Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 16, 2014

September 10, 2014

How to Lose a Primary in 10 Days

How to Lose a Primary in 10 Days

Tierney lost his primary Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

By the time Massachusetts Rep. John F. Tierney knew he had a real primary race on his hands, it was too late.

The nine-term lawmaker lost Tuesday night to fellow Democrat Seth Moulton, an Iraq War veteran who latched onto frustration with Tierney’s past ethical troubles and an anti-incumbent sentiment to win by a stunning 8-point margin.

Multiple Democratic operatives in the Bay State and the District say the race shifted quickly in Moulton’s favor in the final week and a half, as voters ended summer vacations, kids returned to school and the electorate as a whole began to finally pay attention to the race.

By that point, Moulton had been on air for weeks with hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising that Tierney declined to match. Moulton ran spots painting himself as the more electable Democrat in the 6th District, located in the suburbs and towns northeast of Boston. The region’s biggest newspapers, including the Boston Globe, endorsed Moulton, which he touted in his closing ads as a final sell to remaining undecided voters.

“It just moved faster than I think anyone thought it would,” said a Democratic operative privy to internal polling in the contest. “It closed quickly, but that’s what a million dollars in unanswered spending does.”

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How ‘Establishment’ Republicans Got the House Candidates They Wanted

How Establishment Republicans Got the House Candidates They Wanted

Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, is the chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Earlier this year, House Republicans had 12 potential problems that stood in the way of extending their majority.

A dozen primaries could ruin the House GOP’s prospects by selecting unpalatable nominees in otherwise competitive races.

But when primary season concluded Tuesday, House Republicans had essentially run the table with their party’s picks, nominating the strongest general-election candidate in nearly every hot race in 2014. Republican and Democratic operatives credit the success to a handful of factors, including intervention from outside groups, self-funding candidates and — in some cases — luck.

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Pot Still Too Hot to Handle for Colorado Politicians

Pot Still Too Hot to Handle for Colorado Politicians

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

BOULDER, Colo. — Long a flashpoint in the culture wars, marijuana’s growing legitimacy hasn’t yet turned it into a political weapon, even in the marquee races in the first state to legalize the drug.

In Colorado, the issue has barely gotten a mention as Rep. Cory Gardner takes on Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, and Republican Rep. Mike Coffman faces a challenge from Andrew Romanoff in one of the country’s hottest House races.

Pot Still Too Hot to Handle for Colorado Politicians

For now, the lawmakers still seem to find pot too hot to handle as a political weapon. Republicans in the state have shifted how they talk about the matter, but Democrats aren’t trying to capitalize on what could potentially become a new wedge issue in their favor this cycle — and in elections to come.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have legalized medical marijuana. Only Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana, but more are expected to vote on whether to change their laws, including Oregon and Alaska in November, as polls have shown surging support for legalization.

Udall, whose race could decide control of the Senate, said marijuana is now simply a business interest in Colorado.

“We are all together in urging the attorney general to let this experiment unfold,” Udall said in Greenwood Village, Colo., after an event with Denver business interests.

But he hasn’t attacked Gardner’s hard-line record on marijuana, something advocates for legalization call a missed opportunity.

“It seems that many elected officials … still haven’t come to terms with the fact that marijuana legalization is a mainstream issue that’s supported by a growing majority of the public,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, a legalization advocacy group. Full story

September 9, 2014

New Hampshire Primary Results: Republicans Pick House Nominees (Updated)

New Hampshire Primary Results: Republicans Pick House Nominees (Updated)

Garcia is a Republican in the 2nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Updated 10:32 p.m. | Former Rep. Frank Guinta won the Republican nomination for New Hampshire’s 1st District and will face Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter for the third time in as many cycles.

Guinta was leading former University of New Hampshire business school dean Dan Innis, 49 percent to 41 percent, when The Associated Press called the race for the former member.

The race for the 1st District will likely be the most competitive race in New England, marking the GOP’s best shot at making inroads in the region in a House race. The race is rated Tilts Democratic by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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John Tierney Loses Primary in Massachusetts (Video)

John Tierney Loses Primary in Massachusetts (Video)

Tierney is a Massachusetts Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 9:52 p.m. | Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass., became the cycle’s first Democratic incumbent to lose a primary Tuesday when he fell to a well-funded challenger in the 6th District.

Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton was leading Tierney, 51 percent to 40 percent, when The Associated Press called the race for the challenger.

Moulton now moves on to face former state Sen. Richard Tisei in November in this district, located northeast of Boston. Full story

New Hampshire Primary Results: Scott Brown Wins Senate Nomination (Video)

New Hampshire Primary Results: Scott Brown Wins Senate Nomination (Video)

Brown will face Shaheen in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Sen. Scott P. Brown locked up the GOP nomination for Senate Tuesday in New Hampshire, defeating several opponents.

The Republican had 49 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race with 21 percent of precincts reporting.

Brown, who previously represented neighboring Massachusetts in the Senate, will face incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in November. Full story

Primary Night in New England, Delaware

Follow tonight’s primaries across New England and in Delaware with the Roll Call Politics Team.

Starting at 8 p.m., we’ll have live results and analysis on the live blog below:

Live Blog Live Coverage: Primaries Across New England, Delaware
 

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

John McCain Boosts Joni Ernst in Iowa Senate Race

John McCain Boosts Joni Ernst in Iowa Senate Race

McCain is an Arizona Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted a mailer from a group supporting Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, for a “disgusting attack” on Republican Joni Ernst’s military service.

Braley and Ernst are running for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat in one of the cycle’s most competitive contests. The mailer, from NextGen Climate, an environment-focused group backed by Tom Steyer, says, “Joni Ernst is putting her big oil backers ahead of national security.”

“American troops have spent years fighting terrorists overseas,” the mailer reads. “But politicians like Joni Ernst are undercutting that battle here at home.”

In a statement provided first to CQ Roll Call, McCain blasted the mailer, calling it “beyond offensive” to say that about Ernst, who is a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard and would be the first female combat veteran in the Senate, if elected. Full story

4 Things to Watch in the Final Primaries of 2014

4 Things to Watch in the Final Primaries of 2014

Garcia is running the GOP primary in the 2nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The final primary night of the midterms takes place Tuesday, with consequential contests across New England and Delaware.

In New Hampshire, former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., faces a crowded GOP primary filled with hopes of challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in November. Down the ballot in the Granite State, GOP primaries in House races will determine nominees in two key contests.

Across the border in Massachusetts, Rep. John F. Tierney faces the toughest primary of his 18-year congressional career. He could be the fourth incumbent to lose re-election in a primary in 2014 — and perhaps the only Democrat (to see which members lost their primaries this cycle, check out Roll Call’s Casualty List).

There are also primaries in Delaware and Rhode Island, although neither state features competitive congressional races.

Polls close in all four states at 8 p.m. You can follow live result updates on Roll Call’s “At the Races” politics blog.

Here’s what to watch:

Full story

September 8, 2014

NRSC Signs Ron Bonjean for IE Communications

NRSC Signs Ron Bonjean for IE Communications

Bonjean with then-Speaker Dennis Hastert in 2006. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has signed up veteran GOP consultant Ron Bonjean for its independent expenditure unit.

Bonjean, a partner at Singer Bonjean Strategies and a former senior Capitol Hill aide, will handle communications for the side of the committee that manages consulting teams and tens of millions in media spending. He joined late last week, with two months to go in the midterm cycle, as Republicans push to pick up at least six Senate seats.

“It’s an honor to be part of a great team that is working overtime to achieve a Senate Republican majority,” Bonjean said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. Full story

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 1:57 p.m.
NRSC

GOP Chicken Charges Dropped in New Hampshire

GOP Chicken Charges Dropped in New Hampshire

Shaheen is seeking re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

New Hampshire’s most famous Republican chicken is free.

Charges have been dropped against 23-year old Michael Zona, the Granite State’s Republican party said Monday. Zona was arrested for disorderly conduct at a parade in Londonderry, N.H., after allegedly harassing two prominent state Democrats, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

In November, Shaheen will likely face former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., who is expected to win his Tuesday primary.

Republicans have used the chicken to criticize Shaheen for not holding open town hall meetings. But the arrest of the young man in the chicken costume served as a leading — and the most entertaining — local news story during a Roll Call on the Road visit to New Hampshire in August.

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Democrat Leads in New Iowa Senate Race Poll

Democrat Leads in New Iowa Senate Race Poll

Braley is an Iowa Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll shows Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat, has opened up a lead over his Republican opponent Joni Ernst in the battle for Iowa’s open Senate seat.

The Loras College poll of likely voters found Braley at 45.3 percent and Ernst at 40.5 percent. Just over 14 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The race for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat is one of the most hotly contested in the country, and the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates it as a Tossup. Senate Republicans must pick up a net of six seats this November to win control of that chamber, and Iowa plays a prominent part in the GOP’s math to accomplish that.

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Could John Tierney Lose His Primary?

Could John Tierney Lose His Primary?

Tierney is a Massachusetts Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. John F. Tierney faces the toughest primary of his 18-year congressional career Tuesday, when he will attempt to stave off a well-funded, top-flight Democratic opponent.

For months, polls have shown Tierney with a hefty advantage over Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton. But in the final days before the Massachusetts primary, automated polls showed the congressman with minuscule, single-digit leads.

It’s clear Tierney also feels the heat on the ground.

“The fact Barney Frank and Joe Kennedy are campaigning for Tierney, and a brutal ad he ran during the Patriots game at halftime against Moulton tells you he is in trouble,” Mary Anne Marsh, a Massachusetts Democratic operative, said of the 6th District lawmaker. ”It is fair to say it is a jump ball that will be decided by ground game Tuesday.”

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How Major League Baseball Could Determine Control of Congress (Updated)

How Major League Baseball Could Determine Control of Congress (Updated)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, left, speaks with Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper at Nationals Park. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated Sept. 9, 1:14 p.m. | For most of the country, this October’s television airwaves are filled with two things: baseball and politics — and the two rarely mix.

But the mid-autumn climax of Major League Baseball could impact the Senate playing field in key states where teams are primed to make the playoffs. Televised sports make for a desirable market for political advertisers because viewers are more likely to watch live and are less likely to fast-forward through commercials.

What’s more, the target audience watching these sports — mostly white and male —  comprise one of the most reliable voting blocs in a midterm. For Republicans, baseball viewing marks an opportunity to motivate their base. Democrats gear their in-game ads toward improving their numbers with this demographic.

From interviews with media buyers and political operatives, it’s clear there are several markets with top baseball teams and competitive congressional races that could collide between the playoffs in early October and Election Day.

Of course, things can change before then: Teams, just like campaigns, can flop. But based on MLB standings as of Tuesday, here are the prime markets to play ball and politics.  Full story

NRCC Announces Another Crop of ‘Young Guns’

NRCC Announces Another Crop of Young Guns

Walden is a Oregon Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced Monday nine more candidates had achieved “Young Gun” status, the top tier of their candidate recruitment and training program.

The new members increases the number of “Young Gun” candidates this cycle to 43. These candidates have met unannounced fundraising and organizational goals. In return, the NRCC gives them fundraising and strategic help.

House Democrats would have to pick up a net of 17 seats to win the majority in the next Congress — a nearly impossible scenario. Instead, House Republicans are poised to pick up a few seats, thanks in part to the president’s unpopularity.

“Our job as a committee is to help elect Republicans to office that will serve as a check and balance on the Obama administration,” NRCC Chairman Greg Walden said in a news release. “These candidates will fight to stop the harmful consequences of ObamaCare, grow the economy and get Washington’s spending under control.”

The new Young Gun candidates are:

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