Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 1, 2014

September 26, 2014

Internal Poll: Democrat Holds Slight Lead in Arkansas

Internal Poll: Democrat Holds Slight Lead in Arkansas

Hays is a Democrat from Arkansas. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new campaign poll from Democrat Patrick Henry Hays showed him ahead of his Republican opponent by 3 points in one of his party’s top House targets in Arkansas.

Hays, the former mayor of North Little Rock, had a small lead over banker French Hill, 44 percent to 41 percent, according to the poll conducted by Global Strategy Group and paid for by Hays. That’s within the poll’s 4.8 percent margin of error.

Hays and Hill are vying for Arkansas’ 2nd District, an open-seat race because GOP Rep. Tim Griffin is leaving Congress to run for lieutenant governor. The district voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a 12-point margin last cycle, and the race is rated a Leans Republican contest by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

Marijuana accessories are pictured in Terrapin Care Station, a marijuana dispensary, in Boulder, Colo. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The national discussion about legalizing marijuana has now surfaced in Kentucky’s Senate race.

A day after Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes encouraged a conversation about it, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his opposition to following Colorado’s lead and legalizing marijuana more broadly in an interview on a local radio station Friday.

“I’m against legalizing marijuana,” the Republican said. “Certainly it’s not in the same category as heroin, but I think to begin … to sort of send the message that we’re giving up, you know, that this is just the way it’s going to be, then one thing leads to another and pretty soon … you completely transform your society in a way that I think certainly most Kentuckians would not agree with.”

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DSCC Ad Ties Thom Tillis to Ryan Budget

DSCC Ad Ties Thom Tillis to Ryan Budget

Tillis, right, at an event Wednesday with ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going up with a new TV ad Friday in North Carolina that attacks Republican Thom Tillis on Medicare and continues to push the theme that he cares more about the wealthy.

The spot, provided first to CQ Roll Call, ties the state House speaker to Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal, which would have cut spending on Medicare and used a voucher-like system. Tillis expressed support for certain aspects of the Wisconsin Republican’s plan.

In the ad, an older woman named Marie Grauerholz, says that would be a problem for her.

“I’m not a millionaire and I don’t own a private jet,” she says. “I depend on Medicare. I think the fact that Thom Tillis wants to cut Medicare just shows that he doesn’t know what people in North Carolina are like and what the average person needs.” Full story

Bill Cassidy Dips Into Landrieu Territory for Votes

Bill Cassidy Dips Into Landrieu Territory for Votes

Cassidy speaks with pharmacy students from Xavier University of Louisiana. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NEW ORLEANS — At a Saturday morning community health fair in a Vietnamese enclave in the predominantly black eastern wing of this city, Cassidy wasn’t exactly in politically friendly territory.

Bill Cassidy Dips Into Landrieu Territory for VotesBut he was quickly met by a familiar face ready to show him around. Greeting Cassidy behind a mobile pregnancy care bus was former Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, a fellow Republican who entered the House with Cassidy after the 2008 elections and served for a single term.

Cassidy, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, would work his way through a welcoming campus-wide, college football tailgate in Baton Rouge later that day. But first he was here in a church parking lot in Village de L’Est, a traditionally Vietnamese neighborhood with a growing Hispanic population, to try to pick up a few votes.

“Wherever I can meet the most voters works for me,” Cassidy said as Cao led him toward the crowd.

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September 25, 2014

Democratic Super PAC Enters Maine Race (Video)

Democratic Super PAC Enters Maine Race (Video)

Cain is a Democrat running in Maine. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority PAC will start airing advertisements Friday targeting an open seat in Maine, suggesting Democrats are concerned the race could become more competitive than initially anticipated.

HMP, a super PAC aiding House Democrats, laid down a $270,000 buy on broadcast television in the Bangor and Portland markets, according to spokesman Matt Thornton.

Thornton said the buy aims to get their candidate “across the finish line safely” — and before other groups start spending there.

Maine’s 2nd District features an open seat race between state Sen. Emily Cain, a Democrat, and former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, a Republican. The race is currently rated a Leans Democratic contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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The Big Issue in the North Carolina Senate Race

The Big Issue in the North Carolina Senate Race

Hagan speaks with Victor Crosby, 95, on Wednesday during an event with volunteers and supporters at a campaign office in Statesville, N.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

STATESVILLE, N.C. — The biggest issue in the North Carolina Senate race? It’s not health care, Syrian airstrikes or even the economy.

It’s education.

The Big Issue in the North Carolina Senate RaceOften relegated to state and local elections, education has taken a leading role in the race between Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and her GOP opponent, state Speaker Thom Tillis. And in a state steeped in a rich tradition of public schooling, the focus on education is mostly working in Hagan’s favor in this high-stakes race.

At her field office Wednesday evening, Hagan readily brings it up to supporters.

“In the state house, [Tillis] did the tax cuts, then he cut, cut, cut. What did he cut? He cut a half a billion dollars from our education system,” Hagan said. “You know in North Carolina, education has always been a sacred bipartisan priority.” Full story

Democrats Cut Ad Time in Michigan House Race (Updated)

Democrats Cut Ad Time in Michigan House Race  (Updated)

Benishek is a Republican from Michigan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:49 p.m. | A Democratic super PAC has cut a television ad reservation for the party’s best offensive opportunity in Michigan, according to two sources who monitor media buys.

House Majority PAC’s cancellation could be a sign Democrats are no longer optimistic their nominee, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jerry Cannon, can defeat Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich.

In June, HMP — a super PAC that boosts House Democrats — reserved $375,000 for the district, according to The Washington Post. A Republican source said the reservation was for Sept. 23 through Oct. 13 in the Marquette and Traverse City media markets.

But this week, HMP went dark in Michigan’s 1st District.

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September 24, 2014

Jeb Bush Knocks Harry Reid While Campaigning for Thom Tillis

Jeb Bush Knocks Harry Reid While Campaigning for Thom Tillis

Bush campaigned for Tillis in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday getting the country back on track requires Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s ouster from the top spot “at minimum.”

Jeb Bush Knocks Harry Reid While Campaigning for Thom Tillis

Speaking at a warehouse event for Thom Tillis, the GOP’s nominee for Senate, Bush pinned the country’s hopes for an economic recovery on Republicans taking control of the Senate.

“Most of the big things that need to be fixed are in Washington, D.C., and if we get them right — which will require Harry Reid’s departure from the Senate, or, at minimum, being minority leader — people’s fears about the future will be lifted, their belief in their children’s opportunities will come back naturally,” Bush said.

Tillis is challenging Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, in one of the country’s most competitive Senate races. Republicans need to gain six seats in November to take control of the Senate, and North Carolina, a state that typically favors the GOP, is seen as a prime pick-up opportunity.

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Last Call: Where Should We Travel to Cover the Midterms? (Video)

Less than 36 hours remain for readers to vote on a locale to send two Roll Call politics reporters to cover the midterms.

Readers can pick one of two Senate races in Colorado and Kansas, and one of two House races in California and Nebraska.

Have an opinion on which race we should cover? Tweet your thoughts to @RollCall with the #RCReadersChoice tag.

Otherwise, polls close Thursday at 5 p.m. Vote below:

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Joe Biden to California for Democratic House Hopeful

Joe Biden to California for Democratic House Hopeful

Biden will make a campaign stop in California next month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will make a campaign stop in Bakersfield, Calif., on Oct. 7 to campaign for Amanda Renteria, a former Senate chief of staff and top Democratic recruit this cycle.

Biden’s visit to the Central Valley, which Renteria announced on Facebook, will come less than a month before Election Day, when the Democrat will face off against freshman Republican Rep. David Valadao. Democrats are hoping the vice president’s appearance will gin up excitement for the contest and motivate the base to turn out.

The district voted for President Barack Obama by an 11-point margin in 2012, making it a top pick-up target for Democrats this year.

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September 23, 2014

NRCC Buys Airtime to Help Vulnerable Congressman

NRCC Buys Airtime to Help Vulnerable Congressman

Terry is a Republican from Nebraska. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved $730,000 in television airtime in the Omaha, Neb., media market to help one of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents, according to two sources tracking media in the 2nd District.

The reservation, which was placed via an independent expenditure Tuesday evening and runs through Election Day, is a sign Republicans think Rep. Lee Terry is in trouble — or will be soon. Earlier on Tuesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aired its first ad hitting Terry in the same market.

Terry’s re-election prospects have dimmed in recent months. Public polling shows the incumbent locked in a dead heat with the Democratic nominee, Brad Ashford, helping to put the congressman on Roll Call’s list of the 10 Most Vulnerable Members. Full story

DCCC Pulls Ad in New Jersey Race

DCCC Pulls Ad in New Jersey Race

MacArthur is a Republican candidate from New Jersey's 3rd District. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:36 p.m. | The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is removing a television ad that aired in a southern New Jersey House race — a change caused by incorrect information in the GOP nominee’s personal financial disclosure forms, according to a committee aide.

The ad, which is still online, features a Phoenix fireman accusing the Republican nominee, Tom MacArthur, of dishonest tactics as an insurance executive.

MacArthur is running against Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, the Democratic nominee, in a competitive race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Jon Runyan in the 3rd District.

Here is the ad:

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Democrats Hit Chicago Airwaves for Key House Race

Democrats Hit Chicago Airwaves for Key House Race

Dold, right, is a Republican from Illinois. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., released a new ad Tuesday, attacking his GOP opponent on the Chicago airwaves.

Schneider and former Rep. Bob Dold, a Republican, are locked in a rematch in the 10th District, located north of Chicago. The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

The Democrats’ spot, provided first to CQ Roll Call, is backed by a six-figure buy on the Windy City’s broadcast stations paid for by the candidate and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Some things anyone can see, like Bob Dold and the Republicans in Washington,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot. “Dold and the Republicans voted to end the Medicare guarantee, voted to allow oil drilling in Lake Michigan, and want to raise the retirement age for Social Security. They even voted to defund Planned Parenthood.”

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National Education Association Dives Into Colorado Race (Video)

National Education Association Dives Into Colorado Race (Video)

Udall is the Democratic senator from Colorado. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The National Education Association aired a new Spanish-language ad Tuesday targeting the Republican nominee for Senate in Colorado, Rep. Cory Gardner.

Gardner faces Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., in a competitive race and potential pick-up opportunity for Senate Republicans. The GOP needs to win a net of six seats to take control of the Senate.

The NEA ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, features five people speaking directly to camera in Spanish about their dreams for their children to get a good education.

The ad buy is $200,000 and will run for two weeks, according to the NEA, in the Denver and Colorado Springs media markets. Full story

Democrats Cut Ad Time in Upstate New York Race

House Majority PAC has canceled a large television reservation in a competitive upstate New York district, the super PAC spokesman confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

The cancellation could be a sign the Democratic super PAC is throwing in the towel on The Empire State’s 21st District. The television buy, scheduled for Oct. 7 through 20 and totaling $300,000, is in a district that is considered a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.

This is a race to replace Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, who is retiring. The race is currently rated Tilts Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Full story

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