Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 22, 2014

November 6, 2012

Barack Obama Plays Basketball, Mitt Romney Barnstorms in Ohio and Pennsylvania

Barack Obama Plays Basketball, Mitt Romney Barnstorms in Ohio and Pennsylvania

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney at a campaign rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

The campaign may have slowed down for Election Day, but it hasn’t stopped, as both presidential contenders make their last ditch pitches to voters heading to the polls today.

After casting his ballot in Bedford, Mass., the state’s former governor and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was en route to Ohio and Pennsylvania to urge voters to head to the polls. President Barack Obama planned to spend the day close to his Chicago home conducting television and radio interviews — many with stations in swing states.

Obama, who will participate in what has become a traditional Election Day basketball game, this morning made an unscheduled stop at a small Chicago campaign field office at the corner of Harper Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard, according to pool reports. He was greeted by applause from his campaign aides and volunteers. He helped the get-out-the-vote effort by calling voters personally.

“This is Barack Obama. You know, the president?” he said, according to pool reports. “She was very nice to me even though she initially didn’t know who I was,” Obama said after the call ended.

Obama voted early in Chicago on Oct. 25, and the first lady cast her vote by mail on Oct. 15.

But like Romney, the vice presidential contenders — Joseph Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — cast their ballots today.

Biden voted at Alexis I. DuPont High School in Greenville, Del., along with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and other family members.

“Oh, I’m feeling pretty good,” Biden said after voting. When asked if this was the last time he expected to vote for himself, the vice president said with a grin, “No, I don’t think so.”

Biden then made an unannounced visit to Cleveland, Ohio, where his plane parked next to Romney’s. According to CNN, the vice president then headed over to the GOP challenger’s plane to greet Romney.

Ryan and his wife, Janna, voted this morning at the Janesville, Wis., library. They were photographed with their young children accompanying them. Ryan was then scheduled to head to campaign stops in Virginia and Ohio before meeting up with the top of the GOP ticket for an election night rally in Boston.

Obama, according to reporters traveling with him, planned to eat dinner at his home before delivering a speech at an unspecified time from Chicago’s McCormick Place.

November 5, 2012

Andrew Cuomo Clears Way for Statewide Voting for Displaced New Yorkers

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order Monday allowing voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote at any polling place in the state, with some limitations.

At a press conference late Monday, Cuomo announced that he would allow voters in affected areas to cast ballots by affidavit for president and statewide races at any polling place in the state. Voters using this option will not be able to vote in local races, including for Members of the House.

Unlike in New Jersey, New York voters will not be allowed to cast absentee ballots by email or fax.

Full story

Candidates Make Last-Minute Loans to Campaigns

A slew of Congressional candidates dipped into their own wallets over the past week to fund one final push in their campaigns.

Here’s Roll Call’s running tally, according to local reports and online filings with the Federal Election Commission:

Senate races:

  • Last week, former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) guaranteed a $500,000 loan for his campaign against former Gov. Tim Kaine (D). An Allen aide described it as a bridge loan to ensure available funds while the campaign processed credit card donations. Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.
  • Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) made a last-minute, $250,000 loan to aid her bid against Sen. Dean Heller (R). Roll Call rates this as a Tossup.
  • Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon (R) continued to fund much of her campaign against Rep. Christopher Murphy (D). As of Oct. 17, she had contributed $40 million of her own funds to her race. Roll Call rates this as Leans Democratic.

House races:

House Democrats Lower Expectations, Offer ‘Tea Party’ Narrative

House Democrats Lower Expectations, Offer Tea Party Narrative

Rep. Steve Israel (left) was charged with overseeing Democratic efforts to win back House seats this cycle and make Rep. Nancy Pelosi Speaker again. But heading into Election Day, the party is expected to net only a handful of seats. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For two years, Democratic leaders have focused on winning the 25 seats necessary for their party to take back the House. But with analysts predicting disappointing results for the number of seats they will pick up in Tuesday’s elections, aides and party operatives are privately lowering expectations about the net gain.

In internal conversations with Democratic lawmakers, leaders are “definitely lowering the expectations,” a senior Democratic House aide said.

The party is expected to net a single-digit number of seats, far from the 25 they need to reclaim control of the chamber.

Democratic aides speaking on background said the elections results will likely be a bitter disappointment, if not a surprise for some. Most Members and professional operatives realized long ago that winning back the House was not in the cards, and one source described complaints that top officials, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), were being unrealistically rosy in their public statements about the state of the races. Full story

Hawaii: President Barack Obama Makes Closing Argument for Mazie Hirono

Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) appears to be cruising to victory in the open-seat Senate race in Hawaii, but she’s nonetheless getting a final boost from President Barack Obama.

A new radio ad released over the weekend by the Hirono campaign features Obama expressing support for the Congresswoman, highlighting her connection to his family.

“Years ago, Mazie worked with my late grandmother.  So Mazie isn’t just a reliable partner of mine in Washington; she is part of my ohana at home in Hawaii,” Obama said. “Now, I need Mazie’s cooperative style and commitment to middle-class families in the U.S. Senate.”

Full story

Bill Clinton Robocalls for House Democratic Candidates

Former president Bill Clinton has recorded at least 45 robocalls for House Democratic candidates to use in the final days of their campaigns.

Clinton, who has been an asset for Democratic candidates at every level this cycle, has recorded calls for candidates from Florida to California. Here’s an example of one made for Ami Bera, a physician running against Rep. Dan Lungren (R) in California’s newly configured 7th district.

Full story

Massachusetts: New Poll Finds Senate Race Very Close

Massachusetts: New Poll Finds Senate Race Very Close

Sen. Scott Brown had a slim lead over his Democratic opponent in a poll released just before Election Day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Scott Brown (R) led Democrat Elizabeth Warren by 1 point among likely voters in a new poll, casting drops of doubt on the conventional wisdom that Warren had pulled into a comfortable and nearly insurmountable lead in the weeks before Election Day.

While the vast majority of recent reputable polling has shown Warren comfortably ahead of the incumbent, a new UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll found Brown leading Warren 49 percent to 48 percent among Massachusetts registered voters likely to vote. One percent didn’t know and one percent said they would vote for someone else.

Among all registered voters, Warren led Brown by 2 points.

Full story

November 4, 2012

Illinois: Kirk Hopes to Return for Next Congress

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who suffered a debilitating stroke 10 months ago, is becoming increasingly more open about his recovery and granted his first interview with a reporter today since his health scare.

Kirk climbed 37 flights of the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower and one of the word’s tallest buildings, as part of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Stair climb. Upon completion of the event, he talked to a reporter from Chicago’s NBC affiliate.

Late last week, the campaign of Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), who is engaged in one of the tightest House races in the nation, released a video of Kirk and Dold campaigning together.

Though Kirk did not address his possible return date in the brief footage of his conversation with the NBC affiliate, the reporter, Mary Ann Ahern, said both before and after the segment that Kirk now hopes to return to Congress in January.

Full video here.

Presidential Campaigns Make Closing Arguments in Sprint to Election Day

Presidential Campaigns Make Closing Arguments in Sprint to Election Day

President Barack Obama fires up supporters at a late-night rally in northern Virginia on Saturday. Obama and MItt Romney are barnstorming swing states in the last push to turnout voters on Election Day. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney made their closing pitches to swelled crowds of swing state supporters in the final weekend before voters deliver their verdict, while top surrogates hit the Sunday show circuit to spin their map to victory on Tuesday.

Much of the debate in the campaign’s final hours has focused on Pennsylvania, where Romney is campaigning today and where President Bill Clinton will stump for Obama on Monday. Republicans insist their last-minute play for the Keystone State is based on polling showing it’s winnable. But Democrats charge that the move is a sign of desperation from a team whose path to 270 electoral votes is narrowing.

Later today, Romney will stop in Morrisville, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia across the river from New Jersey. The Romney team sought to expand the battleground map with a late multi-million dollar investment on Pennsylvania airwaves, vastly outspending Democrats there in the last two weeks.

“It’s a remarkable juxtaposition here that Mitt Romney will be in the suburbs of Philadelphia today, and, you know, four years ago, Barack Obama was in Indiana,” Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie said on ABC’s “This Week.” “When you look at where this map has gone, it reflects the — the change and the direction and the momentum toward Governor Romney.  And the fact is that a state like Pennsylvania being in play, a poll out today showing Michigan a dead heat, you know, this — the map has expanded.” Full story

Race Rating Changes: The Final Push

Race Rating Changes: The Final Push

Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listen Sunday during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa. With two days before Election Day, Romney is campaigning in swing states across the country. (Emmanuel Dunando/AFP/Getty Images)

Heading into the final weekend of barnstorming before Election Day, there was a noticeable shift toward the GOP in many key House races while Democrats seem to be getting more good news than bad about the Senate map.

First, the Senate math:

Yes, it’s quite possible (even likely) that Democrats such as Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Bob Casey (Pa.) will have closer margins on Election Day than most expect. But Democrats are likely to hold both seats, and the climb for Republicans to net the four seats they need for an outright majority (if President Barack Obama is re-elected) seems steep heading into election week.

Here’s what we know: Republicans are likely to pick up two Senate seats in Nebraska and North Dakota (although the race there remains close). Those gains are likely to be offset by Democratic pickups in Massachusetts and Maine, where an Independent is poised to win and will likely caucus with Democrats. Assuming Republicans hold their seats in Arizona and Nevada, which seems like a good bet, that’s a zero net gain, leaving the chamber’s makeup at 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans. Full story

November 3, 2012

New Jersey to Allow Voting by Email, Fax

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno issued a series of directives late today that will allow voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy to cast absentee ballots by email and fax.

Guadagno, a Republican, serves as the state’s top elections official. In one of her new directives, she instructs county clerks to accept absentee voting applications by fax or email up until 5 p.m. on Election Day and to accept ballots themselves electronically until 8 p.m. that day.

Under the directive, all voters displaced by the storm are deemed to be overseas voters under New Jersey law.

Full story

Chris Christie Says New Jersey Is Ready to Vote ‘Old School’

Chris Christie Says New Jersey Is Ready to Vote Old School

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said today that the National Guard would be on hand to help ensure a smooth Election Day Tuesday in parts of his state that remain without power after Hurricane Sandy.

“Everybody should be ready to vote on Tuesday, and in fact you can vote beforehand. I’ve order the county clerks’ offices in every county in New Jersey to be open both days of the weekend.” the Republican said. “You don’t have to wait to vote. If you’ve got a little time on your hands, you’re tired of cleaning this stuff up, go there, in person, you’ll get a ballot, you vote, hand it in and you’re done.”

“If you wait until Tuesday, there’s one of three things that’ll happen. First,  if your polling place has power, you’ll go and you’ll walk in as normal and vote. If you’re polling place doesn’t have power, we will have a truck there, set up with National Guardsmen guarding it, for you to be able to go in and vote old school, with a paper ballot,” Christie said.

Full story

Nebraska: Condoleezza Rice Endorses Deb Fischer

Nebraska: Condoleezza Rice Endorses Deb Fischer

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration, today endorsed state Sen. Deb Fischer in the open-seat Nebraska Senate race against former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.).

“Deb Fischer is an effective legislator who will promote economic competitiveness and private sector growth and will change the current standstill in Washington,”  Rice said in a news release from the Republican’s campaign. “Her fresh perspective will allow her to be a leader in Congress and I’m proud to stand with her in this important race.”

Fischer, who is in a tightening race with Kerrey, was happy to receive Rice’s backing.

“I have deep respect and admiration for Dr. Rice, and I’m truly honored to have her support,” Fischer said in the release. “Dr. Rice understands the importance of maintaining American exceptionalism by advancing our nation’s domestic and international interests.”

Rice’s endorsement of Fischer comes after Kerrey has racked up several notable endorsements, including former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). Fischer is still favored to win the seat, which is being vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Roll Call rates the race as Likely Republican.

Nancy Pelosi Raised $12.9 Million in October

Nancy Pelosi Raised $12.9 Million in October

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi raised an eye-popping $12.9 million in October for House Democrats, a spokesman said.

The California Democrat held 65 fundraising and campaign events in eight states and Washington, D.C. Over the current election cycle, Pelosi has raised $85.1 million.

Pelosi is a powerhouse fundraiser without peer among Congressional Democrats. She has kept up a frenetic campaigning pace even as Democrats, some openly, have speculated she may leave after the elections, especially as the party is not expected to come close to taking back control of the House.

Those who know Pelosi well say she is unlikely to opt for a quick exit, however, preferring to promote a successor she prefers over her second-in-command, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Pelosi’s spokesman has called that scenario “ridiculous.”

November 2, 2012

Colorado: Presidential Candidates to Cycle Through Battleground Districts

Colorado: Presidential Candidates to Cycle Through Battleground Districts

Rep. Mike Coffman is hoping to get some help from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's visit to Colorado this weekend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The contenders in two tight Colorado Congressional races that have attracted national attention and money have embarked on their final push before Election Day. And the homestretch in the Centennial State will bring the top of the ticket from both parties, with President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney scheduling events this weekend.

But for Sal Pace, a Democratic state lawmaker challenging Rep. Scott Tipton (R), the final leg means a few more days in an automobile hopping from town to town in the state’s expansive 3rd district.

“We’ve gotten a couple of flat tires, and there was one near miss with a moose,” said Pace today by phone while driving between events in Grand Junction and Rifle. Then, it was on to Edwards. Full story

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