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November 29, 2012

New Hampshire: Guinta Opens Door to Senate, Comeback Bids

New Hampshire: Guinta Opens Door to Senate, Comeback Bids

Guinta has not ruled out running for Senate in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Outgoing Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., will consider running statewide in 2014, perhaps challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“My name comes up for Senate, House and governor,” Guinta told Roll Call Thursday in a phone interview. “Obviously, it’s nice to be thought of in that way. Quite frankly, at this point, it’s something that I will focus on sometime next year.”

But two well-placed New Hampshire GOP sources noted that Guinta, the former mayor of Manchester, expressed a particular interest in the Senate race. Roll Call rates the contest as Leans Democratic.

Republicans view the seat as enticing because the party not controlling the White House historically picks up seats in midterm elections. What’s more, the Granite State has proved itself as the ultimate barometer of Congressional races, electing a new set of House Members in three of the past four cycles.

Guinta emphasized that he thought it was too early to select a race, but said he plans to “see how things play out and keep options open.”

“I’m certainly going to take some time in 2013 to assess and make a determination at some point if I would run,” Guinta said.

Full story

November 28, 2012

Inside the 2014 Senate Races

Inside the 2014 Senate Races
Roll Call’s initial Senate ratings outlook projects a potentially bullish cycle for Republicans, with an opportunity to recapture the majority for the first time in eight years.

But that’s exactly how things looked two years before the 2012 elections, when Democrats surprised many with victories in Missouri and North Dakota on their way to picking up two seats. So the challenge for the GOP and incoming National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas is to capitalize on their opportunities.

That and how voters feel about President Barack Obama in 2014 could determine how the parties fare at the ballot box less than two years from now. Democrats won their current majority in 2006, in the second midterm election under President George W. Bush.

Republicans are hoping Obama’s second midterm is similarly kind to them, if not equal to the president’s 2010 midterm shellacking, when the GOP won seven seats (and control of the House) despite beginning the cycle as the underdog.

Full story

November 4, 2012

Race Rating Changes: The Final Push

Race Rating Changes: The Final Push

Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listen Sunday during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa. With two days before Election Day, Romney is campaigning in swing states across the country. (Emmanuel Dunando/AFP/Getty Images)

Heading into the final weekend of barnstorming before Election Day, there was a noticeable shift toward the GOP in many key House races while Democrats seem to be getting more good news than bad about the Senate map.

First, the Senate math:

Yes, it’s quite possible (even likely) that Democrats such as Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Bob Casey (Pa.) will have closer margins on Election Day than most expect. But Democrats are likely to hold both seats, and the climb for Republicans to net the four seats they need for an outright majority (if President Barack Obama is re-elected) seems steep heading into election week.

Here’s what we know: Republicans are likely to pick up two Senate seats in Nebraska and North Dakota (although the race there remains close). Those gains are likely to be offset by Democratic pickups in Massachusetts and Maine, where an Independent is poised to win and will likely caucus with Democrats. Assuming Republicans hold their seats in Arizona and Nevada, which seems like a good bet, that’s a zero net gain, leaving the chamber’s makeup at 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans. Full story

October 31, 2012

Missouri: Super PAC That Backed Sarah Steelman Makes Ad Buy for Todd Akin

Independent Republican groups are making one last push in support of Rep. Todd Akin’s Senate candicacy, spending money on Missouri TV ads in the campaign’s final days.

The Now or Never super PAC, which backed former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman over Akin in the GOP primary, announced today that it would spend $800,000 to air a spot in Missouri encouraging voters supporting GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to vote for Akin to help Republicans win control of the Senate.

“Mitt Romney can take our nation in a new direction, but he needs a Senate that supports him,” the ad says. “You don’t have to agree with everything he says, but you can be sure, in the Senate, Akin will vote for Romney’s policies.”

Full story

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

October 30, 2012

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 26, 2012

NRSC Investing in Pennsylvania Senate Race

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is investing $500,000 of coordinated funds to assist GOP nominee Tom Smith in his challenge to Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D).

The move indicates national Republicans view an opportunity to widen their path to the majority, even if the incumbent here remains favored.

CNN first reported the news.

The NRSC’s investment is about how much the Democratic-aligned Majority PAC expended this week for a television advertisement in the state, which had not broached the competitive landscape until recently. Thanks in part to the $10 million personal loan to his campaign, Smith outspent Casey, $6.8 million to $2.5 million, in the third quarter.

Casey and Smith debated for the first time today, as recent polls have shown the race pulling close. Pennsylvania is not among the states that allows for early voting, so there is truly another week and a half left.

Illinois: Poll Gives Tammy Duckworth a 10-Point Lead Over Joe Walsh

Illinois: Poll Gives Tammy Duckworth a 10 Point Lead Over Joe Walsh

Democratic House candidate Tammy Duckworth led Republican Rep. Joe Walsh in a new poll. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. — Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) had a 10-point advantage over freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R) in the most recent poll of the suburban Chicago 8th district.

Duckworth led Walsh, 50 percent to 40 percent, in the Chicago Tribune poll of 600 likely voters. Notably, Duckworth led Walsh among female voters, 54 percent to 34 percent.

The new numbers come one day after Duckworth hosted Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) to discuss Walsh’s comments on abortion. Speier opened up about her own medically necessary abortion on the House floor last February.

“His most recent commentary about women accessing abortion in late-term pregnancies for medical reasons being unnecessary” Speier said on her day trip to the Chicago area. “I’m living proof it is necessary. He continues to spew out horrific misinformation.”

Full story

October 23, 2012

Pennsylvania: Bob Casey’s Team Disowns Media Consultant’s Comments

Pennsylvania: Bob Caseys Team Disowns Media Consultants Comments

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was recently criticized by a member of Sen. Bob Casey's team. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is distancing himself from his media consultant, Saul Shorr, and comments the adviser made criticizing former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D).

Rendell recently tweaked the Casey campaign, accusing it of taking Republican Senate nominee Tom Smith too lightly. Shorr didn’t take kindly to Rendell’s criticism, and let him know that publicly. But in a Saturday evening email to campaign contributors, Casey campaign manager Larry Smar attempted to put daylight between the Senator and Shorr.

“If you’ve ever met a media consultant, you will likely know that sometimes their words and combative instincts can get ahead of reality and better judgment,” Smar wrote.

Smar’s comments are the latest fallout from Rendell’s comments about Casey’s race — two sometimes competing forces in Pennsylvania Democratic politics. The exchange came just two weeks before Election Day, when Casey will attempt to fend off a challenge from Smith, a personally wealthy former coal company owner. Roll Call rates this race as Leans Democratic.

So it didn’t help when Rendell told the Scranton Times-Tribune last week that Casey “hasn’t run a campaign. He’s run one ad, a stupid Tea Party ad.” He also called Casey’s effort a “non-campaign up until now,” but the outspoken former governor made it clear that he expects the Senator to prevail on Election Day.

Full story

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 18, 2012

Ohio: Sherrod Brown, Josh Mandel Get Testy and Personal in Debate

Ohio: Sherrod Brown, Josh Mandel Get Testy and Personal in Debate

Vicki Kuhn (right), of Wapakoneta, Ohio, and other GOP supporters cheer in the streets before the second of the three campaign debates between Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and his Republican challenger Josh Mandel. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) were alternately feisty and condescending in a debate tonight in the state’s capital city.

The two-term Senator defended his “pro-worker, pro-small business” record, while Mandel accused Brown of “gobbledygook” and “Washington speak”  that requires an online translator.

“You have my commitment for my second term to continue to fight for Ohio workers and Ohio companies and to continue to stand up for the middle class,” Brown said.

“Sherrod Brown says one thing in Ohio and does another thing in Washington,” Mandel said several times throughout the hourlong debate. “We can’t change Washington by sending Sherrod Brown back there.” Full story

October 17, 2012

Pennsylvania: Tom Smith Takes Advantage of National Trends With Deep Pockets

Pennsylvania: Tom Smith Takes Advantage of National Trends With Deep Pockets

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo) Democratic Sen. Bob Casey (above) has watched his lead over former coal company owner Tom Smith shrink in recent months. A Quinnipiac University poll showed the Democrat with a 3-point lead this week — down from 19 points in June.

SHELOCTA, Pa. — Atop hundreds of acres of lush farmland, a bold white sign directs visitors to the “Smith Complex” — the hilltop home of wealthy former coal company owner Tom Smith.

The rise of Smith’s campaign against Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is, indeed, complex.

While some of his fellow Republican Senate nominees sunk in September, Smith shrank Casey’s lead down to low single digits. A Quinnipiac University poll showed the Democrat with a 3-point lead this week — down from 19 points in June. Full story

October 15, 2012

Connecticut: SEIU Gives Elizabeth Esty Post-Primary Support

The Service Employees International Union Connecticut State Council endorsed Democrat Elizabeth Esty on Monday in the 5th district.

“We endorse Elizabeth Esty for Congress because our members are confident she will stand up and fight the radical right wing tea party agenda,” said Paul Filson, director of the SEIU’s state branch. “We know she will champion rights for workers and their families. She will fight to protect the promise of Social Security and Medicare. She will push for common sense investments in education, services and vital infrastructure improvements for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional district.”

While at first glance it would seem unremarkable that a union endorsed a Democrat, the unions strongly backed state Speaker Christopher Donovan in the Democratic primary.

According to an August Hartford Courant article, Esty “hasn’t always agreed with labor’s agenda,” and a decision to sit out this race would “undercut the Democratic Party.”

Esty is in a tough general election battle with state Sen. Andrew Roraback, a moderate Republican.

Roll Call rates this race as Leans Democratic.

California: Democratic Polls Offer the Party Good News

California: Democratic Polls Offer the Party Good News

Raul Ruiz, Democratic candidate for California's 36th district, speaks during his campaign rally in Palm Desert on Saturday. Ruiz is running to unseat GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two internal Democratic polls released today offered the party good news in both defensive and offensive territory in California.

In the Palm Springs-based 36th district, the campaign of physician Raul Ruiz (D) released a poll that found him ahead of Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R), 46 percent to 43 percent, with 9 percent undecided. The poll also offered this encouraging sign: President Barack Obama led Republican nominee Mitt Romney by 5 points. Full story

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