Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 21, 2014

October 8, 2012

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.

President Obama, Democrats Have Best Fundraising Month of Cycle

President Barack Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina announced this morning in an email to supporters that the campaign and Democratic National Committee raised $181 million in September.

According to The Washington Post, it is the best month of the campaign for Obama and the Democrats, but the number “falls just shy of the all-time record of $193 million” that Obama set in September 2008.

Mitt Romney has yet to release his numbers.

October 5, 2012

Arizona: Vernon Parker Denounces Mailer’s Image as Racist, Divisive

An image on an Arizona Democratic Party mailer has shifted the focus this week away from national issues and put the spotlight on race in the competitive contest between former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker (R) and former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D).

At issue is a direct mail piece with a photo of Parker, an African-American, that appears to be darker than his natural skin tone. The Arizona Democratic Party sponsored the mailer, which can be seen at the bottom of this post. It was reported by local news outlets earlier this week.

“When you make me four, five shades darker and my teeth 10 shades whiter and my eyes 10 shades whiter, I think they get the point I am black,” Parker told Roll Call. When asked if he thought the image resembled a minstrel, Parker said yes.

“The mailers are being used as a divisive factor in the campaign,” Parker said. ”It is unfortunate that the Democratic Party [that] goes around saying that they’re ecumenical and inclusive would use a photograph like that.”

According to state Democratic Party spokesman Frank Camacho, an original version of the photo was taken from Parker’s Facebook page. No Photoshopping was done beyond transferring a color photo to black and white, he said. He described the practice as “very common in political campaigns” and said the notion that the photo was further altered with a racial intent was “completely false.” Full story

Kentucky: DCCC Goes on TV for Ben Chandler

Kentucky: DCCC Goes on TV for Ben Chandler

Rep. Ben Chandler is getting a helping hand from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Ben Chandler’s Old Kentucky Home just got some propping up from national Democrats.

The independent expenditure arm of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee bought 2,000 gross rating points — about $200,000 — worth of TV advertisements in the Lexington, Ky., media market from Oct. 6-29 to help the four-term Kentucky lawmaker in his conservative district.

Chandler faces a rematch with Lexington attorney Andy Barr, whom he beat by the slimmest of margins in 2010. Republicans have hammered Chandler with negative ads and now he’s getting some cover from Democratic allies.

Kentucky Republicans remain bearish on Barr’s chances, but national Democrats getting in the race is a sign that the contest has tightened.

Maine: Americans Elect, DSCC Spending Heavily on Senate Race

Maine: Americans Elect, DSCC Spending Heavily on Senate Race

Outside groups have bought TV time in Maine to help boost former Gov. Angus King. (Joshua Miller/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Christmas has come early for TV stations in Maine. Two outside groups have put in big money to help independent Senate candidate Angus King, the frontrunner in the race who has seen his lead slipping in recent weeks.

Americans Elect, the third-party group that tried and failed to get an independent, nonpartisan presidential candidate on the ballot this year, bought a substantial chunk of television time in support of King. Their ad began airing today and a source familiar with TV buys in the state said it was backed by about $500,000 through Oct. 25.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also reserved $1.7 million in television time from Oct. 9 through Nov. 5, the source said. That reservation is presumably to knock Republican nominee Charlie Summers, the Maine secretary of state. The DSCC first bought time in the state last month. Full story

Daily Ad Track

Another day, another bunch of negative ads. Here is what cut through the clutter today.

California’s 39th

This ad from a group called “America Shining” uses old B-movie footage against Rep. Ed Royce (R) and in support of Navy veteran Jay Chen (D). It may look like it was made by a film student, but it’ll catch your eye. We were unable to track down contact info for the group behind the ad. But the latest Federal Election Commission postings show that the organization has purchased about $5,000 of television time. This Orange County district is solid GOP territory, and as part of the Los Angeles media market, it’s expensive to advertise in.

Paging Susan Sontag!

Montana Senate

Sen. Jon Tester’s (D) new TV ad, running statewide behind a $125,000 buy, features a retired firefighter disparaging Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) for suing the city of Billings over a fire on his property. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hit Rehberg on the same topic in its own ad released today.

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Full story

October 4, 2012

Arizona: Kyrsten Sinema Raises Nearly $800,000 in Third Quarter

Former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) raised $775,000 in the third quarter in her open-seat race against Republican Vernon Parker for Arizona’s 9th district, according to her campaign.

Of that sum, $653,000 was raised from Aug. 9 to Sept. 30. The campaign is still calculating her cash on hand, but it is likely to be somewhere north of $275,000.

Sinema will need every dollar she has raised. Republican outside groups are either already on the air or are expected to buy Phoenix television time. And Parker indicated in a recent interview with Roll Call that his fundraising had picked up after Arizona’s Aug. 28 primary. Full story

Mixed Bag of Polling for GOP Freshmen

Mixed Bag of Polling for GOP Freshmen

Rep. Jeff Denham's challenger released a poll today showing he had significantly cut into the Congressman's lead. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Many House Republican freshmen have competitive re-election campaigns on their hands, including a trio where fresh polling results this week made clear that some are far better off than others.

Freshman Reps. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), Joe Heck (R-Nev.) and Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) each garnered solid Democratic challengers, but a poll conducted for the Rigell campaign indicates he’s in the strongest position of the three to return to Congress next year. Full story

Race Rating Changes: House Map Jells; Senate Still Fluid

Race Rating Changes: House Map Jells; Senate Still Fluid

Vulnerable Rep. Bill Owens has improved prospects for re-election, as his race moves from a Tossup rating to Leans Democratic. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

What a difference two years makes. At this point in 2010, as the GOP wave began to build, political handicappers and political operatives alike were trying to keep up with the number of newly competitive races moving onto the rapidly expanding House battleground. The same was true at this time in 2006 and 2008, when we were attempting to size up the coming Democratic waves.

Fast-forward two years, and a month before Election Day we are taking House races off the board, as it becomes clear to both parties that contests they hoped to put in play just haven’t materialized this cycle. We expect there may be a few less competitive races that begin to move in the competitive direction, but that hasn’t happened to a large extent at this point.

There is other significant movement in a handful of House races that we now rate as more likely than not to switch hands. GOP Reps. David Rivera (Fla.) and Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.) are in races that look to be increasingly uphill. Both face rematches from 2010 (although Rivera’s troubles have much more to do with his own ethics problems than the strength of his Democratic challenger).

In Senate race moves, we are moving two Democratic-held seats virtually off the board. Republicans always knew that Hawaii was going to be a tough race considering the overwhelming Democratic tilt of the state. But former Gov. Linda Lingle was the best possible candidate they could have gotten. However, it’s clear that the race really never got off the ground. Lingle would have had to run a flawless campaign AND Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) needed to stumble. Neither happened, and the race is now off the board. Full story

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