broun Campaigns for Senate in Georgia

A Low Key Paul Broun Campaigns for Senate in Georgia

Broun speaks with supporter Jim Serrate, of Acworth, Ga., at the conclusion of the Cobb County Republican Women's Club candidate forum on Tuesday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Low Key Paul Broun Campaigns for Senate in GeorgiaMARIETTA, Ga. — If one knew of Rep. Paul Broun only from a 90-minute Senate candidate forum Tuesday, it wouldn’t be obvious he is the cause of so much heartburn among Republican strategists from Capitol Hill to Atlanta — all hoping to hold the party’s most vulnerable open seat.

Broun, known widely for his controversial comments on evolution and other topics, sat stoic and expressionless on the dais as four other Georgia Republican hopefuls professed their conservative credentials. Each time the moderator called on him, Broun took a slow, deep breath before calmly — though sometimes haltingly — laying out his views and record on a range of issues.

That included his bill to prohibit “amnesty” in any comprehensive immigration overhaul, his bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act and his staunch support of the Second Amendment. All are firmly conservative positions, but his answers lacked any hint of the rhetoric that has some party insiders concerned his nomination would put in jeopardy a seat the party must hold for any hope of winning the Senate majority. Full story

April 9, 2014

Jack Kingston Raised $1.1 Million in 1st Quarter

Jack Kingston Raised $1.1 Million in 1st Quarter

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., is one of a handful of Republicans seeking the state's open Senate seat. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, one of a handful of Republicans vying for the state’s open Senate seat, raised $1.1 million in the first fundraising quarter of 2014, according to figures provided first to CQ Roll Call.

Kingston’s quarterly haul stemmed in part from 45 fundraisers and meet-and-greets held from January through March, the campaign said, and 89 percent of the total haul were from within the Peach State. Kingston ended March with $2.1 million in cash on hand.

“The generosity of so many both in volunteer hours and financial support has been overwhelming,” Kingston said in a statement. “Libby and I cannot thank everyone enough for their dedication to our campaign. Together we can retake the Senate and restore the American Dream.” Full story

John Tierney Survived 2012. Now What?

John Tierney Survived 2012. Now What?

Tierney at a recent event in Peabody, Mass. (Shira T. Center/CQ Roll Call)

SALEM, Mass. — Rep. John F. Tierney may have successfully put a family legal scandal far enough behind him to win re-election in 2012, but he’s facing another test. And this time, the Massachusetts Democrat’s challenge is primarily political.

Last cycle, Democrats had all but written off Tierney as a goner, but he managed a 4,300-vote victory — about 1 percent — over the Republicans’ best candidate for the seat in years, the affable former state Sen. Richard Tisei.

This year, Tierney first faces a Sept. 9 primary challenge from Seth Moulton, a Marine with a stellar résumé. Tisei, who is openly gay, is aiming for a rematch and will face the Democratic victor.

CQ Roll Call talked with voters in the 6th District — which includes the swath of suburbs north of Boston, is peppered by coastal towns and curves all the way to the New Hampshire border — over the past two months. The picture that emerged is that voters know and like their congressman, despite his recent ethics issues and his family’s legal foibles.

On a chilly March morning as he courted voters at the Salem Democratic Caucuses, Tierney sported a charcoal blazer and pressed pants and appeared certain the storm was behind him. The coiffed congressman told CQ Roll Call he is confident that this cycle’s battle will be easier than his last. But his supporters, like Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, are more cautious.

“I think it’s definitely going to be a challenging race,” Driscoll said in the three-story Salem High School library reminiscent of 1985’s classic film, “The Breakfast Club.” “We had a lot more turnout last time. We’re talking about an election that had the president and Elizabeth Warren on the ballot. So you had just a lot more grass-roots effort going on, a lot of help in terms of field organization statewide.”

Full story

April 8, 2014

Democrats Lose Recruit for Mike Rogers Seat

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, who was in town last week meeting with senior House Democrats, announced Tuesday she will not run for Michigan’s open 8th District seat.

The decision is a blow to national Democrats’ hopes to contend in the district of Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, who recently announced his retirement.

Byrum met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., members of the Michigan delegation, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List, among others, while on Capitol Hill last week. But she ultimately opted against running for the Republican-leaning district. Full story

April 7, 2014

Kay Hagan Raised $2.8 Million for Re-Election in 2014

Kay Hagan Raised $2.8 Million for Re Election in 2014

Kay Hagan raised $2.8 million in the first quarter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan raised $2.8 million in the first quarter — an impressive sum for the top target of outside spending in the 2014 midterms.

The first-term Democrat ended March with $8.3 million in cash on hand, according to the Hagan campaign. That’s far more than any of her potential Republican opponents are likely to report, though she’s already the target of millions of dollars worth of ads from Americans for Prosperity.

“Kay’s strong fundraising total for the first quarter shows the excitement and momentum behind her campaign,” Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said. “These funds will ensure the campaign can reach voters in every corner of the state to talk about Kay’s record of putting North Carolina first.” Full story

April 3, 2014

Heitkamp Heads to West Virginia for Tennant Campaign

Heitkamp Heads to West Virginia for Tennant Campaign

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who pulled off one of the most unlikely upsets of the 2012 cycle, is heading to West Virginia for the next two days to help a fellow Democratic underdog.

Heitkamp will headline three fundraisers in Morgantown and Charleston on Friday and Saturday for West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat trying to hold one of the party’s most vulnerable open seats. The freshman senator will also join Tennant in meetings with young Democrats and state energy leaders, according to the campaign.

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Heitkamp said she sees similarities between her own race against Rep. Rick Berg and Tennant’s uphill bid against GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, starting with the voters in both states wanting to know and see their representatives.

“It is very personal, it is very retail. That’s really how I won,” Heitkamp said. “I just got out there and met as many people as I could meet. I told them I was for North Dakota, first and foremost, and it’s always the way it’s going to be. I think it’s how I governed or legislated since I’ve been here, and I think that’s a very strong similarity between West Virginia and North Dakota politics.” Full story

April 2, 2014

Long Island Republican Airs First TV Ad

Long Island Republican Airs First TV Ad

Zeldin launched his first TV ad Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New York state Sen. Lee Zeldin launched his first TV ad of the 2014 campaign on Wednesday, a positive spot that highlights his legislative and military careers.

Zeldin, a top Republican recruit, is running in a competitive June 24 primary to take on Democratic Rep. Timothy H. Bishop in the Long Island-based 1st District. A Zeldin campaign source characterized the airtime purchase as “a substantial six-figure buy” on Fox News.

The spot highlights his family and career, and a female narrator promises that he will fight to “repeal and replace Obamacare.”

 

Full story

April 1, 2014

Thad Cochran’s Fourth TV Ad Touts Record, Endorsements

Thad Cochrans Fourth TV Ad Touts Record, Endorsements

Cochran will seek re-election in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ-Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Sen. Thad Cochran launched a new TV ad Tuesday touting both a conservative record and a history of “standing up for Mississippi.”

It’s the fourth ad in the past month from the six-term incumbent, who faces his toughest race in 30 years from a tea party-backed primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. This is arguably the most competitive primary any Senate Republican is facing this cycle.

The new ad, which is running statewide, attempts to undercut the attack line by McDaniel — and the conservative outside groups supporting him — that Cochran’s track record over 35 years is not conservative enough. The primary is June 3. Full story

March 30, 2014

The 7 Stock Photos in Mike Rounds’ South Dakota Ad — Including One From Paris

The 7 Stock Photos in Mike Rounds South Dakota Ad — Including One From Paris

A screengrab from the Rounds ad, which featured stock photos.

Updated 6:00 p.m. | In a 60-second, introductory Senate campaign ad released last week, former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds touts his state’s economy and quality of life — but it’s unclear if any of the people featured in the Republican’s ad are actually from the Mount Rushmore State.

“We’ve done it right around here, and Washington can learn a lot from the people of South Dakota,” Rounds says in the spot.

But each of the photos in the ad are available for purchase on stock photo sites like Getty and Shutterstock. That includes, in order of appearance, the roofer, the father and son fishing, the three people at the meeting, the playful family, the guy checking the boxes, the woman at the meeting, and the father and son washing their car.

At least one was definitely not photographed in South Dakota. The “woman at the meeting” photo was taken at the Getty Images office in Paris, the England-based photographer who shot it confirmed in an email to CQ-Roll Call.

Full story

March 27, 2014

Gary Peters Debuts Bio Spot During Sweet 16 Games

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., locked in an increasingly competitive race for Senate, will debut his first television spot this week during two Wolverine State college basketball games.

Peters’ first spot will air Friday as fans settle in to watch the games featuring Michigan State University and the University of Michigan — two teams that have made it to the Sweet 16 round of the March Madness college tournament. (The Spartans play No. 1 ranked Virginia, while the Wolverines face off against surprise challenger Tennessee.)

Peters will most likely face former Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land this November. Public polling shows the race for retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin’s seat to be close, but Peters has held a lead of a few digits.

The Democrat’s campaign will air two spots — a 30-second ad and a 60-second version — over a seven-week period as part of a seven-figure buy, according to the Peters campaign. Full story

March 26, 2014

Braley’s Opponent? Two Seem Most Likely From Crowded Field

Braleys Opponent? Two Seem Most Likely From Crowded Field

Iowa Democratic Senate hopeful Rep. Bruce Braley doesn't know yet which Republican candidate he'll be facing in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Residing outside of the competitive Senate landscape’s top tier most of this election cycle, Iowa Republicans believe they are finally gaining some momentum for the state’s open seat, particularly by avoiding a nominating convention.

The release Tuesday of a video taken of Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley’s remarks at a Texas fundraiser was just the cherry on top of an already renewed sense of optimism among Republicans that the party will put up a competitive nominee. Several things still need to go the GOP’s way for success in November, but Republican insiders in the state see positive signs.

Along with President Barack Obama’s approval ratings in the Hawkeye State falling to 36 percent in a Des Moines Register poll taken last month, the crowded and unproven Republican primary field is beginning to shake out, and the party’s chances of nominating a candidate in the primary — and dodging a potentially debilitating convention — are improving.

“I think the notion of a convention choosing our Senate nominee gets more remote by the day,” said one veteran Iowa Republican operative without ties to any of the campaigns. Full story

March 25, 2014

Bruce Braley Apologizes to Grassley for ‘Farmer’ Slight

Bruce Braley Apologizes to Grassley for Farmer Slight

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, apologized for his critical comments of Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, that were posted online Tuesday by a Republican research group.

Speaking at a fundraiser, Braley, who is running for the Hawkeye State’s open Senate seat, said the Senate could end up with “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” before identifying that person as Grassley.

“I apologize to Senator Grassley and anyone I may have offended,” Braley said in a statement released a couple of hours after the video posted. “I respect Senator Grassley and enjoy our working relationship even though we disagree on some issues.”

The Des Moines Register reported that the video was taken by a donor at a Jan. 23 fundraiser in Corpus Christi, Texas, before being released Tuesday by America Rising. Braley also told the assembled donors — presumably lawyers — that he is “someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years in a visible and public way.”

A Grassley spokesperson responded in a statement pointing to Grassley’s years of service and accomplishments on the committee. Full story

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