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

Posts in "States"

October 30, 2014

North Carolina Campaigns Prepare for Potential Recount

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

October 29, 2014

Ted Cruz Endorses ‘Duck Dynasty’ Kin Over Vance McAllister

Ted Cruz Endorses Duck Dynasty Kin Over Vance McAllister

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has endorsed fellow Republican Zach Dasher, who is challenging embattled Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La.

In a 55-second video posted Wednesday on YouTube, Cruz voices his support for Dasher, urging Louisianans to vote for the Republican next week. Dasher, a businessman, is related to the Robertson family, who star in A&E’s popular reality show, “Duck Dynasty.”

“Zach Dasher is a conservative with a backbone to stand up to career politicians in both parties to help lead the fight to repeal Obamacare, to stop amnesty, defend our conservative values and turn our country around,” Cruz says.

A number of Republicans jumped into the 5th District race after McAllister, who is married, was caught on camera kissing a married staffer earlier this year and announced he would not seek re-election. Two months later, McAllister, who had won a special election in November, decided to run for a full term despite the scandal. Full story

October 28, 2014

New Ad Attacks Joni Ernst on Education

New Ad Attacks Joni Ernst on Education

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

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

Ed Gillespie Throws Redskins Hail Mary

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.

Full story

‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Launches Ads in Louisiana Race

Duck Dynasty Star Launches Ads in Louisiana Race

Willie Robertson, center, of Duck Dynasty attended the State of the Union earlier this year as a guest of McAllister. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wielding a bible and an AR-15 rifle, the patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” clan has once again waded into political waters.

Phil Robertson, the head of the family at the center of A&E’s reality show, “Duck Dynasty,” which is filmed in Louisiana’s 5th District, appeared in two new television ads released Monday to support his nephew Zach Dasher, a businessman hoping to oust embattled incumbent Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La.

In one ad dubbed “Believe,” Robertson tells voters, while holding a bible in one hand and a rifle in the other, “Bibles and guns brought us here and bibles and guns will keep us here. Zach Dasher believes in both.” Full story

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

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

Senators Line Up to Be DSCC Chairman in 2016

Senators Line Up to Be DSCC Chairman in 2016

Tester, right, is interested in leading the DSCC next cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had limited options over the past two cycles as he recruited a chairman to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But 2016 is likely to be different.

After two straight cycles of defending twice as many seats as Republicans, the tables will soon turn as the Republican class of 2010 faces re-election. The next cycle will also feature presidential turnout, which could benefit Democrats as they either cling to a small majority or, more likely, push to regain control — depending on what happens over the next few months.

Beyond the benefit of a more favorable map than in 2012 and 2014, with fewer incumbents up in 2016 Reid will simply have a larger pool of applicants to choose from. And there should be several willing candidates among the numerous names currently being mentioned. Full story

October 24, 2014

Most Vulnerable Senators, Ranked by Their Wealth

Most Vulnerable Senators, Ranked by Their Wealth

McConnell is the richest on our most vulnerable list. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The most vulnerable senators who face the voters in less than two weeks run the gamut from multimillionaires to one of the poorest on Capitol Hill, based on Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress ranking of the minimum net worth of every single lawmaker.

Two senators in tough spots on Nov. 4 are members of the 50 Richest list. One of the vulnerable senators has a negative minimum net worth.

Ironically, given the market for ex-senators on K Street and elsewhere, most could see a substantial improvement in their personal finances should they lose. (See Cantor, Eric).

Here’s a breakdown from our most recent 10 Most Vulnerable Senators list, appearing in order of their minimum net worth:

Full story

October 23, 2014

Florida Redistricting Case Heads to State Supreme Court

Florida Redistricting Case Heads to State Supreme Court

Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown's district was one of two declared unconstitutional in the redistricting case. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Florida Supreme Court voted Thursday to hear a case challenging Florida’s congressional map, setting oral arguments for March.

According to The Associated Press, the court ruled 5-2 to take up the case, fast tracking it through the appeals process. Full story

October 22, 2014

Internal Poll Shows Kansas Republican With 12-Point Lead

Internal Poll Shows Kansas Republican With 12 Point Lead

Jenkins is a Kansas Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll from Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ campaign shows the Republican with a 12-point lead over her Democratic opponent.

The poll, provided first to CQ Roll Call, showed Jenkins ahead, 49 percent to 37 percent, over Democrat Margie Wakefield. Another 6 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Libertarian candidate, and 8 percent said they were undecided in the survey.

Jenkins’ re-election is playing out on the backdrop of a tumultuous political environment in Kansas, where Democrats are mounting a strong effort to oust GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, and an independent candidate is challenging Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. Two weeks ago, internal polls reportedly showed Jenkins in a single digit race. Full story

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

Michelle Nunn’s Big Challenge: Breaking 50 Percent

Michelle Nunns Big Challenge: Breaking 50 Percent

Nunn is introduced by state Sen. Freddie Powell Sims at an April campaign event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The competitive open-seat Senate race in Georgia has become an unwanted liability for Republicans’ chances of winning a majority, but Democrat Michelle Nunn still has a perilous path to win a majority of the vote on Nov. 4.

National Republicans, who just spent $1.4 million more to support their nominee, say David Perdue is still ahead. But his comments about his “outsourcing” past have undoubtedly breathed new life into the Nunn campaign — and given national Democrats their best offensive opportunity.

Still, with a third-party candidate expected to take a chunk of votes, an unfavorable national climate and a small margin for error in this Republican-leaning state, Nunn has several hurdles standing in the way of her best chance for victory — winning a majority of the vote on Election Day. Perdue would be favored in a Jan. 6 runoff because turning out the vote then would be an even heavier lift for Democrats.

“The numbers are strong,” said state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who recently led a statewide voter registration drive aimed at young minorities. “It’s certainly all about turnout, which is a generic trope, but real. If we can turn out the voters, she can win in November. But we have to be prepared for any eventuality, and I think the campaign is prepared for that.” Full story

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

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