Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 21, 2014

Posts in "Ky. Senate"

October 15, 2014

3 Senate Endgame Scenarios

3 Senate Endgame Scenarios

The winner of the race between Roberts, left, and Orman, right, will play a major role in deciding the Senate majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

So much for a predictable midterm cycle. The past month has left multiple possible outcomes for control of the Senate.

Republican groups are barraging Kansas with resources and advertising to save a three-term incumbent being challenged by an independent in a solidly GOP state. Democrats, lacking much hope for months of holding an open seat in South Dakota, are all of a sudden dropping $1 million in advertising there — and being matched by Republicans — in a last-second Hail Mary that could possibly save its majority.

Just three weeks remain until Election Day, yet control of the Senate remains a dogfight and more than a handful of seats could conceivably go either way. The GOP has at least 10 states to find a path to six Senate seats and the majority, but — while public polling in most states appears to be moving in its direction — at this point the party has only locked up two Democrat-held seats in a favorable national climate.

Making matters more convoluted are the unknowns surrounding independent candidates Greg Orman in Kansas and Larry Pressler in South Dakota, who have yet to say which caucus they would join.

With so many variables and competitive races, plus potential and competitive runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, the outcome of the midterm elections is anyone’s guess.

But as the votes start rolling in, there’s a chance the result will be one of the following three scenarios: Full story

October 9, 2014

The 5 Big Questions on Senate Race Spending

The 5 Big Questions on Senate Race Spending

Republicans are closely keeping tabs on Tillis, right, and the North Carolina Senate race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s decision Wednesday to drop $1 million into South Dakota, a race previously written off as a Republican win, was just the latest shakeup of the Senate landscape this week.

On Tuesday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee cut its financial investment in Michigan, where an open seat and a favorable national environment had created an opportunity for the party.

With the Senate majority at stake, the national campaign committees and their outside-group allies are constantly re-evaluating races and analyzing where their resources are most needed and best put to use. It’s all part of a real-life game of Tetris, as the groups meticulously watch each other’s moves and look to fit their ads and messaging into a larger picture.

Many of the moves by the NRSC, the DSCC and other outside groups likely will fly under the radar over the next 26 days — though with potential runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, Senate ads actually could be airing on TV into early next year. But others, including spending by the campaigns themselves, will offer definitive signs of a race’s potential competitiveness, as in South Dakota and Michigan.

With less than four weeks to go, here are some big questions about the Senate playing field and where the millions more in spending to come will land: Full story

October 8, 2014

Why Senate Attendance Attacks Are Usually Bogus (Video)

Why Senate Attendance Attacks Are Usually Bogus (Video)

Hagan serves on the Armed Services Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The worst-kept secret on Capitol Hill? Senators miss committee hearings and meetings. All the time.

Unless the senator wields the gavel, he or she may only show up for five minutes, or when it is their turn to ask questions. The results include guffaw-inducing scenes where even senior lawmakers enter the wrong hearing room, misidentify a witness and question the wrong person on the other side of the dais.

But out on the campaign trail, a less-than-stellar attendance record has become the political ammo in a number of Senate races, with criticism of incumbent lawmakers flying in Alaska, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado and Iowa.

This cycle, much of the fodder has come from committee attendance records, at least compared to floor votes. It might look bad back home, but consistent committee attendance defies a reality on Capitol Hill. Full story

October 3, 2014

Grimes Campaign Used Vehicles Owned By Family Business

Grimes Campaign Used Vehicles Owned By Family Business

(Photo via CQ Roll Call tipster)

A tour bus that roiled Kentucky’s Senate race in August may have been parked after suggestions of impropriety, but smaller vehicles owned by companies associated with Alison Lundergan Grimes’ father have remained on the road for campaign purposes.

Vehicles registered to entities owned by Jerry Lundergan, the former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman, have been spotted at campaign events. The vans sport familiar Grimes logos and signage, like this Black Chevrolet Suburban spotted in a recent parade in Greensburg, Ky.

Full story

October 1, 2014

Bill Clinton Appears in Kentucky Senate Race Ad

Former President Bill Clinton stars in a new ad for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’ bid to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The spot marks the former president’s first foray into the 2014 airwaves in a Senate race, the Grimes campaign told WHAS-TV in Louisville, which first reported on the spot. The Kentucky Senate race is rated Leans Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Full story

Pat Roberts Ranks Among Most Vulnerable Senators

Pat Roberts Ranks Among Most Vulnerable Senators

Hagan is a North Carolina Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While the structure of the competitive Senate map has finally solidified, plenty of uncertainties remain as the two parties enter the final month of the midterm elections.

The most glaring question mark and startling development over the past several weeks is in Kansas, where Republican Sen. Pat Roberts now ranks fourth on Roll Call’s monthly list of the most vulnerable senators (read the September edition here). This is a state that last elected a Democratic senator in 1932, but ballot maneuverings and Roberts’ own missteps have placed him in the company of the cycle’s most endangered incumbents.

The GOP needs six seats to win the majority, and the party can get halfway there by picking up open seats in West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana, where retirements hindered Democrats’ ability to hold their ground. Democrats have better odds in the other open seats, with Iowa still hosting one of the most competitive races in the country and Democrats continuing to hold the edge in Michigan.

Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., remains a top target for Republicans. But Democrats are pummeling Republican nominee Thom Tillis on the air, and Hagan is the only red-state Democrat whose positioning has clearly improved in recent months.

The competitiveness of the Senate race in Kansas took most people by surprise, including, it seems, Roberts. The senator entered the general election with a limited political apparatus and less motivation to campaign following his contested primary. That all changed last month, when the Democratic nominee withdrew from the race and Republican efforts to reverse the move failed.

That left independent Greg Orman, who is still an unknown quantity. As Orman introduces himself to the electorate, Republicans’ opposition research on him is still just starting to trickle out. Roberts has brought in a new campaign team, a steady stream of GOP heavyweights is filing through the state to help him out, and at least one outside group has started spending for him on the airwaves.

In a state as Republican as Kansas, that could be enough to save the day. But for now, Roberts is firmly among the 10 Most Vulnerable Senators, ranked below in order of vulnerability:  Full story

September 29, 2014

Ad Highlights Mitch McConnell’s Role in Resolving Case (Video)

Ad Highlights Mitch McConnells Role in Resolving Case (Video)

McConnell's new ad highlights his role in resolving a parent child abduction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign is highlighting his efforts to resolve an overseas parental child abduction case, with the child’s mother sharing with Kentucky voters the story she previously told at a Senate hearing.

The campaign has put the account of Noelle Hunter and her daughter Maayimuna “Muna” N’Diaye in a new TV ad, highlighting the Republican leader’s personal involvement in getting N’Diaye returned to the United States from Mali, where she was taken by her father. The father disregarded an order of a Kentucky judge regarding shared parental rights. N’Diaye returned to the United States in July.

The minute-long campaign spot featuring Hunter will air statewide, and the campaign told CQ Roll Call the ad buy is at least in the six-figure range. That suggests if it gets resonance, the ad could air even more frequently between now and November. Full story

September 26, 2014

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

Marijuana accessories are pictured in Terrapin Care Station, a marijuana dispensary, in Boulder, Colo. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The national discussion about legalizing marijuana has now surfaced in Kentucky’s Senate race.

A day after Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes encouraged a conversation about it, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his opposition to following Colorado’s lead and legalizing marijuana more broadly in an interview on a local radio station Friday.

“I’m against legalizing marijuana,” the Republican said. “Certainly it’s not in the same category as heroin, but I think to begin … to sort of send the message that we’re giving up, you know, that this is just the way it’s going to be, then one thing leads to another and pretty soon … you completely transform your society in a way that I think certainly most Kentuckians would not agree with.”

Full story

September 16, 2014

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

McConnell's campaign is using this official photo of Obama shooting clay targets (Pete Souza/White House)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign has taken rapid response to the airwaves.

The Kentucky Republican is out with a new TV ad Tuesday rebutting a spot Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes released Monday morning to CQ Roll Call.

The Grimes ad featured the Kentucky secretary of state skeet shooting and highlighting differences from President Barack Obama on several policy issues, including guns and the environment. The McConnell response, which the campaign says is backed by a significant six-figure buy, connects Grimes’ past support of the Democratic Party platform. Full story

September 15, 2014

Alison Lundergan Grimes Shoots Skeet in New Ad (Video) (Updated)

Alison Lundergan Grimes Shoots Skeet in New Ad (Video) (Updated)

McConnell, center, is the minority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:57 p.m. | The latest television spot from Alison Lundergan Grimes shows her skeet shooting on a farm as part of the Senate nominee’s attempt to create distance with an unpopular president in the midterms.

The Kentucky Democrat will face Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. In the spot, after firing a few rounds at clay pigeons, Grimes looks at the camera and says “I’m not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA.”

Full story

September 1, 2014

The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Roll Call ranks Landrieu as the most vulnerable senator. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There is a new chart-topper in Roll Call’s latest monthly ranking of the 10 most vulnerable senators.

Montana’s appointed Sen. John Walsh was by far the most endangered incumbent in the chamber at the time of the previous installment in early August, but his decision last month to not seek a full term opened the top slot to a couple other worthy contenders.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is still in a perilous political position, but Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has leapfrogged him on the list to become the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbent. Full story

August 29, 2014

Mitch McConnell’s Campaign Manager Resigns

Mitch McConnells Campaign Manager Resigns

McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jesse Benton, who had worked as the campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election bid, said Friday he would resign.

The veteran operative with close ties to the Paul family released a lengthy statement making the announcement. The Lexington Herald-Leader first reported Benton’s resignation, which is effective Saturday.

The move comes just two days after a former Iowa state senator admitted to accepting $73,000 in concealed payments from former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. In exchange for the money, that individual, Kent Sorenson, switched endorsements from Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to Paul, a Texas Republican.

Full story

August 4, 2014

Top 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Top 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

In 2014 Senate races, Pryor is one of the most vulnerable Democrats. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three months before Election Day, it’s clear some senators may not return to Congress after the midterms — and that’s mostly good news for Republicans.

The GOP’s path to the Senate majority includes a mix of open seats and targeted Democratic incumbents. The two most vulnerable seats are in South Dakota and West Virginia, where Democratic senators are retiring. Republicans also have opportunities in open seats in Iowa and, to a lesser degree, Michigan.

But even if they are victorious in those states, the GOP must defeat at least two incumbents to reach the net six seats needed for control.

Luckily for Republicans, Democrats make up the vast majority of endangered senators seeking re-election. The GOP has a lengthy catalog of states where it has an opportunity to win, though there is a wide gap betweenthe  No. 1 and No. 10 most vulnerable senators — who are ordered by most likely to lose.

Roll Call’s “10 Most Vulnerable Senators” list will be updated monthly ahead of the Nov. 4 elections. For now, here is where the incumbents stand: Full story

July 31, 2014

McConnell Declines NRSC Intervention for Re-Election

McConnell Declines NRSC Intervention for Re Election

Moran is a Kansas Republican and NRSC Chairman. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Republicans eyeing the Senate majority and his own job title poised to change, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has told the National Republican Senatorial Committee not to worry about his race.

In a briefing with reporters Thursday at the committee headquarters, NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran said McConnell is raising money for the committee as it seeks to add at least six Republican senators and retake control of the chamber — but the NRSC is “not actively engaged in Kentucky.” Full story

July 1, 2014

Ted Cruz Doesn’t Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz Doesnt Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz is a Republican from Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A conservative outside group whose efforts Sen. Ted Cruz backed has called for defunding the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Cruz, an NRSC vice chairman and Texas Republican, has not rebuked the effort.

This weekend, Senate Conservatives Fund launched a campaign calling on conservatives to pledge not to give any money to the NRSC in the aftermath of last week’s runoff in the Mississippi Senate race. As is typical, the NRSC backed Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, while the SCF and other outside groups backed his failed challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“The Senate Republican establishment betrayed the grassroots and recruited Democrats in Mississippi to defeat Chris McDaniel,” the SCF petition said. ”Fight back by pledging not to donate to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

Full story

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...