Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 1, 2014

Posts in "Tossup"

May 30, 2014

DSCC Reserves $5.5 Million in TV Airtime for Kay Hagan

DSCC Reserves $5.5 Million in TV Airtime for Kay Hagan

Hagan is seeking re-election in North Carolina. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure arm has reserved $5.5 million in airtime for Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., according to a source with knowledge of the reservation.

Hagan’s re-election bid is one of the most competitive and expensive races in the country. She faces North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis.

The DSCC has reserved airtime in at least four other states with competitive Senate races: Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire and Arkansas.  This marks the DSCC’s first airtime reservation in the Tar Heel State.

 In North Carolina, the DSCC reserved airtime starting Sept. 16 and running through Election Day. The amount of money spent will increase each week, from $376,000 the week of Sept. 16, to $1.2 million in the final week before the election.

Full story

May 20, 2014

Crossroads GPS Launches Ad Attacking Hagan in North Carolina

Crossroads GPS Launches Ad Attacking Hagan in North Carolina

Outside groups are spending heavily in North Carolina as Tillis challenges a Democratic incumbent. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican-aligned outside group Crossroads GPS has launched an ad in North Carolina attacking Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan on the president’s health care law.

The group said it put $3,550,000 behind the ad, which will run on North Carolina TV for four weeks. It’s the latest evidence that the race between Hagan and Republican state Speaker Thom Tillis will likely be the most expensive of the cycle.

The ad, which began running Tuesday, attacks Hagan for saying people would be able to keep their insurance and doctor once the Affordable Care Act took effect — which turned out to not always be true.

Full story

May 13, 2014

Begich Could Benefit From a Ballot Initiative Bounce

Begich Could Benefit From a Ballot Initiative Bounce

Begich is seeking re-election in Alaska. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is all of a sudden the likely beneficiary of a legislative blunder that may send more voters to the polls this fall.

Begich’s midterm electorate is expected to expand as a result of the Republican-controlled state Legislature’s failure to gavel out by its April 20 deadline, an error — or conscious decision, depending on whom you ask — that has been the talk of Alaska political circles for the past few weeks. It automatically shifted to the general election three ballot initiatives on marijuana, the minimum wage and the environment — issues that could draw to the polls voters more likely to also support the Democratic incumbent.

Winning re-election in Alaska, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2 to 1, is more than a base-turnout game for Begich. It will also require the first-term senator to persuade enough independents and Republicans to support him over his GOP opposition.

Begich was elected in 2008, just days after Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted in federal court on corruption charges, helping boost the then-Anchorage mayor to a winning margin of less than 4,000 votes. Democrats in the state see the ballot initiative moves as similarly beneficial.

“No Democrat in Alaska wins by much statewide,” said state Senate Minority Leader Hollis French, a Democrat running for lieutenant governor. “You need some miracle to win, and this might be just enough of that final boost to carry over the line.” Full story

May 12, 2014

Sullivan Touts Military Service in Latest TV Ad

Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan released his latest TV ad on Monday, a 30-second spot highlighting his military service and pushing the message that the state “needs a fighter again.”

The 30-second spot, running on broadcast stations, never mentions Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. But the incumbent’s photo is briefly plastered on screen alongside President Barack Obama.

“As a Marine, I learned that talk is cheap and results are what matter. But that’s not how they operate in Washington,” Sullivan says as the two Democrats’ photos appear. Full story

May 7, 2014

Before Hagan, Tillis First Must Weather General Assembly Session

Before Hagan, Tillis First Must Weather General Assembly Session

Tillis is challenging Hagan in a top Senate race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Thom Tillis triumphed Tuesday in a crowded Republican primary field for the right to challenge Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., in November, but it’s not full steam ahead just yet.

Before the North Carolina state speaker can fully focus his sights on Hagan in one of Republicans’ best pickup opportunities, Tillis must first survive the legislative session, where policymaking can produce potential pitfalls for any candidate for higher office.

Tillis has said he will not relinquish his position to pursue his Senate campaign, so the speaker will preside when the General Assembly comes back into session on May 14. It will be a short session — it should last just a few weeks, or as long as it takes to tweak the budget passed last year and deal with a couple of financial issues. But Democrats will undoubtedly target Tillis for anything that comes out of it and his focus won’t be solely on winning the Senate seat.

The General Assembly “needs to get in and get out,” North Carolina Republican operative Dallas Woodhouse said.

“Every day they are there is a day that [Tillis] is not on the campaign trail, is a day that it is hard for him to raise money,” Woodhouse continued. “So every day that they are there is a lost day for Tillis.” Full story

April 22, 2014

Senator Rides Snowmachine Across Arctic in Latest Ad

Senator Rides Snowmachine Across Arctic in Latest Ad

Begich is seeking re-election in Alaska. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich hops back on a snowmachine in his latest TV ad, cruising across a frozen Arctic Ocean to highlight his efforts over the last five years to win approval for oil drilling.

It’s the fourth ad from the first-term Democrat, who’s stressing his Alaska roots and priorities as he runs in one of the most competitive races of the cycle. The spot is airing in Anchorage and Fairbanks on both broadcast and cable stations, according to the campaign.

“I’m Mark Begich — I fought for five years to get the permits so we could drill under this ice,” Begich says in the ad. “And we won. I approved this message because sooner or later, Washington’ll figure out that I don’t take no for an answer.” 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

March 20, 2014

Mark Begich Debuts TV Ad Starring Late Father in Alaska

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is launching a 60-second biographical TV ad on Thursday, highlighting his long ties to the state as Republicans attempt to tether him to Washington in his re-election race.

The first-term Democrat faces a highly competitive campaign that’s already seen attack ads fired from both sides. The new spot, his second one so far, was designed to cut through the negative ad barrage and emphasize Begich’s work for Alaska interests.

Full story

March 12, 2014

Club for Growth PAC Backs GOP Candidate in Alaska

Club for Growth PAC Backs GOP Candidate in Alaska

Chocola is the president of the Club for Growth. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Club for Growth’s political action arm announced Wednesday that it is supporting Dan Sullivan in the Republican Senate primary in Alaska.

Sullivan, a former state attorney general and Natural Resources commissioner, is one of three Republicans vying for the nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, a top target of national Republicans.

In recent cycles, the club sometimes backed primary challengers to GOP incumbents and upstarts whom national Republicans do not always view as the best candidate for the race. But that’s not the case here.

Full story

March 7, 2014

Rand Paul Headlining CPAC Fundraiser for N.C. Senate Hopeful

Rand Paul Headlining CPAC Fundraiser for N.C. Senate Hopeful

Paul will make time for a fundraiser for a Senate hopeful while at CPAC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is headlining a fundraiser Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference for a tea-party-backed Senate candidate in North Carolina.

Greg Brannon, a physician, is one of a handful of Republicans hoping to take on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who is a top GOP target in her bid for a second term. Brannon has collected the endorsements of Paul and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, though state Speaker Thom Tillis is the GOP front-runner.

Paul will follow up his mid-afternoon address at CPAC by appearing with Brannon at a McCormick & Schmick’s near where the conference is being held. Tickets to the event cost up to $500, according to the online invitation. Full story

February 26, 2014

Manchin Heading to Alaska for Begich Fundraiser

Manchin Heading to Alaska for Begich Fundraiser

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., will travel to Anchorage this weekend to campaign for Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska., according to multiple sources in both camps familiar with the trip.

Manchin will appear at two fundraisers at the home of former Democratic Gov. Bill Sheffield, each with a different suggested contribution level. Sources would not confirm the specific, suggested dollar amounts. The events are co-hosted by Sheffield and Wally Hickel Jr., son of former Gov. Wally Hickel.

Manchin, who has a penchant for state fairs, also will appear at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 2014 Anchorage Fur Rendezvous (aka “Fur Rondy”), the annual 10-day festival kicking off the famous Iditarod race.

“Senator Manchin will be in Alaska to support Senator Begich because he believes he is the independent-minded Senator who always fights for Alaska and will help move our country forward,” a Manchin campaign spokesman said in an email.

Full story

February 20, 2014

Olympic Snowboarder Makes Senate Endorsement

Olympic Snowboarder Makes Senate Endorsement

Stassel, left, has endorsed Treadwell for Senate in Alaska. (Joe Scarnici via Getty Images)

In what’s likely the first congressional endorsement by an Olympian in 2014, snowboarder Ryan Stassel has left the winter games in Russia and returned home to Anchorage, where he will formally endorse Alaska Senate candidate Mead Treadwell.

In a statement released Thursday by the Republican’s campaign, the 21-year-old Stassel said he worked as a fisherman to support his dream of making the 2014 Winter Olympics and sees in Treadwell the same dedication it takes to become an Olympian. He also trumpeted the campaign’s argument that Treadwell, currently the state’s lieutenant governor, is the true Alaskan in the Republican primary. Full story

February 12, 2014

Conservative Group Ups Spending to $2.6M Against Landrieu

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative outside group backed by Charles and David Koch, launched yet another stinging TV ad Wednesday against Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.

It’s the group’s latest ad targeting the Louisiana Democrat on President Barack Obama’s health care law. The group spent $750,000 on its latest three-week flight and has now spent $2.6 million in the state so far this cycle, according to AFP spokesman Levi Russell.

“Dear Miss Davis, we can no longer offer you the same policy,” one announcer says in a series of supposed notices sent by insurance companies. “Your doctor is no longer in the network, due to the Affordable Care Act.”

Full story

February 7, 2014

Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh Appointed to Replace Baucus

Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh Appointed to Replace Baucus

Walsh, far right, visited the Capitol in November along with West Virginia Senate candidate Natalie Tennant. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Win or lose in November, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Walsh will be the next senator from Montana.

Gov. Steve Bullock appointed his former running mate to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who is leaving the Senate early after being confirmed Thursday as ambassador to China.

Walsh was already running for the seat, but he’ll now run as the incumbent senator. That change could provide some inherent advantages in his quest to hold one of the party’s most vulnerable seats.

“I wanted to appoint someone who I truly believed would wake up each and every day wanting to put Montana and Montanans first,” Bullock said in a Friday news conference to announce the appointment. Full story

February 6, 2014

Montana Gov. Going ‘Through a Process’ to Replace Max Baucus (Updated) (Video)

Montana Gov. Going Through a Process to Replace Max Baucus (Updated) (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:15 p.m. | The Senate’s confirmation Thursday of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., as ambassador to China immediately sets off the need for an appointment to replace him.

The onus falls on Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who must choose someone to fill out the remaining year of Baucus’ term. The governor has scheduled a press conference for Friday at noon ET.

Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who was elected on the same ticket as Bullock in 2012, is already running for Senate. While he’s the odds-on favorite to be appointed, his selection to replace Baucus is no sure thing.

An ally of the administration confirmed to CQ Roll Call that Bullock “has gone through a process, been very hands on, but kept it really close to him and top aides — he’s watched failed appointments in the past and he’s not the kind of guy to make stupid errors.

“He’s a lawyer and he’s thorough,” the source continued. “I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Bullock picks someone close to him — his lieutenant governor or someone from the cabinet — but I would be surprised if he does it without having spent a great amount of time weighing pros and cons.” Full story

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