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

August 16, 2012

Michigan: DCCC Starts Airing Ads in 1st District

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will air its first spot of the fall election season today, when it targets freshman Rep. Dan Benishek (R) with an independent expenditure.

House Democrats beat the National Republican Congressional Committee to the punch in the fall advertisement wars. The NRCC confirmed last week it would start airing advertisements for the fall campaign on Friday in four House districts.

Benishek faces his 2010 opponent, former state Rep. Gary McDowell (D), this November. Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

The committee will spend $73,000 to air this spot through Labor Day, according to a source familiar with the buy. This buy is in addition to the DCCC’s $515,000 reservation in television time in the 1st district through Election Day.

August 15, 2012

Cliff Stearns Concedes Defeat

Cliff Stearns Concedes Defeat

Rep. Cliff Stearns conceded defeat in Florida's 3rd district GOP primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

UPDATED 1:15 p.m. | Rep. Cliff Stearns, who was first elected to the House in 1988, conceded defeat to tea-party-affiliated veterinarian Ted Yoho today. Yoho upset the longtime Member in Florida’s 3rd district GOP primary Tuesday.

“Based upon the results from last night, it would appear that there are not enough provisional ballots to make up the difference for me to win this primary election,” Stearns said in a statement. “Therefore, I am conceding the election to Ted Yoho and I talked with him wishing him the best in his effort to represent the wonderful people of north central Florida. I have had an excellent and rewarding experience working in Congress for my fellow Floridians.”

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Yoho had 34 percent to Stearns’ 33 percent. Yoho had a more-than-800-vote advantage, according to the Associated Press, though the AP had not yet called the race because of pending overseas and provisional ballots.

“I stand proud of my 24-year record of conservative leadership and of defending our traditional values in Congress,” the Congressman said. “It has been an honor, privilege, and the high calling of my life to serve the many outstanding citizens of Florida in our nation’s capital. I will leave the House of Representatives with a joyful heart and the satisfaction that I did all I could to advance the conservative cause.”

Florida: Cliff Stearns Losing but Refuses to Concede

In a possible stunning upset, veterinarian Ted Yoho is poised to oust 12-term Rep. Cliff Stearns in Florida’s 3rd district GOP primary.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Yoho has 34 percent of the vote to Stearns’ 33 percent, putting the Congressman at a deficit of just more than 800 votes. But the Associated Press has yet to call the race since provisional and overseas ballots could change the results. Stearns is refusing to concede, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“Since this is a close primary vote and we still need to make sure all voices are heard, we are awaiting the certified results. Congressman Stearns deeply appreciates the support and hard work of the voters who share his commitment to creating jobs, limiting government, and reducing the debt,” the Florida Republican’s campaign said, according to the paper.

But Yoho is claiming victory. And in part because of the support he received from tea party activists, he could be on his way to taking out the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

“You’ve got your Ted Cruz story of Florida,” one Florida Republican operative said, referring to the Texas Senate GOP primary victor who upset the establishment pick.

On July 25, Yoho had only $130,000 in cash on hand, according to a Federal Election Commission filing. Stearns ended July 25 with more than $2 million in the bank, which left Florida Republicans scratching their heads.

“If Stearns loses, it should be a case study for incumbents who bank a shit-ton of money and then don’t do anything with it,” the operative said.

Stearns was first elected to Congress in 1988. Starting in 1990, he never fell below 59 percent of the vote in winning re-election in the general. But this time the threat came from his primary, and it’s clear, whatever the final result, he didn’t take it seriously enough.

Minnesota: Rick Nolan Wins Democratic Nod in Comeback Bid

Former Rep. Rick Nolan (D) this evening came one step closer to returning to Congress after a 32-year hiatus when he won his party’s nomination in the 8th district.

Nolan led former state Sen. Tarryl Clark, 40 percent to 32 percent, with 80 percent of precincts reporting.

Nolan’s victory sets him up to face freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) this November. The 8th district is highly competitive, and both parties have reserved millions of dollars in airtime for the Minneapolis market for this contest and adjacent races.

Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

Nolan struggled with fundraising throughout the primary but prevailed in part with some financial help from the state party. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party aired almost $160,000 in television spots on Nolan’s behalf.

The party backed Nolan over Clark earlier this year.

August 14, 2012

Wisconsin: Tommy Thompson Wins GOP Senate Primary

Wisconsin: Tommy Thompson Wins GOP Senate Primary

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson has clinched Wisconsin’s Republican Senate nomination, narrowly defeating two tea-party-backed opponents.

With 82 percent of precincts reporting, Thompson led with 35 percent of the vote over conservative businessman Eric Hovde and former Rep. Mark Neumann at the time the race was called by the Associated Press. Hovde received 30 percent of the vote, while Neumann pulled 23 percent. A fourth opponent, state Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, came in fourth with 12 percent.

Hovde trailed by five points on the night, even after spending more than $4.94 million through the end of July and having contributed $4.85 million of his own money to the campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. Neumann had the support of the conservative Club for Growth and tea party kingmaker Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

The establishment favorite in the race, Thompson is widely considered the GOP’s best chance to beat Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in November’s general election for the seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl (D). He served as governor of the Badger State from 1987 to 2001 and then as secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.

In a poll released earlier this month by the Marquette University Law Center, Thompson led Baldwin by 5 points, with a 2.9-point margin of error.

Florida: David Rivera to Face Joe Garcia — Again

Florida: David Rivera to Face Joe Garcia — Again

Rep. David Rivera will have a rematch in the fall against his 2010 Democratic opponent. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s rematch time in South Florida.

Former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia won Florida’s 26th district Democratic primary tonight and will challenge Rep. David Rivera (R) in November. Rivera, the embattled freshman lawmaker, beat Garcia by more than 9 points in 2010.

This evening, Garcia beat Gloria Romero Roses, a political newcomer, by a comfortable margin. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Garcia had 53 percent to Romero Roses’ 31 percent.

Full story

Wisconsin: Mark Pocan Wins Primary to Succeed Tammy Baldwin

State Rep. Mark Pocan handily defeated fellow state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys tonight. He led 70 percent to 23 percent when the Associated Press called the race.

Pocan was widely expected to win the primary for the Madison-based 2nd district and will almost certainly come to Congress in the fall. The two were vying for a safe Democratic open seat to replace Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D), who is running for Senate.

Florida: Big Win for Alan Grayson in Tonight’s GOP Primary

Florida: Big Win for Alan Grayson in Tonights GOP Primary

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sunshine State voters chose their nominees for the House today. And although former Rep. Alan Grayson didn’t have a primary opponent in the 9th district, the Democratic nominee for the Orlando-area seat came away a winner.

The outspoken former Congressmen and his Democratic allies have worked hard and spent good money to ensure he faces an opponent other than Osceola County Commissioner John “Q” Quinones, who would have been the strongest GOP candidate in the Democratic-leaning district. Their work paid off.

Attorney Todd Long won tonight’s GOP primary. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Long had 47 percent of the vote to Quinones’ 28 percent, the Associated Press reported.

Full story

Connecticut: Elizabeth Esty Wins 5th District Democratic Nomination

Updated 10:10 p.m. | Former State Rep. Elizabeth Esty has won the Democratic nomination in the open-seat race for Connecticut’s 5th district, according to the Associated Press. Esty had garnered 43 percent of the vote when the race was called.

State Speaker Chris Donovan was in second with 35 percent. Public relations executive Dan Roberti was in third with 23 percent.

It is the conclusion to one of the toughest-fought Congressional primaries this cycle.

Donovan was the early frontrunner, until two of his campaign staffers were indicted over the summer for alleged campaign finance violations. Labor and base liberals continued to steadfastly back him.

The foundation of Esty’s campaign was based in EMILY’s List support.

A super PAC backed television ads that supported Roberti in recent weeks, and he also received a last-minute endorsement from President Bill Clinton on Monday.

This is an open-seat race to replace Rep. Christopher Murphy (D), who is running for Senate.

As events unfolded over the summer, Republicans have played close attention to the race.

Updated 10:10 p.m.

On the Republican side in the 5th district, state Sen. Andrew Roraback won the primary with 33 percent at the time the Associated Press called the race. Businessman Mark Greenberg was in second place at 28 percent, businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley and veteran Justin Bernier were tied for third at 19 percent.

Both parties nominated what were likely their strongest general election candidates.

Connecticut: Linda McMahon, Christopher Murphy Win Senate Primaries

Connecticut: Linda McMahon, Christopher Murphy Win Senate Primaries

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon has won the GOP nomination in the race to replace retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman (I), while Rep. Christopher Murphy won the Democratic nomination, according to the Associated Press.

Murphy had 68 percent of the vote at the time the Associated Press called the race, defeating former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, who had 32 percent.

McMahon had 75 percent of the vote, putting her 50 points ahead of her Republican rival, former Rep. Christopher Shays.

From the beginning of the cycle, McMahon and Murphy were expected to win their parties’ nominations. Going forward, Murphy is the undisputed frontrunner in the fall.

Recently, though, national Republicans have begun to pay more attention to the Connecticut Senate race.

This is McMahon’s second GOP Senate nomination. She lost the general election to now-Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) in 2010.

Florida: Connie Mack IV, Bill Nelson to Battle in November

Florida: Connie Mack IV, Bill Nelson to Battle in November

Rep. Connie Mack IV won tonight's Republican Senate primary in Florida. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Connie Mack IV, who had broad support from just about every swath of the Republican Party, easily picked up the GOP nomination for Senate to take on Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in November.

Mack defeated long-shot candidates former Rep. Dave Weldon, retired Army Col. Mike McCalister and activist Marielena Stuart in primary. With 42.7 percent of precincts reporting, Mack had 58.5 percent of ballots cast, according to the Associated Press.

Nelson also easily dispatched a nonserious opponent. The two-term Senator took 79.3 percent of the vote, with 43.1 percent reporting, per AP results.

Mack is seen in both Democratic and Republican circles as a particularly weak candidate. The race in November favors Nelson.

Roll Call rates the Senate race as Leans Democratic. Nelson is widely expected to outperform President Barack Obama regardless of whether he wins the battleground state.

Florida: John Mica Beats Sandy Adams

Florida: John Mica Beats Sandy Adams

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. John Mica, chairman of the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, beat tea-party-affiliated freshman Rep. Sandy Adams by a comfortable margin in today’s GOP primary for Florida’s 7th district, situated north of Orlando.

With 78 percent of precincts reporting, Mica had 61 percent of the vote, to Adams’ 39 percent.

The establishment gets a bum rap these days. Time spent in Washington, D.C., is politically pestilent. Earmarks have given way to an age of austerity. Compromise is out. The approval rating of Congress is at 10 percent.

But in today’s Republican Member-vs.-Member race between the establishment and the grass roots, the establishment won.

Despite being a longtime politician in D.C. — Mica was first elected in 1992 — and having a history of earmarking for his district, Mica’s voting record is hued quite red: He is a real conservative. But it was green, not red that kept this from being much of a race.

Mica had a very considerable money advantage going into the primary fight earlier this year, and Adams was never able to close the gap with her own fundraising. Outside groups didn’t come to her rescue in a substantial way either, despite endorsements from tea party heavyweights such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and firebrand Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.).

“You can have all the grass roots you want, but at some point there is just a money factor that just crushes,” explained one top Florida GOP strategist unaligned in the race. “We reached that point a few weeks ago.”

Mica also started out with a significant advantage in the number of voters in the district who knew who he was. First elected to an Orlando-area seat the same year Bill Clinton was first elected president, Mica is a familiar figure.

“The guy’s been advertising in the Orlando media market for like 20 years,” the strategist said.

Other Republicans watching the race were struck by the disparity in advertising between the two candidates.

“He’s been really strong down the stretch with a lot of TV,” said unaffiliated GOP consultant Tre’ Evers, who is based in central Florida. And Mica had “lined up almost all of the local mayors,” he said.

Adams ran a feisty campaign, but the money gap hampered her ability to paint a full contrast with Mica. She was also impeded by the fact that both are similarly conservative when their voting records are taken in total, Florida GOP insiders said.

The race grew particularly nasty at times, but that didn’t change the underlying fundamentals.

“All she had on him was that he’s served for a long time,” Evers said.

The district is comfortably Republican so Mica is almost certain to be joining the 113th Congress for his 11th term.

Kentucky: Ben Chandler Goes Up With First Ad of Cycle

Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), facing a rematch with Lexington Attorney Andy Barr (R), began airing his first ad of the cycle today, emphasizing his fiscal responsibility.

“I’ve always been of the belief if you spend more than you take in, you’re going to go broke,” he says directly to camera in the 30-second spot. “It’s important that we get this debt under control.”

A slow-talking male narrator then begins to speak over B-roll of Chandler campaigning and working. “That’s why Ben Chandler voted for a balanced budget amendment that protects Medicare and Social Security. Voted against every Congressional pay raise,” the narrator says.

“And held down his office spending to return over half a million dollars to taxpayers. Putting Kentucky first,” the narrator concludes.

The ad is backed by a buy of $48,485 — 551 gross rating points — in the district today through Sunday, according to a Chandler spokeswoman.

Barr began airing his first ad today too.

Roll Call rates the race in the 6th district of Kentucky as Likely Democratic.

By Joshua Miller Posted at 3:45 p.m.
Ads, House 2012, Ky.-6

New Mexico: Martin Heinrich Expands Lead in Democratic Poll

New Mexico: Martin Heinrich Expands Lead in Democratic Poll

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A poll conducted for a coalition of environmental and conservation organizations found that Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) has expanded his lead over former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) in the race for New Mexico’s open Senate seat. Full story

Kentucky: Andy Barr Launches First TV Ad

Lexington attorney Andy Barr (R), facing a tough re-match with four-term Rep. Ben Chandler (D) in the Bluegrass State’s 6th district, today released a smart, soft-spoken ad reintroducing himself to voters.

His wife, Carol Barr, narrates the ad. She begins speaking to camera standing in a kitchen with a mug covered in hearts.

Full story

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