Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 23, 2014

Posts in "Tossup"

September 12, 2014

Polls Show Two Democrats Trailing in New York

Polls Show Two Democrats Trailing in New York

A new poll showed Gibson ahead of his Democratic challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two new polls showed a duo of House Democrats trailing in competitive races in upstate New York.

In the Empire State’s 19th District, GOP Rep. Chris Gibson leads his Democratic challenger, venture capitalist Sean Eldridge, by 24 points, according to a Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll released Thursday.

North in the 21st District, a similar survey from WWNY-7 News/Siena College showed Republican Elise Stefanik leading Democrat Aaron Woolf by 13 points. Woolf and Stefanik are competing to succeed Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y., who is retiring.  Full story

September 3, 2014

GOP Responds to Mark Pryor’s Health Care Ad

GOP Responds to Mark Pryors Health Care Ad

Pryor is targeted on health care in a new GOP ad. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Any questions about whether the Affordable Care Act would still play a central role in Republican messaging against Democratic incumbents this cycle have been answered — at least in Arkansas.

Crossroads GPS, the non-profit arm of GOP-aligned American Crossroads, is kicking off a post-Labor Day, two-month, $2.5 million media campaign in the Razorback State with an ad targeting Sen. Mark Pryor on his support for the president’s health care law.

Pryor is being challenged by Rep. Tom Cotton in a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.

The incumbent released an ad two weeks ago that got plenty of media buzz as he touted a couple benefits of the law. But he didn’t refer to the legislation by name, so this latest GOP ad aims to fill in that gap. Full story

August 28, 2014

National Democrats Hit Tom Cotton on Social Security

National Democrats Hit Tom Cotton on Social Security

The DSCC is helping Pryor with another ad in Arkansas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a new TV ad in Arkansas Thursday that continues a theme of portraying Republican Rep. Tom Cotton as someone voters can’t trust.

The DSCC’s latest spot is part of a total $3.6 million investment to support Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, whose brand has helped make him competitive for re-election in this Republican-leaning state and in a challenging national environment for his party.

The ad targets the freshman congressman on Social Security. It features Brett Smith of Helena, Ark., vocalizing his concern for his retirement.

“I can see my retirement from here, but every time I see Tom Cotton I feel it slipping away,” Smith says in the ad. Full story

Romanoff Courts Latinos Crucial to Colorado Race

Romanoff Courts Latinos Crucial to Colorado Race

Romanoff, left, toured the theater that caters to the Latino community. Becerra joined the Democratic House candidate on the campaign trail. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Aurora, Colo. — Outside the Cinema Latino as he campaigned against Rep. Mike Coffman, Democratic House hopeful Andrew Romanoff outlines his strategy for winning over Hispanic voters critical to his chances in the Nov. 4 contest.

Romanoff told CQ Roll Call he is optimistic turnout will be high, thanks in part to a state law passed last year to allow same-day registration and voting, as well as a requirement every voters is automatically sent mail-in ballots.

Romanoff Courts Latinos Crucial to Colorado Race

“Those two things — universal mail-in balloting, Election Day registration — will increase turnout and that’s good not just for my campaign…but I think for democracy,” said Romanoff, the former state house speaker.

To win here, Democrats need Latinos to vote. Romanoff, who speaks fluent Spanish, has been trying to win over the community as he battles Coffman in a race The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rate a Tossup.

That’s one reason why on this summer day his campaign has reached out Cinema Latino’s management team for a tour. He lauded the business owners as working to “maximize their connection to the community.” Romanoff has visited a few dozen small- and medium-sized businesses as he tries to win over voters in the 6th District in the central part of the Centennial State. Full story

August 18, 2014

Martha McSally Tries to Fly to Victory

Martha McSally Tries to Fly to Victory

McSally is running for Congress in Arizona. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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.

Martha McSally Tries to Fly to VictoryBut can Martha McSally finally win this House seat on her third try, and, more pressing for this Friday evening, can the Republican spell “logomachy”?

“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

Joni Ernst Tells TIME She Was Sexually Harassed in the Military

Joni Ernst Tells TIME She Was Sexually Harassed in the Military

Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican Senate Candidate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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 12, 2014

In Iowa Senate Race, It’s Personality Versus Policy

In Iowa Senate Race, Its Personality Versus Policy

Ernst embraces a young supporter at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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.

In Iowa Senate Race, Its Personality Versus PolicyErnst’s strong suit as a Senate candidate is that people seem to want to hug her back.

“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.

Full story

August 8, 2014

Shooting in the Rear View, Ron Barber Drives His Own Way

Shooting in the Rear View, Ron Barber Drives His Own Way

Barber gives a tour of Tucson. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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.

Shooting in the Rear View, Ron Barber Drives His Own Way“It was the middle of the summer, and what do you know, the air conditioner broke,” he recalled, driving by rows of adobe office parks.

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 30, 2014

Mark Pryor Up 2 Points in Democratic Poll

Mark Pryor Up 2 Points in Democratic Poll

Pryor is in a dead-heat re-election race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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 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

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 11, 2014

Pryor Starts Reserving Fall Airtime in Pivotal Senate Race

Pryor Starts Reserving Fall Airtime in Pivotal Senate Race

Pryor is ramping up his air war. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor has been buying up fall airtime for a race critical to nearly every hypothetical Republican path to the Senate majority.

The two-term Democrat, who faces the fight of his political life against GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, has so far reserved several hundred thousand dollars worth of TV time for the closing six weeks of the race, according to a media-buying source. The Pryor campaign would not comment on its media strategy, but that’s just an opening salvo in a state already seeing a plethora of spending from outside groups and both campaigns.

Amid a vigorous on-air back-and-forth over tornado disaster relief and religion in the past week, the contours of Pryor’s path to re-election remain unchanged. The Arkansas Democrat is banking that voters’ familiarity with him — and their disbelief that Cotton is on their side — will outweigh the antipathy toward Washington and President Barack Obama.

“Mark’s been around a really long time and his family has been around a long time,” said Sheila Bronfman, a Democratic consultant in Arkansas and longtime ally of the Clintons. “People like him and they trust him. They trust where he comes from and how he was raised, and I just think that’s making a big difference here.”

Full story

July 8, 2014

New Ads Invade Arkansas Airwaves

New Ads Invade Arkansas Airwaves

Pryor faces Cotton in Arkansas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Three new campaign ads hit the Arkansas airwaves Tuesday, with less than four months to go in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.

Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican Rep. Tom Cotton are fighting for a seat crucial to the GOP’s hopes of winning the Senate majority. They took aim at each other in their respective ads, while GOP-aligned Crossroads GPS tied Pryor to the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama and Washington.

Arkansas ranks fourth in independent-expenditure spending, behind Kentucky and North Carolina — which feature competitive general-election races — and Mississippi, which just concluded an extended GOP primary. Full story

June 19, 2014

Senate Majority Might Not Be Decided Until December

Senate Majority Might Not Be Decided Until December

The Senate majority could be decided late in Louisiana if Landrieu's race goes to runoff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For all the money spent on the November elections, control of the Senate might not be decided until a Saturday three weeks before Christmas.

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., hopes to win re-election outright on Nov. 4 in a jungle primary against a handful of challengers. But winning a majority of the vote in a multi-candidate field would be a significant feat, and the campaigns of both Landrieu and her leading Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, are undoubtedly preparing for an extended, one-on-one race.

If a Dec. 6 runoff coincides with a 50-49 Republican advantage in the Senate, consultants in and out of the state warn of an unprecedented onslaught of spending from party committees and outside groups in a race that could become more about the national parties than the two candidates on the ballot.

“Mary kind of becomes a pawn in a much, much bigger game,” said Dane Strother, a Democratic media consultant and Baton Rouge native who’s worked on previous Landrieu campaigns. “The entire force of national politics will land on Louisiana. They’ll buy every radio ad, every TV ad, inundate with direct mail. It will be a war.” Full story

June 16, 2014

Crossroads Upends New York’s 21st District Primary

Crossroads Upends New Yorks 21st District Primary

Crossroads is spending heavily in New York's 21st District primary against Matt Doheny, above. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In New York’s sprawling 21st District, a recent influx of more than $1 million from outside groups has catapulted a 29-year-old first-time candidate ahead of the two-time nominee in the Republican primary for this coveted seat.

American Crossroads alone has already made more than $750,000 in independent expenditures to boost former White House aide Elise Stefanik’s bid — the group’s only spending in a House primary so far in 2014.

The June 24 Republican primary pits Stefanik against Matt Doheny, a deep-pocketed businessman and repeat candidate.

Early on in the race, Doheny’s familiarity with local voters and track record of self-funding his campaigns gave him an advantage. But two outside groups have flooded the district’s airwaves in a way that sources say has thrown the momentum to Stefanik.  Full story

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