Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Posts in "Shop Talk"

October 6, 2014

The Big Campaign Question: Cable or Broadcast?

The Big Campaign Question: Cable or Broadcast?

Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., does a live TV hit from the Cannon House Office Buildings in 2013. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Think the television ad wars are raging between Democrats and Republicans this fall? Check out the battle behind the scenes between cable and broadcast stations for campaign ad dollars.

For the past three decades, television audiences splintered as cable and alternative viewing habits (Netflix, iPads), broke up the hold the big three channels — ABC, CBS and NBC — once had on the American television-viewing public.

In politics, the difference is simple: Cable offers campaigns armed with micro-targeting data a chance to narrowcast, while broadcast still provides the largest audiences. Today, most political campaigns spend approximately 80 percent of their ad money on television and 20 percent on cable, according to multiple sources. Full story

September 15, 2014

Shop Talk: Republican Group Starts Women’s Outreach Series

Shop Talk: Republican Group Starts Womens Outreach Series

Ellmers is scheduled to participate in a women's outreach town hall this month in Charlotte. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Main Street Advocacy, a group that seeks to promote moderate Republican ideas, will launch a nationwide initiative later this month to bring more women into the political process.

“Women2Women” kicks off Sept. 25 in Charlotte. GOP Reps. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Susan W. Brooks of Indiana are expected to attend the discussion of issues that women say drive them to the ballot box.

The idea is the brainchild of Sarah Chamberlain, the group’s chief operating officer, who grew frustrated over the past two cycles when Republican candidates’ comments on social issues helped squander GOP pickup opportunities — hindering the party’s past efforts for Senate control. Remarks on rape from former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin and former Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in 2012 — who both lost their Senate races — sullied the GOP’s image among women and likely hurt the party’s chances in other states.

Full story

August 11, 2014

Cantor Spokeswoman Joins Georgia Senate Campaign

Cantor Spokeswoman Joins Georgia Senate Campaign

Whittemore, front, is joining Perdue's campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The press secretary to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is heading to the South to help Republicans retain one of their two most endangered Senate seats.

Megan Whittemore told reporters in an email Monday that beginning later this week, she will be communications director for David Perdue’s campaign in Georgia.

Whittemore’s exit comes as Cantor is set to resign from Congress, effective Aug. 18. The Virginia Republican’s descent from leadership and early exit followed his stunning June 10 primary defeat — and Whittemore was one of several top Cantor staffers identified as likely attractive candidates for new jobs.

Full story

June 3, 2014

Former Clinton Operative Dies in Texas Car Crash

Grace Garcia, a former longtime Clinton operative, died Monday in a car accident in Waxahachie, Texas, according to a release from Annie’s List, where she served as executive director.

“It is with a tremendous sense of loss that we announce the passing of our executive director and leader Grace Garcia, who lost her life in a car accident Monday afternoon,” Annie’s List Board Chair Amber Anderson Mostyn said in a statement. “Another staffer was injured in the crash and is in the intensive care unit at Parkland Hospital.”

Annie’s List is a group that supports female Democratic candidates who back abortion rights for state office in Texas.

Full story

By Abby Livingston Posted at 10:12 a.m.
Shop Talk

April 28, 2014

America Rising Expands Staff | Shop Talk

America Rising, a GOP opposition research firm, unveiled a host of new hires Monday as it expands for the 2014 and 2016 cycles.

The new staffers are:

  • Vice President for State and Local Research Initiatives Amanda Iovino
  • Vice President for House Research Alexandra Angel
  • Vice President for Video and Tracking Operations Aaron Baer
  • Vice President for Special Research Projects Tim Killeen
  • Senior Research Analyst, House, Dan Knight

“The America Rising LLC leadership team brings years of diverse research experience to the field in 2014,” the group’s president, Joe Pounder, stated. “Because of their work already, America Rising’s operations extend from D.C. to Anchorage as we track more than 50 campaigns to date.”

Full story

By Abby Livingston and Emily Cahn Posted at 7:32 p.m.
Shop Talk

February 7, 2014

Jesse Ferguson Named DCCC Independent Expenditure Director

Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Steve Israel announced Friday that Jesse Ferguson, a longtime staffer, will be the committee’s independent expenditure director in 2014.

This position is tasked with spending tens of millions of dollars late in the campaign. But, like other IE directors, campaign finance law will prohibit Ferguson from directly coordinating with committee staff.

“Jesse Ferguson has a relentless approach to strategizing and winning tough campaigns making him an excellent leader of the IE team,” Israel said. “Jesse has an unmatched understanding of the 2014 battlefield and the experience to elect problem solving Democrats to Congress.” Full story

January 31, 2014

Club for Growth Action Hires Blacklisted Firm

The Club for Growth’s political action arm announced Friday that it has added Jamestown Associates, a media firm that the GOP’s House and Senate campaign arms have reportedly blacklisted, to its media production team.

“We’ve long admired Jamestown Associates for their creativity, winning record in tough campaigns, and the quality of their product,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a news release. “When we heard recently that they would have more time to work with Club for Growth Action we immediately seized the opportunity.”

Chocola’s statement alludes to the fact that both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee reportedly will not use Jamestown Associates’ services and are encouraging others in the party not to as well.

The committees’ decisions were based in part on Jamestown’s work on behalf of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is backing primary challengers to Republican senators.

The club also supports primary challengers to Republican incumbents. It’s even set up a website called, “Primary My Congressman!”

January 9, 2014

Christie Nixes N.J. GOP Chairman Amid Bridge Scandal

Christie Nixes N.J. GOP Chairman Amid Bridge Scandal

Christie is the second-term governor of New Jersey. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just days after Gov. Chris Christie named his campaign manager to run the New Jersey Republican Party, Christie withdrew his support Thursday amid a scandal over a dayslong September traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge.

The scandal has sent the governor’s administration into turmoil, culminating at a Thursday morning news conference, when he explained his change of heart about former top campaign aide.

“I was disturbed by the tone, and behavior, and attitude of callous indifference that was displayed in the emails by my former campaign manager, Bill Stepien,” Christie said. “As a result, I’ve instructed Bill Stepien to not place his name in nomination for state party chairman, and he will not be considered for state party chairman.” Full story

January 7, 2014

Republicans Form New Polling Firm

GOP pollsters Tony Fabrizio and David Lee rolled out a new firm — Fabrizio, Lee & Associates — that they describe as a “successor” to Fabrizio’s former company, Fabrizio McLaughlin & Associates.

“[Lee] is certainly at the top of the next generation of GOP pollsters and I am proud to have him as my partner,” Fabrizio said in a Tuesday news release. Full story

December 17, 2013

Cochran Hires Campaign Manager for Tough Re-Election

Cochran Hires Campaign Manager for Tough Re Election

Cochran will seek re-election in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ-Roll Call File Photo)

After an endorsement from the biggest names in Mississippi Republican politics, Sen. Thad Cochran has chosen Kirk Sims as campaign manager for his competitive re-election next year.

Sims, currently Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant’s chief of staff, will lead Cochran’s bid for a seventh term, the Cochran campaign announced Tuesday.

According to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, Cochran received phone calls endorsing Sims from Sen. Roger Wicker (who is also Sims’ father-in-law), former Gov. Haley Barbour and former Sen. Trent Lott. Full story

November 21, 2013

Obama Campaign Media, Analytics Gurus Partner Up

A relationship fostered over the course of the president’s re-election campaign morphed Thursday into a partnership to capitalize on the two Democratic consulting firms’ data and media capabilities.

GMMB, a top Democratic advertising firm, and Civis Analytics, a big data firm launched by a group of former Obama campaign staffers, announced a new effort that will offer campaigns, non-profits and brands similar voter targeting and media buying that helped President Barack Obama in 2012.

“We’re excited about it, and that’s where we think the value is,” Daniel Jester, a senior vice president at GMMB, told CQ Roll Call about offering clients the combined expertise of both firms.

“We work with them because they are the smartest people in the analytics business, and we think we’re pretty good at what we do,” Jester said. “So bringing the two together just seemed like a no-brainer.” Full story

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 3:15 p.m.
DCCC, DGA, DSCC, Shop Talk

November 14, 2013

Top Consultants Join Primary Campaign Against Democratic Incumbent (Updated)

Updated 10:10 p.m. | Former Marine Seth Moulton’s campaign announced Thursday that two top Democratic consulting firms have joined his effort to unseat six-term Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass.

Mark Mellman of The Mellman Group will handle Moulton’s polling, while Dover Strategy Group will be his direct mail vendor, according to a campaign news release. They join Joe Trippi & Associates, which signed on with the campaign in July.

This is the same team of consultants that worked for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who is also a military veteran.

But it’s notable that two high-profile firms are going to work against an incumbent. It’s unlikely the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee approves, but a committee spokesperson declined to comment. Full story

November 4, 2013

Martha McKenna to Lead DSCC’s Independent Expenditure Program

Veteran strategist Martha McKenna will lead the independent expenditure program for Senate Democrats in the 2014 midterms.

It’s the second straight cycle that McKenna will lead the unit for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that controls the tens of millions of dollars spent on Senate races each cycle. In 2012, McKenna became the first woman to head a Senate committee’s IE arm.

“Martha McKenna is one of the best Democratic operatives in the country who has helped oversee some of the top campaigns in the last decade, and I am thrilled she will again head the DSCC’s independent expenditure arm in 2014,” DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

October 18, 2013

Special Teams: The Louisiana House Special

In less than 24 hours, voters will go to the polls to choose a successor to former Rep. Rodney Alexander of Louisiana’s 5th District.

Both state and national operatives are involved in the crowded field. The race is highly unpredictable and the possibility of a Democrat making the runoff is not altogether impossible. But because this seat is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call, CQ Roll Call profiled the teams behind the GOP campaigns.

Polls close at 8 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Saturday. The anticipated runoff will be Nov. 16.

Here is who is involved in the race, in alphabetical order by candidate: Full story

September 25, 2013

Obama Opposition Researcher Launches New Firm

Nick Hackworth, the director of strategic research for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, launched a new research firm called M Street Solutions on Wednesday.

“We gather information from many different sources, both online and onsite, to provide the most thorough and accurate report possible,” a news release stated. “Whether you are a political organization, non-profit, or corporation, we work closely with you to tailor a plan that furthers your strategic goals.”

(Check out the latest in political operative news in this week’s Shop Talk column.) Full story

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