Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 6, 2015

October 29, 2013

Conservative Group Attacks McConnell on TV (Updated)

McConnell is seeking re-election in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Update 12:03 p.m. | The Senate Conservatives Fund announced Tuesday that it will air a 30-second attack ad against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, accusing the Kentucky Republican of wavering in his fight against the president’s health care law during the government shutdown debate.

“Conservatives asked Mitch McConnell to lead the fight against Obamacare. He didn’t listen,” the 30-second ad says. “Instead, McConnell helped Barack Obama and Harry Reid fund Obamacare. Now Kentucky families are paying the price. Premiums up, lost coverage, even lost jobs. When Kentucky needed Mitch McConnell the most, he let us down. Now he’s asking us to give him six more years in Washington?” Full story

Chamber of Commerce Battles Tea Party in Alabama Special Election

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a group that regularly spends millions to boost business-friendly congressional candidates, will endorse former state Sen. Bradley Byrne in Alabama’s 1st District special election on Tuesday.

The chamber will endorse Byrne over GOP businessman Dean Young, a social conservative whose views align with the tea party movement, in the Nov. 5 GOP primary runoff to replace former Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala.

The Byrne endorsement marks the chamber’s first big move to combat tea party conservatives in the GOP whom they blame — along with many Americans — for the shutdown of the U.S. government earlier this month.

Full story

Democratic Candidate Says Gitmo Experience Is Not a Liability (Video)

Cannon is running in a competitive House district in Michigan. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The candidate: Ret. Army Major General Jerry Cannon, a Democrat.
The member: Rep. Dan Benishek, a two-term Republican.
The district: In 2012, Benishek defeated Democratic challenger Gary McDowell by less than 2,000 votes in this Upper Peninsula district. Mitt Romney carried the district with 54 points.
The candidate’s team: Travis Lowe and Clare Gannon of Three Point Media (media), Al Quinlan and Andrew Baumann of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (polling), Terry Walsh at The Strategy Group (mail). Full story

October 28, 2013

Republicans Stampede Open Alabama House Seat

Bachus is retiring at the end of this Congress. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

State Rep. Paul DeMarco announced Sunday night that he is running for Congress in Alabama’s 6th District, marking the third Republican candidate to enter the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus.

The race to replace Bachus was expected to be crowded, as the powerful former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee has represented the district for 11 terms. But the GOP race for this seat blew wide open after state Sen. Cam Ward, Bachus’ former district director, declined to run for the seat earlier this month, saying he wanted to focus on his young family. Full story

Senate Conservatives Fund Backs Maness in Louisiana Senate Race

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

The Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness over Rep. Bill Cassidy in Louisiana’s GOP primary for Senate, throwing its support behind a conservative underdog in one of the cycle’s most competitive races.

“Colonel Rob Maness … understands the value of our freedoms and will fight to repeal Obamacare and stop the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are bankrupting our country,” said Matt Hoskins, the executive director of Senate Conservatives Fund, in a Monday news release. “He offers voters a compelling choice over Senator Mary Landrieu because he’s not a Washington insider.”

Cassidy and Maness are looking to unseat three-term Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, a top target for Republicans in 2014. Some local Republicans have criticized Cassidy’s conservative credentials, meanwhile a couple local lawmakers are considering jumping into the GOP primary as well.

Landrieu has won three Senate terms in a state that GOP presidential candidates have carried in every presidential cycle since 2000.

The Louisiana Senate race is rated a Tossup by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Montana Democrat Sets $2 Million Fundraising Goal (Video)

The candidate: Democrat John Lewis, a former top aide to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
The member: Freshman Rep. Steve Daines, a Republican who represents the at-large district and is most likely running for Senate in 2014. Both parties expect an open race for this House seat in 2014.
The state:
Last cycle, Mitt Romney won Montana by more than a 13-point margin and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., won re-election by 4 points. But Republicans have held onto the state’s sole House seat for the past 17 years.
The candidate’s team
: Aaron Murphy (communications director), Barrett Kaiser (manager), Bob Funk (deputy manager), Geoff Garin of Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group (pollster), Mattis Goldman of Three Point Media (media), Colleen Martin (finance director).

Former Capitol Hill aide John Lewis, a Democrat, predicted he will need at least $2 million to “have a chance” next year at Montana’s at-large seat — a district Republicans have held for nearly two decades.

“There’s going to be, as we saw last year, a flood of outside money,” Lewis told Roll Call in a Oct. 9 interview. “Montana is cheap airwaves. No one saw more outside money than Montana last year. … I’m going to have to raise at least $2 million to have a chance.” Full story

Top Republican Explores Rematch Against Tierney

Tisei, above, will likely challenge Tierney again. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former state Sen. Richard Tisei, a Republican, announced on Monday that he has formed an exploratory committee for a rematch with Rep. John F. Tierney in Massachusetts’ 6th District.

Republicans anticipated Tisei was eyeing another run against Tierney, the vulnerable Massachusetts Democrat who squeaked out a win last year by a 1-point margin.

Full story

October 25, 2013

Democrat Will Hire Cybersecurity Firm for Alleged Website Hack (Video)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

The candidate: Tompkins County Council Chairwoman Martha Robertson, a Democrat.
The member: Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican.
The district: New York’s 23rd District is a competitive seat. Voters picked GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 by a 1-point margin, and in 2008 they elected President Barack Obama by the same margin.
The candidate’s team: Snyder Pickerill (media); Normington, Petts, and Associates (polling); The Strategy Group (mail).

Full story

October 24, 2013

John Boehner Gets Democratic Challenger

Boehner has a new challenger. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Miami University of Ohio professor Tom Poetter announced this week that he will challenge Speaker John A. Boehner in Ohio’s 8th District, marking the first Democrat to try to oust the top House Republican this cycle.

Poetter, an education professor at Miami University, has also directed the university’s Partnership Office, which helps the university reach out to the surrounding community.

Full story

Democrat Announces Candidacy for Bentivolio Seat

Bentivolio faces a tough primary challenge in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former State Department senior adviser Bobby McKenzie, a Democrat, announced Thursday he will challenge to Rep. Kerry Bentivolio in Michigan’s 11th District.

Bentivolio, a Republican, now officially faces challenges in the primary and general election. Attorney David Trott declared his primary challenge against freshman Republican in September. Full story

House Democrats Promote 3 Recruits

Steve Israel of New York is the Chairman of the DCCC. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee elevated three new candidates to its Jumpstart designation on Thursday.

Jumpstart is a program that provides “financial, communications, operational, and strategic support to top recruits,” according to a release from the committee. The Jumpstart distinction also serves as the DCCC’s signal of approval to donors.

This round of Jumpstart additions include: Full story

October 23, 2013

Top GOP Recruit Expected to Make Senate Announcement Soon

Daines will likely run for Senate in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Steve Daines, one of the last remaining 2014 Senate recruit holdouts, is expected to announce his decision by the end of this year, according to a Montana Republican source familiar with his thinking.

To this point, Daines has refused to offer a timeline for a decision about whether to seek the Big Sky State’s open Senate seat, a top GOP pickup opportunity. He’s also noted that Montana voters want a shortened election season after a nearly two-year battle last cycle.

Daines reiterated both points in an Oct. 17 interview with Montana Public Radio, and he even seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t make an announcement until the new year. But the GOP source said that an announcement should come this quarter. Full story

GOP Poll: Cotton Holds Edge Over Pryor in Arkansas

Pryor faces a tough re-election race in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A poll conducted on behalf of Rep. Tom Cotton’s campaign found the Arkansas Republican with a 4-point lead over Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor — within the margin of error for the survey.

In one of the GOP’s top pickup opportunities in 2014, Cotton led 45 percent to 41 percent, with 15 percent of those surveyed undecided.

The poll of 600 likely voters was conducted by GOP firm OnMessage Inc. on Oct. 15-17. The margin of error was 4 points. Full story

October 22, 2013

Special Election Gives Florida Democrats a Pick-Up Opportunity

A special election in Florida will present House Democrats with their best test case yet this cycle to see if they can put a dent in the GOP’s majority — or perhaps even take the speaker’s gavel.

Later this week, Floridians will lay to rest the dean of their congressional delegation, Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Even as respects are being paid, both parties will be gearing up to elect his successor in the 13th District.

In recent cycles, Young’s political dominance papered over the competitive nature of the district. He never won re-election with less than 56 percent of the vote, but President Barack Obama carried the district in both of his national campaigns. Full story

The 7 Republican Senators Most Vulnerable to a Primary

Enzi is vulnerable to a primary challenge in 2014. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hard-line conservatives are rising out of the ashes of a weekslong government shutdown, emboldened by the possibility of adding to their ranks in the Senate next year — whether by picking up Democrat-held seats or taking out Republican incumbents.

Just two Republican senators have lost in primaries in the last two election cycles, but that’s not stopping a growing number of intraparty challengers this cycle. Conservative third-party groups and candidates hope to give more backup to folks like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, who led an effort to defund the health care law.

The GOP brand overall may have taken a significant hit this month and caused at least some concern within the party about obtaining or keeping the majority in either chamber in the next couple of election cycles. But the shutdown only fueled challenges to sitting Republicans.

It’s still too early to know exactly how competitive many of the challengers can be. At this point, there is a big difference in the competitiveness of the races from the top three to bottom three on this list. And as the most recent fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission illustrated, nearly all of the incumbents’ opponents are starting out in deep financial holes.

Still, with outside groups such as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund beginning to engage, a challenger’s money isn’t the only threat — and any of these races could theoretically take off.

Here are the seven Republican senators most vulnerable to a primary challenge, in order: Full story

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