Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2015

August 25, 2012

Democrats Plan Counterpunch at Republican Convention

The Democratic National Committee has planned a weeklong counterprogram to the Republican National Convention in Tampa and across the country that will continue despite the postponement of Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Florida due to preparations for a possible hurricane.

The Democrats have opened a war room near the convention center and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be on hand in her home state along with other Democratic officials.

For the kickoff event today, the DNC invitations read “Limited Cadillac Parking Available” and “Medicare Vouchers Not Accepted.”

Ellen Canale, the DNC’s regional press secretary, said Democrats will likely hold two press conferences a day and are bringing in people from Massachusetts and elsewhere who know presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to counter the convention’s narrative. Democrats also have a rolling billboard denouncing Romney that will drive around town touting the Democrats’ theme: “Romney Economics: Wrong for the Middle Class.”

The Democrats also released a new web video, “The Romney Bunch,” a takeoff on the Brady Bunch, launching snark at Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.),  GOP governors and even former Rep. Artur Davis, who abandoned the Democratic Party four years after speaking at the Democratic National Convention and will be speaking in Tampa this year. Davis is “in it for himself,” according to the ad.

Biden is still planning to come to Florida — probably on Tuesday — but pulled out of Monday events in Tampa so local law enforcement could focus on storm preparations rather than providing security ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac, which is projected to strengthen into a hurricane as it makes its way up Florida’s Gulf Coast.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, will continue campaigning in battleground states during the convention. Obama will be taking a tour of college towns in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday.

First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on the Late Show with David Letterman on Wednesday. The appearance should air not long after Ryan gives his acceptance speech that night.

Race Rating Change: Linda McMahon Makes Gains in Connecticut


(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thanks to heavy and effective television advertising and a disciplined campaign, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon has pushed her Senate race against Rep. Chris Murphy (D) from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.

At the beginning of this cycle, many Washington Republicans wrote off her campaign. National Republicans now compliment her campaign’s execution over the past year. They make no pretense that this race is on par with tossups in Virginia or Massachusetts, but insist it is much more competitive than it seems on the surface. Full story

August 24, 2012

GOP Finalizes Prime Time Convention Line-up

TAMPA, FLA. — After a flurry of juggling today, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign and Republican convention organizers signed off on the speakers who will appear in prime time during next week’s GOP convention in Tampa.

Last minute changes were made after the broadcast networks decided not to cover Monday evening, when Romney’s wife, Ann, was scheduled to address  delegates in the Tampa Bay Times Forum arena. Mrs. Romney is considered among her husband’s most valuable campaign surrogates, and after considering several options, the campaign chose to move her speech to Tuesday and move New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez to Wednesday.

Reports surfaced this afternoon that the campaign was considering pushing Mrs. Romney’s speech to Thursday, and moving Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) to Tuesday. The campaign said Rubio offered to make the switch but it preferred to leave him in his original slot, as the speaker who will offer the final nominating speech for Romney before the former Massachusetts governor formally accepts the GOP presidential nomination. Full story

Arizona: Jeff Flake Endorses Kirk Adams

Rep. Jeff Flake (R) has endorsed former Arizona state Speaker Kirk Adams over former Rep. Matt Salmon in the GOP primary to succeed Flake in Congress.

“With the primary election just days away, I’m being asked a lot about who I prefer for Congressional District Five,” Flake said in a statement. “I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Matt Salmon, so my decision is not a matter of voting against someone, but rather for someone. That someone is Kirk Adams.

“I’ve known Kirk for years, and have watched his steady, thoughtful leadership as speaker of the Arizona House. I’m confident that, if elected, Kirk will provide the same conservative leadership in Washington,” he added.

Full story

New Mexico: Martin Heinrich’s Lead Expands in Internal Poll

New Mexico Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) led by more than 7 points in an internal poll released today by his campaign for the state’s open Senate seat.

In the poll, conducted by GBA Strategies, Heinrich led former Rep. Heather Wilson (R), 51 percent to 44 percent. The poll of 700 likely voters was taken Aug. 14-19. It had a 4-point margin of error. Full story

August 23, 2012

Crossroads GPS Launches New Senate Ads

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The juggernaut GOP-affiliated group Crossroads GPS began airing a new ad here in Florida today knocking two-term Sen. Bill Nelson (D) for his vote in favor of Obama’s signature health care law.

“Florida seniors are facing a health care crisis: only 14 physicians to every 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries,” a female narrator says. “But in Washington, Bill Nelson’s been voting for the new health care law, which cuts Medicare spending by $700 billion; puts unelected bureaucrats between Florida’s 3 million Medicare recipients and the care they need, hurting Florida seniors.”

“Tell Senator Nelson, it’s time to repeal,” she says.

The ad is backed by a $2.4 million buy on broadcast and cable TV in Florida. It’s part of the group’s wider push of spots, launched today against Democratic Senate candidates, that also includes ads in Montana, New Mexico and Ohio.

See the Montana ad, hitting Sen. Jon Tester (D) here:

See the New Mexico ad, dinging Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic nominee for Senate, here:

See the Ohio ad knocking Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) here:

Michigan: House Democrats Air Second Spot Against Dan Benishek

House Democrats will start airing their second spot today targeting freshman Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) in the competitive 1st district race.

Democrats shifted their line of attack in this advertisement, targeting Benishek for voting “to give Members of Congress taxpayer-funded health care. For life,” an announcer says.

Benishek faces a rematch with former state Rep. Gary McDowell (D) in one of the highest-profile races in the country. Roll Call rates the contest as a Tossup.

Like every House Republican, Benishek voted in July to repeal the health care overhaul law. Part of that law requires Members of Congress to receive health care from public insurance exchanges instead of the current federal employee program.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will spend $51,000 to air the spot in the Marquette market, according to a source with knowledge of the buy. House Democrats already aired a spot targeting Benishek on Medicare in the nearby Traverse City market last week — their first independent expenditure of the fall campaign advertisement season.

August 22, 2012

Race Rating Change: North Dakota Moves in Dems’ Direction

Updated 11:30 p.m. | This week proves what a difference a strong candidate can make, even in partisan states.

In the wake of the implosion of Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.), Republicans quietly bemoaned their policy of remaining neutral in Senate primaries. But in North Dakota, where Republicans had an uncompetitive primary, it’s become clear that the GOP nominee is not as strong a recruit as he initially appeared to be.

At the start of the cycle, Republicans believed this seat would be an easy pickup. But former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) proved a strong candidate, and she’s run a nearly flawless campaign against the GOP nominee, Rep. Rick Berg.

Accordingly, Roll Call is belatedly changing its North Dakota race rating to Tossup. For months, we rated this race as Leans Republican, citing the GOP’s past political performance in the state. But over the summer, Democrats ran a stronger campaign here — and polling shows it’s working for Heitkamp. Full story

Democrats Continue to Invoke Todd Akin in Push for Cash, Women’s Votes

PLANTATION, Fla. — There are more than 1,200 miles between the home of Rep. Todd Akin (R) and this city just west of Fort Lauderdale, but at a Democratic meeting here Tuesday night, the Missouri Senate candidate’s presence loomed large.

Mitchell Ceasar, the chairman of the Broward County Democratic Party, fervently invoked the GOP lawmaker in his remarks before about 150 people at a meeting of the county’s Democratic Executive Committee.

“We can talk all night about the war on women. We saw it again [Monday] and that candidate has reaffirmed that he’s still in the race,” Ceasar said to a smattering of applause and troubled murmurs from the people sitting on folding chairs.

Standing behind a podium with an Obama campaign sign on it, Ceaser told the group that Akin “is symptomatic with his extremism” of what a lot of Republican candidates actually believe. “Obviously none have ever passed a high school biology class,” he said. The crowd chuckled in affirmation.

In Washington, D.C., and all around the country, Democrats have pounced on the white-hot furor over Akin’s inflammatory comments about rape and abortion to rally the base and reinforce the message that there’s a Republican “war on women.”

Full story

Michigan: Kerry Bentivolio’s Teaching Troubles

Kerry Bentivolio, the GOP nominee in Michigan’s 11th district, had trouble as a high school teacher, according to a new Detroit Free Press report.

Fowlerville High School officials reportedly reprimanded Bentivolio for telling students they were “just a paycheck to me,” threatening to make them cry and pounding on their desks.

Bentivolio faces internist Syed Taj (D) this November in the suburban district west of Detroit. Republicans viewed the district as a safe bet until recently, when a strange series of events made this the most unpredictable House race of the cycle. Roll Call rates the contest as Leans Republican. Full story

Missouri: Todd Akin Out at GOP Convention, Leaves Door Open to Exit

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Embattled Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) hit the morning talk show circuit today, continuing his media redemption tour, justifying his rebuke of Republican leadership and announcing he will not attend next week’s GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.

He also gave Republicans a sliver of hope that he might eventually do what most have urged him to: drop out of the race.

“I’m never going to say everything that could possibly happen,” Akin said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I don’t know the future, but I do know this. I knew that the party voters took a look at our hearts, understood who we were, had a chance to meet us in many, many different ways and made a decision. And it makes me uncomfortable to think that the party bosses are going to dictate who runs as opposed to the election process.” Full story

Montana: DSCC Launches Second Ad Against Denny Rehberg

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today launched its second TV ad in Montana, where Sen. Jon Tester (D) is fending off a challenge from Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) in what is expected to be one of the closest races in the country. Full story

August 21, 2012

Georgia: Doug Collins Wins House Race, Likely Headed to Congress

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:32 p.m. | State Rep. Doug Collins won the GOP runoff today in Georgia’s 9th district and is almost certain to be coming to Congress from the ultra-Republican seat in the northeast portion of the state. Close with Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and backed by the Atlanta Republican establishment, Collins easily won the runoff, besting conservative talk radio host Martha Zoller by almost 10 points.

With 98.1 percent of precincts reporting, Collins had 54.6 percent to Zoller’s 45. 4 percent, the Associated Press reported.

With support from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), and former GOP presidential contender Herman Cain, Zoller cast herself as the insurgent tea party candidate against Collins, who has establishment roots. Full story

Mitt Romney to Todd Akin: Drop Out of Senate Race

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Presumptive GOP White House nominee Mitt Romney today called on Rep. Todd Akin to drop his bid for Senate in the Show-Me State.

“As I said yesterday, Todd Akin’s comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country,” Romney said in a statement.

“Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race,” Romney said, referring to a joint statement from Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Missouri GOP Sens. Kit Bond, John Danforth and Jim Talent.

The pressure from Romney is probably the final twist of the GOP establishment vice trying to squeeze the embattled Congressman from a race that he is no longer seen as able to win after making inflammatory comments about rape. Akin has until 5 p.m. local time today to remove himself from the ballot without penalty.

California: Mark Takano Up by 4 in Internal Poll

In a California House race targeted by both parties, Riverside Community College Board Trustee Mark Takano (D) led by 4 points in a poll conducted for his campaign.

According to a polling memo obtained by Roll Call, the poll, conducted by EMC Research of Oakland, Calif., found Takano ahead of Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione (R), 42 percent to 38 percent, with 20 percent undecided. Tavaglione enjoys a 15-point name identification advantage, 55 percent to 40 percent. Full story

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