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November 21, 2014

Posts in "Senate 2014"

October 27, 2014

Without an Opponent, Jeff Sessions Still Spends

Without an Opponent, Jeff Sessions Still Spends

(Courtesy Sessions campaign)

How does a senator running unopposed for re-election in a red state during a good year for Republicans manage to spend nearly $1 million?

It adds up fast.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., has nothing to worry about next Tuesday. Still, his campaign logged $996,988 in spending from January 2013 through September 2014, including more than $7,000 on Christmas cards.

Full story

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Almost Always Voted With Obama

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Almost Always Voted With Obama

Udall voted with Obama 99 percent of the time in 2014, according to the newly released CQ vote study. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to avoid tough votes this year has backfired in one respect — it gave his vulnerable incumbents few opportunities to show off any independence from President Barack Obama.

A new CQ vote study shows vulnerable Senate Democrats almost always voted to support the president in 2014 — a fact that has been instantly seized upon by Republicans, given that Obama’s approval rating is languishing in the low 40s nationally and lower still in several battleground states.

As senior writer Shawn Zeller writes in this week’s CQ Weekly cover story, Democrats who have been distancing themselves from Obama on the campaign trail not in votes on the Senate floor — whether it be Mark Udall of Colorado, Mark Pryor of Arkansas or Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana:

Udall disagreed just once, on a Pennsylvania state judge’s nomination to a federal district court. Pryor parted with Obama three times, and Landrieu four, but only one of those votes was on a policy matter. In July, Landrieu voted against Obama’s request for $2.7 billion to deal with the surge of Latin American children entering the U.S. illegally.

Indeed, all of the most vulnerable Democrats voted with President Obama at least 96 percent of the time on the 120 votes on which Obama has urged a “yes” or “no” vote. Full story

New DSCC Ad Hits Scott Brown on Medicare

New DSCC Ad Hits Scott Brown on Medicare

Scott Brown speaks in New Hampshire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is releasing a new ad Monday in New Hampshire targeting former Sen. Scott P. Brown on Medicare.

Brown faces Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in a race rated Tilts Democrat by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

The DSCC’s ad, provided first to Roll Call, hits Brown for his vote in 2011 for a budget that would have made cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Full story

Louisiana Senate Runoff Questions Remain After LSU Win

Louisiana Senate Runoff Questions Remain After LSU Win

Landrieu campaigns Sept. 20 on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If Louisiana State University’s two conference losses earlier this year had briefly quieted anxious chatter in Bayou State political circles, the school’s Oct. 25 victory over Ole Miss has both college football fans and Senate campaigns in the state keeping a close eye on the rest of the season.

The Southeastern Conference is holding its championship game Dec. 6, the same day Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy — both LSU graduates — would face off in a runoff if neither takes a majority of the vote on Election Day.

The issue for the campaigns: The game is in Atlanta, and if LSU qualified, tens of thousands of voters would be out of state on that day to cheer on the Tigers. Motivating turnout on a Saturday a few weeks before Christmas is never easy, but the exodus of a portion of the voting base — or simply not paying as much attention to politics — would add an unpredictable wrinkle. Full story

10 Moments That Won or Lost Senate Control

10 Moments That Won or Lost Senate Control

Ernst, above, is running against Bruce Braley for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The 2014 battle for the Senate has featured a few candidate bumbles and some colorful characters.

So far, it’s lacked any cycle-defining gaffes — “Todd Akin moments” — but there is still a week to go until Election Day and potentially two runoffs extending things into early next year.

Every election cycle provides noteworthy events or moments in time that, in hindsight, proved to be pivot points in the outcome. Roll Call has identified 10 such instances that helped define this cycle’s Senate landscape.

In 2012, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe’s, R-Maine, last-minute retirement began to alter the conventional wisdom that Republicans were likely headed for the majority. Months later, comments about rape by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock sealed the deal for Democrats.

Now, once again, the majority is up for grabs: Republicans have pushed the fight into purple states, while Democrats are holding out hope the party can hang on.

Here are 10 moments that helped get us here, in chronological order:

Hollywood Star Declines McConnell Challenge (March 27, 2013) Full story

October 24, 2014

Angus King Endorses Republican Senate Colleague

Angus King Endorses Republican Senate Colleague

King, left, endorsed a Republican for re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Independent Maine Sen. Angus King, a member of the Democratic caucus, is backing a senior Senate Republican in his bid for re-election.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is not facing a significant challenge on Nov. 4, but the support from King is interesting considering the independent senator’s potential role in a closely divided or tied Senate. King and Alexander are both members of the informal caucus of former governors.

The two senators are personally close, but Alexander also is a former Republican Conference chairman with close ties to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Full story

Candidates Get Platform With GOP Weekly Address

Candidates Get Platform With GOP Weekly Address

(Screenshot)

Every week after President Barack Obama delivers his weekly address, the Republicans get a chance to respond. Because they don’t, of course, have a singular figure who would naturally address the nation each week, the speakers vary. So far in 2014, 11 Republican candidates — four House hopefuls and seven vying for Senate seats — have had the honor to take to YouTube and spread their party’s message.

In the fall of an election year, the GOP weekly address is an opportunity for Republicans to showcase some of their hopefuls on the ballot to a broader audience than the candidates can normally reach themselves — because not everyone pays attention to every Senate race, or to New York congressional campaigns.

“The weekly address is a great opportunity to showcase our diverse and talented group of candidates to the country,” said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, which coordinates the speeches. He said the party’s “tremendous slate” allows the GOP to contrast its record with the president’s.

There are some common themes mentioned time and time again: dissatisfaction with the president’s job approval, the desire to expand domestic energy production, repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting government regulation.

Saturday’s address, posted at 6 a.m., will feature Will Hurd, the GOP nominee for Texas’ 23rd House district.

Here is a summary of the others.

Full story

October 22, 2014

Senate Races 2014: Why Michigan Never Became Iowa

Senate Races 2014: Why Michigan Never Became Iowa

Peters is the Democratic nominee in Michigan. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Earlier this cycle, Republicans viewed the Michigan Senate race as a potential pick-up opportunity, much like the seat in Iowa.

But it didn’t turn out that way — not even close.

Both Iowa and Michigan featured open-seat races. In these states, Democrats had cleared the field to nominate a House member with partisan voting records. Meanwhile, the GOP’s top candidate picks took a pass on these Senate races, forcing the party to settle for second-tier recruits. To be sure, Michigan was a slightly more favorable battleground for Democrats — but Republicans were bullish about it.

Now, with two weeks until Election Day, the Iowa race is a dead heat with both parties spending massively to win the seat. Nearly 500 miles away, Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., solidly leads former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in every public poll. Earlier this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled more than $850,000 out of the state, canceling its final two weeks of television for Land and indicating the race was over.

“I’d rather be on Gary Peters’ campaign than on Terri Lynn Land’s,” said Michigan Republican consultant Dennis Darnoi.

So what happened? Full story

October 20, 2014

New DSCC Ad Hits Thom Tillis on Women’s Health

New DSCC Ad Hits Thom Tillis on Womens Health

Kay Hagan is up for re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going up with a new ad in North Carolina attacking Republican Thom Tillis on women’s health issues.

Tillis faces Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. The race had been trending narrowly in Hagan’s favor, but last week the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced the party would invest an additional $6 million for the final few weeks. Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate, and they want this to be one of them.

The new ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, slams Tillis for acting to “defund Planned Parenthood,” and for previously saying that businesses should be able to deny coverage of contraceptives to their employees. Full story

Mark Begich Targeted on Arctic Oil Drilling in New GOP TV Ad (Video)

Mark Begich Targeted on Arctic Oil Drilling in New GOP TV Ad (Video)

Begich is being targeted on ANWR in a new TV ad. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Republican-aligned outside group is hitting Alaska Sen. Mark Begich for failing to persuade his party to support opening drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Utilizing a theme of broken campaign promises from 2008, when Begich defeated Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, the new TV ad from American Crossroads hammers the Democrat for both the percentage of votes on which he agreed with the president last year and the fact that Congress has not approved ANWR oil exploration.

“We’ve had six years of Begich’s broken politics,” the ad’s announcer says. “Alaska needs a change.” Full story

October 17, 2014

Pat Roberts Finds No Place Like Home

Pat Roberts Finds No Place Like Home

Roberts speaks to a reporter in Topeka. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FORT SCOTT, Kan. — Dozens of cows trumpeted in the pens out back as Sen. Pat Roberts made his pitch to attendees at a livestock market.

Pat Roberts Finds No Place Like Home“When we get a Republican majority, I’ll be chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and we are gonna put the livestock producer first,” Roberts told the crowd from a room behind the then-empty cow pen, where the auctioneer had briefly paused his chant to allow the state’s senior senator to address the crowd.

The lone man in a suit jacket in a crowd of denim, plaid, cowboy hats and baseball caps, Roberts kept it short — framing his election in the terms he used throughout his bus tour of the entire Sunflower State.

In the six campaign events Roll Call attended with Roberts last week, this was as close as he came to making the Senate race personal. Most of the time, Roberts’ pitch to voters was that the name on the ballot was all but irrelevant; it was the “R” next to it that mattered. Full story

October 16, 2014

A Senate Race Where Democrats Neutralized Obamacare Attacks

A Senate Race Where Democrats Neutralized Obamacare Attacks

Franken is seeking a second term in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Republican critique of the president’s health care overhaul law may have hit a wall in Minnesota, complicating the GOP’s already long chances of picking up a Senate seat in the state.

Though the state’s health care exchange, MNsure, has hit a few snags in recent weeks, local Democrats still claim the program is an overall success — at least relative to other states. A University of Minnesota study credited the Affordable Care Act for dropping the state’s uninsured numbers to roughly 5 percent, making it the one of the lowest in the country. Minnesota also touts the lowest premium rates and generally low health care costs.

Those statistics have made it more difficult for businessman Mike McFadden, the GOP’s nominee, to challenge Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., for supporting the president’s signature health care law. Franken is the front-runner in the race, and independent polls show him with a small double-digit lead.

“The Republicans hope that the toxicity of the moniker Obamacare would lead to this kind of mob running against the Democrats has not happened. Voters are hearing different things,” said Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at University of Minnesota. “It’s turning out that Democrats have found strategies to fight to a draw, which in 2014 is probably the best they could hope for, at least on this issue.” Full story

NRSC Confirms Tightening Race in Georgia

NRSC Confirms Tightening Race in Georgia

Perdue is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee confirmed Thursday they were looking at a tougher race in Georgia, a Republican-held state they were predicted to win fairly easily.

The executive director of the NRSC, Rob Collins, told reporters the race “has tightened up” between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michele Nunn in Georgia.

Recent public polling has shown Nunn gaining traction, and Perdue is struggling to move past his comment that he was “proud” of outsourcing jobs during his business career. Last week, the NRSC announced they were putting another $1.4 million into the state to help Perdue, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee followed by announcing additional spending for the state.

Full story

New DSCC Ad Attacks Ernst on Abortion Stance

New DSCC Ad Attacks Ernst on Abortion Stance

Joni Ernst is running against Braley for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is launching a new ad in Iowa Thursday targeting Republican Joni Ernst over her stance on abortion and her sponsorship in the state Senate of a “personhood” bill.

Ernst faces Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, in one of the most competitive races this cycle. The open seat, currently held by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, could be one of the six seats Republicans need to take control of the Senate.

The ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, features an Iowa nurse named Kim Tweedy who says she has worked on the sexual assault response team.

“I’ve seen lots of cases, many of them are very brutal. It breaks your heart. I’ll never understand politicians who make it even harder, politicians like Joni Ernst,” Tweedy says. Full story

October 15, 2014

DCCC Chief Pleads for Outside Money

DCCC Chief Pleads for Outside Money

Israel is the current chairman of the DCCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told reporters Wednesday he is “frustrated” that his party’s outside groups have not supported House Democrats on television in the final stretch of the midterms.

Many big Democratic players — such as environmental and labor groups — focused their financial firepower on the Senate, which is in play this cycle. This has caused increased anxiety among House Democrats, who also face losses in 2014.

House Democrats must pick up a net of 17 seats to win control of the House, but it’s increasingly likely the party will lose seats in that chamber this cycle. For the first time, Israel made a public plea to outside groups for their financial help. 

Full story

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