Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

August 25, 2014

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)

Shaheen seems to prefer events outside of the town hall format. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

LOUDON, N.H. — Will the 2014 midterms prove the death-knell for the traditional New Hampshire town hall?

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown and his backers have been relentless in pushing the case that the Democratic rival he’s trying to unseat, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, has eschewed the traditional format in a way that dodges tough questions from ordinary Granite State voters about supporting President Barack Obama’s agenda.

But should Shaheen and several other Democrats on the ballot in New Hampshire prevail, even in an unfavorable national climate, it might be grounds to reconsider the town hall format even for national candidates like those aiming to win the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Shaheen’s argument is that town halls have the propensity to be taken over by outside interest groups. She brushed off the Republican criticism last week, after an official Senate and Department of Agriculture event at a local farm.

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Tuesday Primaries: 4 Things to Watch in Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma

Tuesday Primaries: 4 Things to Watch in Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma

Gallego is running in the decisive Democratic primary Tuesday for Arizona's 7th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The end of the midterm primary season is nigh, and Tuesday marks the penultimate date of intra-party brawls this cycle.

Most notably, Rep. Ann Kirkptrick, D-Ariz., will at last her learn her general election rival as 1st District’s GOP voters pick a nominee in this competitive race. To the west, suburban Phoenix Republicans will nominate their challenger to freshman Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

Another pair of House contests in Arizona and Oklahoma will almost certainly pick future House members in districts with highly partisan voting populations. EMILY’s List and a GOP effort to help female candidates also have skin in these contests.

Florida polls close at 7 p.m. EST, while Oklahoma’s close at 8 p.m. EST. Arizona latest polls close out the night at 10 p.m. EST. Check out Roll Call’s “At the Races” blog for live results as soon as the first polls close.

Here are the four things to watch on Tuesday evening:

1. Which Republican will Kirkpatrick face this fall? 

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DesJarlais Wins by 38 Votes, Jim Tracy Concedes (Video)

DesJarlais Wins by 38 Votes, Jim Tracy Concedes (Video)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Scott DesJarlais has officially won his primary, barely squeaking past state Sen. Jim Tracy, who conceded Monday after more than two tense weeks following Tennessee’s Republican primary in the 4th District.

“A contest would not be the right thing for the Republican party and the conservative cause in Tennessee,” Tracy said in a statement detailing why he decided not to contest the results.

“I have called Rep. DesJarlais to inform him of my decision to concede and congratulated him,” Tracy continued.

Tracy trailed DesJarlais by 38 votes after all of the votes from the Aug. 7 primary were certified.

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August 24, 2014

Temps and Tensions Max Out in Arizona Primary

Temps and Tensions Max Out in Arizona Primary

Gallego speaks to Arizona primary volunteers before they canvass. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

PHOENIX — It’s a dry 108-degree heat this August afternoon, and Tony Valdovinos only prays it gets hotter. The curly-haired field director for Ruben Gallego, a Democrat running in the open House race here, has his reasons.

“We know when it’s hot, we’re the only ones out there,” says Valdovinos, slighting the opposition’s turnout operation as he drives through a wide boulevard en route to an early evening canvass.

Temps and Tensions Max Out in Arizona Primary

In Arizona’s 7th District, a generational party brawl has consumed urban Latino politics, pitting a longtime local pol, former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, against Gallego, a former two-term state representative three decades her junior.

The decisive Democratic primary for retiring Rep. Ed Pastor’s seat is Tuesday, but the race has been culminating for weeks thanks to Arizona’s burgeoning permanent early voter list. In the Valley of the Sun’s prohibitively expensive media market, the victor will be decided by direct mail and, most importantly, a month-long get-out-the-vote push in the late summer heat.

In the weeks leading up to the primary, Gallego’s team expressed more confidence they will prevail. They’re probably right: A high-tech ground game has served him well, even in some of the southwest’s oldest barrios.

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August 22, 2014

Hagan Criticizes Obama Ahead of North Carolina Visit

Hagan Criticizes Obama Ahead of North Carolina Visit

Hagan has been campaigning on the VA issue. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:38 p.m. | Sen. Kay Hagan doesn’t sound thrilled President Barack Obama is coming to town.

The North Carolina Democrat, one of the most vulnerable senators, issued a terse statement about Obama’s veterans policy ahead of his planned Tuesday visit to her home state.

The White House announced late Friday that Obama will deliver remarks at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention. The appearance gave Hagan an opportunity to criticize the president in the wake of a scandal that has captured national attention. Hagan’s office blasted her statement just 31 minutes after the White House released the schedule.

“The Obama Administration has not yet done enough to earn the lasting trust of our veterans and implement real and permanent reforms at the VA,” Hagan said.

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Judge OKs New Florida Congressional Map for 2016

A state judge upheld the Florida legislature’s newly revised congressional map Friday, ruling the redrawn House districts should apply to the 2016 elections.

“The 2014 elections will have to be held under the map as enacted in 2012,” Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis wrote in his ruling, siding with Florida lawmakers who argued that applying new district lines to this election cycle would create chaos.

The ruling allows the Aug. 26 primaries to continue as scheduled. Even so, the new map makes minor changes to the state’s House districts and will likely have a minimal effect in 2016 on the congressional delegation, where House Republicans currently outnumber Democrats 17 to 10.

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With No Recount in Wisconsin Primary, Grothman Becomes GOP Nominee

After a week and a half of uncertainty, the Republican nominee to represent Wisconsin’s 6th District will be state Sen. Glenn Grothman.

The Associated Press originally declared Grothman the winner of the GOP primary last week but then rescinded its call after additional votes came in and rendered the race too close to call.

After the 11 counties in the district verified their vote counts Wednesday, Grothman maintained his lead by 219 votes, or 0.47 percent, but it was unclear whether the second place finisher, state Sen. Joe Leibham, would call for a recount. Full story

California Freshman Airs First Ad in Competitive House Race (Video)

California Freshman Airs First Ad in Competitive House Race (Video)

Brownley is a California Democrat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., went up Friday with her first ad of the cycle, touting her commitment to women’s issues.

“I believe we are strongest when women are in charge of their own decisions,” Brownley says in the 30-second spot, which will air on cable districtwide and was provided first to CQ Roll Call. “That’s why I will always fight for equal pay for equal work, and defend your right to choose.” Full story

Mary Rose Wilcox Vies for Arizona’s 7th District (Video)

Mary Rose Wilcox Vies for Arizonas 7th District (Video)

Wilcox, D-Ariz., candidate for Congress from Arizona's 7th district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, a Democrat, hopes her community ties and political experience will boost her to victory in Tuesday’s primary in Arizona’s 7th District.

In an interview with CQ Roll Call in Washington, D.C., Wilcox laid out what she believes will be a winning strategy for the primary.

“We’re targeting, we’re making sure that we’re getting the voters out,” said Wilcox in late July. “I know my community. My community has shared with me many of their concerns, and so the message is one that is resonating. And that’s how we win.” Full story

August 21, 2014

Slip of the Tongue in South Dakota Senate Debate (Video)

Slip of the Tongue in South Dakota Senate Debate (Video)

Republicans are favored to pick up Johnson's open seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

South Dakota Democratic Senate hopeful Rick Weiland apparently is not so hopeful.

Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds is the clear front-runner for the state’s open Senate seat, and Weiland accidentally ceded that fact at a debate Wednesday.

“Senator — or, soon-to-be —” Weiland said before catching himself and laughing. “No, not soon-to-be. That’s a good gaffe. I’ll take that back. Soon-to-want-to-be Sen. Mike Rounds.” Full story

Alaska Post-Primary Outside Spending Surge Continues

Alaska Post Primary Outside Spending Surge Continues

Democrat Begich is targeted in a new post-primary ad from an outside-group. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Republican-aligned outside group launched a $1.25 million ad buy Thursday against Alaska Sen. Mark Begich.

Crossroads GPS, the issue advocacy arm of American Crossroads, is hitting Begich on equal pay for women. It’s a strike back on women’s issues after Democrats leveled attacks against Begich’s Republican challenger Dan Sullivan ahead of his primary victory Tuesday. Full story

Scott Peters Airs First Ad in California House Contest

Scott Peters Airs First Ad in California House Contest

Peters is a California Democrat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., released his first ad of the cycle Thursday, touting work he’s done that he says has helped “hold Congress accountable.”

The ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, is part of a $2.2 million buy on cable, broadcast and online through November.

“Scott Peters kept his promise: blocked congressional pay raises, and helped pass the ‘No Budget, No Pay’ Act, if they don’t pass a budget, they don’t get a pay check,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot.

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Once a GOP Staffer, Candidate Now Vies to Be Main Event

Once a GOP Staffer, Candidate Now Vies to Be Main Event

Young, left, and Grassley, right, campaign at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ADEL, Iowa – When David Young first became Sen. Charles E. Grassley’s chief of staff seven years ago, the senator sat him down for a talk. Young thought he was in for the riot act or a long list of rules.

Once a GOP Staffer, Candidate Now Vies to Be Main Event

Instead, as he tells it in the parking lot where people are shucking corn for the Adel Sweet Corn Festival, Iowa’s beloved senior senator recounted some advice he received when he first came to Washington.

“He said, ‘[whatever] your constituents want, anything and everything, you do it,’” Young recalls. “‘If they want you to cut their toenails, you cut their toenails.’”

A few weeks later, Young went out and bought enough toenail clippers for the entire staff as a reminder of their mission. Today, Young recounts that tale as a candidate for Iowa’s open 3rd District. Grassley tells the same story in Young’s first general election radio ad.

Young jokes that he probably needs to start carrying around toenail clippers. “Undoubtedly, someone’s going to come up to me and say, ‘Cut ‘em Dave,’” he jokes, saying he might also need “a 5 gallon Purell pump” to finish the job.

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August 20, 2014

Super PAC Greets Sullivan Win With Attack Ad

Super PAC Greets Sullivan Win With Attack Ad

Begich-friendly super PAC has a TV ad against Sullivan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Alaska’s newly minted Republican Senate nominee will awake the morning after his primary victory to a negative TV ad from a Democratic super PAC.

Put Alaska First, a group formed to support Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, launched an ad Wednesday against Republican Dan Sullivan targeting his lack of Alaska roots and using a controversial mining project in the state as a wedge issue.

“There’s two things you need to know about Dan Sullivan,” a Dillingham, Alaska, resident says in the ad, which is airing statewide on broadcast and cable. “He’s not from Alaska, and he supports the Pebble Mine.” Full story

Iowa Poll Shows Democrat With Big Edge in Open House Contest

State Rep. Pat Murphy, the Democratic nominee in the open-seat House contest to replace Iowa Democratic Senate nominee Bruce Braley, had an 11 point lead over his Republican opponent, according to a poll obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Murphy led businessman Rod Blum 51 percent to 40 percent according to the poll conducted by Myers Research and Strategic Services for Murphy’s campaign. The lead was outside the 4.9 percent margin of error.

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