Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 1, 2015

September 24, 2012

Daily Ad Track

The biggest news in political ads over the weekend was a barrage of spots the National Republican Congressional Committee unleashed on a litany of Democrats around the country. Conversely, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee typically flags its media buys in a daily, piecemeal fashion.

Maine Senate

Former “Law & Order” star Sam Waterston followed through on his years-long crusade for moderates by appearing in a television spot for Independent former Gov. Angus King. According to a King spokeswoman, Waterston reached out to the campaign to offer help and the ad was shot in Maine. This spot has $50,000 behind it. Roll Call rates this race as Likely Independent.

Full story

House Ratings Changes in Florida, New York

Today, Roll Call moves two Florida House race ratings in the Democrats’ direction, while one New York House race ratings change favors the Republicans.

The honcho of hyperbole, the chief pooh-bah of provocation and the high baron of belittlement is poised to come to the 113th Congress. It’s Alan Grayson time. The former Congressman looks on track to comfortably beat long-shot GOP nominee Todd Long in a Democratic district and return to Washington, D.C. Roll Call moves this race to from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic.

Embattled Rep. David Rivera (R) appears more and more vulnerable as reported federal investigations swirl around him. This race is now tighter than it was a few weeks ago — polls have shown the race to be close — and that moves it from Leans Republican to a Tossup.

Still, politics in Miami isn’t like other places in the United States. Rivera could well survive against Democratic nominee Joe Garcia, who lost Congressional races in 2008 and 2010. And longtime Florida Republicans are careful to never write off Rivera, who is seen as a survivor’s survivor.

David Rivera could be standing in a burning building, the executioner could have a gun to his head and then a nuclear bomb could go off and you think, ‘He’s done,'” said Sunshine State GOP strategist Rick Wilson. “Next thing, David walks out the back door and asks if you want to go grab lunch.”

It doesn’t look as if this will be the year Democrats take out Rep. Richard Hanna (R). With the right candidate, maybe the freshman lawmaker could have been vulnerable. But just more than 40 days before the election, he appears to be in very comfortable shape in his race against former Congressional aide Dan Lamb (D). In a quick interview with Roll Call on Monday afternoon, a cheerful Hanna emphasized his constituent services, quick turnaround on casework and legislative record.

Roll Call moves his race from Likely Republican to Safe Republican.

September 23, 2012

New York: Michael Grimm Campaign Office ‘Vandalized and Burglarized’

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New York Rep. Michael Grimm said today his campaign headquarters was “vandalized and burglarized.

In a statement, the freshman Republican called the alleged crime “a disgraceful act of cowardice” and a “heinous act” that “represents an assault on democracy and the political process.”

The campaign said three plate glass windows were broken and private campaign data was tampered with at the Staten Island headquarters, leaving a server “corrupted and erased.” Full story

NRCC Launches 26 New Ads Backed by $6.3 Million

The partisan ad wars in the battle for control of the House are heating up, as the countdown to Election Day enters the final weeks.

The National Republican Congressional Committee launched a huge new ad blitz backed by $6.3 million.

The NRCC ads are airing Sept. 21-27 against incumbents and challengers from Arizona to West Virginia, with a heavy focus on districts in California and New York. The spots run the gamut from standard GOP attack ad fare — connecting a candidate to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or President Barack Obama — to knocking a Member for their vote in favor of the stimulus or the Affordable Care Act to creative, eye-catching spots. Full story

September 21, 2012

Maine: Angus King Takes Drop in Polls in Stride

Updated 5:04 p.m. | The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a new ad today against Maine Senate frontrunner Angus King (I), one of at least three outside groups that have gone negative on the two-term former governor.

But if the barrage of negative ads running against King bothers him, he did not reveal such feelings in an interview with Roll Call this afternoon.

“I’m a walking economic development project for Maine,” King joked, noting all the money coming into the Pine Tree State’s economy on behalf of outside groups trying to make sure he doesn’t win.

“They’re building a statue of me in the lobby of Channel 6,” King added, laughing, referring to the Portland, Maine, NBC affiliate.

But during a 20-minute discussion on his campaign, King admitted that the ads have had an effect and tightened his race with Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill to fill the open seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R).

“The polls have tightened,” he said. “I don’t think I’d be honest if I didn’t say people being pounded every night by being told that I’m a big spender or I blast mountain tops or whatever it is isn’t gonna have some impact.” Full story

GOP Candidate Uses Photo With Darrell Issa to Deflect Comments

Gabriela Saucedo Mercer


Gabriela Saucedo Mercer (R), who is challenging Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D) in Arizona’s new 3rd district, has come under fire for saying that Middle Easterners are not wanted in America and attempting to use her connection to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to deflect the controversy.

On Monday evening, Mercer and Issa attended a Tucson, Ariz., dinner hosted by the Brian Terry Foundation, named for the Border Patrol agent who was killed near the Arizona-Mexico border in December 2010. As chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa has been investigating the events surrounding Terry’s death. Mercer posted a photo of herself with Issa on her Facebook page and, when a commenter noted Issa’s Lebanese heritage, Mercer defended the photo by noting that Issa does not have ties to terrorist organizations.

“I am fully aware that California Representative Darrell Issa is and AMERICAN of Lebanese descent who LOVES the United States of America. It was on honor for me to have shaken his hand and to have met his beautiful wife at the Brian Terry Foundation dinner,” reads her response on the page. “FYI Rep. Issa does not have ties to ANY terrorist organizations nor does he engage in destructive behavior against US citizens. Rep. Issa is leading the investigation on the botched Fast & Furious gun running scandal that Attorney General Eric Holder is trying to wiggle out of. As a matter of fact this man is one of my heroes! Viva Darrell Issa and GodBless the USA!”

The comments come after Mercer said, in a video interview with the Western Free Press, an Arizona-based online newspaper, that authorities caught more than 25,000 non-Mexican illegal immigrants last year.

“That includes Chinese, Middle Easterners. If you know Middle Easterners, they look Mexican or like a lot of people in South America, dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes, and they mix in,” she said, according to the Tucson-based Arizona Daily Star. “And those people, their only goal in life is to cause harm to the United States, so why do we want them here, either legally or illegally?”

Mercer has claimed that her comments about Middle Easterners were taken out of context. But when asked today about her photo with Issa, Grijalva suggested that Mercer was using the lawmaker.

“I think she’s looking for cover, and you have a high-profile Middle Easterner Congressman who has a high profile nationally based on the committee he runs and suddenly they’re chummy,” Grijalva said. “I would suggest that Mr. Issa probably needs to examine that because by him taking a picture and it being posted, it validates or takes her off the hook on that subject and that’s a mistake.”

The Mercer campaign dismissed the charge.

“The narrative that Grijalva is trying to portray is not an accurate one,” said Mercer spokeswoman Rebecca Keating. “She was at an occasion showing respect to a fallen Border Patrol agent and had a lot of pictures taken with a lot of people. … [Issa is] a great American that chose to come and honor the fallen soldier as well.”

Issa’s spokesman did not return a request for comment. There is no evidence to indicate whether the Congressman knew who Mercer was before taking the photo.

Roll Call rates this race as Safe Democratic.

California: House Majority PAC Targets Jeff Denham

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority PAC, a Democratic-aligned group, is going on the air in California’s 10th district against freshman Republican Rep. Jeff Denham.

The group is launching a Medicare-themed television ad that targets “Denham’s plan” for Medicare and states that his Democratic opponent, astronaut Jose Hernandez, would strengthen the program. The ad hits the Sacramento airwaves Saturday and will run for a week and a half behind a six-figure independent expenditure. Full story

Daily Ad Track

Congressional Republicans are using their 2010 playbook in ads today, as they go on offense and play defense in various races around the country. Meanwhile, Democrats are picking up on 2012 trends: personally criticizing one’s opponent and going creative.

Indiana Senate

To fend off accusations of gutting Medicare in 2010, many House Republicans ran ads featuring their own parents vouching for their Medicare bona fides. State Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s (R) new spot features his dad. The campaign announced that it will run on statewide broadcast.

Full story

DSCC Outraised NRSC in August

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised its Republican counterpart by almost $2 million in August, as both parties fight for control of the Senate.

According to figures released by the committees, the DSCC raised $7.7 million and ended last month with $31 million in cash on hand. The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised about $6 million last month, ending August with close to $29 million in the bank.

September 20, 2012

Wisconsin: Top Mitt Romney Surrogate Says Tommy Thompson Sounds Like Barack Obama

Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate Tommy Thompson blamed the GOP presidential nominee for his losing significant ground in multiple polls to his Democratic opponent. (Bill Clark CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

It’s been a rough week for former Wisconsin Gov. and GOP Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, who learned tonight that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has friends who are unafraid to lash out at other Republicans in his defense.

On Wednesday, Thompson blamed Romney for his losing significant ground in multiple polls to Democratic opponent Rep. Tammy Baldwin,  including a Marquette University poll that flipped from him leading by 9 points last month to trailing by the same margin this month. Thompson told a Madison TV station, “Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, if you’re a standard-bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it’s going to reflect on the downballot.”

Top Romney surrogate and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu struck back at Thompson, who has created friction between himself and the presidential campaign, by telling CNN tonight that Thompson “sounds like Barack Obama trying to blame it on somebody else.” Full story

DCCC Outraises NRCC in August

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee significantly outraised the National Republican Congressional Committee in August, although the GOP still has more money in the bank.

The DCCC raised $11.6 million last month and had $40 million in the bank. The NRCC raised $6.8 million in August and ended the month with $49.8 million in cash on hand.

In July, the NRCC significantly outraised the DCCC.


Missouri: Overseas Ballots With Todd Akin’s Name Mailing Friday

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans are nervously awaiting the Tuesday deadline for Rep. Todd Akin (R) to drop his Missouri Senate bid. But Friday is a big day, too.

The first wave of ballots is set to be mailed to Show-Me State voters living overseas, including those serving in the military. And if any change to the ballot occurs after those ballots are sent out, voters who received them could be disenfranchised — a factor that could motivate a Missouri court to block any request by Akin to remove himself from the ballot, according to one state official. Full story

Virginia: Tim Kaine, George Allen Debate With Remaining Undecideds in Mind

McLEAN, Va. — Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen met today in their third debate of the long campaign for Virginia’s open Senate seat.

The two former governors touched on themes prevalent on the campaign trail — health care, defense sequester cuts, taxes and the economy — and drew a clear line in the sand for the independent Northern Virginia voters, who will play a determinate role in the outcome of the race.

“Folks, there’s a clear choice in this Senate election, in which approach is going to be best for jobs here in our country,” Allen said in his closing remarks.

The debate, hosted by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and NBC-4, came a day after two public polls showed Kaine for the first time pulling out to a significant lead over his Republican opponent. The two have been tied since Kaine entered the race about 17 months ago, and both Allen and Kaine downplayed the polling results to reporters after the event. Full story

Illinois: Does Joe Walsh Have a Shot at Coming Back to Congress?

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not everyone thinks Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) is a political goner. There are some signs his re-election race could be competitive.

This week, Now or Never Super PAC dropped $810,000 worth of television advertisements into the 8th district to boost Walsh’s uphill re-election bid against Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth (D).

For more than a year, there was consensus among Democrats and, privately, Republicans that Walsh stood very little chance of winning the redrawn, Democratic-leaning district. The controversial conservative barely won a first term, and now he’s facing one of Illinois Democrats’ most-beloved candidates.

The super PAC’s spot “displays a positive side of the Congressman,” according to a press release. Walsh attracted a fair amount of poor press during this term for a six-figure child support lawsuit eventually settled outside court.

Joe Walsh is a different kind of Congressman,” the spot says. “He turned down his Congressional health care and pension so the taxpayers didn’t have to foot the bill.”

Full story

Massachusetts: Harry Reid Cancels Votes So Scott Brown Can Debate

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today accused his GOP counterparts of trying to hold votes later this evening to shield Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) from debating his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren.

“I’m sorry. We have no more votes today. It’s obvious to me what’s going on. I’ve been to a few of these rodeos,” Reid said. “It’s obvious there’s a big stall taking place. One of the Senators who doesn’t want to debate tonight won’t be in the debate. Well, he can’t used the Senate as an excuse. There will be no more votes today.”

Brown and Warren, whom Reid urged to run for Senate, are set to debate each other for the first time at 7 p.m. today.

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