Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 5, 2015

December 31, 2013

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Kentucky Senate

McConnell has primary and general challenges in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There isn’t too much to see in Kentucky, really. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election only features a primary fight for the future of the Republican Party and a well-connected Democrat who’s benefiting from an entire party’s interest in taking him out.

The messaging in the race shifts fast enough to cause whiplash. As the top target of both national Democrats and the tea party, McConnell has been charged for being both the biggest obstructionist in Congress and for failing to obstruct President Barack Obama’s agenda enough. Full story

How Roll Call’s Best Politics Stories of 2013 Happened

Like many politics news consumers/news people working during the holidays, I’ve read a lot of listicles in the last couple weeks (some even on Roll Call). My eyes now glaze over when the words “best of” run across my Tweetdeck.

So here’s something slightly different for the end of 2013. Hopefully, you read our best politics stories of 2013 when they originally published.  But here’s a closer look at how the year’s best stories from Emily Cahn, Abby Livingston, Kyle Trygstad, Nathan L. Gonzales and Stu Rothenberg happened.

Warning: Story generation isn’t often sexy or even interesting. To my knowledge, no Roll Call politics reporter secretly met a source in a Rosslyn parking garage this year. Mostly, they get their best ideas by dialing sources outside the Beltway. Other times, they get lucky with a news tip. Regardless, I think it’s valuable to our readers to see the origins of our best coverage.

In no specific order, here’s how Roll Call’s 13 best politics stories of 2013  happened:

1. 6 Things Losing Candidates Say (Aug. 22). Nathan didn’t think this story would get much attention during a sleepy, off-year August recess. He and Stu Rothenberg meet with scores of congressional hopefuls every cycle, and Nathan thought his advice to candidates seemed obvious (for example, don’t hire your spouse as a campaign manager). But the story quickly became one of Roll Call’s most popular pieces, and operatives tell us they now give it to candidates before they do interviews with national media — especially prior to meeting Stu and Nathan. The list spurred a few fun spin-offs too: 5 Things Winning Candidates Say and 4 More Things Losing Candidates Say (Readers Edition).

Full story

December 30, 2013

West Virginia House Hopeful Says He’s No Carpetbagger (Video)

The candidate: Former Maryland state Sen. Alex Mooney
The member: Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is running for Senate, leaving an open race for her House seat in 2014.
The district:
 In 2012, Mitt Romney won the 2nd District, which includes Charleston and the Eastern Panhandle, by more than 20 points. But Democrats continue to win local office in this region in West Virginia, making the race somewhat competitive.

Full story

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Arkansas Senate

Pryor is a top Senate GOP target in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a year with a few contenders, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor is widely considered the most vulnerable Democrat up for re-election. For Republicans, his seat is a must-win for the party to recapture the Senate majority.

With the president’s job approval rating dropping and southern Democrats disappearing from the congressional ranks, Pryor’s successful bid for a third term would be the ultimate proof that Senate elections are truly a choice between the two candidates on the ballot and the quality of the campaigns.

First elected in 2002, Pryor remains as the last Democrat from a congressional delegation filled with them just a few years ago. With the unpopularity of the president in Arkansas and Pryor’s vote in favor of the president’s health care overhaul law, Republicans believe they have a good shot at a clean sweep in the state’s federal races next November thanks to freshman Rep. Tom Cotton’s candidacy. Full story

December 29, 2013

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Alaska Senate

Begich is vulnerable in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There is so much to like about the 2014 Alaska Senate race, starting with the fact that there is a competitive race there at all.

In 2008, Mark Begich became the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alaska since 1974. Without that upset victory over an incumbent Republican senator — who was convicted on corruption charges, which would later be thrown out, a week before the election — it’s highly unlikely Democrats would be competing in this solidly Republican state. Full story

December 28, 2013

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Arizona’s 2nd District

Barber, center, was at top aide to Giffords, right, before he ran for the seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the simplest terms, Democratic Rep. Ron Barber faces a rematch with retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, a Republican, in this highly competitive district based in Tucson, Ariz.

But over the past four years, this district’s story has proven anything but simple.

Full story

December 27, 2013

Doctor Candidate Plans to Tap Medical Community for Fundraising (Video)

The candidate: Surgeon Bob Johnson, a Republican.
The member: Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who is running for Senate, leaving his seat open in 2014.
The district: Kingston has held the 1st District, which includes all of of Georgia’s coastline, since 1992. It’s a strong district for the GOP, and Mitt Romney carried it with 56 percent last cycle.
The team: John Konkus at Jamestown Associates (general consulting, media/communications, and mail), Robert Blizzard (polling), and Nathan Wurtzel at The Catalyst Group (PAC fundraiser).


Full story

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: West Virginia’s 2nd District

Several Republicans are looking at running for Capito's House seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A jumbled GOP primary has given Democrats a unique opportunity to pick up a House seat in a state that is quickly slipping away from the party on the federal level.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is leaving the 2nd District to run for Senate — and even she expressed concern in June about the GOP’s chances of holding the 2nd District. Full story

The Best Congressional Campaign Ads of 2013 (Video)

Political ad makers were a busy bunch in 2013 — and the election year had not even started yet. Several competitive Senate races and special elections in the House meant the airwaves were already crowded.

Here’s Roll Call list of the top five most memorable congressional campaign advertisements of 2013:

5. “A Walk”

The Race: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sponsored this spot in the special election for South Carolina’s 1st District. Now-Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., waged a comeback bid to succeed now-Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in this GOP-friendly district. Sanford’s well-documented personal foibles appeared to make this race against the Democratic nominee, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, somewhat competitive. This DCCC spot cleverly references — but never specifically mentions  — Sanford’s extramarital affair in 2009. Instead, the ad plays on the infamous hike on the Appalachian Trail that the former governor never took. Full story

December 26, 2013

Republican Hopeful Explains Van Damme Truck Trick (Video)

The candidate: Mike Collins, a Republican
The member: Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., is running for Senate, leaving his seat open in 2014.
The 10th District: Broun has held this strong GOP district since 2007, soundly winning re-election each cycle since then. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district with 62 percent.
The candidate’s team: Brandon Phillips at Wiregrass Strategy Group (general consultant) and Bob Kish at Third Wave Communications (media).

Full story

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Mississippi Senate

Cochran faces his toughest re-election battle in 30 years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The race for Senate in Mississippi boasts nearly every facet of the national GOP divide in a state already struggling with its sense of conservatism.

Six-term Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., announced earlier this month that he would seek re-election, setting up a primary against a tea-party-backed challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Influential national conservative groups — Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth and the Madison Project — had already backed McDaniel.

But Cochran remains beloved by a certain class of Mississippi operatives who plan to put up a fierce fight to save him. GOP lobbyist Henry Barbour encapsulated that sentiment in September, when he warned McDaniel not to run. Full story

December 25, 2013

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Illinois’ 13th District

Davis faces a competitive race in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Few true swing districts remain on the congressional map following the most recent round of redistricting in 2012, but Illinois’ 13th District still fits that description.

The downstate district splits along partisan lines, and voters essentially handed a tie to President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. Republican freshman Rep. Rodney Davis captured the seat in 2012 with one of the slimmest margins of the cycle, defeating Democrat David Gill by less than 1 point.  Full story

December 24, 2013

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: California’s 17th District

Honda, left, has a challenge from another Democrat this cycle. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This Democrat-versus-Democrat battle boasts several dynamics that make it one of the most fascinating races in the country: racial politics, a president split with his former aides, the future of Silicon Valley and money.

Lots and lots of money. Full story

December 23, 2013

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: California’s 31st District

 

Miller is politically vulnerable in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Editor’s note: Not all congressional races are created equal, and Roll Call’s politics desk admits to playing favorites. So in the spirit of the holidays, these are a few of our favorite things (races) to cover this cycle. We’re shining a spotlight on our 12 most fascinating races through the new year — in no particular order. Happy holidays from @RollCallPols!

Not much stands in the way of Democrats picking up California’s 31st District this cycle — except themselves. Again.

By the numbers, the district marks the best opportunity in the entire country for Democrats to pick up a House seat. Rep. Gary G. Miller holds dubious distinction of being the Republican representing the strongest Democratic district in the country.

But this race continues to be fascinating because, so far, Democrats have not learned their lessons from a 2012 upset here. Last cycle, several Democrats split the vote in California’s “top two” primary system, allowing Miller and another Republican to proceed to the general election.

Full story

December 21, 2013

Ralph Hall Pledges to Retire After Next Term

Hall is a Republican from Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, pledged Friday to retire after next term, assuming he wins re-election, according to The Rockwall Herald-Banner.

“I have had the privilege of serving the people of Rockwall and East Texas for some time,” he said in Rockwall, per the paper. “I look forward to campaigning for re-election the next couple of months and serving one final term in Congress.” Full story

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