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

August 23, 2012

Crossroads GPS Launches New Senate Ads

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The juggernaut GOP-affiliated group Crossroads GPS began airing a new ad here in Florida today knocking two-term Sen. Bill Nelson (D) for his vote in favor of Obama’s signature health care law.

“Florida seniors are facing a health care crisis: only 14 physicians to every 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries,” a female narrator says. “But in Washington, Bill Nelson’s been voting for the new health care law, which cuts Medicare spending by $700 billion; puts unelected bureaucrats between Florida’s 3 million Medicare recipients and the care they need, hurting Florida seniors.”

“Tell Senator Nelson, it’s time to repeal,” she says.

The ad is backed by a $2.4 million buy on broadcast and cable TV in Florida. It’s part of the group’s wider push of spots, launched today against Democratic Senate candidates, that also includes ads in Montana, New Mexico and Ohio.

See the Montana ad, hitting Sen. Jon Tester (D) here:

See the New Mexico ad, dinging Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic nominee for Senate, here:

See the Ohio ad knocking Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) here:

Michigan: House Democrats Air Second Spot Against Dan Benishek

House Democrats will start airing their second spot today targeting freshman Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) in the competitive 1st district race.

Democrats shifted their line of attack in this advertisement, targeting Benishek for voting “to give Members of Congress taxpayer-funded health care. For life,” an announcer says.

Benishek faces a rematch with former state Rep. Gary McDowell (D) in one of the highest-profile races in the country. Roll Call rates the contest as a Tossup.

Like every House Republican, Benishek voted in July to repeal the health care overhaul law. Part of that law requires Members of Congress to receive health care from public insurance exchanges instead of the current federal employee program.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will spend $51,000 to air the spot in the Marquette market, according to a source with knowledge of the buy. House Democrats already aired a spot targeting Benishek on Medicare in the nearby Traverse City market last week — their first independent expenditure of the fall campaign advertisement season.

August 22, 2012

Race Rating Change: North Dakota Moves in Dems’ Direction

Race Rating Change: North Dakota Moves in Dems Direction

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

Updated 11:30 p.m. | This week proves what a difference a strong candidate can make, even in partisan states.

In the wake of the implosion of Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.), Republicans quietly bemoaned their policy of remaining neutral in Senate primaries. But in North Dakota, where Republicans had an uncompetitive primary, it’s become clear that the GOP nominee is not as strong a recruit as he initially appeared to be.

At the start of the cycle, Republicans believed this seat would be an easy pickup. But former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) proved a strong candidate, and she’s run a nearly flawless campaign against the GOP nominee, Rep. Rick Berg.

Accordingly, Roll Call is belatedly changing its North Dakota race rating to Tossup. For months, we rated this race as Leans Republican, citing the GOP’s past political performance in the state. But over the summer, Democrats ran a stronger campaign here — and polling shows it’s working for Heitkamp. Full story

Democrats Continue to Invoke Todd Akin in Push for Cash, Women’s Votes

Democrats Continue to Invoke Todd Akin in Push for Cash, Womens Votes

Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren released a new radio ad today invoking the controversy surrounding the GOP Senate nominee in Missouri. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

PLANTATION, Fla. — There are more than 1,200 miles between the home of Rep. Todd Akin (R) and this city just west of Fort Lauderdale, but at a Democratic meeting here Tuesday night, the Missouri Senate candidate’s presence loomed large.

Mitchell Ceasar, the chairman of the Broward County Democratic Party, fervently invoked the GOP lawmaker in his remarks before about 150 people at a meeting of the county’s Democratic Executive Committee.

“We can talk all night about the war on women. We saw it again [Monday] and that candidate has reaffirmed that he’s still in the race,” Ceasar said to a smattering of applause and troubled murmurs from the people sitting on folding chairs.

Standing behind a podium with an Obama campaign sign on it, Ceaser told the group that Akin “is symptomatic with his extremism” of what a lot of Republican candidates actually believe. “Obviously none have ever passed a high school biology class,” he said. The crowd chuckled in affirmation.

In Washington, D.C., and all around the country, Democrats have pounced on the white-hot furor over Akin’s inflammatory comments about rape and abortion to rally the base and reinforce the message that there’s a Republican “war on women.”

Full story

Michigan: Kerry Bentivolio’s Teaching Troubles

Kerry Bentivolio, the GOP nominee in Michigan’s 11th district, had trouble as a high school teacher, according to a new Detroit Free Press report.

Fowlerville High School officials reportedly reprimanded Bentivolio for telling students they were “just a paycheck to me,” threatening to make them cry and pounding on their desks.

Bentivolio faces internist Syed Taj (D) this November in the suburban district west of Detroit. Republicans viewed the district as a safe bet until recently, when a strange series of events made this the most unpredictable House race of the cycle. Roll Call rates the contest as Leans Republican. Full story

Missouri: Todd Akin Out at GOP Convention, Leaves Door Open to Exit

Missouri: Todd Akin Out at GOP Convention, Leaves Door Open to Exit

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Embattled Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) hit the morning talk show circuit today, continuing his media redemption tour, justifying his rebuke of Republican leadership and announcing he will not attend next week’s GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.

He also gave Republicans a sliver of hope that he might eventually do what most have urged him to: drop out of the race.

“I’m never going to say everything that could possibly happen,” Akin said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I don’t know the future, but I do know this. I knew that the party voters took a look at our hearts, understood who we were, had a chance to meet us in many, many different ways and made a decision. And it makes me uncomfortable to think that the party bosses are going to dictate who runs as opposed to the election process.” Full story

Montana: DSCC Launches Second Ad Against Denny Rehberg

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today launched its second TV ad in Montana, where Sen. Jon Tester (D) is fending off a challenge from Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) in what is expected to be one of the closest races in the country. Full story

August 21, 2012

Georgia: Doug Collins Wins House Race, Likely Headed to Congress

Georgia: Doug Collins Wins House Race, Likely Headed to Congress

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:32 p.m. | State Rep. Doug Collins won the GOP runoff today in Georgia’s 9th district and is almost certain to be coming to Congress from the ultra-Republican seat in the northeast portion of the state. Close with Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and backed by the Atlanta Republican establishment, Collins easily won the runoff, besting conservative talk radio host Martha Zoller by almost 10 points.

With 98.1 percent of precincts reporting, Collins had 54.6 percent to Zoller’s 45. 4 percent, the Associated Press reported.

With support from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), and former GOP presidential contender Herman Cain, Zoller cast herself as the insurgent tea party candidate against Collins, who has establishment roots. Full story

Mitt Romney to Todd Akin: Drop Out of Senate Race

Mitt Romney to Todd Akin: Drop Out of Senate Race

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Presumptive GOP White House nominee Mitt Romney today called on Rep. Todd Akin to drop his bid for Senate in the Show-Me State.

“As I said yesterday, Todd Akin’s comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country,” Romney said in a statement.

“Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race,” Romney said, referring to a joint statement from Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Missouri GOP Sens. Kit Bond, John Danforth and Jim Talent.

The pressure from Romney is probably the final twist of the GOP establishment vice trying to squeeze the embattled Congressman from a race that he is no longer seen as able to win after making inflammatory comments about rape. Akin has until 5 p.m. local time today to remove himself from the ballot without penalty.

California: Mark Takano Up by 4 in Internal Poll

In a California House race targeted by both parties, Riverside Community College Board Trustee Mark Takano (D) led by 4 points in a poll conducted for his campaign.

According to a polling memo obtained by Roll Call, the poll, conducted by EMC Research of Oakland, Calif., found Takano ahead of Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione (R), 42 percent to 38 percent, with 20 percent undecided. Tavaglione enjoys a 15-point name identification advantage, 55 percent to 40 percent. Full story

Todd Akin Staying Put, as Top Missouri Republicans Tell Him to Exit

Todd Akin Staying Put, as Top Missouri Republicans Tell Him to Exit

(Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Associated Press)

Updated 2 p.m. | Rep. Todd Akin said he is staying in the Missouri Senate race despite the national firestorm sparked by his controversial comments about rape and calls from the Republican Party establishment in his own state for him to step aside.

“We are going to continue with this race,” the GOP Congressman told former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in a radio interview this afternoon.

Akin’s decision comes as Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt issued a joint statement with former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Sens. Kit Bond, John Danforth and Jim Talent — all Republicans from Missouri — calling on Akin to drop out of the race. Full story

Virginia: Tim Kaine Cites Bipartisan Record in First TV Ad

Updated 2:30 p.m. | Tim Kaine launched the first television ad of his Senate campaign in Virginia today, a positive spot highlighting his record as governor.

The ad is part of the Democrat’s $4.5 million TV time buy placed between now and Election Day. It comes amid a flurry of outside spending — and direct attacks of his record — which his campaign said has already reached $8.5 million worth of advertising against Kaine.

Full story

Pennsylvania: Kathy Boockvar on the Air Against Mike Fitzpatrick

Attorney Kathy Boockvar (D) will start airing advertisements today in her bid to unseat Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) in southeastern Pennsylvania.

The $38,000 buy will run an introductory, semi-biographical spot this week.

“It’s just common sense — work together, make smart decisions and improve our bottom line,” Boockvar says in the spot. “That’s what I’ve done at work, as a mediator and at home, as a wife and mother. And it’s what I’ll do in Washington.”

Fitzpatrick is seeking re-election in the competitive 8th district. The seat represents Democrats’ best shot to pick up a seat this November in Pennsylvania, although Roll Call rates this race as Leans Republican.

The Congressman has a major financial advantage over Boockvar. He reported $1.2 million in the bank at the end of June, while the Democrat had $421,000 in the bank at the same time.

NRCC Outraised DCCC by $3.5 Million in July

The National Republican Congressional Committee outraised the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee by some $3.5 million in July.

The NRCC raised $11.7 million and ended the month with $48.9 million in cash on hand, while the DCCC raised $8.2 million and closed the month with $36.2 million in cash on hand.

Last month, the NRCC topped the DCCC in fundraising. For the cycle to date, the DCCC has maintained the fundraising edge.

August 20, 2012

Missouri: Todd Akin Stands Up Piers Morgan

In the most recent chapter of the bizarre saga surrounding embattled Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri Senate GOP nominee ducked out of a prime-time interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, leading the host to dub him “a gutless little twerp.”

Akin had been attempting a restorative media tour today, agreeing to be interviewed earlier by conservatives Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity. But facing pressure from top GOP leaders, as well as from some of the hosts themselves, the Missouri Republican — who said Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy — apparently got cold feet.

“Congressman, you have an open invitation to join me in that chair whenever you feel up to it because if you don’t keep your promise to be on the show, then you are what we would call in Britain, a gutless little twerp,” said Morgan, who showed an empty chair throughout his program. Full story

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