Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 1, 2014

October 9, 2012

Parties Prepare to Place Debt Bets on Victory

House Democrats are confident they can put a dent in the Republican majority and perhaps flip the chamber in November.

But are they willing to bet the House on it?

In the month before Election Day, the Congressional campaign committees are set to spend millions of dollars each week on targeted races. And if past is precedent, they will exhaust more resources than they will raise before Nov. 6.

It’s a gamble: The resulting debt could mean winning more seats but also put a committee eight figures in the red for the next cycle.

“It’s always a tough decision to borrow money, but you have to weigh that decision against your opportunities and whether you’re going to have those opportunities again,” said Brian Smoot, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s political director in 2008. Full story

New Mexico: Internal Poll Shows Martin Heinrich Widening Lead

New Mexico: Internal Poll Shows Martin Heinrich Widening Lead

New poll numbers show Rep. Martin Heinrich leading former Rep. Heather Wilson by at least 12 points. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll conducted for Rep. Martin Heinrich showed the Democrat’s lead over former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) has widened to at least 12 points in their battle for New Mexico’s open Senate seat.

The latest figures show Heinrich leading Wilson 55 percent to 42 percent in a two-way contest. The poll also accounted for Independent American Party candidate Jon Barrie. In a three-way contest, it showed Heinrich leading Wilson 51 percent to 39 percent, with Barrie receiving 8 percent of the vote.

The poll was conducted Oct. 4-7 by GBA Strategies. It included 600 likely voters, reached on landlines and cellphones, whose party affiliations reflected the likely electorate in New Mexico. There was a 4-point margin of error.

Roll Call now rates New Mexico’s open-seat Senate race as Likely Democratic.

Missouri: Todd Akin Questioned About Hypothetical Rape of His Own Daughter

Missouri: Todd Akin Questioned About Hypothetical Rape of His Own Daughter

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Todd Akin (R) continues to be dogged by his views on abortion rights in his challenge of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a problem that continued Monday when he was asked what he would do if his daughter was impregnated in the course of being raped.

In a Monday meeting with the editorial board of the Springfield News-Leader, Akin was asked about his position on the “morning-after” pill if his own daughter became pregnant as a result of a rape. The question was reminiscent of when Bernard Shaw asked the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis if he would support the death penalty for the rape and murder of his own wife.

“Look, I’ve answered this question repeatedly,” Akin told the newspaper. “I’m not going to go plowing over ground that I’ve already done for a number of weeks. I’ve been all over the different answers to that question.”

That question came after McCaskill’s campaign launched a statewide TV ad over the weekend about Akin’s position on emergency contraception.

Full story

Rand Paul Launches Ad Blitz Against Foreign Aid

Rand Paul Launches Ad Blitz Against Foreign Aid

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:36 pm | Sen. Rand Paul is taking his quest to cut off U.S. foreign aid to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan to the voters.

The Kentucky Republican’s political action committee, RANDPAC, criticizes Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) for opposing his efforts to block U.S. aid to the three countries until certain conditions are met. Both Democrats are favored to defeat their Republican challengers Nov. 6.

Full story

Indiana: New GOP Poll Gives Richard Mourdock 3-Point Lead

A new Republican poll showed the party’s Senate nominee in Indiana, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, with a 3-point lead in the race.

Mourdock had 45 percent, while Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) took 42 percent in the survey paid for by the GOP candidate’s campaign. Roll Call obtained a copy of the poll’s accompanying memo.

Just two weeks ago, a bipartisan poll from Howey Politics Indiana gave Donnelly a 2-point edge in the race. But in both polls, the candidates are within the margin of error.

The surveys underscore just how competitive the Senate race has become. Outside groups have bombarded the Hoosier State’s airwaves since early September. Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

Full story

October 8, 2012

Pennsylvania: GOP Survey Sees Tight Race in 12th

Pennsylvania: GOP Survey Sees Tight Race in 12th

Republican Congressional candidate Keith Rothfus is leading in a new survey. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The race for Pennsylvania’s 12th district continues to be one of the most competitive in the country, according to new polling data from a GOP super PAC.

The new survey shows attorney Keith Rothfus (R) leading Rep. Mark Critz (D) by a mere couple of points, 42 percent to 40 percent. Sixteen percent reported they were undecided about the race in the poll from YG Action Fund. The margin of error was 4.9 points.

Partisan polls from both sides have shown a tight race here for months. It’s part of the reason the 12th district has earned a reputation for being one of the most competitive House races on the map this cycle. Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

Full story

Democrats Shift Money in House Races as Map Evolves

Updated 8:30 p.m. | The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure arm is shifting TV buys in a series of races, as the House battleground map continues to evolve.

The DCCC has cut ad buys Oct. 23-29 in four districts where the Democratic nominee is seen as having a comfortable lead, according to a party source with knowledge of the buys:

  • Arizona’s 2nd district, where Rep. Ron Barber (D) faces Republican Martha McSally
  • Florida’s new 9th district, where former Rep. Alan Grayson (D) faces Republican Todd Long
  • Florida’s 26th district, where embattled Rep. David Rivera (R), reportedly under federal investigation, faces Democrat Joe Garcia
  • New Mexico’s open 1st district, where Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham faces Republican Janice Arnold-Jones Full story

Bill Clinton to Hit Stump for House, Senate Democrats

Bill Clinton to Hit Stump for House, Senate Democrats

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama isn’t the only Democrat running this year that’s benefiting from appearances by Bill Clinton.

For the past month, since his well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention, the former president has hit the campaign trail for Obama. He has said his top goal is returning Obama to the White House, but he’s also finding time in the final push before Election Day for some downballot Democrats who also find themselves in close races and could use the boost Clinton can provide. Full story

Daily Ad Track

Thanks to a slew of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC ads, Ad Track has been fairly Democratic-heavy. But today, the National Republican Congressional Committee returned the favor with a burst of new spots.

Iowa’s 2nd

Add Rep. Dave Loebsack (D) to the category of victims of the idiot doppelganger.

A common theme over the last month or so has been to illustrate a criticism of one’s opponent with an actor portraying the candidate in an unflattering light. In a new NRCC ad, he is portrayed as sleeping on the job. Loebsack faces a challenge from Republican attorney John Archer.

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In attorney Ann McLane Kuster’s (D) case, it was running around maniacally. With Rep. Dan Benishek (R), it was dancing disruptively. And for Rep. Jon Runyan (R), it was tackling elderly people.

New Hampshire’s 2nd/Minnesota’s 8th

And a Republican operative explained a DCCC ad in New Hampshire’s 2nd district that was initially puzzling. That DCCC spot sought to tie Rep. Charles Bass (R) to various prominent Republicans. But one face in the parade of conservative notables was freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack (R). It is hard to believe that many New Hampshire voters would know who Cravaack is, let alone have a visceral distaste for him.

So why Cravaack? Like Bass, Cravaack is vulnerable, and the DCCC has hammered Cravaack over the last year over the fact that his wife and children relocated to New Hampshire.

Former Rep. Rick Nolan (D) is challenging Cravaack in Minnesota’s 8th, while Kuster is running against Bass. Roll Call rates both races as Tossup.

Illinois’ 8th 

Forget vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and his budget, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or President Barack Obama. The NRCC has a new spot that ties veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) to one of the lowest figures in American politics — incarcerated former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Duckworth is challenging Rep. Joe Walsh (R).

Utah’s 4th 

Another new NRCC ad does something rarely seen from Republicans — it rails on Rep. Jim Matheson (D) for at one time supporting the privatization of Social Security. Former President George W. Bush unsuccessfully pushed that policy in his second term. Republican Mia Love is challenging Matheson for this seat.

Mitt Romney on Obama Foreign Policy: Hope Is Not a Strategy

Mitt Romney on Obama Foreign Policy: Hope Is Not a Strategy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns recently at the American Legion Post 176 in Springfield, Va. Romney criticized proposed defense cuts and called for better employment options for veterans. (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Mitt Romney indicted President Barack Obama’s foreign policy today in a speech delivered at the Virginia Military Institute.

The Republican presidential nominee repeatedly described aspects of Obama’s foreign policy as “failed.” But Romney’s critique was far less bellicose than his previous forays into foreign policy and was delivered in a statesman-like tone and with a formal, presidential backdrop on VMI’s Lexington, Va., campus as opposed to a campaign atmosphere.

“It is our responsibility and the responsibility of the president to use America’s greatest power to shape history, not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events,” Romney said. “Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama.”

“I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and more prosperous Middle East, allied with us,” Romney also said. “I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy.”

Full story

Virginia: Tim Kaine, George Allen Release Ads Ahead of Debate

Virginia: Tim Kaine, George Allen Release Ads Ahead of Debate

Former Govs. Tim Kaine (left) and George Allen have their fourth debate scheduled for tonight. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Set to face each other in their fourth debate tonight, former Govs. George Allen (R) and Tim Kaine (D) each released television ads today that push the central messages of their respective Senate campaigns. Full story

Wisconsin: New GOP Poll Gives Sean Duffy an 11-Point Edge

Wisconsin: New GOP Poll Gives Sean Duffy an 11 Point Edge

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new Republican survey showed freshman Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) leading his challenger by 11 points.

Duffy had 51 percent of the vote, while former state Senate President Pro Tem Pat Kreitlow (D) had 40 percent in the poll paid for by American Action Network, a third-party, center-right group that spends heavily in House races.

The new numbers come less than a week after House Democrats announced they would increase their financial commitment to the 7th district. The survey’s accompanying memo aims to dispel that, declaring the district “not a good pick-up opportunity for Democrats.”

Full story

October 7, 2012

New York: Tight Race for Kathy Hochul, Chris Collins

New York: Tight Race for Kathy Hochul, Chris Collins

Republican Chris Collins is vying against a Democratic incumbent in a tossup race in New York. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the most Republican Congressional district in New York, vulnerable Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul was tied with Republican challenger Chris Collins in a horse-race matchup, according to a new nonpartisan poll.

A Siena Research Institute survey (PDF) found Hochul taking 47 percent to Collins’ 47 percent. Six percent of the likely voters surveyed were undecided.

Both candidates were seen relatively well by voters, given that the campaign — with lots of negative ads — has been in full swing for weeks now. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed had a favorable view of Hochul; 46 percent had a favorable view of Collins. Thirty-nine percent had a unfavorable view of Hochul; 40 percent had an unfavorable view of Collins. Full story

Missouri: Claire McCaskill Hits Todd Akin on Emergency Contraception

Missouri: Claire McCaskill Hits Todd Akin on Emergency Contraception

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) unveiled a new ad this weekend that makes reference to the comments that turned her challenger, GOP Rep. Todd Akin, into an underdog.

The ad tackles Akin’s August comments that in cases of “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body can prevent pregnancy. But McCaskill goes further by attempting to link Akin’s erroneous statements to his position against emergency contraception.

The ad notes the Missouri Democrat’s work as a prosecutor with victims of sexual violence. McCaskill worked as a prosecutor before becoming state auditor in 1999.

“It’s why Claire understands that survivors of rape deserve the option of emergency contraception, whether they accept it or not,” the ad says. “But Todd Akin opposes emergency contraception for victims of rape and incest. So it’s more than what Todd Akin said, it’s what he believes.”

Full story

October 6, 2012

Arizona: Bill Clinton to Campaign for Carmona

President Bill Clinton will appear at a rally in support of former Surgeon General Richard Carmona’s (D) Senate campaign against Rep. Jeff Flake (R).

The rally will take place at Arizona State University in Tempe on Wednesday evening.

Clinton was a highly sought after surrogate among House and Senate Democrats in October 2010. He is also the most recent Democratic presidential nominee to win the state of Arizona, in 1996.

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