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

August 14, 2012

Wisconsin: Tommy Thompson Wins GOP Senate Primary

Wisconsin: Tommy Thompson Wins GOP Senate Primary

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson has clinched Wisconsin’s Republican Senate nomination, narrowly defeating two tea-party-backed opponents.

With 82 percent of precincts reporting, Thompson led with 35 percent of the vote over conservative businessman Eric Hovde and former Rep. Mark Neumann at the time the race was called by the Associated Press. Hovde received 30 percent of the vote, while Neumann pulled 23 percent. A fourth opponent, state Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, came in fourth with 12 percent.

Hovde trailed by five points on the night, even after spending more than $4.94 million through the end of July and having contributed $4.85 million of his own money to the campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. Neumann had the support of the conservative Club for Growth and tea party kingmaker Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

The establishment favorite in the race, Thompson is widely considered the GOP’s best chance to beat Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in November’s general election for the seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl (D). He served as governor of the Badger State from 1987 to 2001 and then as secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.

In a poll released earlier this month by the Marquette University Law Center, Thompson led Baldwin by 5 points, with a 2.9-point margin of error.

Florida: David Rivera to Face Joe Garcia — Again

Florida: David Rivera to Face Joe Garcia — Again

Rep. David Rivera will have a rematch in the fall against his 2010 Democratic opponent. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s rematch time in South Florida.

Former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia won Florida’s 26th district Democratic primary tonight and will challenge Rep. David Rivera (R) in November. Rivera, the embattled freshman lawmaker, beat Garcia by more than 9 points in 2010.

This evening, Garcia beat Gloria Romero Roses, a political newcomer, by a comfortable margin. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Garcia had 53 percent to Romero Roses’ 31 percent.

Full story

Wisconsin: Mark Pocan Wins Primary to Succeed Tammy Baldwin

State Rep. Mark Pocan handily defeated fellow state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys tonight. He led 70 percent to 23 percent when the Associated Press called the race.

Pocan was widely expected to win the primary for the Madison-based 2nd district and will almost certainly come to Congress in the fall. The two were vying for a safe Democratic open seat to replace Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D), who is running for Senate.

Florida: Big Win for Alan Grayson in Tonight’s GOP Primary

Florida: Big Win for Alan Grayson in Tonights GOP Primary

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sunshine State voters chose their nominees for the House today. And although former Rep. Alan Grayson didn’t have a primary opponent in the 9th district, the Democratic nominee for the Orlando-area seat came away a winner.

The outspoken former Congressmen and his Democratic allies have worked hard and spent good money to ensure he faces an opponent other than Osceola County Commissioner John “Q” Quinones, who would have been the strongest GOP candidate in the Democratic-leaning district. Their work paid off.

Attorney Todd Long won tonight’s GOP primary. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Long had 47 percent of the vote to Quinones’ 28 percent, the Associated Press reported.

Full story

Connecticut: Elizabeth Esty Wins 5th District Democratic Nomination

Updated 10:10 p.m. | Former State Rep. Elizabeth Esty has won the Democratic nomination in the open-seat race for Connecticut’s 5th district, according to the Associated Press. Esty had garnered 43 percent of the vote when the race was called.

State Speaker Chris Donovan was in second with 35 percent. Public relations executive Dan Roberti was in third with 23 percent.

It is the conclusion to one of the toughest-fought Congressional primaries this cycle.

Donovan was the early frontrunner, until two of his campaign staffers were indicted over the summer for alleged campaign finance violations. Labor and base liberals continued to steadfastly back him.

The foundation of Esty’s campaign was based in EMILY’s List support.

A super PAC backed television ads that supported Roberti in recent weeks, and he also received a last-minute endorsement from President Bill Clinton on Monday.

This is an open-seat race to replace Rep. Christopher Murphy (D), who is running for Senate.

As events unfolded over the summer, Republicans have played close attention to the race.

Updated 10:10 p.m.

On the Republican side in the 5th district, state Sen. Andrew Roraback won the primary with 33 percent at the time the Associated Press called the race. Businessman Mark Greenberg was in second place at 28 percent, businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley and veteran Justin Bernier were tied for third at 19 percent.

Both parties nominated what were likely their strongest general election candidates.

Connecticut: Linda McMahon, Christopher Murphy Win Senate Primaries

Connecticut: Linda McMahon, Christopher Murphy Win Senate Primaries

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon has won the GOP nomination in the race to replace retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman (I), while Rep. Christopher Murphy won the Democratic nomination, according to the Associated Press.

Murphy had 68 percent of the vote at the time the Associated Press called the race, defeating former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, who had 32 percent.

McMahon had 75 percent of the vote, putting her 50 points ahead of her Republican rival, former Rep. Christopher Shays.

From the beginning of the cycle, McMahon and Murphy were expected to win their parties’ nominations. Going forward, Murphy is the undisputed frontrunner in the fall.

Recently, though, national Republicans have begun to pay more attention to the Connecticut Senate race.

This is McMahon’s second GOP Senate nomination. She lost the general election to now-Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) in 2010.

Florida: Connie Mack IV, Bill Nelson to Battle in November

Florida: Connie Mack IV, Bill Nelson to Battle in November

Rep. Connie Mack IV won tonight's Republican Senate primary in Florida. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Connie Mack IV, who had broad support from just about every swath of the Republican Party, easily picked up the GOP nomination for Senate to take on Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in November.

Mack defeated long-shot candidates former Rep. Dave Weldon, retired Army Col. Mike McCalister and activist Marielena Stuart in primary. With 42.7 percent of precincts reporting, Mack had 58.5 percent of ballots cast, according to the Associated Press.

Nelson also easily dispatched a nonserious opponent. The two-term Senator took 79.3 percent of the vote, with 43.1 percent reporting, per AP results.

Mack is seen in both Democratic and Republican circles as a particularly weak candidate. The race in November favors Nelson.

Roll Call rates the Senate race as Leans Democratic. Nelson is widely expected to outperform President Barack Obama regardless of whether he wins the battleground state.

Florida: John Mica Beats Sandy Adams

Florida: John Mica Beats Sandy Adams

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. John Mica, chairman of the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, beat tea-party-affiliated freshman Rep. Sandy Adams by a comfortable margin in today’s GOP primary for Florida’s 7th district, situated north of Orlando.

With 78 percent of precincts reporting, Mica had 61 percent of the vote, to Adams’ 39 percent.

The establishment gets a bum rap these days. Time spent in Washington, D.C., is politically pestilent. Earmarks have given way to an age of austerity. Compromise is out. The approval rating of Congress is at 10 percent.

But in today’s Republican Member-vs.-Member race between the establishment and the grass roots, the establishment won.

Despite being a longtime politician in D.C. — Mica was first elected in 1992 — and having a history of earmarking for his district, Mica’s voting record is hued quite red: He is a real conservative. But it was green, not red that kept this from being much of a race.

Mica had a very considerable money advantage going into the primary fight earlier this year, and Adams was never able to close the gap with her own fundraising. Outside groups didn’t come to her rescue in a substantial way either, despite endorsements from tea party heavyweights such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and firebrand Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.).

“You can have all the grass roots you want, but at some point there is just a money factor that just crushes,” explained one top Florida GOP strategist unaligned in the race. “We reached that point a few weeks ago.”

Mica also started out with a significant advantage in the number of voters in the district who knew who he was. First elected to an Orlando-area seat the same year Bill Clinton was first elected president, Mica is a familiar figure.

“The guy’s been advertising in the Orlando media market for like 20 years,” the strategist said.

Other Republicans watching the race were struck by the disparity in advertising between the two candidates.

“He’s been really strong down the stretch with a lot of TV,” said unaffiliated GOP consultant Tre’ Evers, who is based in central Florida. And Mica had “lined up almost all of the local mayors,” he said.

Adams ran a feisty campaign, but the money gap hampered her ability to paint a full contrast with Mica. She was also impeded by the fact that both are similarly conservative when their voting records are taken in total, Florida GOP insiders said.

The race grew particularly nasty at times, but that didn’t change the underlying fundamentals.

“All she had on him was that he’s served for a long time,” Evers said.

The district is comfortably Republican so Mica is almost certain to be joining the 113th Congress for his 11th term.

Kentucky: Ben Chandler Goes Up With First Ad of Cycle

Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), facing a rematch with Lexington Attorney Andy Barr (R), began airing his first ad of the cycle today, emphasizing his fiscal responsibility.

“I’ve always been of the belief if you spend more than you take in, you’re going to go broke,” he says directly to camera in the 30-second spot. “It’s important that we get this debt under control.”

A slow-talking male narrator then begins to speak over B-roll of Chandler campaigning and working. “That’s why Ben Chandler voted for a balanced budget amendment that protects Medicare and Social Security. Voted against every Congressional pay raise,” the narrator says.

“And held down his office spending to return over half a million dollars to taxpayers. Putting Kentucky first,” the narrator concludes.

The ad is backed by a buy of $48,485 — 551 gross rating points — in the district today through Sunday, according to a Chandler spokeswoman.

Barr began airing his first ad today too.

Roll Call rates the race in the 6th district of Kentucky as Likely Democratic.

By Joshua Miller Posted at 3:45 p.m.
Ads, House 2012, Ky.-6

New Mexico: Martin Heinrich Expands Lead in Democratic Poll

New Mexico: Martin Heinrich Expands Lead in Democratic Poll

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A poll conducted for a coalition of environmental and conservation organizations found that Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) has expanded his lead over former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) in the race for New Mexico’s open Senate seat. Full story

Kentucky: Andy Barr Launches First TV Ad

Lexington attorney Andy Barr (R), facing a tough re-match with four-term Rep. Ben Chandler (D) in the Bluegrass State’s 6th district, today released a smart, soft-spoken ad reintroducing himself to voters.

His wife, Carol Barr, narrates the ad. She begins speaking to camera standing in a kitchen with a mug covered in hearts.

Full story

Dennis Cardoza Resigning

Dennis Cardoza Resigning

Rep. Dennis Cardoza announced today that he is resigning from Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 2:01 p.m. | California Rep. Dennis Cardoza is resigning from Congress, four months ahead of his previously announced retirement.

The five-term Democrat announced the news today in an interview with the Sacramento Bee, and his resignation is effective at midnight Wednesday. His office released an official statement shortly after. Full story

Chris Christie, Marco Rubio Given Top GOP Convention Speaking Assignments

Chris Christie, Marco Rubio Given Top GOP Convention Speaking Assignments

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the keynote address at the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., according to a USA Today report. Christie is currently drafting a speech that is expected to run 20 minutes.

Additionally, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been tapped to introduce presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney for his Thursday evening nomination acceptance speech, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Democrats have already named their keynote speaker: San Antonio Mayor Joaquin Castro.

Wisconsin: Mark Pocan Favored in 2nd District Democratic Primary

Wisconsin: Mark Pocan Favored in 2nd District Democratic Primary

Rep. Tammy Baldwin's retirement to run for Senate led to a contested Democratic primary in Wisconsin's 2nd district. (Tom Williams CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

Voters head to the polls today in Wisconsin, and for Democrats, all of the action will take place in the 2nd district primary to replace Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D), who is running for Senate.

State Reps. Mark Pocan and Kelda Helen Roys are the main competitors, and most Wisconsin political observers give the edge to Pocan.

Both  candidates for this Madison-area district are in the state Assembly and have similar policy positions. Pocan has picked up high-profile Congressional endorsements, while Roys has the backing of EMILY’s List.

The winner will be virtually assured of coming to Congress in the fall. Baldwin has remained neutral in the contest.

Connecticut: House and Senate Primaries on Tap

Connecticut: House and Senate Primaries on Tap

Rep. Christopher Murphy is favored in today's Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Connecticut Senate race may turn out to be more interesting than expected in the fall. But for today’s primary contests, all of the excitement is in the 5th district.

This seat’s Democratic primary has pitted EMILY’s List, base liberals and President Bill Clinton against each other, and the outcome is not clear. There is similar uncertainty in the GOP race. Both have become increasingly nasty as the summer progressed. The fall outcome could ride on whom the parties nominate.

As for that Senate race, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon is expected to handily defeat former Rep. Christopher Shays in the state’s Senate GOP primary. Likewise, Rep. Christopher Murphy is expected to coast to the nomination on the Democratic side.

Connecticut’s 5th District

The Democratic primary to replace Rep. Christopher Murphy (D), who is running for Senate, has been one of the wildest races of the cycle.

The early frontrunner, state Speaker Chris Donovan, was coasting to the nomination until his campaign went into turmoil in June when two staffers were indicted for alleged campaign finance violations. Donovan has continually denied any knowledge of the matter.

That development gave his two competitors an opening. Former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty seemed at first to benefit the most. She has an organized campaign and the backing of EMILY’s List. That rivalry has set off a proxy fight between EMILY’s List and liberals who are doubling down on Donovan.

Meanwhile, political newcomer Dan Roberti had a low profile for most of the campaign. But in recent weeks, super PAC money has come to his aid through television ads, and he has aired negative spots against Esty and Donovan. On Monday, Roberti was endorsed by President Bill Clinton.

It is hard to tell who has the edge in this race.

The Republican primary has unfolded similarly.

Democrats are most afraid of state Sen. Andrew Roraback. He is a moderate and well-liked. It is for that reason he is perceived as the most dangerous Republican candidate in the context of ethics dominating the Democratic Party’s primary.

But the Republican primary has had ethical issues surface as well.  Businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley’s self-funded effort has come under scrutiny, and Democrats are hopeful that she will win the Republican primary. Businessman Mark Greenberg and 2010 candidate Justin Bernier are also in the hunt for the GOP nod.

Much rides on which nominees emerge from both parties. With ethics issues hanging over Donovan and Wilson-Foley, certain matchups will strongly influence each party’s chances in the fall.

Connecticut Senate

Most Connecticut politicos have long declared Rep. Christopher Murphy as the frontrunner over former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz.

With the exception of EMILY’s List, most of the national Democratic establishment has made it known that Murphy is its preferred candidate. Some on the ground say  Bysiewicz has a record of getting out the vote and should not be underestimated. But on primary day, this is Murphy’s race to lose.

In the Republican primary, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon is making her second run for Senate and former Rep. Christopher Shays is attempting his political comeback.

It has been a bitter fight that McMahon is expected to win. She picked up the state party’s endorsement in May. Shays has fought hard, but he has not been able to keep up with McMahon’s self-funded financial effort.

National Republicans wrote off this seat last fall, but they have recently changed their posture, praising McMahon’s campaign execution.

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