Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 20, 2014

August 13, 2014

Hanabusa Files Lawsuit Against Hawaii Office of Elections

Hanabusa Files Lawsuit Against Hawaii Office of Elections

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the Democratic Senate primary in Hawaii too close to call and several thousand votes on the line, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, has sued the state’s Office of Elections to postpone Friday’s special election date.

hurricane descended on Hawaii during last weekend’s primary, forcing officials to postpone elections in two precincts on the Big Island. They decided Monday to hold special elections on Friday.

Hanabusa currently trails Sen. Brian Schatz, also a Democrat, by 1,635 votes.

Hanabusa filed the lawsuit with the third circuit court Wednesday, roughly 36 hours before the Friday special election. The two precincts include an estimated 8,000 voters. Full story

Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding Majority

Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding Majority

At an event in Springfield, Ill., Durbin was optimistic about the Senate majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., — Back in their home states for the August recess, the Senate’s two top Democrats said Wednesday they are optimistic about the prospects of maintaining control of the chamber in November.

Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding MajoritySenate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a union audience in Nevada that he believed Democrats would keep the Senate if the elections were held today, while also pushing steelworkers to work to get out the vote. And in Springfield, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin spoke to a gaggle of reporters outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and other statewide elected officials spoke to mark Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair.

The Senate leaders discussed the state of play with each other as recently as Tuesday, Durbin said.

Democrats face a challenging map and are likely to lose at least three open seats, but they are optimistic about their most-endangered incumbents and not allowing Republicans to pick up an additional three.

“Right now we have 55 seats. We lose six and we lose the majority,” Durbin said. “There are two or three that are tough, tough states, but the rest of them we feel pretty good about.” Full story

Wisconsin Primary Now Too Close to Call

Wisconsin Primary Now Too Close to Call

Joe Leibham's late election night surge means the race is now too close to call. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call)

The Associated Press has rescinded its call in Wisconsin’s 6th District GOP primary after announcing that state Sen. Glenn Grothman won the GOP race last night.

The race is now too close to call, with Grothman garnering 36.2% of the votes and State Sen. Joe Leibham with 35.8% of the votes. Just 214 votes separate the contenders.

After the AP called the race for Grothman a few hours after the polls closed last night, observers noted that the votes were still not counted in Leibham’s base of Sheboygan.  Full story

Senate Democrats Launch $9.1 Million Ad Buy in North Carolina

 

Senate Democrats Launch $9.1 Million Ad Buy in North Carolina

Tillis is hit by a TV ad from national Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched a hard-hitting ad Wednesday against the Republican challenger to Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., the first spot of a $9.1 million investment in the state through Election Day.

The spot attacks state Speaker Thom Tillis on education, saying the budget passed by the state Legislature last year had negative impacts. Hagan has leveled similar attacks against Tillis, tying him to laws that emerged from last year’s legislative session.

“House speaker Thom Tillis drew a bull’s-eye on public schools, cutting nearly $500 million,” a female narrator says. At the same time, the narrator says, he gave “tax breaks to yacht and jet owners.” Full story

It’s the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State Fair

Its the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State Fair

Grassley hams it up in the pork tent at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — At the Iowa State Fair, the walk from the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building to the swine barn should take about five minutes.

But with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, it takes 45.

Its the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State FairSince the Republican was first elected to the Senate in 1980, Grassley, the Hawkeye State’s senior senator, has never been re-elected with less than 64 percent of the vote. At the Iowa State Fair, it is easy to see why.

On Friday, Grassley could not travel more than 10 feet without people stopping to shake his hand, get a picture or tell him how he great he is. GOP candidates agree with that sentiment: He was at the fair to campaign with Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for Senate to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

“I’d like to introduce you to someone. This is Joni Ernst, she’s running for Senate,” Grassley says, time and time again. Full story

Wisconsin Primary Results: Republicans Nominate Grothman in 6th District

Wisconsin Primary Results: Republicans Nominate Grothman in 6th District

The winner of the Wisconsin primary will succeed Petri. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:40 a.m. | State Sen. Glenn Grothman has won the GOP  primary by a slim margin in the only open House district in Wisconsin.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the 6th district primary race for Grothman, who garnered 36.2 percent of the vote in the four-way contest to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Tom Petri.

State Sen. Joe Leibham trails Grothman with 35.8 percent — or by 215 votes.

Full story

August 12, 2014

Minnesota Primary Results: Republicans Pick Michele Bachmann Successor

Minnesota Primary Results: Republicans Pick Michele Bachmann Successor

Michele Bachmann is retiring, and Republicans have nominated a successor for her seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Former state Rep. Tom Emmer decisively defeated Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah Tuesday in the GOP primary for Minnesota’s open 6th District, putting him on a near certain path to Congress this fall to succeed retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

Emmer bested Sivarajah, 76.5 percent to 23.5 percent, with 28 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.

Full story

This Fall’s House Ad Wars Have Officially Started (Video)

This Falls House Ad Wars Have Officially Started (Video)

Grimm is one of the NRCC's first targets with an independent expenditure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The flood gates opened Tuesday when the House campaign committees began the barrage of fall television advertisements.

Exactly a year ago, CQ Roll Call predicted the House’s fall campaign ad wars would begin as early as mid-August, creeping back a few weeks from the traditional start around Labor Day. Now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and several top tier House candidates rolled out their first television spots of the cycle.

To be sure, some House candidates and outside groups have already been airing general election spots. But these new television ads mark the committee’s first major independent expenditures of the season — and the start of the campaign airwaves war that will only intensify through November.

Full story

In Iowa Senate Race, It’s Personality Versus Policy

In Iowa Senate Race, Its Personality Versus Policy

Ernst embraces a young supporter at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Joni Ernst is a hugger.

At the Iowa State Fair, the GOP’s nominee to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is hugging people she knows, people she’s meeting for the first time, and people who are excited to see her. On Friday, Ernst stops to hug and chat up someone else while Iowa’s three most senior Republican state officials — Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey — wait for her at a podium 10 feet away.

In Iowa Senate Race, Its Personality Versus PolicyErnst’s strong suit as a Senate candidate is that people seem to want to hug her back.

“Joni, we love you, honey! Keep up the good work!” shouts a man as she walks the fair with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.

Six months ago, Ernst was a second-tier candidate with little money in a four-way Republican primary. Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley had cleared the field, raised money, and seemed likely to keep the seat in his party’s hands.

Then, Ernst made a splashy ad about castrating hogs and a video emerged of Braley derisively referring to Grassley as just “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” Suddenly, Ernst was a contender, and Braley was back on his heels, trying to apologize to the state’s beloved senior senator.

Ernst rode that momentum to a resounding primary victory two months later, and since then, the race has been counted among the most competitive of the cycle. Ernst could well be Iowa’s first female senator if the Hawkeye State voters prefer her farm girl charm over Braley’s record in Congress.

It’s why walking the fair with Braley and Ernst is like experiencing night and day.

Full story

Freshman Congresswoman Moves to the Middle

Freshman Congresswoman Moves to the Middle

Sinema greets voters at Giant Coffee in Phoenix. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

PHOENIX — Once known for her progressive politics, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has coasted to the center in her first re-election.

The freshman bills herself as bipartisan, and now party operatives — even Republicans, privately — view her as the safest of the state’s three vulnerable Democrats. But that’s also because she’s lucky: A brutal Republican primary is bound to leave her future foe broke and bruised 10 weeks before Election Day.

Freshman Congresswoman Moves to the MiddleOn the campaign trail, Sinema stresses her work across the aisle. It’s a political necessity for a member who represents a district President Barack Obama won by just four points.

“I’m working to make it cool to compromise in Congress,” Sinema tells 30 mostly baby boomers at a Thursday lunch with the Phoenix West Rotary Club. “I don’t know if we’re quite there yet, but I’m working on it.”

Sinema started her elected career nearly a decade ago at the state House, 10 miles away from this Sheraton conference room.

Some of her first political experience came working for Ralph Nader’s spoiler 2000 presidential bid. She tried her own third party attempt in a losing race for the state House as an independent affiliated with the Green Party two years later. She finally won the seat as a Democrat in 2004. Full story

August 11, 2014

Florida Legislature Approves New Congressional Map

Florida Legislature Approves New Congressional Map

Mica's district was altered slightly in the newly passed Florida congressional map. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Florida Legislature approved a new congressional map Monday evening and sent it to the governor’s desk, although it’s still unclear whether the new House district boundaries will past muster or take effect for the 2014 elections.

The newly passed map only makes minor changes to the congressional districts and is not expected to alter Florida’s congressional delegation, where House Republicans currently outnumber Democrats, 17 to 10.

There are a number of ways the redistricting chaos could end, but the clock is ticking down to the Aug. 26 primary. Next week, a judge will rule whether the new lines are acceptable, and when voters will head to the polls.

Lawmakers returned to Tallahassee last week under a judge’s order to redraw the Sunshine state’s congressional districts. In July, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled two districts violated the state constitution, which prohibits drawing districts to favor a political party or incumbent.

Full story

Cantor Spokeswoman Joins Georgia Senate Campaign

Cantor Spokeswoman Joins Georgia Senate Campaign

Whittemore, front, is joining Perdue's campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The press secretary to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is heading to the South to help Republicans retain one of their two most endangered Senate seats.

Megan Whittemore told reporters in an email Monday that beginning later this week, she will be communications director for David Perdue’s campaign in Georgia.

Whittemore’s exit comes as Cantor is set to resign from Congress, effective Aug. 18. The Virginia Republican’s descent from leadership and early exit followed his stunning June 10 primary defeat — and Whittemore was one of several top Cantor staffers identified as likely attractive candidates for new jobs.

Full story

Liberal Allies Rallying for Schatz in Election Overtime

Liberal Allies Rallying for Schatz in Election Overtime

Liberal groups like MoveOn like Schatz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Liberal allies are rallying around Sen. Brian Schatz after damage from a hurricane extended voting for the deadlocked Democratic primary in Hawaii.

MoveOn.org sent a fundraising email late Sunday night with the subject line, “We’re going into overtime in Hawaii.” The email urged supporters to donate so the group could “finish the job in Hawaii” and ensure Schatz’s victory.

Schatz led his challenger, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, by just 1,635 votes as of Sunday evening. As many as 8,000 more votes could be cast in two precincts on the Big Island, where election officials postponed voting because of the storm damage.

Full story

Wisconsin GOP Primary Is Wide Open

Wisconsin GOP Primary Is Wide Open

There is a Wisconsin primary to succeed Petri. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Four candidates are vying for the GOP nomination in Wisconsin’s only open House district, with no clear front-runner in the Tuesday primary.

In the race to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Tom Petri, three top Republican candidates have tried to brand themselves as the most conservative contender in the 6th District: state Sen. Joe Leibham, state Sen. Glenn Grothman and state Rep. Duey Stroebel.

“I think it’s going to be a tight race,” said Scott Becher, a Wisconsin GOP consultant with Red Shoes PR.

Public and private polling on the race has been scare. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as a Safe Republican contest, and whoever wins the primary on Tuesday will likely head to Congress next year. Full story

Ex-Congresswoman Ready to Return (Video)

Ex Congresswoman Ready to Return (Video)

Nan Hayworth, a Republican, is running for Congress in New York's 18th District. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s easy to see former Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., misses Congress.

Earlier this year, she was spied making the rounds with her old colleagues on the House floor. More recently, in an interview with CQ Roll Call, she sported her Congressional pin.

“It was wonderful to be among colleagues from all across the country, all different political persuasions, representing the whole American spectrum,” she said on July 22. Full story

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