Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

September 12, 2013

Bost Proud of Passionate Floor Speeches (Video) | #IL12

The candidate: State Rep. Mike Bost, a Republican
The member: Bost is challenging freshman Rep. Bill Enyart, a Democrat.
The district: Illinois’ 12th District is located in the southwest corner of the state and is one of the most competitive congressional districts in Illinois. President Barack Obama won the district by a slim 2-point margin in 2012.
The candidate’s team: Julie Wadler (fundraising), Ben Burger, SRCPmedia (media), Tarrance Group (polling).

Illinois state Rep. Mike Bost, who garnered YouTube fame when his heated “Let my people go” floor speech on the state House floor went viral, said he could show that same passion in Congress, should he be elected next fall.

Bost is challenging freshman Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Ill., in the competitive 12th District next year. Last cycle, Enyart defeated his Republican opponent by a 9-point margin.

But many Republicans lamented that their nominee for this race last cycle was lackluster. They believe Bost — who has represented a large chunk of the district over his 20 years in the state legislature — will have a better shot in 2014.

Full story

The Shrinking House Map: A Regional Breakdown

Republicans and Democrats are getting ready to spend 14 months and hundreds of millions of dollars on a House campaign that is likely to end in a split decision with a small gain for one party or the other.

The likelihood that only a handful of incumbents from either side will lose may in the end give the winning party a pickup as small as a single seat.

Because redistricting has given the parties — primarily Republicans — lopsided control of many districts and a working majority in many others, this is one of the narrowest fields of competitive races in recent memory. Twenty-six Democratic seats and 23 Republican seats are currently considered less than safe, according to ratings compiled by the Rothenberg Political Report and used by CQ Weekly and Roll Call. Of those, only 14 are regarded as highly competitive. (View ratings map.)

What’s more, this election is the first in at least a decade without a presidential race and also with no sign of an overriding issue such as the health care debate that helped Republicans win the House in 2010.

Region by region, and in some cases, state by state, Democrats and Republicans are battening down to protect the seats they have, while at the same time launching aggressive campaigns to pick off seats held by the opposition. Full story

September 11, 2013

The Open-Seat Senate Race No One’s Talking About

Osborn is running for Senate. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The open Senate seat that no one is talking about could get a little more interesting this month.

The retirement of Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., next year has invited a crop of ambitious Republicans that includes rising stars and fresh faces in Nebraska’s political realm. Given the state’s Republican lean, Johanns’ replacement will most likely be decided among them in the May 13 GOP primary.

Already in the race are former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, Midland University President Ben Sasse and attorney Bart McLeay. Sid Dinsdale, head of one of the largest banks in the state and son of a well-known businessman, Roy Dinsdale, will reportedly announce his intentions as early as next week.

Dinsdale’s entrance would provide another wrinkle into what will be an intriguing intraparty slugfest by early next year. Unlike other primaries around the country, this one in the heavily Republican Cornhusker State is not expected to affect the competitiveness of the general election.

But a year after a surprise outcome in the GOP Senate primary produced now-Sen. Deb Fischer, this year’s lineup could be equally unpredictable. Full story

Poll: Booker Up 35 With a Month to Go | #NJSEN

With a month to go in New Jersey’s Senate special election, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has pulled out to a 35-point lead, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Wednesday.

Booker took 64 percent, with 29 percent supporting Republican Steve Lonegan and 6 percent undecided. The special to replace the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., will be held Oct. 16. Full story

The Cheap Seats: Senate Majority Determined in Inexpensive States

Getting an ad on the air in a competitive Senate race next year may not break the bank, but that won’t change the unruly amount of money that will be spent.

A Senate playing field (view ratings map) constructed almost entirely of small media markets has several implications for the candidates, campaign committees and outside groups in the most targeted states next year. Above all, it likely guarantees an extended campaign season.

“It means the poor, unfortunate people who live in those states will be subjected to much more ugliness,” as Curt Anderson, a Republican media consultant, put it. Full story

September 10, 2013

Team Mitch Makes Syria Fundraising Pitch

Not long after President Barack Obama finished his Syria speech Tuesday evening, people on Mitch McConnell’s campaign mailing list received a fundraising pitch touting the Kentucky Republican’s decision earlier in the day to oppose a military strike in the war-torn country.

The email featured a letter to supporters from McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton, who included the full text of McConnell’s floor speech on Tuesday morning. During the speech, McConnell announced his opposition to a resolution authorizing military intervention.

“Mitch made it very clear to me from the beginning that he does not politicize issues of national security. He believes that America’s strength in the world should not be subject to the political theatre that so often takes hold of Washington these days,” Benton wrote.

Before joining “Team Mitch,” Benton was a longtime political aide to the libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and his father, former GOP Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Rand Paul delivered his own critical response to Obama’s national address on Tuesday evening, saying any effort to intervene in Syria would help rebels aligned with the terrorist group al-Qaida.

Benton’s letter appears below:

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 10:58 p.m.
Ky. Senate

Boehner Ally Returns Fire Against GOP Primary Challenger | #ID02

Simpson has a new radio spot. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson fired back this week at his primary rival, attorney Bryan Smith, escalating one of the most high-profile House primaries of the 2014 elections so far.

Last week, Smith went on the radio airwaves with an ad attacking Simpson — a close ally of Speaker John A. Boehner — for being “liberal,” a charge Simpson’s campaign denied. On Tuesday, Simpson sent out his own negative radio spot. The minute-long advertisement includes audio of a car crash and an ambulance, before the narrator accuses Smith of being a “personal injury lawyer.” Full story

GOP Poll: Rounds Holds Large Lead in Senate Contest | #SDSEN

Former Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican, has a large lead over likely Democratic challenger Rick Weiland in South Dakota’s open Senate contest, according to an automated GOP poll released on Monday.

Rounds leads Weiland, a former aide to former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., 58 percent to 38 percent, with 10 percent of respondents undecided, according to the survey from Harper Polling.

The open-seat contest marks one of the Senate GOP’s best pickup opportunities this cycle. Sen. Tim Johnson’s retirement announcement left his party searching for a top candidate to take on the former two-term governor.

Full story

DCCC Chief: Syria Not Big Issue in 2014 Elections

Israel is the DCCC chairman. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Democratic campaign chief told reporters Tuesday that while Capitol Hill is consumed with debate on Syria, the issue will not affect the 2014 midterms.

“2014 is not going to be a referendum on Syria,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. Instead, he added, the 2014 midterms will be about “solutions,” helping the middle class, extremism and partisanship.

Israel declined to detail the Syria issue in his role as DCCC chairman, reiterating the committee does not endorse policy positions. Instead, he argued that many House Republicans who oppose authorization for intervention in Syria would support the same policy if Mitt Romney were president and proposed it instead of President Barack Obama. Full story

DNC Adds Staff to Press Shop

The Democratic National Committee announced Tuesday that two Capitol Hill staffers have joined its communications office.

Lily Adams will be the new DNC deputy communications director and Ian Sams is the committee’s new regional press secretary. Most recently, Adams served as press secretary to Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, and Sams served in the same capacity in the office of Sen. Thomas R. Carper. Full story

McConnell Primary Challenger Vows ‘Expensive Race’ (Video)

The candidate: Businessman Matt Bevin, a Republican
The member: Bevin is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The state: Kentucky hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992 or for president since 1996, but McConnell is the top target of national Democrats in 2014. The general election is rated Republican Favored by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
The candidate’s team: Cold Spark Media is doing media and general consulting.

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin’s candidacy added another challenge for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election to a sixth term. As the top target of national Democrats, the Kentucky Republican is also working to hold off Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the likely Democratic nominee.

On one side, McConnell is being hit for being an “obstructionist” in the Senate. But at the same time, Bevin, who announced his bid in July, says McConnell isn’t obstructionist enough. Full story

September 6, 2013

Grimm Fundraises Off Syria Vote | #NY11

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., sent out a fundraising email Thursday, asking supporters for campaign contributions after changing his mind about authorizing targeted strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Grimm, who is facing a competitive re-election this cycle against top Democratic recruit Domenic Recchia, initially supported targeted strikes against Assad. However he changed his position on Thursday, saying he felt the time to act had already passed.

In an email to supporters that same day, Grimm solicited $25 donations.

“Will you stand with me in opposing President Obama’s plan with a donation of $25 or more right now?” Grimm asked in the email.

Full story

Frank Wolf Receives Democratic Challenger | #VA10

Attorney Richard Bolger, a Democrat, announced Friday that he will challenge longtime GOP Rep. Frank R. Wolf in Virginia’s 10th District.

“I have worked for thirty years fixing problems in our community – from protecting families’ homes from aggressive creditors, to bringing residents together to improve street safety and schools – and now I’m running for Congress to bring these same problem solving values to Washington,” Bolger said in a news release.

Democrats have long tried to oust Wolf from this Northern Virginia district, located in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. However, Wolf has coasted to victory in each of his re-election bids over the past three decades, even in recent Democratic wave years such as 2006 and 2008.

Full story

September 5, 2013

Ami Bera Draws Third GOP Challenger | #CA07 (Updated)

Updated 4:38 p.m. | Igor Birman, chief of staff to California GOP Rep. Tom McClintock, announced Thursday that he is running in California’s 7th District. That makes Birman the third Republican looking to oust freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera.

Birman, an immigrant who came to the U.S. as a refugee from the Soviet Union in 1994, joins former Rep. Doug Ose, R-Calif., and Elizabeth Emken in the crowded, open primary in this competitive district.

“I want to ensure that the same American Dream that brought us here is secure for future generations,” Birman said in a release. “I am very troubled that many in Washington cling to policies that have put it in great jeopardy. So I’m running for Congress because I believe that our children and grandchildren deserve better.”

Full story

Club for Growth Candidate Goes on the Air Against Boehner Ally | #ID02 (Updated)

Republican Bryan Smith is on the radio with a new ad smacking Republican Rep. Mike Simpson for not supporting a recent tea party effort to defund the 2010 health care overhaul.

A source in the campaign characterized the buy via email as a five-figure buy “on conservative talk radio across Idaho.” Idaho is a relatively inexpensive ad market.

Full story

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