Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 24, 2014

August 14, 2012

Connecticut: House and Senate Primaries on Tap

Connecticut: House and Senate Primaries on Tap

Rep. Christopher Murphy is favored in today's Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Connecticut Senate race may turn out to be more interesting than expected in the fall. But for today’s primary contests, all of the excitement is in the 5th district.

This seat’s Democratic primary has pitted EMILY’s List, base liberals and President Bill Clinton against each other, and the outcome is not clear. There is similar uncertainty in the GOP race. Both have become increasingly nasty as the summer progressed. The fall outcome could ride on whom the parties nominate.

As for that Senate race, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon is expected to handily defeat former Rep. Christopher Shays in the state’s Senate GOP primary. Likewise, Rep. Christopher Murphy is expected to coast to the nomination on the Democratic side.

Connecticut’s 5th District

The Democratic primary to replace Rep. Christopher Murphy (D), who is running for Senate, has been one of the wildest races of the cycle.

The early frontrunner, state Speaker Chris Donovan, was coasting to the nomination until his campaign went into turmoil in June when two staffers were indicted for alleged campaign finance violations. Donovan has continually denied any knowledge of the matter.

That development gave his two competitors an opening. Former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty seemed at first to benefit the most. She has an organized campaign and the backing of EMILY’s List. That rivalry has set off a proxy fight between EMILY’s List and liberals who are doubling down on Donovan.

Meanwhile, political newcomer Dan Roberti had a low profile for most of the campaign. But in recent weeks, super PAC money has come to his aid through television ads, and he has aired negative spots against Esty and Donovan. On Monday, Roberti was endorsed by President Bill Clinton.

It is hard to tell who has the edge in this race.

The Republican primary has unfolded similarly.

Democrats are most afraid of state Sen. Andrew Roraback. He is a moderate and well-liked. It is for that reason he is perceived as the most dangerous Republican candidate in the context of ethics dominating the Democratic Party’s primary.

But the Republican primary has had ethical issues surface as well.  Businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley’s self-funded effort has come under scrutiny, and Democrats are hopeful that she will win the Republican primary. Businessman Mark Greenberg and 2010 candidate Justin Bernier are also in the hunt for the GOP nod.

Much rides on which nominees emerge from both parties. With ethics issues hanging over Donovan and Wilson-Foley, certain matchups will strongly influence each party’s chances in the fall.

Connecticut Senate

Most Connecticut politicos have long declared Rep. Christopher Murphy as the frontrunner over former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz.

With the exception of EMILY’s List, most of the national Democratic establishment has made it known that Murphy is its preferred candidate. Some on the ground say  Bysiewicz has a record of getting out the vote and should not be underestimated. But on primary day, this is Murphy’s race to lose.

In the Republican primary, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon is making her second run for Senate and former Rep. Christopher Shays is attempting his political comeback.

It has been a bitter fight that McMahon is expected to win. She picked up the state party’s endorsement in May. Shays has fought hard, but he has not been able to keep up with McMahon’s self-funded financial effort.

National Republicans wrote off this seat last fall, but they have recently changed their posture, praising McMahon’s campaign execution.

Minnesota: DFL, Bill Clinton at Odds in Democratic Primary

Minnesota: DFL, Bill Clinton at Odds in Democratic Primary

Rep. Chip Cravaack awaits the winner of Minnesota's 8th district Democratic primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If there’s one primary to watch in the Gopher State today, it’s the Democratic contest in the 8th district, where three candidates are facing off for the right to challenge freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) this November.

Cravaack’s district represents the Democrats’ best shot at picking up a seat in Minnesota. Roll Call rates the 8th district race as a Tossup.

The district also features the most contentious primary on the ballot.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party backed former Rep. Rick Nolan (D) for the seat earlier this year. The party recently started airing advertisements on his behalf. But Nolan’s fundraising has struggled despite the support of the delegation.

Meanwhile, former state Sen. Tarryl Clark (D) has raised money at a fast clip. She’s also buoyed by an endorsement from President Bill Clinton, who is featured in her latest spot.

Most Democrats expect Nolan or Clark to prevail, although Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson is also running.

August 13, 2012

New Hampshire: Ann McLane Kuster Goes on the Air

Democrat Ann McLane Kuster has released her first television advertisement in her bid to oust Rep. Charles Bass (R) in the 2nd district.

The 30-second spot attempts to emphasize crossover appeal and personal frugality. According to a source, this is “a full buy on WMUR and in Boston.”

Full story

Connecticut: Bill Clinton Endorses Dan Roberti

Bill Clinton today endorsed Dan Roberti in his bid for the Democratic nomination in Connecticut’s 5th district.

The endorsement comes just one day before the primary, and it’s unclear how effective it will be in boosting Roberti over former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty and state Speaker Chris Donovan.

“Whether running a homeless shelter, organizing rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina, or helping veterans find jobs, Dan has demonstrated a deep commitment to public service,” Clinton said in a statement. “He’s always working to make a difference for other people, and he’s good at it.”

Full story

DSCC Attacks Todd Akin in New Ad

The independent expenditure arm of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee began airing an attack ad this weekend against Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP nominee for Senate in Missouri.

Saying he would “undermine Social Security,” the spot attacks Akin with his own words. Democrats are hoping to frame Akin as too extreme for Missouri voters. They hope swing voters will instead cast their ballots for vulnerable first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill (D).

Full story

Michigan: Pete Hoekstra Not a Fan of 17th Amendment

Michigan: Pete Hoekstra Not a Fan of 17th Amendment

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If it were up to former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), he might envision a different path to the Senate than challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) this November.

The newly minted Republican nominee has said repeatedly he supports repealing the 17th amendment, which allows the direct election of Senators, according to interviews he gave in the last year.

Full story

NRCC’s Early Ads Target John Barrow, Ben Chandler, Mike McIntyre, Mark Critz

NRCCs Early Ads Target John Barrow, Ben Chandler, Mike McIntyre, Mark Critz

Georgia Rep. John Barrow is one of four Democrats whom the NRCC is targeting in ads starting next week. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The fall advertisement wars will start this week when House Republicans begin airing spots in four battleground races.

On Friday, the National Republican Congressional Committee will target Democratic Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Mark Critz (Pa.) with advertisements in their  districts.

The NRCC previously announced $24 million in airtime reservations, but it can change those buys at any time. These independent expenditures mean the NRCC is putting down cash and airing spots — and doing it earlier than usual.

In 2010, the committee didn’t begin airing spots until after Labor Day. But the deluge of ads from outside groups and the competitive presidential race have pushed up the launch date for the traditional fall ad campaigns.

According to data on the buys obtained by Roll Call, the committee targeted less expensive markets with its first buys for the fall:

Full story

August 12, 2012

Conservatives Happy, but Nervous, About Paul Ryan VP Pick

Conservatives Happy, but Nervous, About Paul Ryan VP Pick

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a rally in Manassas, Va., during his "Plan for a Stronger Middle Class" bus tour. He announced Saturday morning that Rep. Paul Ryan would be his running mate. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

For Republicans, call Paul Ryan the schizophrenic choice.

Even as they celebrated Mitt Romney’s decision to select the House Budget chairman as his vice presidential running mate, they acknowledged it carries political risks for the GOP ticket in the November battle against President Barack Obama. Democrats are uniformly elated, believing that the Wisconsin lawmaker’s blueprint to overhaul Medicare could be a dagger to the heart of the Romney campaign — and a lifeboat for Obama, whose re-election is threatened by a potential wave of voter discontent.

Conversations with Republican professionals and Twitter exchanges with some of my “very” conservative followers since Saturday’s announcement reveal the GOP’s split personality over the Ryan pick.

Full story

Hawaii: Mazie Hirono, Tulsi Gabbard Win Primaries

Hawaii: Mazie Hirono, Tulsi Gabbard Win Primaries

Rep. Mazie Hirono won her Senate primary and is favored to win the seat in November. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Mazie Hirono easily won her Democratic Senate primary Saturday, and Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard scored an upset victory in the Democratic primary to replace Hirono in the House.

In heavily Democratic Hawaii, both Hirono and Gabbard are favored to win in November as well, especially with homegrown President Barack Obama on the ticket. Full story

August 11, 2012

House Democrats Elated by Paul Ryan Pick. Should They Be?

House Democrats Elated by Paul Ryan Pick. Should They Be?

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said the party couldn't be more pleased with the contrast created by Rep. Paul Ryan's elevation to vice presidential nominee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If voters aren’t familiar yet with the “the Ryan budget,” they will be soon — and House Democrats couldn’t be happier about it.

Democrats already banked on using House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (Wis.) proposed Medicare cuts as their primary attack point against the House GOP this fall, when the party faces tough odds in winning back the majority.

This morning, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney promoted the budget’s author to the national ticket — effectively making the plan a household name. An elated Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee encouraged its candidates to start shooting out press releases overnight.

“I just nominated Mitt Romney to be one of the DCCC’s newest Majority Makers,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said today in a phone interview. “He may have handed the majority to us with his choice of Paul Ryan. The Ryan budget is a debate we know we win — and Mitt Romney just nationalized the debate.”

Full story

Wisconsin: Paul Ryan Still Heavily Favored Over Rob Zerban Back Home

As Rep. Paul Ryan embarks on a national campaign, he will still have to run for re-election for his House seat.

Wisconsin law allows Ryan to seek both the vice presidency and another term in the House, and that is the understanding of what he will do, according to a Congressional campaign spokesman.

Ryan’s 1st district includes Republican pockets in the southeastern part of the state, and he won re-election last cycle by a 2-to-1 margin. The district was improved for him in redistricting. All of these points indicate that his re-election race should not be competitive, and Roll Call rates this race as Safe Republican.

But even before Ryan was picked as the vice presidential nominee, Democrats were making noise about giving him more of a race than he’s used to. He has a wealthy Democratic opponent, Rob Zerban, who has worked relentlessly to convince the political establishment that this is a real race. His argument is that Ryan has not had a serious opponent in years and that there is an opportunity for an organized Democrat to force an upset. Full story

Mitt Romney Picks Paul Ryan as Running Mate

Mitt Romney Picks Paul Ryan as Running Mate

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 7:19 a.m. | Mitt Romney has tapped Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to be his vice presidential running mate, his campaign announced Saturday morning.

Official word of the pick came via a press release a little after 7 a.m. titled “Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan: America’s Comeback Team.” The pick was first reported in the wee hours of Saturday morning by NBC News’ Chuck Todd, who cited three sources.

The announcement will come Saturday morning in Norfolk, Va., in front of the USS Wisconsin. The event is the first stop of a multiday campaign bus tour for Romney and his newly minted running mate.

Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has taken on an increased national profile as the architect of the GOP’s budget plan that proposes dramatic reforms to entitlement programs.

His stock as a VP pick rose in recent weeks as a chorus of conservatives, including the Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal, publicly encouraged Romney to make a bold choice with Ryan. The pick is viewed as likely to energize the Republican base. Full story

August 10, 2012

Mitt Romney to Announce VP Pick Saturday

Mitt Romney to Announce VP Pick Saturday

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

After weeks and months of speculation about whom Mitt Romney will tap to be his vice presidential running mate, the presumptive GOP nominee will unveil his pick on Saturday morning in Norfolk, Va.

Romney’s campaign released a media advisory just after 11 p.m. tonight announcing that the news would come as the former Massachusetts governor kicks off of his bus tour. Full story

Ohio: Republicans Pick David Joyce to Replace Steven LaTourette on Ballot

Ohio: Republicans Pick David Joyce to Replace Steven LaTourette on Ballot

Rep. Steven LaTourette is not seeking re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce (R) will take retiring Rep. Steven LaTourette’s (R) spot on the November ballot in Ohio’s 14th district.

Local Republican officials picked Joyce as their new Republican nominee today, a decision that virtually assures he will come to Congress in January.

Full story

Hawaii: Contentious Democratic Primaries Decided Saturday

Hawaii: Contentious Democratic Primaries Decided Saturday

Republican Senate candidate Linda Lingle awaits the winner of Saturday's Democratic primary. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional seats aren’t vacated often in heavily Democratic Hawaii.

So a scrum ensued within the party when two opened up last year, and is set to culminate Saturday when the Democratic nominees for the open Senate seat and 2nd district House seat are decided. In a year when homegrown President Barack Obama leads the ticket, the winners of the Democratic primaries will be especially favored to win in November. Full story

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