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August 4, 2014
Two House members have already lost their re-election in primaries this cycle — and it’s unlikely they will be the last with ruined plans to return to Congress.
Since the last edition of this ongoing feature, Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, lost re-nomination, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was upset in his Virginia primary and Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., survived his primary by a small margin.
Roll Call’s latest edition of the “Top 10 Most Vulnerable House Members” shows several more incumbents in peril. Some of them face top-notch opponents, others are running in unfavorable districts; a couple members just don’t run good campaigns.
We’ll revise this list during the first week of each month through Election Day. For now, here are the 10 most vulnerable House members in alphabetical order:
Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Monday he will formally challenge the results of the Republican Senate primary runoff.
Six weeks after the runoff and a month after the state GOP certified Sen. Thad Cochran as the nominee, the McDaniel campaign announced they were filing a challenge with the Mississippi Republican Party’s State Executive Committee.
“They asked us to put up or shut up,” McDaniel said at a press conference in front of his attorney’s office, holding up a large binder. “Here we are. Here’s the evidence.” Full story
August 1, 2014
Conservatives have poured millions into primary challenges to senators this cycle, even in races where chances of success were slim.
But Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has proved one of the greatest exceptions, and now he’s poised to defeated state Rep. Joe Carr and several lesser-known challengers in the Aug. 7 GOP primary.
So how did Alexander avoid the fate of many of his colleagues? Full story
July 31, 2014
The Club for Growth’s independent expenditure arm has started airing television spots again on behalf of Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., according to Federal Election Commission records.
The move could be indicative that Amash is in some political jeopardy just days ahead of the August 5 primary.
Amash is fending off a primary challenge from former East Grand Rapids School Trustee Brian Ellis, a self-funding candidate with endorsements from a slew of business-friendly groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The club is one of several tea party groups and members of Congress who are circling their wagons around the libertarian-minded Amash.
Two years is a lifetime in politics. Just ask Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
GOP operatives had all but written off the Tennessee Republican. In October 2012, it was revealed the anti-abortion rights physician had encouraged an ex-wife to have two abortions prior to their marriage and had carried on multiple affairs with patients and co-workers — an infraction for which he was fined $500 by a medical board.
It was too late for DesJarlais to face a serious challenge that cycle, but he soon became one of 2014′s most vulnerable House members. As DesJarlais’ campaign cash flow dried up, he faced a formidable foe: state Sen. Jim Tracy.
Until recently, Tennessee Republicans expected Tracy, a longtime state politician, to cruise past DesJarlais in the Aug. 7 primary. But in the final days of the race, DesJarlais is in a better position than Republicans ever anticipated.
He might even win. Full story
July 30, 2014
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, the Tennessee Republican who came under fire in 2012 after unearthed divorce proceedings revealed he encouraged an ex-wife to have two abortions, is contending with the scandal again, days out from the Volunteer State primary.
State Sen. Jim Tracy, the top Republican challenging DesJarlais in the Aug. 7 GOP primary in the 4th District, is airing a scathing ad in the final two weeks of the contest. It’s on the airwaves during the pivotal early voting period, which began July 18 and runs through Aug. 2.
“The press says Congressman DesJarlais no longer has credibility,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot. “Reprimanded, fined for unethical conduct, he deliberately deceived the voters. Conservatives said DesJarlais should resign because of his hypocrisy. Scandal makes DesJarlais ineffective in Washington.”
Updated 5:22 p.m. | Freshman Rep. Roger Williams of Texas is gunning to challenge current National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden’s bid for a second term and is actively seeking meetings with members for his bid, CQ Roll Call has learned.
“He told me that he was thinking about doing that, and I think Roger would be a good, viable candidate for that job,” Rep. Randy Neugebauer said late Wednesday afternoon. “The Texas delegation is a pretty tight delegation. I can’t speak for my other colleagues, but I would look favorably on Roger’s candidacy.”
“I understand he is running for NRCC Chairman,” fellow Texas Rep. John Carter said, adding he would support Williams for the gig. “I think he does” have a chance at defeating Walden with “new ideas, new blood.”
Williams has also made his intent clear to Speaker John A. Boehner, who told House GOP leadership in a private Monday meeting that he will be backing Walden as chairman, multiple sources confirmed. On Tuesday afternoon, Walden announced to reporters he plans to run for chairman of the committee again after the November elections.
“The speaker made it very clear in recent meetings that he’s going to be supporting Walden,” a Republican aide told CQ Roll Call.
Without Boehner’s support, Williams’ chances of upsetting Walden are slim. House Republicans elect their NRCC chairman. The House’s Democratic leader picks the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Williams’ office did not immediately return repeated requests for comment Wednesday morning. After this story was published, Williams would not confirm or deny his intention to run for the NRCC slot. Full story
July 29, 2014
Updated 3:54 p.m. | National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden announced Tuesday he will seek a second term running the House GOP’s campaign arm.
“I fully intend to seek re-election as NRCC chairman,” Walden told reporters at an afternoon briefing at the committee’s headquarters. Full story
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
As conservatives reel from a bruising loss in Mississippi, they are looking to the primary in Kansas to knock off an incumbent and salve their wounds.
But on Aug. 5, when GOP Sen. Pat Roberts faces Milton Wolf in a primary, they will likely realize they are not in Mississippi anymore.
Roberts has been in office for several decades — much like Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, who survived a runoff with state Sen. Chris McDaniel last month by a narrow margin but galvanized conservatives to make it a close contest. The Kansan has been criticized for spending more time in Washington than in his home state — another accusation McDaniel leveled at Cochran.
But unlike McDaniel, Wolf’s bark might be stronger than his bite.
A former congressman is attempting a comeback by appealing to an unconventional bloc of GOP primary voters: moderates.
And that’s not even strangest thing about former Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s campaign to oust his successor, GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo, on Aug. 5. With the help of one of Pompeo’s former foes, wealthy oilman Wink Hartman, Tiahrt is taking on his one-time backers and the GOP’s ultimate Goliath, the Koch brothers, in their own backyard.
Tiahrt’s eleventh-hour bid comes four years after he lost a bitter Senate primary to now-Sen. Jerry Moran. After that, the former eight-term appropriator endorsed Pompeo — twice.
Then there’s the ex-congressman’s message: Tiahrt is running to the left of Pompeo, striking a populist tone in the conservative district.
“It’s tough to get to 50 [percent] that way in a Republican primary in the 4th District of Kansas,” said David Kensinger, a former chief of staff to Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.
July 27, 2014
With 100 days to go until Election Day, Senate Republicans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about winning the majority — but they also have grounds for concern.
After coming up short in 2010 and 2012, the GOP is unquestionably well positioned to finish the job this time. Republicans need to match their November 2010 score of six seats to take the majority, and the party has multiple paths to the finish line.
That’s thanks to a successful recruitment push that didn’t conclude until late February, and a playing field naturally tilted in the GOP’s direction — seven Democrat-held seats are in states President Barack Obama lost in 2012, six of those by double digits.
But, as optimistic as Republican operatives are heading into the final stretch, the GOP has reasons to restrain its confidence. With tens of millions of dollars of advertising already spent by outside groups on both sides, just one Democratic incumbent is, at this point, a solid underdog for re-election.
Reasons for Republicans to Be Optimistic Full story
July 25, 2014
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
No House Republican enrages the business-friendly wing of the GOP more than Justin Amash. But members and operatives who hoped to end his political career are running out of time and moxie before Michigan’s Aug. 5 primary.
So far, many of Amash’s cash-flush critics have passed on investing substantial resources in his GOP rival, former East Grand Rapids School Trustee Brian Ellis. At the same time, Amash allies such as the Club for Growth and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have tangibly backed the libertarian sophomore’s re-election in the 3rd District.
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