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August 5, 2015

Posts in "Senate 2014"

October 31, 2014

Senate Democrats’ Super Lawyer Preps for Overtime

Elias speaks with Roll Call at Perkins Coie's D.C. office Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the Senate chamber erupted in applause after the swearing-in of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Majority Leader Harry Reid eventually looked up and directed his appreciation toward the newest senator’s attorneys.

On that day, more than five years ago, standing alongside his two Franken campaign co-counsels was Marc Elias, the Democrats’ go-to attorney. He’d spent the previous eight months in Minneapolis in a seemingly unending recount and trial that ultimately resulted in a 60th Senate seat for the party.

This cycle, as Franken is favored for re-election and Democrats fight to hold their majority, Elias sat down with CQ Roll Call to chat about Senate races, where exactly he’ll be watching election returns on Nov. 4, which states he’s keeping an eye on for potential recounts and his role in one of the longest recounts in Senate history.

(Join us on Election Night: Live Stream With Analysis, Results and More at RollCall.com)

“It was a very emotional thing,” Elias said of standing in the chamber on July 7, 2009. “Not just because of the fact that Franken was getting sworn-in, but I remember Leader Reid looking up at us, Sen. [John] Kerry and all these other members that I’d been involved with in representing, and it was really a great moment.”

Full story

October 30, 2014

North Carolina Campaigns Prepare for Potential Recount

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

The competitive North Carolina Senate race will cost more than $100 million by Election Day, and that price tag could climb further as both parties prepare to spend even more if the race becomes too close to call.

The campaigns for both Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Republican state Speaker Thom Tillis confirmed to CQ Roll Call they are making preparations in case of a recount in one of the country’s most competitive races. Recent polls show a tied race, and this week the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call moved the race to Tossup this week from Tilts Democratic.

“It’d be kind of silly for us not to [prepare],” said Todd Poole, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Full story

Where GOP White House Hopefuls Stumped in 2014 (Chart)

Roberts, left, campaigned with Cruz, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When the myriad Republican presidential contenders start campaigning for 2016, their journeys might not look much different from this cycle.

From Iowa to New Hampshire, every Republican who is even remotely considering a 2016 bid hit the trail this year to help Senate contenders. What’s more, several competitive Senate races are this year conveniently in states that play host to early nominating contests in 2016.

Joni Ernst, the Republican running for the open seat in Iowa, has had almost every presidential hopeful campaign for her.

Thom Tillis, the Republican nominee in North Carolina, has had visits from even more of them. North Carolina’s legislature voted last year to move the primary to the Tuesday after South Carolina’s contest, placing it in the early group of presidential primary states.

Check out the chart for a full look at who appeared where:
Full story

October 28, 2014

New DSCC Ad Renews Education Attacks on Thom Tillis

kay hagan

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

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is up with a new ad Tuesday attacking Republican Thom Tillis on education.

Polls show a tied race between Tillis and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate, and the party has targeted the Tar Heel State as one of them.

The DSCC’s ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, echoes arguments Hagan and Democrats have made throughout the campaign. It attacks Tillis for his tenure as speaker of the state House, during which time he was responsible for the budget for public education in the state.

Full story

New Ad Attacks Joni Ernst on Education

joni ernst

The National Education Association will start airing a new ad Tuesday attacking Joni Ernst on education.

The ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, features voters speaking directly to camera as a narrator attacks Ernst’s record on education.

Joni Ernst is leading the fight to take funding from public school students and give it to wealthy private schools instead,” a male narrator says. Full story

October 27, 2014

Ed Gillespie Throws ‘Redskins’ Hail Mary

redskins

Gillespie is the Republican nominee for Senate in Virginia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Virginia Senate candidate Ed Gillespie said in an ad airing during “Monday Night Football” that he would oppose legislation forcing the Washington Redskins to change the team name.

“I’ll oppose the anti-Redskins bill. Let’s focus on creating jobs, raising take-home pay and making our nation safer. And let the Redskins handle what to call their team,” said Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Gillespie faces long odds to oust Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., next week, and recent polling shows the Republican trailing by double digits. The race is rated Democrat Favored by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Gillespie recently cut his ad buys in the Washington, D.C., area — an indication of a campaign struggling for cash. Also, it wasn’t immediately clear if the spot would run elsewhere.

Full story

McConnell Brings Back the Bloodhounds for Closing Week in Kentucky (Video)

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is calling out the dogs — but this time there’s some fun involved.

The Senate minority leader’s campaign for re-election in Kentucky launched a new ad Monday evening that features McConnell surrounded by bloodhounds. It harkens back to his very first Senate campaign, when he upset Democrat Walter Dee Huddleston in 1984.

With McConnell facing a competitive race against Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, the current secretary of state, he’s unveiling a more light-hearted ad for the final week, which was featured on local news in Louisville Monday evening.

“You know, a lot of people try to tell me how to do my commercials,” McConnell says in the ads, which features the Republican leader in a variety of preposterous situations and also features a talking baby.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0GB6lKH0pw

Full story

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

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

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:24 a.m.
Senate 2014

New DSCC Ad Hits Scott Brown on Medicare

scott brown

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

lsu football

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

senate races 2014

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

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

(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

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

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