Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 9, 2015

October 15, 2012

Daily Ad Track

Campaigns, committees and outside groups are flooding the airwaves with negative television ads. A common hit to those who have held public office is a vote to increase one’s own salary.

American Action Network, a Republican super PAC, announced this morning that it was targeting four House races — California’s 10th, Minnesota’s 8th, New Hampshire’s 1st and New York’s 27th. The new ads released will have $5 million behind them, and more money and ads are expected to come in the closing weeks.

But it was a rare positive ad that best cut through the clutter today:

North Dakota Senate

This new statewide broadcast ad, which features former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) swinging away at a batting cage, created angst among female members of the Washington press corps who participate in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game.

The game annually pits female reporters against female Members. The Member roster is postured to lose its best hitter in Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), who was recently named Roll Call’s most endangered incumbent. If Heitkamp is able to pull out her Tossup race against Rep. Rick Berg (R), it is a safe bet to assume that two of her first congratulatory calls will be coming from Member team captains Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) looking to recruit her for their team.

Wasserman Schultz, who does double duty as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, jokingly tweeted on the ad, “I cannot confirm nor deny that batting average is a question on our candidate recruitment forms!”

Full story

Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren Raises $12.1 Million to Scott Brown’s $7.45 Million

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren outraised Sen. Scott Brown in the third quarter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) raised $7.45 million in the third quarter, while Harvard professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic opponent, pulled in an eye-popping $12.1 million from July 1 through Sept. 30.

Brown’s campaign said he ended the quarter with $10.2 million in cash on hand. Warren’s campaign did not say how much cash she had in the bank at the end of last month.

Quarterly fundraising reports are due to the Federal Election Commission today.

Recent polls have shown the Bay State Senate contest to be close. Roll Call rates the fiercely fought race as a Tossup.

DCCC Outraised NRCC in September

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outraised the National Republican Congressional Committee in September. The DCCC raised $15.3 million to the NRCC’s $12.4 million. The DCCC ended September with $26.4 million in cash on hand, while the NRCC had $29.5 million in the bank.

Both committees, tasked with winning or keeping control of the House, have spent heavily over the last month as TV ad spending has ratcheted into top gear. Republicans are poised to maintain control of the House, but the margin remains unclear with just over 20 days to go before Election Day.

October 14, 2012

NRCC Launches More Than $6 Million Worth of Ads

Former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado (R) speaks during his debate with Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) at the Carsey-Wolf Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara on Tuesday. The NRCC went on the air Friday in the 24th district with a television ad attacking Capps. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The independent expenditure arm of the National Republican Congressional Committee launched 16 new ads Friday backed by a combined total of more than $6 million.

Republicans are poised to comfortably keep control of the House, but how much the chamber’s margin shifts will largely depend on the way competitive races swing over the next 23 days.

The NRCC is on television — playing both offense and defense — in the following districts: Full story

California: Scott Peters Hits the Road in Tight Race

Scott Peters (center), Democratic candidate for California's 52nd Congressional district, shakes hands with supporters at a pre-canvassing labor rally in San Diego on Saturday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

SAN DIEGO — Democrat Scott Peters on Saturday rallied more than 400 labor volunteers who were preparing to canvass for voters across the city to support his bid to oust Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) in California’s newly drawn 52nd district and to help Democrats running in other local races.

Before setting out on a chilly (for this city) morning, state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (I), who made national headlines earlier this year when he left the GOP during his run for mayor, introduced Peters to the large labor council gathering in a parking lot near Qualcomm Stadium, home of the National Football League’s San Diego Chargers.

With early voting under way in the Golden State, it was part of Peters’ initial push in this Tossup race — one that he participated in as he knocked on doors in the company of Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) to ask voters for their support. Full story

October 13, 2012

Springsteen to Campaign for Obama in Ohio With Clinton

Bruce Springsteen is set to team up with President Bill Clinton to campaign for President Barack Obama in Parma, Ohio, on Thursday.

Even as October Springsteen appearances have become something of a Democratic tradition since 2004, this was not exactly an expected development. Back in February, Springsteen had expressed a reluctance to campaign and disappointment with some of Obama’s economic policies.

Up until this announcement, Springsteen had been largely quiet about the election. He rarely, if ever, mentioned Obama in recent appearances on his current world tour.

The pairing with Clinton is further evidence that wounds from the 2008 primary have healed. Then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was forced to cease playing “The Rising” at campaign stops because Springsteen endorsed Obama during one of the most heated moments of that campaign — the lead-up to the Pennsylvania primary.

In the past, Springsteen campaign appearances are as much about organizational strategy as they are about boosting excitement. As Springsteen plays, campaign workers use the opportunity to campaign, register voters and to collect contact information. However, Ohio’s voter registration deadline has passed.

Full story

October 12, 2012

Shot Fired Into Obama’s Denver Campaign Office

Denver police say that a shot was fired into a busy Barack Obama field office earlier this afternoon, according to an account in the Denver Post.

People were inside the office at the time of the incident, but no one was hurt, per a police statement issued to the Post. The shot was fired around 3 p.m. local time, and police have a “possible vehicle of interest” but are not releasing further details pending an ongoing investigation.

The Post has a photo of the boarded-up, large storefront window here, and Sam Levin, a reporter for the Denver Westword, posted a picture of the window to his Twitter account here.

The Obama campaign declined to comment when contacted by Roll Call and referred inquiries to the Denver Police Department.

Massachusetts: Tierney Cuts Back on TV Before Election Day

Rep. John Tierney (left) is among the more vulnerable Members on the ballot in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8 p.m. | Embattled Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) no longer has advertisements on the books for Oct. 23 through Election Day in the pricey Boston market, according to two GOP sources who track media buys.

Tierney’s campaign manager, Matt Robison, confirmed the move but said the campaign would be making additional buys next week. “We’ve relocated some of our resources among weeks based on our communications strategy,” he said.

Media buys are public information, so Tierney’s move means he could be signaling for help from an outside group in the final two weeks. But his shift comes just a couple of days after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee cut $650,000 worth of reservations for that week in the Boston market. Full story

House Majority PAC Releases New Ad Buys in Competitive Races

The Democratic-affiliated group House Majority PAC has made new investments in seven contested Congressional races.

The group made the following new buys from Oct. 17 to 23:

  • $115,000 in California’s 7th district, where Rep. Dan Lungren (R) faces physician Ami Bera (D)
  • $130,000 in Illinois’ 17th district, where Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) faces former East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos (D)
  • $200,000 in Michigan’s 1st district, where Rep. Dan Benishek (R) faces former state Rep. Gary McDowell (D)
  • $175,000 in Indiana’s open 2nd district, where former state Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) faces Iraq War veteran Brendan Mullen (D)
  • $500,000 in Colorado’s 6th district, where Rep Mike Coffman (R) faces state Rep. Joe Miklosi

House Majority PAC also made a new buy for the week before Election Day in Connecticut’s open 5th district, where state Sen. Andrew Roraback (R) faces former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D).

And the group boosted their already hefty buy in New York’s 27th district by $150,000. In that seat, Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) and businessman Chris Collins are squaring off in a competitive and testy contest.

Colorado: Ad Hits Mike Coffman on Stem Cell Opposition

The pro-Democratic House Majority PAC today said it will begin airing an ad against Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican who is in a tight race with challenger Joe Miklosi for Colorado’s 6th district.

The ad — which features a young-looking man, a little girl and a woman — urges voters to reject Coffman based on his opposition to embryonic stem cell research.

“Next summer, I’m going on a camping trip with my friends,” opens the young man. “On the way home, I’ll be in a car accident, and I’ll be paralyzed for the rest of my life.”  Full story

Connecticut: DSCC Makes Another Buy

Rep. Christopher Murphy talks with a school group on the West Front of the Capitol. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is making an additional $650,000 purchase of Connecticut advertising time in support of Rep. Christopher Murphy’s (D) open-seat Senate race against former WWE CEO Linda McMahon (R).

The new buy lasts from Oct. 16 through Oct. 22 and will be on broadcast and cable. This builds on the DSCC’s independent expenditure arm’s previous $2.1 million investment in this race, according to a source who tracks Connecticut Senate media buys. Also per this source, the Democratic group Majority PAC has spent $1.1 million.

The ad spending in this race is unlike any other Senate race in the country. Because McMahon is able to self-fund her television advertising to levels that include saturating the expensive New York City media market that covers a significant portion of the Nutmeg State, national Republicans are on the offense here without having to invest a dime.

Democrats have yet to match McMahon on New York broadcast television, although they have been on the air on New York cable. This is among the reasons McMahon has made this contest competitive despite the Democratic lean of the state.

Daily Ad Track

The most noteworthy television ads today all dealt with negativity — how to dish it out and how to respond. The toughest ad we saw came from the Democratic House Majority PAC. The ad in the Colorado 6th House race is one of the toughest we have ever seen.

Here is what else that cut through the clutter:

Arizona Senate

As we noted Thursday, campaign ads took a nasty turn this week. The sharpest turn in the last 36 hours has been in Arizona. Wednesday night’s debate between former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D) and Rep. Jeff Flake (R) was a cordial affair. The next morning, the Flake camp dropped an anvil on Carmona with an ad featuring one of his former supervisors harshly criticizing him.

Carmona’s team reacted quickly — issuing a statement Thursday afternoon, and by the evening, they had a new TV ad posted on According to a campaign source, the ad was put together Thursday, but the Carmona campaign anticipated the attack and was prepared.

Campaigns often pretape rebuttal ads weeks or months in advance in anticipation of specific negative attacks. This was the case with this September ad from Rep. Mike Coffman (R) in Colorado’s 6th.

Full story

Massachusetts: Richard Tisei Outraises John Tierney Again

Former state Sen. Richard Tisei outraised Rep. John Tierney (center) for the fourth consecutive quarter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. John Tierney (D) raised less than his Republican challenger in the third quarter, Roll Call has learned.

Tierney raised more than $500,000 from July 1 to Sept. 30, while former state Sen. Richard Tisei (R) raised more than $660,000. Tierney, locked in a fierce battle with Tisei for Massachusetts’ 6th district, which is anchored in the North Shore region of the state, has now been outraised by Tisei for four consecutive quarters.

Though the 6th district is reliably Democratic, either candidate could win the race. Tierney has taken a political body blow from the innuendo surrounding his wife’s family’s legal troubles connected to an offshore gambling operation, although he has been accused of no wrongdoing

Tierney, an attorney and member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, ranks on Roll Call’s list of the 10 most politically vulnerable Members of Congress.

Roll Call rates the 6th district race as a Tossup.

Pennsylvania: New Poll Shows 10-Point Senate Race

A new poll shows Sen. Bob Casey (above) leading opponent Tom Smith by 10 points. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Bob Casey (D) led his opponent, former coal company owner Tom Smith (R), by 10 points in a new Philadelphia Inquirer survey released today.

Casey scored 48 percent, while Smith had 38 percent, in the bipartisan poll.

These new numbers represent the first-term Senator’s strongest lead in a public poll during the last month. Other recent surveys showed a much tighter race — although some of those polls were from firms such as Susquehanna Polling and Research, which often works with Republicans.

Still, as the Inquirer noted, Casey’s margin has been cut in half since its August poll. He’s also fallen under 50 percent.

Roll Call rates this race as Likely Democratic.

Global Strategy Group, a Democratic firm, and National Research Inc., a GOP firm, conducted the survey of 600 likely voters Oct. 4-8. The margin of error was 4 points.

October 11, 2012

California: Things Get Touchy at Berman-Sherman Debate

Rep. Howard Berman (left) speaks during a candidate forum with Rep. Brad Sherman on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — Rarely is politics described as a contact sport in the literal sense, but the exception happened today toward the end of a feisty debate between Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman at a community college in the San Fernando Valley.

Things escalated toward the end of the debate, during an argument over Berman’s leadership on the DREAM Act. The debate was held in front of a largely Hispanic crowd of more than 200 enthusiastic Pierce College students and members of the community,  Full story

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