Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2014

November 10, 2014

The Best Congressional Campaigns of 2014

The Best Congressional Campaigns of 2014

Ernst is the senator-elect from Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As a national Republican wave crested on Election Day, there were several campaigns in both parties that stood out as outstanding operations.

The GOP expanded its House majority and obtained control of the Senate. As a result, more Republican campaigns emerged deserving of the spotlight. But there were also several Democratic operations worthy of recognition.

Roll Call has compiled a list of the cream of the crop of 2014. Many faced long odds, crowded primaries, an unpopular president and millions in targeted attack ads. But through all that and more, these campaigns ably managed the curves of the cycle — and all but one were victorious.

In alphabetical order by candidate, here are the best congressional campaigns of the midterms: Full story

1 Senate, 5 House Races Still Too Close to Call (Updated)

1 Senate, 5 House Races Still Too Close to Call (Updated)

McSally is a Republican from Arizona. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Nov. 11, 7:35 a.m. | A week after Election Day, six races remain too close to call as local officials continue to count mail-in and provisional ballots.

On Nov. 4, Republicans took control of the Senate by picking up seven seats so far, while House Republicans have picked up a net of 12 seats to date.

In Alaska, Republican Dan Sullivan leads Democratic Sen. Mark Begich by about 8,000 votes. It could be another week before outstanding 50,000 outstanding ballots — and an unknown number of absentee ballots from rural Alaskan villages — are counted. Republicans are confident Sullivan will maintain his lead.

Republican retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally’s lead over Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., narrowed to 341 votes this weekend. After additional ballots were counted on Monday, McSally’s lead shrunk further to 179 votes. The margin currently falls within the range for an automatic recount.

Full story

How Republicans Caught Their White Whale: John Barrow

How Republicans Caught Their White Whale: John Barrow

Barrow lost re-election last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This is the first in a five-part series examining the campaigns behind the cycle’s most fascinating races.

Republican Rick Allen and his team gathered around a table at the Hilton Garden Inn in Augusta, Ga., Tuesday night, waiting for results to come in. They weren’t optimistic.

Allen faced the ultimate political survivor, Rep. John Barrow, the sole remaining white Democrat in the Deep South.

Just before Election Day, Democrats’ polling showed Barrow consistently ahead. Allen’s campaign didn’t have internals to counter; the last time they polled the race was more than a month ago.

Even more discouraging, Barrow was known for squeaking out wins, even as GOP presidential candidates carried the 12th District by double-digits. Republicans had tried to oust Barrow before, and many operatives were convinced he would escape their grasp again.

But as soon as the early returns trickled in, it was clear: Republicans had finally nabbed their white whale. Barrow not only lost — he was defeated by a stunning 10-point margin.

Full story

November 7, 2014

Democrat Wins California House Contest

Democrat Wins California House Contest

Peters, center, won re-election on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., officially defeated Republican Carl DeMaio Friday, after a new bunch of ballots gave the freshman Democrat an insurmountable lead in California’s 52nd District.

Peters leads DeMaio by a nearly 4,500-vote margin. Operatives say not enough uncounted ballots remain for a DeMaio victory, and The Associated Press called the race for Peters.

The hotly contested race was a Tossup the entire contest.

Full story

Debate Coaches, Media Training, Tech: How GOP Did It

Debate Coaches, Media Training, Tech: How GOP Did It

Sen.-elect Tom Cotton, on the trail in Jonesboro, Ark., was a top Republican Senate recruit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The sweeping Republican victories were thanks to two years of internal speculation and trying to beat the Democrats “at their own game,” a new GOP memo argues.

“This did not happen by accident,” read a joint memo from the Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Democrats expected to win; they bragged that they would win. They would have won, had we not beat them at their own game.”

Full story

Ed Gillespie Concedes Virginia Senate Race to Mark Warner

Ed Gillespie Concedes Virginia Senate Race to Mark Warner

Gillespie conceded the Virginia Senate race Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Update 2:03 p.m. | Republican Ed Gillespie conceded the Virginia Senate race Friday, declining to contest Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s tight lead.

By Friday, Warner led by just 17,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting. But with canvassing ongoing since Wednesday, media outlets had yet to call the race.

“If I believed there were any conceivable way we could find a viable path to win through a recount, I would fight,” Gillespie told supporters. Full story

10 Uncalled Races Remain as Democrats Pick Up California Seat (Updated)

10 Uncalled Races Remain as Democrats Pick Up California Seat (Updated)

Aguilar is a Democrat from California. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:39 p.m. | Democrats picked up their third House seat late Thursday, stemming the party’s losses to 13 seats — for now.

After more absentee and provisional ballots were counted, Democrat Pete Aguilar maintained a lead over Republican Paul Chabot, 51 percent to 49 percent, in California’s 31st District. Aguilar declared victory and Chabot conceded; the seat was open because Republican Rep. Gary G. Miller is retiring.

The Associated Press also called a House race in Maryland’s 6th District in favor of the Democrat. Freshman Rep. John Delaney defeated his Republican opponent, 50 percent to 48 percent, in an unexpectedly close contest.

In Virginia, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., defeated Republican Ed Gillespie by a 16,000-vote margin.

Gillespie announced at a news conference Friday afternoon that he would not contest the results.

Elsewhere, several other races remain too close to call:

Full story

November 6, 2014

Greg Walden Officially Launches NRCC Re-Election Bid

Greg Walden Officially Launches NRCC Re Election Bid

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

On the heels of winning at least 13 seats for House Republicans, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden officially launched his bid Thursday to serve as chairman for a second term.

Walden had announced this summer he wanted a second stint at the helm of House Republicans’ campaign arm. But in a Thursday letter to the House GOP conference, which was obtained by CQ Roll Call, Walden made his bid official. Walden touted the NRCC’s success as the chief reason for his second campaign.

In the weeks prior to the elections, two other House Republicans — Roger Williams of Texas and Aaron Schock of Illinois — considered challenging Walden. But Williams announced Wednesday he would not seek the job given the GOP’s success, and Walden cites his support in this letter. Schock’s plans are still unknown.

Republicans in the House elect their NRCC chairman. On the Democratic side, the Democratic leader selects the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman.

The full text of the letter is below:

Full story

Senate Democrats Saw GOP Wave Before Election Night

Senate Democrats Saw GOP Wave Before Election Night

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at his re-election victory party Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The executive directors of the Democratic and Republican Senate campaign arms broke down the results of Tuesday’s midterm elections Thursday at the Election Impact Conference hosted by CQ Roll Call, giving a candid assessment of the factors that led to Republicans taking control of the Senate for the first time since 2006.

Guy Cecil, who ran the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the past two cycles, said top-level Democrats knew about a week before Election Day the tide had moved against them and said they were bracing for losses across the board as results came in Tuesday night.

“We had hopes we could stem the tide, but it became clear to us that it would be difficult to do,” Cecil told the audience.

Full story

Script Will Be Flipped in 2016 Senate Majority Battle

Script Will Be Flipped in 2016 Senate Majority Battle

Johnson is one of several Republicans running in competitive states in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After securing control of the Senate Tuesday, Republicans are already staring down a daunting map for 2016.

The majority of the Senate battleground in the next election cycle will be fought on Republican turf, with the GOP defending 24 seats to the Democrats’ 10. There is more trouble for the party beneath those raw numbers; only two Democratic seats are in competitive states, while more than half a dozen Republican incumbents face re-election in states President Barack Obama carried at least once.

Republicans appear to have put themselves in as strong a position as possible, coming out of the midterms with potentially a 54-seat majority. But the next electoral fight for the Senate fundamentally looks nothing like 2014: Democrats are on offense, the playing field is packed with pricey media markets and every race is positioned down-ballot from a presidential contest.

“I think attention will turn to it as soon as the dust settles from this cycle,” Republican pollster Dan Judy said of 2016. “The environment will certainly be tougher for us with a lot of competitive seats to defend in swing states, but I’m hopeful that a Republican majority for two years will allow us to advance a constructive agenda that our incumbents can run on in 2016.”

Full story

November 5, 2014

After GOP Wave, Williams Won’t Challenge Walden for NRCC

After GOP Wave, Williams Wont Challenge Walden for NRCC

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

With House Republicans winning their largest majority since 1929, the posturing to challenge National Republican Congressional Committee Greg Walden may be over.

While there are still some questions whether Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., — or any other House Republican — will challenge Walden, at least one potential contender is out.

Texas Republican Roger Williams sent House Republicans a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter Wednesday saying — in less than clear terms — he would not be challenging Walden to head the NRCC. Full story

Wicker, Heller Both in for NRSC Chairman

Wicker, Heller Both in for NRSC Chairman

Wicker in interested in the NRSC chairmanship. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., is joining Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in the race to chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2016 cycle.

Wicker confirmed his interest late last night at a GOP election night watch party in Union Station, as Republicans secured the majority for the first time in eight years.

“I’d like to try,” Wicker told CQ Roll Call. “It’s going to be a tough cycle.” Full story

What Happened to the 10 Most Vulnerable House Members? (Updated)

What Happened to the 10 Most Vulnerable House Members? (Updated)

McAllister was defeated Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:17 p.m. | Only two of the 10 most vulnerable House members will be returning to Congress next year — and both survivors are Democrats who withstood a Republican wave Tuesday night.

Seven other members on Roll Call’s list will not return to the House for the 114th Congress, while the fate of one lawmaker hangs in the balance as his race is still too close to call.

Full story

What Happened to 2014′s Most Vulnerable Senators?

What Happened to 2014s Most Vulnerable Senators?

Sen. Hagan was defeated Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Three members on Roll Call’s ranking of the 10 most vulnerable senators will definitely not be returning to Congress next year, along with a slew of other incumbents.

The fate of two more senators is still unknown, but they also appear to be in trouble. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., faces a difficult December runoff. Votes are also still being counted in Alaska, where Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, is trailing his Republican opponent by several points.

Find out who else fulfilled or defied their vulnerable ranking: Full story

A Day in the Life of Rob Collins, on the Brink of the Majority

A Day in the Life of Rob Collins, on the Brink of the Majority

Collins served as executive director of the NRSC during the 2014 midterms. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At the tail end of an hour-long press briefing at the National Republican Senatorial Committee less than three weeks before the elections, Executive Director Rob Collins threw out a prediction: The GOP would win the majority on election night.

Republicans were favored to pick up at least a handful of seats, but with a couple possible runoffs and some tight races, forecasting clear control of the chamber by the end of Election Day was a ballsy declaration.

In his office a little while later, Collins laughed as he noticed his quote popping up in stories online. He wouldn’t have said it if he didn’t think it was possible, but Collins went out on a limb mainly because he didn’t want his customary level-headed analysis of the Senate playing field misinterpreted as pessimism about his party’s chances.

“I think people like that I don’t bullshit them,” Collins said. But, he added, “I felt like, boy, I better end this on a note of confidence, or they’ll say, ‘Collins was a little iffy on that whole thing.’ So yeah, we’ll win on election night — it’s totally possible.” Full story

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