- Freshman Class Filled With Losers
- Democrats Look for Comebacks From Members Ousted in 2010
- Kelly Ward Will Stay on as DCCC Executive Director
- Congressman to Consider John McCain Primary Challenge
- Josh Holmes, the Mastermind of Team Mitch
Posts in "Senate 2014"
June 2, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Just more than halfway into his 12-minute stump speech, former Rep. Gene Taylor answered the question hanging over his primary challenge to the Republican that defeated him in 2010.
After representing the area for 21 years as a Democrat, why switch parties?
“I’ll make it very simple,” Taylor told a friendly crowd of a couple dozen after conducting a live interview with the local NBC affiliate. “When I first went to Congress, almost all of the southern Democrats were pro-life, almost all of them were for Second Amendment rights, almost all of them believed in a strong national defense, and almost all of them believed in a balanced budget. Over the years that changed.”
In the wake of the 2010 GOP wave, it didn’t look like either of the state’s losing Democratic congressmen would be coming back any time soon. But with last-minute candidate filings three months ago, both Taylor, who is taking on GOP Rep. Steven M. Palazzo in the 4th District as a Republican, and Travis Childers, who represented the 1st District for three years and is now running for Senate, are giving it a shot.
On Tuesday, both could learn the fates of their unlikely bids, as Taylor battles in a Republican primary and Childers watches the consequential GOP Senate primary. Full story
June 1, 2014
After a relatively unsurprising series of primaries this month, June brings another collection of intraparty contests. More than half of the states will have selected their nominees by the end of the month.
Republicans will pick nominees in key Senate races in Mississippi, Iowa and South Dakota. Down the ballot, House primaries in several open seats will likely determine the future members of Congress from both parties.
Here is Roll Call’s comprehensive look at watch to watch in June. Bookmark this page, and check out our primary map for results from past primaries.
With primaries in eight states, this date marks the busiest night of the cycle.
Alabama: In the 6th District, seven Republicans are running in an open-seat race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus. This district is located in and around Birmingham. State Rep. Paul DeMarco is the front-runner, followed by Club for Growth-backed surgeon Chad Mathis and businessman Will Brooke. If no candidate garners at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will continue to a July 15 runoff. Polls close at 8 p.m. EST. (Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Safe Republican)
California: In this House race battleground, the top-two vote recipients, regardless of party, advance to the general election. Republicans will also pick a gubernatorial nominee who could have an impact down the ballot in November. Polls close at 11 p.m. EST. Here are the primaries to watch in the Golden State:
May 31, 2014
The campaign trail in Iowa this week might look a little familiar: As Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry stump around the state, former Sen. Rick Santorum’s face is plastered on the local airwaves.
The 2012 presidential primary is long gone, but a couple of the GOP’s future presidential hopefuls are using the Senate primary in the crucial nominating state to their advantage.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has backed the GOP front-runner, state Sen. Joni Ernst. Romney, who is not expected to run in 2016, has also given her his support. Meanwhile, Perry has endorsed former District Attorney Matt Whitaker. Santorum is supporting radio host Sam Clovis. A fourth candidate in the race, former energy executive Mark Jacobs, does not have any endorsements from likely presidential candidates.
The contest marks a rare opportunity for 2016 hopefuls: There hasn’t been an open-seat Senate race in the Hawkeye State in three decades. By backing a Senate candidate, presidential prospects can cement relationships with them and their staff that could be valuable next cycle — no matter if their chosen Republican wins or loses.
“The caucuses are an activist-driven process and activists put a premium on who stands with them,” said Republican radio host Steve Deace, who has endorsed Clovis.
“After all,” he added, “if you’re going to ask activists to stand with you, they’ll want to know if you stood with them.” Full story
May 30, 2014
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.
ARLINGTON, Va. — Democratic Sen. Mark Warner emphasized his bipartisan credentials Thursday to the local voters he hopes will re-elect him in November.
“This is gonna be won with Democrats, independents, Republicans and everyone else,” Warner told the crowd at The Spectrum Theatre, part of a six-day, 14-stop tour of the commonwealth that coincides with the release of his first television ad.
The rally’s venue had the feel of a lecture hall, with pull-out desks on each seat. Signs were neatly stacked in a grid along a side wall as Warner spoke on a stage against a backdrop of two large signs and a flag.
Warner is favored to win over likely GOP nominee Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman and George W. Bush adviser. But his race could be more competitive than anticipated, in part thanks to his well-connected foe.
Virginia is a competitive state that’s elected both Republicans and Democrats to statewide office over the past decade. Though Democrats currently control both Senate seats and the governor’s mansion, statewide elections are fiercely contested.
That’s what a reporter was told Thursday as it became clear the Mississippi state senator challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in the primary next week would be a no-show for both of his first two campaign events.
McDaniel, endorsed by former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., on Thursday, marks the tea party’s best hope for a major splash in the 2014 elections. But the recent arrest of at least two McDaniel supporters allegedly involved in the photographing of Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home has thrown the entire race into flux.
Amid the flurry of talk across the state, McDaniel is pushing forward with a 25-town statewide tour to detail his “Five Promises to Mississippi” platform. But like his Senate campaign, the McDaniel bus must navigate a bumpy route to its final destination.
May 28, 2014
Former energy executive Mark Jacobs has debuted two more ads in the final days before the GOP’s primary for Senate in Iowa.
Jacobs, a multimillionaire, has used his personal wealth to boost his campaign coffers, allowing him to spend more than his opponents. He faces State Sen. Joni Ernst, who is widely regarded as the front-runner, along with radio host Sam Clovis and former District Attorney Matt Whitaker.
Jacobs’ first new ad touts his position as an “outsider,” not a “Washington politician,” who has “real world, common-sense experience.”
The second trumpets his support for a balanced budget amendment, and attacks congress for “not doing the job they were elected to do.” Full story
May 27, 2014
Updated, 3:31 p.m. | Rep. Bruce Braley is up with a new ad for his Senate bid touting his career as a lawyer — a résumé that’s caused the Democrat some grief in his bid for the competitive, open seat in Iowa.
In his 30-second spot, the congressman casts his oft-maligned profession as one of fighting for people and helping them solve their problems.
“Equal justice under the law is what this country is built upon, is one of the things that motivated me to want to become a lawyer, and fight for people,” Braley says in the ad, which shows footage of him talking to a variety of people in Iowa.
“You have to get to know people to be an effective voice for what they care about,” he says. “I’ve spent my lifetime trying to be the voice for someone who has a problem that they can’t solve by themselves.” Full story
May 23, 2014
This is Roll Call’s weekly installment of the most interesting individual spots or trends we noticed in Senate and House political advertising.
A couple of months ago, we noted that campaigns included dated music from another era in ads to illustrate just how long a politician has been on the scene.
Of late, we’ve seen campaigns revisit this concept. But instead of disco and hippie music, we see candidates deploy euphemisms as weapons against incumbents older than 70. The ads share similarities — they mention age or length of time in office, and often they overlay a graphic of the U.S. Capitol as they state specifics on age.
Here are three ads that broke through the clutter on this front in recent weeks: Full story
May 22, 2014
Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel weighed in Thursday on the illegal photographing of Sen. Thad Cochran’s wife, now that multiple McDaniel supporters have been arrested in connection to the incident.
Mark Mayfield, the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, was arrested Thursday along with Richard Sager, The Clarion-Ledger reported. Last week, blogger Clayton Kelly was arrested after allegedly posting online images of Rose Cochran, who suffers from dementia, that were taken at the nursing home where she lives.
The connections to the McDaniel campaign has raised some issues for the challenger since Kelly’s arrest was first reported over the weekend. The Clarion-Ledger has a photograph of McDaniel with a group of volunteers, including Mayfield, and Kelly had written about his support for McDaniel on his blog.
Still, McDaniel continues to deny any connection to the alleged crimes.
Senate Majority PAC is up with a new TV ad attacking former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., over a report that he attempted to torpedo an energy bill sponsored by the New Hampshire Democrat he’s taking on in his Senate comeback bid.
The ad slams Brown as a carpetbagger and refers to the Huffington Post report last week that Brown had lobbied against an energy efficiency bill backed by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
The Democrat-aligned super PAC put approximately $350,000 behind the ad, which will run for two weeks, according to a spokesman. Full story
Tom Steyer, the Democrats’ financial answer to the Koch brothers, has set his sights on specific Senate and gubernatorial races to spend the $100 million he’s earmarked for the midterm elections.
His super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, aims to promote candidates who support action to mitigate the effects of climate change. It was active in last year’s elections for Virginia governor and a vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts.
The group has now targeted the competitive Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire, and the Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine gubernatorial contests. It will back the Democratic candidate in each case. Full story
May 21, 2014
With less than two weeks until Iowa’s congressional primaries, it’s still unclear whether a Republican Senate candidate can clear the 35 percent vote threshold needed to win the nomination outright.
In an attractive pickup opportunity for national Republicans, there are four major candidates seeking the nomination for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. The leading contenders are state Sen. Joni Ernst, who has the tacit support of the governor and earned national attention with an ad about castrating hogs, and Mark Jacobs, a self-funding former energy executive. Radio host Sam Clovis and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker round out the top four.
A recent poll found Ernst with 31 percent support — in the lead and within striking distance of the nomination. But Jacobs, who outspent Ernst by more than 5 to 1 through March, has dominated his opponents on the airwaves, and a potential late surge by Clovis could spread the vote around and force the nomination process to a convention, where anything can happen.
“I think either Ernst or Jacobs will get to 35 percent,” said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party and editor-in-chief of The Iowa Republican politics blog. But, he continued, “Clovis has plenty of room to grow” and can improve his standing if he is more “aggressive in drawing distinctions between himself and the other candidates” and seizing the “social conservative mantle.” Full story
Sen. Rand Paul is dismissing the idea that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Republican primary victory in Kentucky Tuesday night was a defeat for the tea party movement.
Paul, who upset the establishment-backed candidate in his own 2010 primary, had endorsed McConnell early in the race, which was a sour point for some on the right who viewed the incumbent as too entrenched and insufficiently conservative.
“I’m probably considered to be from the tea party, but I supported Sen. McConnell because I like, you know, that he’s a conservative,” Paul told reporters Wednesday in the Capitol. “I don’t know that that’s a defeat of the tea party necessarily when he wins. I think he stands for conservative principles, and him winning is consistent with the tea party.” Full story
Pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby clinched the Republican Senate nomination in Oregon on Tuesday, beating out state Rep. Jason Conger.
Wehby will now face Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley — who handily won his primary — in an uphill race for Republicans. She led Conger 55 percent to 32 percent when the Associated Press called the race with 52 percent of precincts reporting.
Merkley is running his first Senate re-election race after unseating Republican Sen. Gordon Smith in 2008.
The blue-state seat has not been a top target for national Republicans, who must pick up a net six seats to regain the Senate majority. But Wehby’s resume as a physician and strong first TV ad have Republicans optimistic they can expand the playing field into Oregon. Full story