Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

March 30, 2014

The 7 Stock Photos in Mike Rounds’ South Dakota Ad — Including One From Paris

A screengrab from the Rounds ad, which featured stock photos.

Updated 6:00 p.m. | In a 60-second, introductory Senate campaign ad released last week, former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds touts his state’s economy and quality of life — but it’s unclear if any of the people featured in the Republican’s ad are actually from the Mount Rushmore State.

“We’ve done it right around here, and Washington can learn a lot from the people of South Dakota,” Rounds says in the spot.

But each of the photos in the ad are available for purchase on stock photo sites like Getty and Shutterstock. That includes, in order of appearance, the roofer, the father and son fishing, the three people at the meeting, the playful family, the guy checking the boxes, the woman at the meeting, and the father and son washing their car.

At least one was definitely not photographed in South Dakota. The “woman at the meeting” photo was taken at the Getty Images office in Paris, the England-based photographer who shot it confirmed in an email to CQ-Roll Call.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2vccDQ51cA

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March 28, 2014

Democratic Super PAC Targets Michigan, Arkansas Senate Races

Senate Majority PAC, a outside group committed to electing Democrats to the Senate, released two new ads on Friday targeting races in Arkansas and Michigan. The spots are part of a multi-state campaign to counter massive advertisement spending from Americans for Prosperity, a group supported by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

The spots argue that GOP Senate candidates, Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, advance corporate interests over the economic well-being of two different demographic groups.

In Arkansas, the super PAC is targeting senior voters to boost vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor’s chances of keeping his seat. The Senate Race in Arkansas is rated Tilts Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

“Corporate special interests are spending millions to smear Mark Pryor and elect Tom Cotton,” the narrator said. The ad goes on to accuse Cotton of wanting to give “billions in profits to insurance companies while costing seniors $6,000 more a year.”

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea0-Sx8iEus&feature=youtu.be

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Bruce Braley’s Farmer Insult Hits Airwaves in New TV Ad

Energy Executive Mark Jacobs, an emerging candidate in a crowded GOP field for Iowa’s open Senate seat, debuted a new ad Friday attacking the de facto Democratic nominee, Rep. Bruce Braley, for recent comments he made about Iowa’s senior senator, Republican Charles E. Grassley.

The 30-second spot features Braley’s comments, which were taped at a fundraiser earlier this year in Texas. At that event, Braley said if Republicans win the Senate, “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law,” would take the gavel on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The ad will air on cable in eastern Iowa, according to Jacobs’ campaign.

Full story

Mike Rogers of Michigan to Retire (Updated)

Rogers will not seek re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:31 a.m. | Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., announced Friday he will retire at the end of the year.

Rogers, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, was first elected in 2000 and is serving his 7th term in the House. He will become a nationally syndicated radio host beginning next year.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of Michigan’s eighth congressional district over the last 14 years. We have accomplished so much together, and I am most proud of our work to turn the House Intelligence Committee into a true legislative and oversight body,” Rogers said in a statement, as the Detroit News reported. Full story

March 27, 2014

NRCC Chairman to Fundraise for Illinois House Hopefuls

NRCC Chairman Walden is making a fundraising swing through Illinois (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden is making a campaign swing through Illinois on Friday, headlining fundraisers benefiting four Republican challengers and one of the party’s most vulnerable members.

Walden will host separate fundraising events for all five Republicans in a state the party views as an opportunity to add to its House majority. That includes helping two former members ousted by Democrats in 2012 make it back to Capitol Hill in 2015.

“Chairman Walden is looking forward to highlighting our offensive opportunities in Illinois,” NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “Illinois is a competitive battleground state where Democrats will be forced to spend big money to defend their members.”

The fundraising beneficiaries are:

Full story

Senate Conservatives Fund Endorses in Oklahoma Senate Race

Lankford is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, one of a handful of Republicans running in Oklahoma’s open-seat Senate race, received the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund Thursday, a group that spends heavily to boost tea-party-aligned candidates into office.

“T.W. Shannon is a constitutional conservative who will fight to stop the massive spending and debt that are bankrupting our country,” SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins said in a news release. “We’re supporting T.W. Shannon because he’s a principled conservative, he has strong grassroots support in Oklahoma, and he can win if Americans come together to support his campaign.”

Shannon will face off with GOP Rep. James Lankford and handful of other Oklahoma Republicans in a special-election primary on June 24. The seat is open because GOP Sen. Tom Coburn will resign at the end of the 113th Congress.

Conservative groups had initially sought to recruit Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., to face off against Lankford in the contest. However when Bridenstine declined to run, it was unclear whether groups such as the SCF and Club for Growth would play in the Sooner State Senate contest.

The Republican who wins the primary will likely be the next senator from Oklahoma, as GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the state with 67 percent in 2012. If no candidate garners at least 50 percent of the vote in the June 24 primary, the top two contenders head to a runoff on Aug. 26.

Oklahoma’s Senate race is rated a Safe Republican contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Gary Peters Debuts Bio Spot During Sweet 16 Games

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., locked in an increasingly competitive race for Senate, will debut his first television spot this week during two Wolverine State college basketball games.

Peters’ first spot will air Friday as fans settle in to watch the games featuring Michigan State University and the University of Michigan — two teams that have made it to the Sweet 16 round of the March Madness college tournament. (The Spartans play No. 1 ranked Virginia, while the Wolverines face off against surprise challenger Tennessee.)

Peters will most likely face former Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land this November. Public polling shows the race for retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin’s seat to be close, but Peters has held a lead of a few digits.

The Democrat’s campaign will air two spots — a 30-second ad and a 60-second version — over a seven-week period as part of a seven-figure buy, according to the Peters campaign. Full story

March 26, 2014

Braley’s Opponent? Two Seem Most Likely From Crowded Field

Iowa Democratic Senate hopeful Rep. Bruce Braley doesn't know yet which Republican candidate he'll be facing in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Residing outside of the competitive Senate landscape’s top tier most of this election cycle, Iowa Republicans believe they are finally gaining some momentum for the state’s open seat, particularly by avoiding a nominating convention.

The release Tuesday of a video taken of Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley’s remarks at a Texas fundraiser was just the cherry on top of an already renewed sense of optimism among Republicans that the party will put up a competitive nominee. Several things still need to go the GOP’s way for success in November, but Republican insiders in the state see positive signs.

Along with President Barack Obama’s approval ratings in the Hawkeye State falling to 36 percent in a Des Moines Register poll taken last month, the crowded and unproven Republican primary field is beginning to shake out, and the party’s chances of nominating a candidate in the primary — and dodging a potentially debilitating convention — are improving.

“I think the notion of a convention choosing our Senate nominee gets more remote by the day,” said one veteran Iowa Republican operative without ties to any of the campaigns. Full story

Inside Look at 2014 Midterms: A Webinar (Video)

As part of an ongoing Roll Call political webinar series, our editors took a detailed look at upcoming House and Senate primaries. From the heated Democratic primary in Northern Virginia to questions of Republican conservatism up and down the ballot, the group gabbed about the races that ultimately will determine the makeup of the next Congress. Check out the video for some highlights from the conversation.

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Texas Delegation Rallies to Get Ralph Hall One Final Term

Rep. William "Mac" Thornberry, R-Texas, left, walks with Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Ralph M. Hall is in a Texas-sized heap of political trouble — and it’s mostly of the 90-year-old Republican’s own doing.

Over the winter, the 17-term incumbent ignored danger signs in his bid for re-election, namely that a self-funding rival was outspending him in a primary. That candidate, attorney John Ratcliffe, has forced Hall into a May 27 runoff.

Now Texas House Republicans are scrambling to help Hall, who has vowed this will be his final campaign. Full story

House GOP Names 17 Promising Candidates as ‘Contenders’

The National Republican Congressional Committee elevated 17 GOP candidates to “contenders” in its Young Guns program on Wednesday, identifying them as top candidates to oust vulnerable Democrats in November.

The “contender” designation is the second level in the Young Guns program, which seeks to provide organizational support to Republican House candidates.

“Contender candidates have completed stringent program metrics and are on the path to developing a mature and competitive campaign operation,” according to an NRCC news release. “They are in congressional seats that appear favorable to the GOP candidate.”

Any Republican House candidate can participate in the program, but only those who meet certain benchmarks are elevated through the ranks. The NRCC doesn’t publicly list the criteria for advancement in the program.

The 17 “contenders” come from an initial pool of 36 candidates the NRCC identified in November. The NRCC says the other candidates from the initial pool still have the opportunity to advance through the program, and notes that these 17 contenders are part of the first wave of candidates to advance.

The 17 contenders are: Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 9:34 a.m.
NRCC, Republicans

Gay Republican Candidate ‘Comfortable’ in GOP (Video)

The candidate: Richard Tisei, a real estate broker, former state Senate minority leader and the 2012 GOP nominee in this district.
The member: Nine-term Democratic Rep. John F. Tierney, who defeated Tisei in 2012 by about 1 point. Tierney racked up double-digit victories over the past decade or so, but ethical questions (a case since closed by the House Ethics Committee) plunged him into political vulnerability.
The district: Massachusetts’ 6th stretches from the northern Boston suburbs along the coast to the New Hampshire border and reaches west to include Bedford and the outskirts of Lowell.
The candidate’s team: David Paleologus of Dapa Research (polling), Todd Harris and Heath Thompson of Something Else Strategies (media), Gridiron Communications (direct mail), Nathan Wurtzel (fundraising) and  Ryan Gough (campaign manager).

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March 25, 2014

Bruce Braley Apologizes to Grassley for ‘Farmer’ Slight

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, apologized for his critical comments of Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, that were posted online Tuesday by a Republican research group.

Speaking at a fundraiser, Braley, who is running for the Hawkeye State’s open Senate seat, said the Senate could end up with “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” before identifying that person as Grassley.

“I apologize to Senator Grassley and anyone I may have offended,” Braley said in a statement released a couple of hours after the video posted. “I respect Senator Grassley and enjoy our working relationship even though we disagree on some issues.”

The Des Moines Register reported that the video was taken by a donor at a Jan. 23 fundraiser in Corpus Christi, Texas, before being released Tuesday by America Rising. Braley also told the assembled donors — presumably lawyers — that he is “someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years in a visible and public way.”

A Grassley spokesperson responded in a statement pointing to Grassley’s years of service and accomplishments on the committee. Full story

The Many Reasons Mark Kirk Won’t Stump for Oberweis

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mark S. Kirk’s decision not to campaign this year against his in-state Democratic colleague should come as no surprise.

While Kirk has said he will support the Republican ticket in November and has committed to actively assisting the party’s gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner, the Illinois Republican told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet that he won’t be stumping for Republican Senate nominee Jim Oberweis.

Kirk said he wants to protect his working relationship with Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin by “not launching into a partisan jihad.” But there are other equally compelling reasons not to hit the campaign trail against Durbin. Full story

Candidate Touts ‘Castrating Hogs’ Experience in TV Ad

Talk about cutting through the clutter — or at least cutting through something.

State Sen. Joni Ernst, one of five Republicans seeking Iowa’s open Senate seat, boasted her experience “castrating hogs”  will help her “cut pork” in Washington, D.C.

“I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I come to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork,” Ernst says in the 30-second spot released Tuesday. “Washington’s full of big spenders, let’s make ’em squeal.”

Full story

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