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

September 25, 2012

Pennsylvania: GOP Poll Shows Tie in 12th District Race

A new GOP poll shows a dead heat between Rep. Mark Critz (D) and attorney Keith Rothfus (R) in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Both candidates scored 38 percent in the survey paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the GOP nominee. Twenty-four percent of respondents reported they were undecided.

Party committees, candidates and outside groups have barraged the airwaves in the district. But in the past few weeks, Democratic groups accounted for more airtime.

Republicans say Rothfus improved his position in the race despite the Democratic ad campaign. In July, Rothfus trailed Critz by 15 points in a similar survey from the NRCC and his campaign. This summer, a trio of Democratic surveys also showed Critz holding a smaller 6 to 10 point lead over Rothfus.

The new numbers underscore the competitiveness of the race. Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

The McLaughlin & Associates survey tested 400 likely general election voters in the 12th district from Sept. 19 to 20. The margin of error is 4.9 points.

The survey showed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney leading President Barack Obama in the district, 53 percent to 39 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

View the full polling memo below: Full story

Daily Ad Track

The rate of new political television advertisements has accelerated. And, more and more, campaigns are trading accusations about the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the ads.

Some of what was unveiled today:

Connecticut Senate

On Monday afternoon, Democratic nominee Rep. Christopher Murphy’s campaign went up with an ad that hammered GOP nominee and former WWE CEO Linda McMahon on women’s issues.

The ad shows a stream of women giving testimonials about how McMahon has demeaned women during her tenure at the professional wrestling company. The clips go on to explain how McMahon will side with “extreme” Republicans on medical coverage of mammograms and contraception.

Less than 22 hours later, McMahon was up with a strikingly direct response ad. What it lacks in gimmicks, graphics and humor, it delivers with simplicity. Buy information was not immediately obtainable, but sources say the Murphy and McMahon buys are serious.

“Murphy calls me anti-woman,” McMahon says. “But Chris, take a look, I am a woman. A pro-choice woman. My company offered excellent benefits that included mammograms and access to birth control.”

Full story

Missouri Senate Race Moves to Leans Democratic as Todd Akin Stays Put

Missouri Senate Race Moves to Leans Democratic as Todd Akin Stays Put

Rep. Todd Akin confirmed once and for all today that he will be the GOP Senate nominee in Missouri. (Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)

Rep. Todd Akin reaffirmed for the final time today that he will be the irrevocable Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, despite the best efforts of national Republicans to get him to step aside after he made now-infamous comments about “legitimate rape.”

At a press conference in St. Louis, where he didn’t take any questions, Akin pledged to push forward in the face of today’s 5 p.m. CDT deadline to remove himself from the ballot.

National Republicans have refused to support Akin ever since he made the widely publicized comments about rape in August, with both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Republican National Committee saying they will stay out of the race as long as he stays in.

Akin faces Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who began the cycle as one of the most vulnerable Senators up for re-election. With it now clear that Akin will be on the ballot in November, Roll Call is changing its race rating for the Missouri Senate race from Tossup to Leans Democratic. Full story

Wisconsin: SEIU Backs Off 8th District

The Service Employees International Union has canceled a previously scheduled television ad buy in support of businessman Jamie Wall’s (D) challenge of Rep. Reid Ribble (R).

Roll Call has learned from a source monitoring Wisconsin advertising markets that the union will no longer follow through with its approximately $130,000 reservation in the Green Bay media market, which covers the 8th district. But the same source noted that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is still scheduled to go on television in Green Bay on Oct. 9.

The House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, had previously canceled a $130,000 television ad-buy reservation in mid-September.

Full story

Massachusetts: Scott Brown Aides Mock Elizabeth Warren With Indian Chants

Staffers for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) have been caught on tape engaging in conduct often viewed as offensive by Native Americans.

WCVB in Boston released video this morning showing Greg Casey and Jack Richard, Brown’s deputy chief of staff and constituent service counsel, respectively, engaging in tomahawk chops and chanting ”war whoops” during a rally this week in Boston, according to the TV station.

The video shows the two staffers and other Brown supporters mixed among a crowd of supporters for Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren.

Full story

Iowa: New DCCC Poll Shows Leonard Boswell, Tom Latham Tied

Iowa: New DCCC Poll Shows Leonard Boswell, Tom Latham Tied

A new poll out today showed Rep. Leonard Boswell (above) tied with Rep. Tom Latham in the race for Iowa's 3rd district. (Tom Williams CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

A new Democratic poll shows Reps. Leonard Boswell (D) and Tom Latham (R) tied in their race for Iowa’s redrawn 3rd district.

Both Members earned 45 percent in the survey paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and released today.

Earlier this cycle, local operatives wrote Boswell off because of Latham’s hefty cash advantage. But the race has become increasingly competitive in recent months, much like every other House race in the Hawkeye State.

The poll had the race as a dead heat, even though respondents viewed Latham in a more positive light. Thirty-nine percent viewed Latham favorably, while only 34 percent viewed Boswell favorably.

In the same poll, President Barack Obama leads GOP nominee Mitt Romney, 52 percent to 45 percent.

The Benenson Strategy Group poll interviewed 400 likely voters in the district from Sept. 18- 20. The margin of error was 4.9 percent.

Roll Call rates this race as Leans Republican.

September 24, 2012

Massachusetts: Dueling Ads About Elizabeth Warren’s Heritage in Senate Race

Massachusetts: Dueling Ads About Elizabeth Warrens Heritage in Senate Race

(Bill Clark CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Sen. Scott Brown today launched an attack ad against Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic opponent, about her claims of Cherokee heritage. Warren later hit back with an ad of her own.

Brown’s spot, his first to go negative, spliced together a series of TV news reports about the revelation that Warren, a Harvard University professor and consumer advocate, claimed Native American ancestry intermittently during her academic career. Full story

North Carolina: DCCC Cancels Another Week of Ads for Larry Kissell

North Carolina: DCCC Cancels Another Week of Ads for Larry Kissell

Rep. Larry Kissell is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There was bad news today for North Carolina Rep. Larry Kissell (D) out of Washington, D.C.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee canceled a second week of advertising in Kissell’s 8th district. Roll Call has learned that the DCCC’s independent expenditure arm canceled a reservation for advertising in the Charlotte media market from Oct. 9-15. This comes after the DCCC canceled a reservation from Oct. 2-8, as first reported by Roll Call.

The DCCC, which has not yet advertised for Kissell in the district, has reservations for the remainder of the cycle in the district — a significant sum. But those buys could be canceled, too. The National Republican Congressional Committee has been on the air advertising against Kissell since Sept. 7. Full story

Michigan: Democratic Poll Shows Trouble for Dan Benishek

Updated 6:25 p.m. | A new Democratic poll showed that former state Rep. Gary McDowell (D) led Rep. Dan Benishek (R) by 9 points in the race for Michigan’s 1st district.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they backed McDowell, while 40 percent supported Benishek.The poll was commissioned by House Majority PAC, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the League of Conservation Voters.

Both candidates are well-known in the district. Eighty-six percent of respondents were able to identify Benishek while 74 percent knew who McDowell is.

Full story

Daily Ad Track

The biggest news in political ads over the weekend was a barrage of spots the National Republican Congressional Committee unleashed on a litany of Democrats around the country. Conversely, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee typically flags its media buys in a daily, piecemeal fashion.

Maine Senate

Former “Law & Order” star Sam Waterston followed through on his years-long crusade for moderates by appearing in a television spot for Independent former Gov. Angus King. According to a King spokeswoman, Waterston reached out to the campaign to offer help and the ad was shot in Maine. This spot has $50,000 behind it. Roll Call rates this race as Likely Independent.

Full story

House Ratings Changes in Florida, New York

Today, Roll Call moves two Florida House race ratings in the Democrats’ direction, while one New York House race ratings change favors the Republicans.

FL-09
The honcho of hyperbole, the chief pooh-bah of provocation and the high baron of belittlement is poised to come to the 113th Congress. It’s Alan Grayson time. The former Congressman looks on track to comfortably beat long-shot GOP nominee Todd Long in a Democratic district and return to Washington, D.C. Roll Call moves this race to from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic.

FL-26
Embattled Rep. David Rivera (R) appears more and more vulnerable as reported federal investigations swirl around him. This race is now tighter than it was a few weeks ago — polls have shown the race to be close — and that moves it from Leans Republican to a Tossup.

Still, politics in Miami isn’t like other places in the United States. Rivera could well survive against Democratic nominee Joe Garcia, who lost Congressional races in 2008 and 2010. And longtime Florida Republicans are careful to never write off Rivera, who is seen as a survivor’s survivor.

“David Rivera could be standing in a burning building, the executioner could have a gun to his head and then a nuclear bomb could go off and you think, ‘He’s done,’” said Sunshine State GOP strategist Rick Wilson. “Next thing, David walks out the back door and asks if you want to go grab lunch.”

NY-22
It doesn’t look as if this will be the year Democrats take out Rep. Richard Hanna (R). With the right candidate, maybe the freshman lawmaker could have been vulnerable. But just more than 40 days before the election, he appears to be in very comfortable shape in his race against former Congressional aide Dan Lamb (D). In a quick interview with Roll Call on Monday afternoon, a cheerful Hanna emphasized his constituent services, quick turnaround on casework and legislative record.

Roll Call moves his race from Likely Republican to Safe Republican.

September 23, 2012

New York: Michael Grimm Campaign Office ‘Vandalized and Burglarized’

New York: Michael Grimm Campaign Office Vandalized and Burglarized

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New York Rep. Michael Grimm said today his campaign headquarters was “vandalized and burglarized.

In a statement, the freshman Republican called the alleged crime “a disgraceful act of cowardice” and a “heinous act” that “represents an assault on democracy and the political process.”

The campaign said three plate glass windows were broken and private campaign data was tampered with at the Staten Island headquarters, leaving a server “corrupted and erased.” Full story

NRCC Launches 26 New Ads Backed by $6.3 Million

NRCC Launches 26 New Ads Backed by $6.3 Million

The National Republican Congressional Committee, led by Rep. Pete Sessions (above), is trying to hold the GOP's 25-seat majority in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The partisan ad wars in the battle for control of the House are heating up, as the countdown to Election Day enters the final weeks.

The National Republican Congressional Committee launched a huge new ad blitz backed by $6.3 million.

The NRCC ads are airing Sept. 21-27 against incumbents and challengers from Arizona to West Virginia, with a heavy focus on districts in California and New York. The spots run the gamut from standard GOP attack ad fare — connecting a candidate to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or President Barack Obama — to knocking a Member for their vote in favor of the stimulus or the Affordable Care Act to creative, eye-catching spots. Full story

September 21, 2012

Maine: Angus King Takes Drop in Polls in Stride

Updated 5:04 p.m. | The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a new ad today against Maine Senate frontrunner Angus King (I), one of at least three outside groups that have gone negative on the two-term former governor.

But if the barrage of negative ads running against King bothers him, he did not reveal such feelings in an interview with Roll Call this afternoon.

“I’m a walking economic development project for Maine,” King joked, noting all the money coming into the Pine Tree State’s economy on behalf of outside groups trying to make sure he doesn’t win.

“They’re building a statue of me in the lobby of Channel 6,” King added, laughing, referring to the Portland, Maine, NBC affiliate.

But during a 20-minute discussion on his campaign, King admitted that the ads have had an effect and tightened his race with Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill to fill the open seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R).

“The polls have tightened,” he said. “I don’t think I’d be honest if I didn’t say people being pounded every night by being told that I’m a big spender or I blast mountain tops or whatever it is isn’t gonna have some impact.” Full story

GOP Candidate Uses Photo With Darrell Issa to Deflect Comments

GOP Candidate Uses Photo With Darrell Issa to Deflect Comments

(Screengrab)

Gabriela Saucedo Mercer (R), who is challenging Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D) in Arizona’s new 3rd district, has come under fire for saying that Middle Easterners are not wanted in America and attempting to use her connection to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to deflect the controversy.

On Monday evening, Mercer and Issa attended a Tucson, Ariz., dinner hosted by the Brian Terry Foundation, named for the Border Patrol agent who was killed near the Arizona-Mexico border in December 2010. As chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa has been investigating the events surrounding Terry’s death. Mercer posted a photo of herself with Issa on her Facebook page and, when a commenter noted Issa’s Lebanese heritage, Mercer defended the photo by noting that Issa does not have ties to terrorist organizations.

“I am fully aware that California Representative Darrell Issa is and AMERICAN of Lebanese descent who LOVES the United States of America. It was on honor for me to have shaken his hand and to have met his beautiful wife at the Brian Terry Foundation dinner,” reads her response on the page. “FYI Rep. Issa does not have ties to ANY terrorist organizations nor does he engage in destructive behavior against US citizens. Rep. Issa is leading the investigation on the botched Fast & Furious gun running scandal that Attorney General Eric Holder is trying to wiggle out of. As a matter of fact this man is one of my heroes! Viva Darrell Issa and GodBless the USA!”

The comments come after Mercer said, in a video interview with the Western Free Press, an Arizona-based online newspaper, that authorities caught more than 25,000 non-Mexican illegal immigrants last year.

“That includes Chinese, Middle Easterners. If you know Middle Easterners, they look Mexican or like a lot of people in South America, dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes, and they mix in,” she said, according to the Tucson-based Arizona Daily Star. “And those people, their only goal in life is to cause harm to the United States, so why do we want them here, either legally or illegally?”

Mercer has claimed that her comments about Middle Easterners were taken out of context. But when asked today about her photo with Issa, Grijalva suggested that Mercer was using the lawmaker.

“I think she’s looking for cover, and you have a high-profile Middle Easterner Congressman who has a high profile nationally based on the committee he runs and suddenly they’re chummy,” Grijalva said. “I would suggest that Mr. Issa probably needs to examine that because by him taking a picture and it being posted, it validates or takes her off the hook on that subject and that’s a mistake.”

The Mercer campaign dismissed the charge.

“The narrative that Grijalva is trying to portray is not an accurate one,” said Mercer spokeswoman Rebecca Keating. “She was at an occasion showing respect to a fallen Border Patrol agent and had a lot of pictures taken with a lot of people. … [Issa is] a great American that chose to come and honor the fallen soldier as well.”

Issa’s spokesman did not return a request for comment. There is no evidence to indicate whether the Congressman knew who Mercer was before taking the photo.

Roll Call rates this race as Safe Democratic.

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