Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 22, 2014

September 18, 2014

House Democrats Raise $10.2 Million in August for Midterms

House Democrats Raise $10.2 Million in August for Midterms

Israel is the DCCC's Chairman. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats raised more than $10 million in August, according to figures obtained first by CQ Roll Call from a committee aide.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will report $54.5 million in cash on hand as it heads into the final stretch of the midterm campaigns.

Democrats must pick up 17 seats to win control of the House, although that prospect is highly unlikely given the national political landscape and the number of competitive districts this cycle. But the DCCC can still leverage its cash advantage to help incumbents or put GOP-held seats in play before November.

Full story

The ‘Cory Booker of California’ Leaps to Safer Ground

The Cory Booker of California Leaps to Safer Ground

Ruiz is a freshman Democrat from California. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s a story even Hollywood couldn’t concoct.

Once arguably the most vulnerable House Democrat in California, freshman Rep. Raul Ruiz has climbed to safer ground in the final months of the midterms. His position can be chalked up to a series of politically fortunate — albeit grave — events on two separate flights to the Palm Springs-based 36th District.

Ruiz represents competitive territory that President Barack Obama won by only 3 points last cycle. The freshman started the midterms as a top GOP target, and Republicans were confident in their recruit, Assemblyman Brian Nestande.

Then, the completely unexpected happened. Twice.  Full story

Meet the Super PAC Woman

Meet the Super PAC Woman

Lapp is the executive director of House Majority PAC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the political ad wars rage on television sets from New England to Southern California, Democrats think they have their answer to the Koch brothers and Karl Rove: a mother of three sons from suburban Virginia.

Meet Alixandria Lapp, the executive director of a super PAC with the sole mission of electing as many House Democrats as possible.

At House Majority PAC, she oversees tens of millions of dollars in television advertising every fall. But Lapp’s place in Democratic politics goes beyond a single political organization.

Behind the scenes, the seasoned operative plays traffic cop among House races, wrangling the spectrum of Democratic groups to ensure they work together to get the best bang for their buck in the super PAC ad wars. Full story

September 17, 2014

House Democrats, DNC Pledge Millions for Midterms

House Democrats, DNC Pledge Millions for Midterms

Israel is the current chairman of the DCCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee picked up $1.7 million in member pledges at its quarterly caucus dinner Tuesday night.

In addition, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel announced that the Democratic National Committee, an organization that struggled financially until this spring, had pledged to transfer $2 million to the DCCC for the midterms.

The DCCC has walloped its counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, in fundraising this cycle. But House Democrats must net 17 seats to win control of the chamber — a nearly impossible task given the political climate and map.

“We’ve been breaking every fundraising record but winning campaigns is expensive,” Israel said at the dinner, according to a source in the room. “We had 400,000 online donations in July and raised $7 million. This is an inspiration.”

Full story

Vote Now: Where Should Roll Call Travel to Cover the Midterms?

Vote Now: Where Should Roll Call Travel to Cover the Midterms?

Roll Call's Alexis Levinson, left, talks with a House candidate in Iowa, David Young, during August recess. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Will it be Omaha or San Diego? Raleigh or Topeka? Lexington or Denver?

Two days of voting have passed in Roll Call’s first reader survey to determine where we should send reporters cover the midterms. The polls for this round close Friday at 5 p.m.

As of Wednesday morning, the Kansas contest held a clear lead among Senate races. But that could change quickly if the state Supreme Court refuses to let the Democrat off the ballot, which could complicate the path for a wealthy independent candidate, Greg Orman, to take on GOP Sen. Pat Roberts in November. A decision is expected this week.

House contests in Nebraska and San Diego keep trading the top spot in that category. That might have something to do with a Facebook campaign from the Democratic nominee in Nebraska’s 2nd District, Brad Ashford, who is challenging GOP Rep. Lee Terry. Roll Call Politics’ House Reporter Emily Cahn has even acquired her own Twitter hashtag for this race choice: #CahntoNebraska.

Two finalists in each category will be announced Monday.

Have an opinion on which race we should cover? Did we miss one of your favorite contests this cycle? Email your feedback or race of choice to Politics Editor Shira T. Center, or tweet your thoughts or race at @RollCall with #RCReadersChoice.

Otherwise, the voting continues below. Full story

Cotton’s Softer Side Displayed in Senate Race (Video)

Cottons Softer Side Displayed in Senate Race (Video)

Cotton is challenging Pryor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton’s campaign kicked off the final sprint to November with advertising designed to soften the image of one of the GOP’s most-touted Senate recruits.

The freshman congressman, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, boasts multiple Harvard degrees, military service and broad support across the GOP spectrum. His political advantages also include a state trending Republican and a midterm cycle featuring a second-term Democratic president with a 31 percent approval rating in Arkansas, according to a recent NBC News/Marist poll.

But Cotton is running against a two-term senator with a respected brand name, which has given Pryor an advantage some of his fellow red-state Democratic colleagues don’t share. Cotton, who was a first-time candidate in 2012 and has represented just a quarter of the state for less than two years, had the added challenge of boosting his relatively low name ID while refining his skills on the stump. Full story

September 16, 2014

Report: Congressional Candidate Fundraising Down in Midterms

Report: Congressional Candidate Fundraising Down in Midterms

A new report says congressional candidates aren't raising as much money as a whole this cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Residents of states with competitive House and Senate races may not believe it, but congressional candidate spending has decreased in 2014, according to a review by the Federal Election Commission released Tuesday.

Congressional candidates raised more than $1.1 billion combined in the first 18 months of the midterm elections. Of those funds, candidates spent $767 million as of June 30, which marked the end of the second quarter of the year.

Both of those figures are down from 2012, when candidates had raised $1.2 billion at the same point in the cycle. In fact, this cycle’s total is the lowest amount raised in this period since 2008.

Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 5:49 p.m.
DCCC, DSCC, FEC, NRCC, NRSC

NRCC Makes $1 Million Ad Buy to Defend GOP Incumbent

NRCC Makes $1 Million Ad Buy to Defend GOP Incumbent

Benishek is getting help from the NRCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Tuesday reserved $1 million in television airtime to defend Michigan Rep. Dan Benishek, according to a source tracking buys in the district.

The NRCC will go up Friday on Traverse City broadcast and stay up through Election Day in support of the two-term incumbent. The buy, which was not part of the NRCC’s initial slew of ad reservations in June, is a signal the party views Benishek as vulnerable.

In 2012, Benishek squeaked his way to a second term by less than a point, even as Mitt Romney won the northern Michigan-based 1st District — which includes the Upper Peninsula — by an 8-point margin.

Full story

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

McConnell's campaign is using this official photo of Obama shooting clay targets (Pete Souza/White House)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign has taken rapid response to the airwaves.

The Kentucky Republican is out with a new TV ad Tuesday rebutting a spot Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes released Monday morning to CQ Roll Call.

The Grimes ad featured the Kentucky secretary of state skeet shooting and highlighting differences from President Barack Obama on several policy issues, including guns and the environment. The McConnell response, which the campaign says is backed by a significant six-figure buy, connects Grimes’ past support of the Democratic Party platform. Full story

NRSC Ad Hits Bruce Braley on Congressional Attendance (Video)

NRSC Ad Hits Bruce Braley on Congressional Attendance (Video)

Braley is the target of another NRSC ad. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is launching a TV ad in Iowa Tuesday that criticizes Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley for his attendance record on the House floor and a committee he served.

The NRSC Independent Expenditure Committee ad, shared first with CQ Roll Call, is at least the second one to slam Braley for missing a significant number of committee hearings.

This one hits the congressman for his time on the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, as well as for missing more votes than any other Iowa member. A previous spot from GOP-aligned Freedom Partners hit Braley for skipping Veterans’ Affairs hearings. Full story

Scott Brown’s Path Back to D.C. Widens

Scott Browns Path Back to D.C. Widens

Brown is a Republican running for Senate in New Hampshire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Sen. Scott P. Brown’s path to victory in the New Hampshire Senate race has widened.

Once a second-tier race that seemed unlikely to impact control of the Senate, a trio of recent polls show the race between Brown and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., has tightened.

A CNN/ORC poll released Monday had the race tied at 48 percent. A WMUR/UNH poll from early August put Shaheen ahead, 46 percent to 44 percent. A CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll conducted in the final weeks of August and early September had Shaheen with 47 percent to Brown’s 41 percent.

Shaheen remains the front-runner, but even Democrats acknowledge the race has moved to a single-digit contest — and Republicans are more bullish about Brown’s chances than ever. Full story

DSCC Topped NRSC in August Fundraising

DSCC Topped NRSC in August Fundraising

Senate Democratic leaders hope to hold the majority in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Tuesday it raised $7.7 million in August, topping its Republican counterpart and bringing its total raised for the cycle to more than $111 million.

With spending on independent-expenditure advertising and a field operation picking up, the DSCC ended last month with more than $25 million in cash on hand. Full story

September 15, 2014

Giffords Group Airs Tough Ad Against Martha McSally

Giffords Group Airs Tough Ad Against Martha McSally

Barber is an Arizona Democrat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

In one of the toughest ads yet of the cycle, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ gun control group is up with a new spot connecting a House candidate’s policies to the actions of a murderous stalker.

The ad will it air in Giffords’ former district around Tucson, where one of the country’s most competitive House races is taking place. Giffords’ group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, is supporting her former top aide, Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, in his rematch against Republican Martha McSally.

In the spot, a tearful Tucson mother described explained how a rejected suitor shot her daughter and her husband. Full story

Shop Talk: Republican Group Starts Women’s Outreach Series

Shop Talk: Republican Group Starts Womens Outreach Series

Ellmers is scheduled to participate in a women's outreach town hall this month in Charlotte. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Main Street Advocacy, a group that seeks to promote moderate Republican ideas, will launch a nationwide initiative later this month to bring more women into the political process.

“Women2Women” kicks off Sept. 25 in Charlotte. GOP Reps. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Susan W. Brooks of Indiana are expected to attend the discussion of issues that women say drive them to the ballot box.

The idea is the brainchild of Sarah Chamberlain, the group’s chief operating officer, who grew frustrated over the past two cycles when Republican candidates’ comments on social issues helped squander GOP pickup opportunities — hindering the party’s past efforts for Senate control. Remarks on rape from former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin and former Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in 2012 — who both lost their Senate races — sullied the GOP’s image among women and likely hurt the party’s chances in other states.

Full story

Democrats Sound the Alarm on Southern California Race

Democrats Sound the Alarm on Southern California Race

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

Democrats are sending warning signals on a previously sleepy southern California House race — a tangible sign of an increasingly tough midterm for the party.

Freshman Rep. Julia Brownley is one of three House Democrats receiving extra and early help from the national party. A year ago, her district was barely on the party’s radar of competitive races, after President Barack Obama carried it by 10 points last cycle.

“This is a tight race and a difficult seat, and we are committed to hanging onto it,” said Matt Thornton, a spokesman for House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC aiding Brownley’s re-election.

Full story

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