Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

Posts in "States"

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

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

How ‘Dr. Dan’ Cured His Campaign Woes

How Dr. Dan Cured His Campaign Woes

Republicans say Benishek is one of the "most improved" candidates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Once a top target for Democrats, Rep. Dan Benishek, a former surgeon turned tea party candidate, has turned a corner in his campaign for a second term, and national Republicans have labeled him one of their “most improved” members of the cycle.

What happened? A combination of staff changes, leveraging his slot on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and a favorable cycle for Republicans gave Benishek a clear advantage in the 1st District.

“It looked as if Michigan’s 1st District was going to be one of maybe the top two or three House races here in Michigan,” said Dennis Darnoi, a Michigan Republican consultant. “It hasn’t really reached the competitive level that, I think, was expected.” Full story

October 15, 2014

Democratic Poll: Jeanne Shaheen Leads Scott Brown

Democratic Poll: Jeanne Shaheen Leads Scott Brown

A Democratic poll has Shaheen leading her re-election race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen maintained a significant, single-digit lead in a new Democratic tracking poll.

The survey, obtained by CQ Roll Call, found the Democrat ahead 50 percent to 44 percent against former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass.

Kiley & Company conducted the poll for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. According to a polling memo, it found Shaheen with a 7-point net favorable rating, while Brown’s was 7 points underwater. The senator led by 15 points among women and by 7 points among independents, while Brown led by 4 points among men. The incumbent also led by 33 points on the question of which candidate “is committed to New Hampshire.” Full story

October 13, 2014

North Carolina: The GOP’s Expensive Gamble

North Carolina: The GOPs Expensive Gamble

Tillis is the GOP's nominee in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has plans to pour another $6 million into the North Carolina race — already the most expensive this cycle, and a contest that hasn’t shaped up the way the GOP had hoped.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate, and a year ago, that math almost always included a victory in the Tar Heel State by defeating Sen. Kay Hagan. But less than a month before Election Day, the North Carolina race still eludes the GOP’s grasp — and has put a massive dent in the party’s wallet.

On Monday, the NRSC confirmed to CQ Roll Call it had reserved another $6 million in television ad time in the state to help Tillis. Until now, the party had not reserved airtime for the final two weeks of the race, even as the NRSC announced increased investments in other states, signaling it was still weighing whether to send in the cavalry.

Full story

October 10, 2014

Independents Could Control Power in Senate

Independents Could Control Power in Senate

Roberts, left, debates Orman during a luncheon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The power in the Senate could increasingly flow not to Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell, but to a few independents who could hold the keys to the majority — and they know it.

The two unexpected GOP trouble spots in the Midwest feature independent candidates who are making noise about not joining either side in a divided Senate. In Kansas it’s Greg Orman, who is challenging long-time GOP incumbent Pat Roberts. Republicans are extremely dubious of Orman, pointing to campaign dollars he’s given to top Democrats, although Orman is fond of pointing to contributions to Republicans as well.

“I think what I’ve said and what I’ve been clear about since the beginning, is if one party or the other is in the majority I will seek to caucus with the party that is in the majority. But that if I get elected, and neither party is in the majority, then what I’m going to do is sit down with both sides, propose a pro-problem solving agenda and ask both sides, whether or not they’re willing to support that agenda. And we’re going to be likely to support the agenda, and the party that’s most likely to embrace a pro-problem-solving agenda,” Orman told reporters gathered after Wednesday’s debate. Full story

Pat Roberts Threatens Cruz-Style Filibuster Over Guantanamo

Pat Roberts Threatens Cruz Style Filibuster Over Guantanamo

Cruz, left, campaigned for Roberts, right, in Wichita. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

TOPEKA, Kan. — Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., threatened Friday to hold a Ted Cruz-style filibuster on the Senate floor to prevent President Barack Obama from bringing the prisoners currently held at Guantanamo Bay into the United States.

Pat Roberts Threatens Cruz Style Filibuster Over Guantanamo Obama is reportedly considering shutting down Guantanamo Bay by executive order, which could potentially mean transferring the prisoners held there on terrorism charges to prisons in the continental U.S. Roberts, whose state is the home of the Leavenworth penitentiary, said he would not abide that.

“I stopped him once from trying to send a Gitmo terrorist to Leavenworth,” Roberts told supporters on a rainy morning at his campaign headquarters here. “I shall do it again. I shall do it again, and if he tries it, I will shut down the Senate.”

Speaking to reporters after, Roberts said he was proposing a potential filibuster in the model of Cruz’s 21-plus hours on the Senate floor last year protesting funding Obamacare. Full story

October 9, 2014

Ted Cruz Goes to Bat for Pat Roberts

Ted Cruz Goes to Bat for Pat Roberts

Roberts, center, got some help Thursday from colleagues Cruz, left, and Coburn, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WICHITA, Kan. — Pat Roberts has served Kansas in the Senate for nearly 18 years, but freshman Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had all the political clout at a Roberts campaign event Thursday.

Ted Cruz Goes to Bat for Pat Roberts The conservative icon and potential presidential candidate’s support could be crucial for Roberts, who faces a challenge from independent candidate Greg Orman in a suddenly competitive race that has implications for the Senate majority.

Here to kick off his statewide bus tour, Roberts took the stage with Cruz, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp — three allies on hand to provide support and additional enthusiasm. Roberts got solid applause, but the crowd erupted when Cruz, who had the final speaking slot, was introduced — yelling and cheering, longer and louder than for any other speaker.

“I’m here in Kansas because I know Pat. The two years I’ve served in the Senate, over and over again on fight after fight for conservative principles, Pat Roberts has shown up and reported for duty,” Cruz told the crowd. “A year ago last week, when I was standing on the Senate floor filibustering on Obamacare, Pat Roberts was one of a handful of senators who came down and stood by my side and said, ‘Obamacare is a disaster, and we’ve got to stop it.’”

Full story

October 8, 2014

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate

Roberts, left, and Orman, right, talk after the debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Embattled Sen. Pat Roberts doesn’t need voters to like him. On Wednesday, the three-term incumbent made the message he wants voters to take with them to the ballot box next month clear.

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate Roberts is being challenged by independent Greg Orman, and most recent polls show the three-term senator behind.

“A vote for Greg Orman is a vote to hand over the future of Kansas to [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and [President Barack] Obama,” Roberts said in his opening statement at the Wednesday debate.

“A vote for Pat Roberts,” he said later, “is a vote for a Republican majority.”

Roberts has struggled mightily in his re-election campaign. He trailed Orman by 5 points or 10 points in previous public polling, although a new CNN poll showed him up 49 percent to 48 percent. Whether that’s an outlier or a sign of a rejuvenated campaign remains unclear. Full story

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