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

October 24, 2012

Indiana: John Cornyn Stands by Richard Mourdock After Abortion Comments

Indiana: John Cornyn Stands by Richard Mourdock After Abortion Comments

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

INDIANAPOLIS — National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) is standing by his nominee in Indiana, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who said pregnancy that results from rape “is something God intended to happen” in the final Senate debate Tuesday night.

Mourdock was answering a question about abortion and explaining his position that he is against the procedure in all cases except when the life of the mother is at risk. He faces Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, who is also anti-abortion-rights but believes in exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

“Richard and I, along with millions of Americans – including even Joe Donnelly – believe that life is a gift from God,” Cornyn said in a statement emailed to reporters this morning. “To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous. In fact, rather than condemning him for his position, as some in his party have when it’s come to Republicans, I commend Congressman Donnelly for his support of life.” Full story

California: Flurry of Polling in Close 52nd District

California: Flurry of Polling in Close 52nd District

San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Peters (above) is in what appears to be a close race with Rep. Brian Bilbray. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A flurry of polls were released over the last few days in the battleground 52nd district, where Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) is attempting to hold off a challenge from San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Peters (D).

Until now, there had been a dearth of polling on this competitive race. None of the three polls now out match each other, and the race is likely closer than any of the numbers suggest.

Sixty percent of the redrawn district is new to Bilbray, and the race has attracted a torrent of outside spending in recent weeks as both parties push to get out the early vote for this race and the competitive mayoral election.

Full story

Massachusetts: Scott Brown Hits Elizabeth Warren on Medicare; Warren Hits Back

Massachusetts: Scott Brown Hits Elizabeth Warren on Medicare; Warren Hits Back

Sen. Scott Brown talks with senior citizens during a visit Friday to Fenno House in Qunicy, Mass. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

QUINCY, Mass. — Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) arrived last week here at Fenno House, an assisted and independent living facility, in his famous GMC truck with a package of sausage and a message about Medicare.

He handed the sausage, in a brown paper bag, to a member of Fenno House’s staff. “They’re frozen,” Brown said. “Give ‘em to the kitchen. I just got them down in Brockton, but I’m not going home.”

And then Brown went into the activity room of the facility. Fenno House serves people who are 62 or older, and Brown spoke to an audience of almost exclusively senior citizens about cuts to the beloved entitlement program. Full story

October 23, 2012

In Debate, Richard Mourdock Says Pregnancy From Rape Something ‘God Intended to Happen’

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — In the final, high-stakes debate before Election Day, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) touched on an issue that has bedeviled another Republican Senate candidate, saying that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

“I just, I struggled with it myself for a long time,” Mourdock said as he teared up. “But I came to realize that life is that gift from God.”


Full story

Missouri: Todd Akin Campaign Publishes Email Exchange With Local Reporter

The Senate campaign of Rep. Todd Akin (R) has taken the unusual step of posting an email exchange with a reporter on its campaign website.

On Tuesday afternoon, the campaign posted an email exchange between Akin senior adviser Rick Tyler and Kevin McDermott, a political reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in which McDermott sought a response from the Akin campaign for a story he was writing.

“I guess when you’re down double-digits and your campaign is the laughingstock of the election cycle, maybe they figure they have nothing left to lose. But it doesn’t say a lot about their integrity and seriousness as a Senate campaign,” one GOP strategist said in response to the post.

Full story

Romney Group Could Advertise in Maine

Romney Group Could Advertise in Maine

A super PAC supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is considering going on the air in Maine. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A super PAC supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is considering going on television in Maine, the Portland Press-Herald reported. According to CNN, the pro-Romney group, Restore Our Future, has already reserved air time in the state.

Restore Our Future has identified Maine’s more rural 2nd district as a target for possible ad spending if funds become available, according to a recent email to the super PAC’s donors that was obtained by Time’s Mark Halperin. In Maine, (and Nebraska,) electoral votes are not awarded on a winner-take-all basis, but rather to the victor in each Congressional district.

“As the Romney-Ryan momentum grows, and more states become within reach, the needs list grows,” the email said, demonstrating that campaigns and outside groups are leaving no stone unturned in the search for electoral votes.

A Press-Herald poll released at the beginning of this month showed that while President Barack Obama had an insurmountable lead in Maine’s coastal 1st district, the story could be quite different in the 2nd district, which encompasses much of the state’s more rural, inland territory. There, Obama had a 5 point lead over Romney, the survey revealed, suggesting to Republicans that they have a chance to pick off an electoral vote in the state.

Full story

Daily Ad Track

It’s late October, and political ads today are scarier than Ethan Hawke’s new horror movie.

If political advertising is your source of information, the world is full of deadbeat dads, people who don’t care about 9/11 victims and folks who don’t protect children.

Here’s what cut through the clutter:

Wisconsin Senate

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s (R) campaign has accused Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) of not honoring 9/11 victims in a new statewide ad. The Baldwin campaign did not waste any time issuing a news release and pushing back on the matter.

“The fact that Tommy Thompson would question Tammy Baldwin’s patriotism and love of America is offensive and disgusting,” Baldwin spokesman John Kraus said. “Thompson’s fear mongering and scare tactics will be rejected by the people of Wisconsin.”

Illinois 8 

Everyone pretty much expected this ad to be in the can, but what makes it a bit surprising is that it actually hit the air. It is well-known that Rep. Joe Walsh (R) has had to deal with bad press because of allegations of not paying child support. His Democratic rival, veteran Tammy Duckworth, seemed to have put some serious distance between herself and Walsh, but the fact that she is going so negative is sure to raise some eyebrows.

Rhode Island 1

And on Monday, Rep. David Cicilline (D) was on the receiving end of one heck of a nasty ad from his challenger, Republican Brendan Doherty. Within 24 hours, his team turned around a response ad. Ad spending has been extremely heavy in this Providence-area district.

Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.

Pennsylvania: Bob Casey’s Team Disowns Media Consultant’s Comments

Pennsylvania: Bob Caseys Team Disowns Media Consultants Comments

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was recently criticized by a member of Sen. Bob Casey's team. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is distancing himself from his media consultant, Saul Shorr, and comments the adviser made criticizing former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D).

Rendell recently tweaked the Casey campaign, accusing it of taking Republican Senate nominee Tom Smith too lightly. Shorr didn’t take kindly to Rendell’s criticism, and let him know that publicly. But in a Saturday evening email to campaign contributors, Casey campaign manager Larry Smar attempted to put daylight between the Senator and Shorr.

“If you’ve ever met a media consultant, you will likely know that sometimes their words and combative instincts can get ahead of reality and better judgment,” Smar wrote.

Smar’s comments are the latest fallout from Rendell’s comments about Casey’s race — two sometimes competing forces in Pennsylvania Democratic politics. The exchange came just two weeks before Election Day, when Casey will attempt to fend off a challenge from Smith, a personally wealthy former coal company owner. Roll Call rates this race as Leans Democratic.

So it didn’t help when Rendell told the Scranton Times-Tribune last week that Casey “hasn’t run a campaign. He’s run one ad, a stupid Tea Party ad.” He also called Casey’s effort a “non-campaign up until now,” but the outspoken former governor made it clear that he expects the Senator to prevail on Election Day.

Full story

Indiana: Internal Poll Shows Joe Donnelly Holds 2-Point Lead

Indiana: Internal Poll Shows Joe Donnelly Holds 2 Point Lead

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

MADISON, Ind. — Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) will release internal polling today showing him with a 2-point lead over his Senate opponent, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R).

Donnelly leads Mourdock, 40 percent to 38 percent, in the survey paid for by the Democrat’s campaign. A Libertarian candidate, Andrew Horning, recieved 8 percent in that survey.

Two weeks before Election Day, the Indiana Senate race remains highly competitive. Roll Call rates it as a Tossup. On Tuesday night, the candidates will meet for their second and final debate in New Albany.

Public polling of the race is rare because of the Hoosier State’s restrictions on automated calls. But a mid-September, bipartisan poll from Howey Politics Indiana showed similar results.

Mourdock’s internal polling from early October showed the GOP nominee with a 3-point lead.

Global Strategy Group conducted Donnelly’s poll of 603 likely voters from Oct. 17 to 21. The margin of error is 4 points.

See Donnelly’s full polling memo here.

More coverage of the Rust Belt Road Trip here.

Age More Than Just a Number for Mandel, Brown in Ohio Battle

Age More Than Just a Number for Mandel, Brown in Ohio Battle

Though 35, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s age is often underestimated by even his supporters. But on the campaign trail, the Senate hopeful has been attacking his 59-year-old opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, for his alleged immaturity. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

MARIETTA, Ohio — Many Ohio voters describe Josh Mandel as a “young” 35. His hairless chin and wiry frame means even his supporters underestimate his age by a decade.

“He looks 25,” said John Walsh, 72, a retired businessman loafing at the Skyline Café on a Friday afternoon.

“Earlier, you said he looked 19,” called out Steve Barros, the 55-year-old coffee shop owner, across the counter.

“It’s a good thing,” explained Walsh, a registered Republican. “You don’t have to be old to be smart.”

But the state treasurer’s youthful appearance hasn’t made it easier for him in his race against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). Image matters in politics, especially in a populous state such as Ohio, with 12 million residents. Most voters will never meet Mandel, but they will see his visage on television.
Full story

October 22, 2012

Virginia: Tim Kaine Up 4 Points in DSCC Senate Race Poll

Virginia: Tim Kaine Up 4 Points in DSCC Senate Race Poll

(Douglas Graham/Roll Call File Photo)

Former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) has the edge over fellow former Gov. George Allen (R) in their highly competitive race for the state’s open Senate seat, according to a poll conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Kaine led 48 percent to 44 percent in the poll, which was conducted Oct. 15-18 among 802 likely voters and had a 3.5-point margin of error.

The race has been close throughout, though polling margins over the past month have been erratic. Roll Call rates the race as a Tossup.

California: Dueling Polls in Central Valley House District

State Assemblyman David Valadao’s campaign for the new 21st district released a poll last Tuesday that showed the Republican ahead of his Democratic opponent by 20 points.

On Friday, the campaign of John Hernandez, CEO of the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, released its own poll that showed the Democrat much closer, with Valadao ahead 41 percent to 37 percent.

The Valadao poll, conducted Oct. 8-9 by Moore Information, surveyed 400 likely voters and had a 5-point margin of error. The Hernandez poll, conducted Oct. 13-15 by FM3, surveyed 400 likely voters and had a 4.9-point margin of error.

Until recently, the race had attracted little interest from outside groups. The GOP-aligned Crossroads GPS announced a significant buy last week in this

majority-minority district to assist Valadao. Neither national party’s House campaign arm has gone on the air here, though the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched robocalls last week.

Missouri: Todd Akin Calls Controversial Comments ‘Distractions’

Missouri: Todd Akin Calls Controversial Comments Distractions

Rep. Todd Akin (CQ Roll Call file photo)

GOP Rep. Todd Akin said today that many of the issues being debated in the Missouri Senate race are “distractions” from the topics voters most care about.

“If the race is going to be decided on distractions, then that’s not good for us,” Akin said in an interview with KMOV in St. Louis. “But if people take a look and say what kind of country do we want to live in for the next four years, they’re going to take a look at the record.”

Akin, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, has been plagued by a series of controversial statements. In an indication of the difficulty that Akin is having keeping the focus on his message, the portion of today’s KMOV interview that aired on the local 6 p.m. news in St. Louis pertained exclusively to the controversies, including one that took place Monday.

“If Claire McCaskill were a dog, she’d be a ‘Bullshitsu’,” top Akin adviser Rick Tyler said on Twitter. For now, McCaskill’s re-election campaign is content to allow Akin and his political adviser’s comments to speak for themselves.Missouri: Todd Akin Calls Controversial Comments Distractions

Full story

Daily Ad Track

What a difference a debate can make.

About a month ago, the biggest trend among Democrats was to tie Republicans to presidential nominee Mitt Romney in an effort to sink GOP Congressional candidates. Two weeks out from Election Day — guess what? Republican are employing that strategy in reverse as they seek to ride Romney’s coattails in certain states and House districts.

Here’s what cut through the ad clutter today:

Indiana Senate

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock earned a lot of attention this morning when he released an ad with Romney making a personal appeal on camera for Mourdock’s election to the Senate. The Mourdock campaign was not able to immediately return a request for buy information on the ad.

Full story

Minnesota: Democrat Holds 7-Point Lead in 8th District Race, Poll Shows

Minnesota: Democrat Holds 7 Point Lead in 8th District Race, Poll Shows

Rep. Chip Cravaack (above) trails opponent Rick Nolan in a poll released today. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Rep. Rick Nolan (D) could have the edge over Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) in the 8th district, according to a Minneapolis Star Tribune poll released today that showed the challenger with a 7-point lead.

Nolan led Cravaack 50 percent to 43 percent, according to the newspaper’s poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted Oct. 16. The poll has a margin of error of 3 points.

The new poll showing Nolan in the lead is in stark contrast to three polls released earlier in the month, each of which showed the race to be deadlocked. The Nolan campaign is claiming the momentum in this. The Cravaack campaign disputed the findings of the Star Tribune poll.

Full story

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