Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 23, 2014

October 26, 2012

NRSC Investing in Pennsylvania Senate Race

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is investing $500,000 of coordinated funds to assist GOP nominee Tom Smith in his challenge to Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D).

The move indicates national Republicans view an opportunity to widen their path to the majority, even if the incumbent here remains favored.

CNN first reported the news.

The NRSC’s investment is about how much the Democratic-aligned Majority PAC expended this week for a television advertisement in the state, which had not broached the competitive landscape until recently. Thanks in part to the $10 million personal loan to his campaign, Smith outspent Casey, $6.8 million to $2.5 million, in the third quarter.

Casey and Smith debated for the first time today, as recent polls have shown the race pulling close. Pennsylvania is not among the states that allows for early voting, so there is truly another week and a half left.

Paul Ryan Rallies House Candidates

Paul Ryan Rallies House Candidates

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), the Republican vice presidential nominee, was scheduled this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. to hold a conference call with top GOP House candidates to give them an update on the state of the presidential race.

The call includes candidates in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns and Vanguard programs, the committee’s recruitment and candidate support initiatives for top candidates.

The race between Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama remains very close less than two weeks before Election Day. Republicans are almost certain to retain control of the House, and Democrats have the edge in their effort to hold the Senate majority.

DSCC Outraises NRSC in Pre-General Fundraising Period

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised its Republican counterpart by some $1.3 million in the first two and a half weeks of October.

According to pre-general reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the DSCC raised $7.3 million Oct. 1-17. The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $6 million during the same period, including about $800,000 from a joint fundraising committee with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The DSCC has not received any money from joint fundraising committees with Obama for America or the Democratic National Committee.

Both parties are pushing for a majority in the Senate, which Democrats currently control 53-47.

Daily Ad Track

Here’s what cut through the clutter today:

Illinois 8

One of the most common Republican ad trends this cycle is featuring elderly relatives — usually parents — defending the candidate’s Medicare credentials. Rep. Joe Walsh (R) is taking another tack: In his newest ad, his son Joey defends his honor in light of a new ad from veteran Tammy Duckworth’s (D) campaign about child support problems.

Full story

The Sandy Effect on the Elections

The Sandy Effect on the Elections

(NOAA/Getty Images)

Updated 6:03 p.m. | Hurricane Sandy looks to pose a serious threat to life and property in the eastern United States, but the storm’s timing means it is also likely to have an effect on the last week of the 2012 campaigns.

Prolonged power outages could cause some changes in the way that people cast their ballots come Election Day.

“No matter what happens, we will proceed with the election. If polling places need to be moved or consolidated there are legal ways to do that and we will be in constant touch with local election officials to coordinate that,” Av Harris, a spokesman for the Connecticut Secretary of the State, said in an email.

Harris said that in Connecticut, the office has good coordination with the local power company.

“Worst case scenario if there is no power and power cannot be restored, the optical scan machines can run on battery power or else under a truly worst case scenario where the battery power for the optical scanners was depleted, we could have voters fill out paper ballots, drop them in the secure boxes, and election officials can count them all by hand,” Harris said. “Not an ideal situation by far, but we can do it if we need to.”

Sandy is still days away from landfall, but the storm is already having direct effects on the presidential race.

The Obama campaign has canceled a planned appearance by Vice President Joseph Biden in Virginia Beach on Saturday. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is scratching a Sunday appearance at the Farm Bureau Live amphitheater in Virginia Beach, Va. But the Associated Press is reporting that a Romney event scheduled for Sunday in Prince William County is still on. President Barack Obama is scheduled to appear at a campaign event Monday with President Bill Clinton in Prince William County, Va.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) are among those who have already declared states of emergency as Sandy approaches.

“Due to the track of this storm, and the fact that it will be a hurricane transitioning into a more nor’easter like system, we could see severe weather lasting for 48 hours or more in the state. In that scenario, saturated soil coupled with high winds could lead to major tree damage and extensive power outages,” McDonnell said. “Now is the time for all Virginians to prepare for those possible power outages and disruptions to public services.”

Virginia is the closest presidential battleground state likely to be affected by Hurricane Sandy’s landfall, but the storm appears poised to wreak havoc along the eastern seaboard north into New England. New Hampshire is another presidential battleground state, and there are several Northeastern states with close House and Senate races that will face storm impact.

Utility companies up and down the East Coast have announced they are bringing in extra crews from out of the area to prepare for what they expect may be a lengthy effort to restore power to customers after the storm rips through with tropical-storm-force winds. Some of the power companies, including Connecticut Light & Power, have faced ridicule from lawmakers for their past efforts to get power back.

“We’re closely monitoring weather forecasts and preparing for high winds and heavy rain that can devastate the electric system and cause power outages,” said Bill Quinlan, a senior vice president with CL & P. “The past year has been all about improving storm response, and we stand ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible. While we hope for the best, we all need to prepare for the worst.”

The National Weather Service guidance is warning of a storm with the potential for a historic impact.

“The deterministic guidance … show pressure solutions well beyond what has ever been observed near the New Jersey/New York coast (even exceeding the 1938 Long Island Express hurricane) early in the medium range period,” the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center said today. That hurricane is a reminder of the history that the northeastern United States has with hurricanes.

It would seem to be difficult, if not impossible, to have active Congressional campaigns, even in states with Tossup Senate races such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, during massive power outages. Nor, of course, would people without electricity see all the campaign ads being run by campaigns, political action committees and other outside groups.

Barack Obama Continues to Win With Text Message Donors

Barack Obama Continues to Win With Text Message Donors

President Barack Obama appears to have raised more than $1 million via text since August. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama appears to have raised upward of $1 million from text message donations this cycle.

Financial reports for the first 17 days of October show that his campaign paid $39,514 in fees to m-Qube Group’s payvia mobile payment service, which manages text-to-donate programs for both presidential campaigns. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney paid the firm nothing in the same time frame.

The fees — a percentage of the total amount raised via text — suggest that the president raised more than $1 million via text since he launched a text-to-donate program in August.

Campaigns & Elections magazine estimated in August that donation aggregators such as payvia would charge 5 percent to 15 percent of the total raised.  It costs “less than $1,000” to launch a text-to-donate program with m-Qube, the company said. Assuming the campaigns paid about $1,000 in startup costs and the fee is 10 percent, the Obama campaign raised about $1.2 million from text donors as of Oct. 17. By the same math, Romney raised about $1,520 from text-message donations.

A Pew Internet & American Life Project study released Thursday found that 10 percent of 2012 presidential campaign donors have contributed using text messages or a cellphone application. The study also found that Democrats were more likely to contribute online or from a mobile phone.

Both candidates launched text-to-donate programs in late August, heralding the newly approved technology as a way to empower small-dollar donors in the post-Citizens United era. Under Federal Election Commission rules approved this summer, text contributions from individuals are limited to $50 per month and $200 total per candidate, but operatives in both parties say the biggest benefit is looping in new partisans and collecting their cellphone numbers.

Even fellow Republicans fear that Romney has missed a crucial opportunity to engage thousands of new donors.

“I wouldn’t disregard a million dollars on any campaign no matter how large or small,” said Peter Pasi, a Republican consultant at the digital strategy firm emotive. “Think about if you’re an insurgent candidate and you have 1,000 people at your rally and you tell them to pull out your phone and give.”

Ohio: Jim Renacci Releases Poll Amid Questions on Ad Strategy

Ohio: Jim Renacci Releases Poll Amid Questions on Ad Strategy

Rep. Betty Sutton makes a campaign stop at an Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters meeting at the Knights of Columbus in Avon, Ohio. Sutton is in a tight campaign for Ohio's 16th district against her Republican rival, Rep. Jim Renacci. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

CHICAGO — Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) today released a poll that showed him with a 10-point lead over his opponent, Rep. Betty Sutton (D).

Renacci led Sutton, 51 percent to 41 percent, in a survey conducted for the freshman Republican’s campaign. Seven percent of voters said they were undecided.

The survey results come just after Renacci stopped airing advertisements in the Cleveland broadcast market through Election Day. His strategy puzzled Democrats and, privately, some Republicans too. Both parties view the race as highly competitive, and Roll Call rates it as a Tossup.

Full story

North Dakota: Heidi Heitkamp Leads in Internal Poll

North Dakota: Heidi Heitkamp Leads in Internal Poll

Rep. Rick Berg is running for Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new internal poll conducted for former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp found the Democrat with a 4-point lead in the state’s open-seat Senate contest.

Heitkamp led Rep. Rick Berg (R) 48 percent to 44 percent with 7 percent undecided. The edge, according to a polling memo from the Mellman Group, stems from Heitkamp’s 23-point lead among independents. Full story

Indiana: Mourdock’s Post-Debate Poll Shows Tied Race

CHICAGO — Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s (R) campaign released a poll this morning showing a tied Senate race after his Tuesday night debate, when he called pregnancy from rape something that “God intended.”

Mourdock and his opponent, Rep. Joe Donnelly (D), are tied at 44 percent in the survey paid for by the GOP nominee’s campaign. A libertarian candidate, Andrew Horning, received 6 percent in the poll.

Four percent of voters said they were undecided.

The new numbers serve as damage control for Mourdock after his highly publicized remarks in the final debate of his race. Democrats seized on his comments, airing a new advertisement featuring his words throughout the state. Even some Republicans, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, distanced themselves from Mourdock’s words by stating their disagreement. Full story

Illinois: Poll Gives Tammy Duckworth a 10-Point Lead Over Joe Walsh

Illinois: Poll Gives Tammy Duckworth a 10 Point Lead Over Joe Walsh

Democratic House candidate Tammy Duckworth led Republican Rep. Joe Walsh in a new poll. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. — Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) had a 10-point advantage over freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R) in the most recent poll of the suburban Chicago 8th district.

Duckworth led Walsh, 50 percent to 40 percent, in the Chicago Tribune poll of 600 likely voters. Notably, Duckworth led Walsh among female voters, 54 percent to 34 percent.

The new numbers come one day after Duckworth hosted Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) to discuss Walsh’s comments on abortion. Speier opened up about her own medically necessary abortion on the House floor last February.

“His most recent commentary about women accessing abortion in late-term pregnancies for medical reasons being unnecessary” Speier said on her day trip to the Chicago area. “I’m living proof it is necessary. He continues to spew out horrific misinformation.”

Full story

October 25, 2012

Congressional Leadership Fund Reports $8.7M on Hand

Congressional Leadership Fund reported raising $3.1 million Oct. 1-17, to close the period with $8.7 million in cash on hand.

The pro-Republican super PAC, the sister organization of American Action Network, a 501(c)(4) organization, told Roll Call earlier today that its October fundraising will help support a planned $18 million ad blitz by the two groups through the month’s end in support of GOP House candidates. Congressional Leadership Fund reported $306,000 in expenditures and no debt in the pre-general filing period.

According to Congressional Leadership Fund’s Federal Election Commission report, its donors this month include August Busch III, who contributed $50,000, and Chevron, which gave $2.5 million.

Congressional Leadership Fund is dedicated to investing in House races on behalf of Republican candidates. The group is referred to by some as Speaker John Boehner’s (Ohio) super PAC. Its board is chaired by former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), who also serves as chairman of American Action Network, former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.), former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.) and Fred Malek.

DCCC Outraises NRCC in Pre-General FEC Report

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outraised the National Republican Congressional Committee by about $2 million, from Oct. 1 to 17.

In its expected pre-general Federal Election Commission filing, the DCCC will report raising $9.5 million. The NRCC will report raising $7.4 million.

Deep in the most hard-fought part of the election cycle, both committees spent extremely heavily but were at parity. The DCCC spent about $26 million while the NRCC spent about the same.

Full story

Nevada: DCCC Launches First IE in New District

Nevada: DCCC Launches First IE in New District

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Republican Danny Tarkanian in a new ad in Nevada's 4th district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched its first independent expenditure advertisement in Nevada’s new 4th district, where a surprisingly competitive race has developed in what had been considered a Democratic-favored seat.

The ad targets Republican nominee Danny Tarkanian’s support for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan and says he supports privatizing Social Security and eliminating the Department of Education. Tarkanian is battling Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D) for the seat. Full story

Indiana: DSCC Ad Hits Richard Mourdock on Controversial Comments

Updated 6:18 p.m. | The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today released a hard-hitting response ad to Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s controversial comment that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”

The committee is spending $1.1 million to air the ad through Election Day.

The spot reminds viewers of the comment and also shows statements indicating that Republicans Mitt Romney and gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Pence distanced themselves from the remark.

But the toughest part of the ad is that it splices together Mourdock’s comments on rape with an older clip in which Mourdock says, “To me, the highlight of politics, frankly, is to inflict my opinion on someone else.”

Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

Updated 6:18 p.m.

Mourdock’s campaign charged that Donnelly broke a rule that forbids the use of debate footage in television commercials. The footage is copywrited by the state’s debate commission, according to a Mourdock aide.

“Hoosiers are calling Joe Donnelly’s attacks sleazy, and it’s no wonder why,” Mourdock spokesman Brose McVey said. “Now Donnelly and his liberal Washington allies are attacking Richard Mourdock’s faith and beliefs.”

Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report. 

Wisconsin: Will Dueling 9/11 Ads Affect Senate Race?

Wisconsin: Will Dueling 9/11 Ads Affect Senate Race?

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson released an ad this week knocking his Democratic opponent over the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Bill Clark CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

In a Senate race that has been defined by negative ads, where both candidates are more disliked by voters than they are liked, Wisconsin might be on the verge of discovering whether there is such a thing as too negative.

And in 2012, a cycle in which nastiness and pettiness has reigned supreme nationwide, that’s saying something.

The mudslinging in the Badger State reached a new level this week with the roll-out of dueling 9/11 ads, featuring former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) accusing Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) of being unpatriotic and Baldwin, in turn, accusing Thompson of profiting off of 9/11 victims. And while it remains to be seen whether Wisconsin voters will find the ads distasteful, it is clear they find their options on the ballot so. In the most recent Marquette University Law School poll, 50 percent of voters held an unfavorable view of Thompson and 47 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of Baldwin.

Thompson has told voters that Baldwin is “too extreme” for Wisconsin and Baldwin has said that “Tommy isn’t for us anymore.” The 9/11 ads, replete with images of charred buildings, American flags and ominous voice overs, are just an extension of what’s already out there, albeit one that some sources speculate could backfire on Thompson, who started the fight.

Full story

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